Valley Voices

If Trump allows torture, we are all torturers

Paul Gibson
Paul Gibson

We all must follow boldly the lead of Sen. John McCain and extinguish any notion that torture is acceptable to the United States of America. President Trump repeatedly has stated his support for torture and tells us that torture works.

Trump is absolutely wrong, unless he means that torture works to eliminate any shred of humanity in those who advocate its use. Trump does not operate beyond the situational ethics of doing a deal, and we must not let him use our humanity in whatever bargain he hopes to achieve as a promoter of torture.

Like McCain, my father was a wartime prisoner. After their B-29 bomber was shot down, Dad and his fellow crew members were held by the Japanese in the infamous Outram Prison in Singapore. Torture and starvation killed over 1,000 prisoners at Outram, earning 45 Japanese guards their arrests as war criminals.

As a survivor, Dad strongly believed that the defense of our freedoms does not require the debasing of civilized behavior, nor the compromise of the Golden Rule.

I suggest that Trump might benefit from reading books like “Night” by Elie Wiesel and “Tin Drum” by Gunter Grass. The torture used in Nazi prison camps, and the resultant guilt and shame of post-war Germans are clear examples of why we cannot let anyone, not even the president of the United States, bargain with our humanity and our souls.

If a government of the people, by the people and for the people uses torture, then we are all torturers.

Perhaps most instructive would be for the president to travel back in time to 1968 with McCain and spend just one night in the Hanoi Hilton. He would quickly learn that torture is inhuman, and he would understand McCain’s call as moral, humane and essential. Such an educational trip is not possible, and instead, we must use our voices to correct our president and save our humanity.

Never, never will we be advocates of torture.

Paul M. Gibson of Fresno owns and manages a family of corporations focused on agricultural, commercial and residential real estate. Write to him at