Inspired by the United Nations’ designation of June 26th as “International Day in Support of Survivors and Victims of Torture,” a “who’s who?” list of national and international human rights groups have gathered to endorse June, 2006 as “Torture Awareness Month.” Did you ever imagine, in your wildest dreams, that you would see such a grisly reprimand directed toward the United States of America? We were always the good guys, the liberators; the ones who shook our fingers at Moscow and Beijing and Hanoi. That halo turned brass a long time ago. But, apparently, there are those who prefer that Americans continue to think of ourselves as the guys in the white hats. How much have you heard or read about “Torture Awareness Month” in the American media to date? I personally learned about it from Andrea at A Small Group of Thoughtful Concerned Citizens.

Groups of no less stature than the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch , to name just a few , have designated next month as a thirty-day campaign to focus awareness on the Bush Administration’s penchant for playing fast and loose with international law when it comes to torture. In woefully transparent stabs at political sleight of hand, our government has either shipped detainees off to other countries where torture is performed as a matter of course (a process known as “Extraordinary Rendition,”) or simply declared prisoners “enemy combatants“—a designation invented by our government as a vehicle to strip detainees of their Geneva Convention rights as “Prisoners of War.”

The Bush Administration has irredeemably damaged our stature among the nations of the world with its swaggering, ham-fisted, America-centric foreign policy. And we, the American citizenry, are guilty by association. As long as we find the truth too shocking or too depressing to contemplate; as long as we avert our eyes from the evil we know in our hearts is being perpetrated in our nation’s name–in our names; we might as well be applying the electrodes with our own hands.

Make some noise. Get involved. Make it stop.