Wednesday, November 30, 2005

NewsMax and Torture

What to say about this obscenity?

1) The article contradicts its headline. McCain says that he gave the Vietnamese worthless information- "The information was of no real use to the Vietnamese"- so torture didn't actually "work" in this case. It was not effective. Again, close reading, is not a strong suit these days.

2) The second time McCain signed a confession to war crimes he didn't commit. It didn't work here either. Unless, of course, your goal is to get the tortured prisoner to confess to crimes they didn't commit to justify torturing them. Here we step into the deeper darkness of torture.

3) We are apparently supposed to emulate the North Vietnamese at this point- simply because they sure got things done. Amtrack also might want to look into how Mussolini got the trains running on time.

4) Apparently, the argument has gone from "We do not torture" to "Torture is good policy" in a few short weeks.

5) These people don't have any ethical beliefs at all- or any beliefs of any sort really. They attack a war hero to defend thugs. They don't defend rights- they defend imperatives. They simply argue for whatever their party wants- they're apparatchiks.

6) They simply worship power for its own sake.


elendil said...

"We do not torture" to "Torture is good policy" in a few short weeks.

There have been quite a few people remarking on this.

You remember that Bible scripture I gave condoning the rape of women in war? I had a fundamentalist friend, and I showed that to him. He did a similar thing to the torture apologists. He also went from "God does not condone rape" to "in this instance it was justified" in just a few weeks. I wonder if this similarity is more than just coincidence?

Rufus said...

One nice thing about Buddhism- Siddhartha Guatma encouraged his listeners to question him- they still consider him to have been wrong about some things and right about others.

elendil said...

I feel there's a deeper meaning to the similarity. My fundamentalist friend had to do this slimy thing because there was too much at stake. He was willing to allow a small inconsistency to protect the bigger structure. It would be worse to lost Christianity than to be inconsistent and untruthful.

I get the sense that, for some, being Republican is like that. It's their identity and their cause. Like my fundamentalist friend, they are willing to sacrifice truthfulness and consistency on this small matter if that's what it takes to protect the greater good of the party.

Rufus said...

Well, to be fair, it goes the other way too. Here in upstate NY, I remember hearing people talk about wanting to beat up the people who voted for Bush and so forth, and thinking that was pretty fanatical.

It's depressing- there are people who will support anything imaginable if they think Bush wants it, and there are people who would have done the same for Clinton. I remember knowing Democrats who wouldn't even criticize Clinton for his handling of Rwanda, which I considered to be bordering on being a crime against humanity, and certainly worthy of universal condemnation.

And yes, there are plenty of Republicans that will allow the current administration to sell out everything that conservatives traditionally believe in, so they can keep a conservative party in power.

What scares me is how unable people have become to see the other side with a sort of grudging respect- it's as if flattening of affect is a generational problem and not just a pathology! It's no wonder there are so many fanatics- people live completely in the external- they project their psyches onto everything. If you don't like the same music or movies or politician or whatever, they think you're sick. It's strange days we're living in. And I think the strangeness hasn't settled in yet.

elendil said...

You are right. I said "Republican" because we are talking about torture, but it happens in any ideology. There's something deeply disturbing about the young idealists that make up most Uni SRCs.

What scares me is how unable people have become to see the other side with a sort of grudging respect... It's strange days we're living in.

Has it always been this way? I wonder if it has something to do with our culture 'speeding up'. If you've only got 20 seconds to make your point, that's not really conducive to a lot of nuance.

Rufus said...

That could be part of it. I've noticed that going on-line forces you to get information in small bites, and when composing such small bites, to have to cut out a lot of nuance.

It could also be the effect of there being a "war on". Maybe people feel threatened on all sides.

I am not sure how to change it, aside from opting out altogether.

elendil said...

I am not sure how to change it, aside from opting out altogether.

I once read about a technique where you behave as though the political system worked the way it should, even if it doesn't. It was a while ago, and my memory is hazy. I think the example they gave involved some issue with free speech. Speech was stifled in this place, but no one was 'admitting' it. So these people practiced their speech, and by the consequences that came down on them, called the govt's bluff and demonstrated to others the doublethink.

It is a kind of way of opting out, or choosing not to participate in the system, and simultaneously showing that another way is possible. I would like to see the Dems do this and make a stand against certain political techniques employed by the Repubs. Perhaps a way of stating that the cost of participating (in terms of loss of ethics, honour, and integrity) is not worth it, even compared to the (short-term) gains in political effectiveness.

Maybe you can make a similar stand yourself for your political discourse? You can decide not to deploy quick and easy tactics, and in situations where you have no choice, tell others that you will not participate in the discussion because the setting is not conducive to nuanced and civilised discussion. The Western mind seems given to dichotomous thinking, but nearly always there's a third way.