So my odious Senator, Thom Tillis, recently sent out an email to voters about how he’s fighting on behalf of Andrew Brunson, an Americn missionary detained in Turkey for supposedly being part of a secret conspiracy to create a Khurdish Christian state. He’s been held close to two years and Turkey’s authoritarian government is holding him based on secret testimony in closed court hearings.
From what I’ve read of the case, it sounds like Tillis is on the side of the angels in this one. Which is kind of ironic, or hypocritical as Tillis also voted to confirm CIA torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director. Holding Americans unfairly? Bad. America torturing other people? No big. Similarly, some of the interviewees quoted at the first link above spoke about how ““As an American, the presenting of this type of ‘evidence’ in a courtroom by secret witnesses is alien” — but it isn’t since 9/11. Heck, W’s administration asserted it could hold people, including Americans, without presenting any evidence in a courtroom, just on the president’s say-so. And I doubt Senators Tillis or Richard Burr would protest. (Tillis objected to Obama releasing Guantanamo detainees).
The thing is, that doesn’t make Tillis wrong in the Brunson case. Having Americans unfairly detained or tortured doesn’t somehow balance out America detaining other people. It isn’t justice — okay maybe if someone like Haspel or Dick Cheney were the victim it would have a poetic justice, but even that’s a stretch. What balances the scales is America not torturing or arbitrarily detaining people. The same way that wanting cops to treat blacks and whites equally doesn’t mean I want cops gunning down unarmed whites. It means that blacks shouldn’t be gunned down either (as this story notes, cops have no trouble notwhite man with a gun shooting a , wearing a bulletproof vest).
I remember one of my FB friends (his posts are now blocked) argued after the 2016 election that Dems had no grounds to complain about Russia interfering with our election because we’ve interfered with elections in other countries for years (I do not, by the way, believe he was arguing in good faith and would have taken that position if the Russians had hacked for Clinton). While true, that doesn’t mean Russian tampering for Trump balances the scales – the goal should be more fair elections, not less.
I admit there are a few circumstances where I’d feel some real schadenfreude if bad things happen to bad people. Paul Ryan has worked to roll back restrictions on banks passed in response to the 2008 financial meltdown. It would be perfectly appropriate if the next time the banks tank the economy, he lost all his money and then had to struggle to find health care (he’s also done his best to gut the ACA). It would be a sort of justice if Tillis, who voted to gut the ACA while insisting he wanted to improve it, had to struggle for health care. But let’s face it, it’s better to live in a country in which everyone, even all the Trump voters who support his efforts to gut ACA, have affordable healthcare available.
As a general rule, the total amount of suffering needs to go down, not up.