Obama’s Failure to Close Gitmo

President Obama has continually promised to close Guantanamo Bay, spewing carefully crafted rhetoric but failing to follow through. In 2009, the president signed an executive order to close the facility in order to “restore the standards of due process and the core constitutional values that have made this country great even in the midst of war, even in dealing with terrorism.” Yet here we are, three years later, with a prison full of detainees being treated like sub-humans.

Sunday, the New York Times published a letter from a detainee describing the purgatory that is Guantanamo Bay. Here is just one brief description from the letter:

“There are so many of us on hunger strike now that there aren’t enough qualified medical staff members to carry out the force-feedings; nothing is happening at regular intervals. They are feeding people around the clock just to keep up.

During one force-feeding the nurse pushed the tube about 18 inches into my stomach, hurting me more than usual, because she was doing things so hastily. I called the interpreter to ask the doctor if the procedure was being done correctly or not.

It was so painful that I begged them to stop feeding me. The nurse refused to stop feeding me. As they were finishing, some of the “food” spilled on my clothes. I asked them to change my clothes, but the guard refused to allow me to hold on to this last shred of my dignity.”

I understand the need for a prison for supposed terrorists, however Guantanamo Bay is neither just nor constitutional. When this letter was written, the detainee, Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel, had been held for 11 years and 3 months without trial. I do believe in the notion that criminals and terrorists, in the choice to commit acts of violence against other humans, lose certain rights, however this is a complete violation of basic human rights. Being held in prison without due process in Guantanamo takes away the human right to control over one’s body, arguably one of the most important human rights.

In this way, the detainee hunger strikes mark an attempt to regain this control. Denying themselves of food in Guantanamo is the only way to maintain control over the body. However, such an act is not even allowed in Guantanamo because the detainees on hunger strikes are frequently force fed.

As the greatest nation in the world, we should do better. Everyone deserves rights, especially if they have not been charged with any crime.

Obama’s Promise to Close Guantanamo Bay

Is Homosexuality A Choice?

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One of the critical arguments for and against gay marriage rests upon the question of whether homosexuality is a decision or a natural occurrence. Many opponents of same-sex marriage argue that being gay is a decision, a bad one, and therefore gays should not marry. God wants us to be “normal,” after all, and choosing to be gay goes against that normality.

This is one argument that sickens me. While I may never fully understand the hardships of being homosexual in today’s society, I can only imagine that it is far from easy. Being gay means you are automatically discriminated against by much of this country. It means you cannot marry the person you love. You can’t go to the hospital when he or she is sick because you’re not “immediate family.”

Being homosexual is no easy life, so it really does not make sense that anyone would believe homosexuality is a choice. Why would someone choose such a difficult life?

I read an interesting article from The Huffington Post telling a story of one man’s change of heart after finding out his son is gay. Here’s the part I found most interesting but head over to HuffPo to read the rest:

Before his son came out to him, Mike Neubecker had never thought about same-sex marriage. It was 1991; few Americans had. Sodomy was still a crime and gay rights activists were more focused on issues like AIDS, the military and anti-discrimination laws. What little Neubecker knew about the gay rights movement, he didn’t like.

He remembers laughing derisively about the University of Michigan’s attempts to kick the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, or ROTC, off campus because of the military’s policy at the time of not accepting openly gay troops. That year, his son Lee was a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, and was set to join ROTC himself. But Lee’s plans changed at the end of the year, when he and the other new recruits were instructed to sign papers stating that they weren’t gay. In the room where the recruits were gathered, his classmates started pounding on the tables shouting, “No fags! No fags!”

Lee didn’t sign the paper. Instead, he called home and told his mom that he was gay. Neubecker only found out two and half months later, when he stumbled upon some literature for families of gay people hidden in the spare sock drawer in his bedroom. Three days of crisis followed this discovery.

A small business owner who was raised Catholic in a white, conservative suburb of Detroit, Neubecker said he first felt a “rush of rage.”

“I remember saying to my wife, ‘This can’t be happening, I won’t stand for this.’” He called and left a message with his son. Then, wanting to be “armed to the teeth” for the conversation, he walked to the local bookstore and headed to the Christian section. He found a book called “How Will I Tell My Mother” and started reading it. The book, which purports to offer “a way out of homosexuality for those who want to escape,” explained that his son wasn’t gay, just confused and sick.

On the second day, he drove down to Cincinnati, a four-and-a-half-hour drive, to talk to his old pastor. He didn’t dare talk to any of his neighbors or people at the local church. The pastor listened carefully and told Neubecker to tell his son he loved him, but warned him not to speak about it to anyone else.

When he returned home, he called an 800 number listed in the back of the book. “They said, ‘Oh Michael, your son should come here and see our facility. We can help him.’ Then, they asked for my insurance policy number,” he recalled. “They said they would put it down as severe mental depression.”

It wasn’t until the third day that Neubecker finally got on the phone with his son. “Your mother thinks you might be gay,” he began.

“No, Dad, I am gay,” Lee replied.

Lee had already been going to a gay rights group for months to prepare for this conversation — one that Neubecker now sees as a turning point. “I realized my son was not severely depressed,” he said. “I was.”