Ever heard of a parent pulling their child into the middle of a duel carriageway and leaving them there? Or dispassionately looking on as their child opened a second floor window and then disappeared through it? No? Why? Because caring parents wouldn’t do that. They don’t neglect to feed their kids, clothe their kids or protect them. As for strangers, well, that’s different, there are no blood ties obligating them to take care of other people’s kids, the way they’d take care of there own. Which reminds me of a story I got told when I was old enough to understand the telling of it.
There was this woman who lived next door to my mum and who never ever spoke to her. Now this irked my mother because as a rule, she spoke to everyone. Still, my mother elected to continue to be polite to this woman as a matter of course. Well one cold winter’s day my mother was pushing a pram up-hill with me in it and she slipped on the iced-over road. The old fashioned pram upturned and I flew out of it and through the air. Now it so happened that the lady who never spoke to my mum was passing by in the opposite direction, and as I catapulted through the air she sprinted down that icy hill and caught me. Then handing me back to my shaken mother, she smiled and continued on her way.
A mother who lost her son, went looking for him in the place he was last seen in France, and eventually found out what had happened to him. Whilst hitch-hiking in a particular part of France, he was offered a lift by a person who appeared to be a police officer, but was eventually discovered to be a serial killer who had sexually assaulted several men, in that and other regions of France; her son was never seen again. She had taught him to respect and trust figures of authority and that respect led him to his death.
Now, this woman and my mother had one thing in common, the idea that if someone has reached a certain age, they must deserve the respect they are given. And that if someone has been given a certain measure of authority, it is because they have earned it and can wield it responsibly. It would never occur to us lowly folk, that there are people who see themselves as being above the laws that govern the behaviour of civilised society, and believe that they have been sanctioned in their right, to set themselves over those perceived by them to be a political and potential terrorist threat, to the extreme detriment of those they opt to detain and torture.
And so my heart goes out to the family of Adnan Farhan Abd AL Latif, who had to committ suicide in order to free himself from Guantanamo. In many cultures respect is often naively accorded to people whose unscrupulous ruthlessness, accompanied by a distinct lack of moral integrity, doesn’t warrant such respect.
And how easy to make the assumption (initially) when you’re face to face with such people, that if you’re innocent and have nothing to hide you will eventually be released, and left to go about your affairs. Adnan Latif, was eventually proven to be innocent, he hid nothing, least of all the brain damaged condition that left him in need of a great deal of medication. Despite this, he was never released and so took his own life. He died in a foreign country, in a spartan prison cell, without ever laying eyes on the family he had been taken from.
And so, President Obama, I would like to ask this question, during the Eid-Ul-Adha festivities, whilst you are busy taking military action against ISIS. When are you and your party going to get up the courage to set the innocent detainees free, and close the Guantanamo Detention Centre?