U.S. authorities confirmed on Monday that 45 of the approximate 120 Guantanamo Bay prisoners on hunger strike are being fed against their will. As such, America decided to call in Israeli medical and political experts to respond more humanely to these strikes — folks we know to have experience dealing with hunger strikes both last year and more recently. The practice, as demonstrated by actor and musician Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), is simultaneously painful and humiliating; I guess when we’re throwing out basic human rights by the dozen, knocking off one more cruel and unusual punishment isn't too big of a deal.
It isn't news to anybody reading this article that these prisoners have already been deprived of their right to a fair judicial trial, notwithstanding that prisoners cleared for release or transfer back in 2010 are still being held. These hunger strikes have been protesting not only this, but also invasive body searches and the mishandling of their Qurans. This degrading exercise of force-feeding manages both to usurp the right of these prisoners to determine the fate of their own bodies and to inhibit them from practicing the Muslim fast of Ramadan, which started on Monday. Gitmo, this extralegal void in Cuba that defies everything we thought America stood for, never should have begun, and now we’re only making things worse.
Those who condone the government's actions contend that feeding these prisoners is a good thing — that even if they don't know they want to be fed or don't think they want to, we care for them enough to sustain their unjustified misery. Sure, paternalism at its finest. In response, I disagree not with the life-preserving tenor of this argument nor even paternalism itself. Rather, this particular strain of paternalism strikes me as a little odd. It's like being the worst conceivable parent in the world: depriving your kid of a plethora of basic human decencies, throwing in them in jail at the slightest peep, and then pretending like you care about their lives and well being.
Without a doubt, I am not alone in my outrage. Ironically enough, back in May, President Obama admonished against the practice of force-feeding in Gitmo, yet Obama himself has the power to stop it whenever he sees fit. Now I call upon you, President Obama, to fulfill at least one of the promises you made to the American people about Guantanamo Bay — this, this is certainly just too much.