Anti-Torture=Pro-Terrorist, GOP Attacks McCain on the One Good Thing He's About

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Let me paraphrase the narrator Marlow at the end of Conrad's Heart of Darkness:

You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie Sen. John McCain, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it he appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies McCain—which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world—what I want to forget. It McCain makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.

And yet even I was appalled by this recent e-mail blast from GOPUSA, a whore-mongering site for the Republicans filled with what Conrad would call papier-mache Mephistopheleses, whose subject line carried this message: "McCain Refuses To Yield On Pro-Terrorist Amendment." The email directs you to this piece from (irony alert!) the Center for Individual Freedom in favor of torturing anyone the government deems a terrorist.

I'm not above making fun of McCain, who is legislatively a piece of shit for all the reasons former Federal Election Commission chief Brad Smith outlines in this recent Reason piece and more. But calling the former POW McCain–who reportedly can't even raise his arms above his shoulders or keep his second wife Cindy from scarfing prescription drugs at charity functions like Kitty Dukakis around cans of Sterno–pro-terrorist because he wants to keep the US from being truly horrible when it comes to torture is just insane.

Back to Marlow in Heart of Darkness, reading Kurtz's big report:

It was very simple, and at the end of that moving appeal to every altruistic sentiment it blazed at you, luminous and terrifying, like a flash of lightning in a serene sky: 'Exterminate all the brutes [at GOPUSA and CFIR]!'

It's a rare day that wouldn't be better spent reading Heart of Darkness.

NEXT: Blair Gets the Dumbchies

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  1. When exactly did we reach the point where being pro-human rights made you anti-American? I could have sworn it was once the opposite. Didn’t we used to set ourselves apart, as a beacon of justice and humane treatment?

  2. Jennifer-We always had pretentions in that direction, but we’ve usually fallen well short. I guess now we’re just done trying.

  3. I remember when hate-mongering Republicans were the paranoid imaginings of panophobic Democrats. At what point will we be able to invoke the Third Reich without hyperbole?

  4. I guess now we’re just done trying.

    We then have three choices: We either try to change it, or we put up with it, or we leave.

    My ancestors all looked around at whatever places they were in and at some point got fed up and left. As the recipient of their genes, as well as the culture that they built here, I am incapable of accepting complacency.

    So we either fix it or we leave. I have no idea how to fix it, and I have no idea where I’ll go if I leave. But my ancestors weren’t sure what they were getting themselves into either.

    Let’s wing it.

  5. I’ve never quite been able to figure out why a lot of GOP types hate McCain. His voting record is pretty conservative (not libertarian conservative but there’s only about a half-dozen of those guys left anyway). Because he doesn’t suck up to the evangelicals? He had the bad taste to actually serve in the military?

  6. Thoreau, Antarctica is not amenable to human settlement, and nowhere else on Earth is there a place we can go that isn’t already covered by a form of government we’d probably like even less than this one. So we can’t leave since there’s nowhere to go, and as for fixing it–how? All those platitudes about the beauty of voting and civic involvement turned out to be mostly bullshit, I’ve discovered.

  7. Oh, yeah, not being able to torture people will hamstring American efforts abroad. Like we’re not ten times more powerful than our two strongest (potential) enemies put together. Uh, huh.

    As for not getting attacked on U.S. soil in four years, I doubt seriously that that can be credited entirely to our military or intelligence services. We’re a free and open society still, and, as a result, insanely vulnerable to attack. We weren’t attacked much before 9/11, either, so there must be other reasons for the lack of violence here. I don’t think that the ability to torture our captives has anything to do with it. Maybe taking out two Muslim countries and hordes of Al Qaeda personnel engendered a little caution in our enemies?

    Nick, Conrad just rules. Hard to believe English wasn’t his first language. And he still has a lot of fans. I remember hearing sotto voce, “Mistah ____________–he dead” in a law school class, as Mr. _______________ received Socratic abuse from our professor.

  8. I dunno what to do, Jennifer. Maybe gaius marius is right and there’s nothing to do. But I am incapable of accepting whatever disaster might come.

    I could put up with parts of Western Europe.

  9. I could put up with parts of Western Europe.

    Parts of Eastern Europe (particularly the Baltics) sound much more enticing. Onward to Estonia!

  10. Actually, I do know what to do: I will do my own small part, and if that is not enough I will at least be able to look our predecessors in the eye and say that I didn’t give up.

    I will teach in a university because it is what I do best, and I will hope that my students turn out better than me, which is the essence of progress.

    I will continue to do volunteer work because it is better to solve problems than expect somebody else to solve them.

    I will give to causes that fight the good fight because it would be a shame if their failure was due solely to lack of resources.

    I will vote because, for all of its weaknesses, the ballot is still a weapon that tyrants fear, a weapon that people have died to obtain.

    And I will speak out, because speech is another weapon that tyrants fear, a weapon that people have died to defend.

    And if that is enough? At least I will bear no guilt for what happens.

  11. There are two major parties in this country. One of them is pro torture and the other is not.

    Everything else is is small potatoes.

  12. Antarctica is not amenable to human settlement

    More penguin meat for me!

    I could put up with parts of Western Europe.

    I’ve heard rumors that parts of Eastern Europe are coming along nicely. Maybe worth looking into.

  13. Thoreau-Spain is wonderful. Their government leaves something to be desired, but one thing I noticed there is that the government seems to be more or less irrelevant to daily life.
    This won’t matter to you since your married, but Spain has the greatest concentration of beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in one place.

  14. joe-

    You’re being unfair. Ninety senators voted in favor of McCain’s amendment; the nine dissenters (Corzine was out campaigning) were all Republicans, but that still means 46 prominent members of the party voted for it.

    Plus, a vast majority of Americans are against torture. Also, Sojouner’s (sp?) Review, a conservative religious magazine, recently started an online petition to support the amendment.

  15. I propose an amendment that eliminates the prefix “pro-” from the English language.

    As for the rest, there’s just nowhere left to go. If it were possible, I’d be the first to sign up for a nice, long spaceflight in suspended animation to colonize some distant planet long after everyone I know has died. With my luck however, I’d wind up on the first ship with all the middle managers. Of course, that colony wouldn’t last long.

    As for fixing the current situation, as I see it, there are only two choices – vote or revolt. Either work within the system as it’s set up, or attempt to bring it down from the outside. Obviously, at this point, a revolution is out of the question and unwarranted, which leaves only voting and trying to convince others to share your principles. So, in conclusion, we’re pretty much screwed. Might as well buy a bottle of bourbon, maybe try to start a family and raise a toast to freedom at the dinner table.

  16. I don’t understand why people buy in so quickly to the idea that we’d be “wimpy” if we skipped our daily torture requirement. Yeah, the Islamic terrorists are brutal folks and can engage in difficult-to-stop asymmetrical warfare, but we are an economic and military superpower. Frankly, wouldn’t the world (and our enemies) be more impressed if we had all of this power and also tried as much as possible to take the high road? How many al Qaeda recruits do we generate when torture news gets out?

  17. And if that is [not] enough? At least I will bear no guilt for what happens.

    I personally feel no guilt for what’s going on–I voted against Bush, I’ve never apologized for torture, and so forth–but somehow, I don’t think my clean conscience will be of much comfort if I’m in a labor camp, or getting raped in a prison shower.

    I’ve heard rumors that parts of Eastern Europe are coming along nicely. Maybe worth looking into.

    For awhile it looked like they were on the right track, but it looks like they’re absorbing the wrong lessons from their American buddies. Or maybe they just really, really liked the Soviet-era secret prisons, so much that when America offered them the chance to host secret CIA prisons they jumped at the chance. Ah, nostalgia.

  18. I personally feel no guilt for what’s going on–I voted against Bush, I’ve never apologized for torture, and so forth–but somehow, I don’t think my clean conscience will be of much comfort if I’m in a labor camp, or getting raped in a prison shower.

    Furthermore, I know that my clean conscience doesn’t make the damnedest bit of difference to the people we’re currently torturing, this very second.

  19. thoreau,
    Have you ruled out New Hampshire?

  20. There are two major parties in this country. One of them is pro torture and the other is not.

    Thankyou, joe, for today’s comic relief.

  21. panurge,

    You are correct – this issue makes my blood boil, and I was intemperate. Let me amend that to:

    “There are two major parties in the United States. One of them is controlled by people who are pro-torture, and the other is not.”

  22. joe,
    There are two major parties in the United States. One seeks to expand the power of the government without limit. The other is in the minority and can lie about their ambitions.

  23. Sure, Warren. Lowering the tonnage of S02 that can be discharged from a power plant, ordering government agents to beat and waterboard people…it’s all the same, man.

  24. How many al Qaeda recruits do we generate when torture news gets out?

    haha,
    none dude.
    Are you mental?
    not one dude.

  25. For those of you keeping track at home, the operative line this week is that news of American depradations against Muslims does NOT promote terrorism Does NOT.

    And always remember two things: a Koran cannot fit down a toilet, and we have always been at war with Eurasia.

  26. How many al Qaeda recruits do we generate when torture news gets out? haha, none dude. Are you mental? not one dude.

    Yeah, it’s pretty nutty to think that a country with a reputation for torturing people, many of whom turn out to be innocent, might thus find itself disliked. Remember: anti-American terrorists never, ever have rational reasons for hating us. It’s just that they are purely evil. Therefore, we can mistreat as many people as we wish, with no fear that our mistreatment of others will in any way affect how the world views us. It’s not like people mistreated by Americans might hate America as a result, oh no. You’d have to be MENTAL to think that.

  27. I don’t know, joe, but I’ve got a feeling that the intelligence services and the military aren’t torturing people for the first time. What we’re doing now is nothing compared to what must’ve gone on during the Cold War, when the stakes were infinitely higher. Things going on under both parties’ watchful eyes, I might add. Furthermore, I didn’t notice the last administration saying no to anything that law enforcement or the intelligence community wanted to do, either. We waste a lot of time saying “Gotcha!” in this country instead of dealing with problems that are systemic, not party-specific. I’m not saying that the current administration isn’t worse than usual on this sort of issue–it probably is–but the problem is deeper than the GOP or Bush. Which is why Jennifer and thoreau are threatening to move to the Czech Republic 🙂

  28. joe, I completely agree that this torture nonsense has caused us an order of magnitude more harm than benefit. Our allies are shocked, shocked, and we do more to recruit troops for our enemies by doing evil things. Even Islamic fundamentalists could recognize the moral high ground if we chose to stand upon it.

  29. “haha,
    none dude.
    Are you mental?
    not one dude.”

    Yep, and 9/11 had nothing to do with creating a thirst for vengeance and willingness to do anything to Muslims among the American populace.

    Is the Kool-aid standard issue, or do you prefer it over reality?

  30. Again, it strikes me as odd not that the Bush administration wants to engage in the terrible actions that governments have used forever, but that the administration wants to commit those atrocities openly and legally.

    It’s a curious view of justice. Normally in a semi-free society, the government will use torture because it may be necessary but it does so secretly. It’s pretty obvious even to the government that it’s both immoral and unpopular. Bush, on the other hand, seems to believe that it’s only wrong if the state refuses to sanction it; that morality and the state are inseperable.

  31. The pro-human-rights people and the pro-torture people are both mean. That means we don’t need to choose between them. Can’t we argue substantively instead?

  32. Pro Libertate said:
    I don’t know, joe, but I’ve got a feeling that the intelligence services and the military aren’t torturing people for the first time. What we’re doing now is nothing compared to what must’ve gone on during the Cold War, when the stakes were infinitely higher.

    It’s not that none of these things ever occured under other administrations or that every president before Bush was perfect, but now we have a President/Administration who has adoped for the first time in our history a doctrine of “pre-emptive” strikes, a vice president who is openly lobbying for “exceptions” for CIA personnel to the “no toture rule” and is sending people in huge numbers (to the point that our “Allies” are speaking out against it) to other countries to be tortured.

    It’s not that these things never occured in other adminsitrations, its that it used to be (at least publicly) the exception, not the standard M.O.
    With this President these types of things seem to be becoming standard operating procedure.

    And that, to me, is the big problem

  33. I haven’t really talked to any terrorists lately. But I would bet my bottom dollar that none of them are going to give as their reason to fight our torture, which does not compare to any of the countries they are used to.

    I would in fact guess that our lack of torturing them would be more likely to be a reason to fight us as it would be seen as a weakness.

    No, they are most likely going to say Allah something or other. And wholly Arab lands something or other. They are not going to not attack us if we just start being nice.

  34. Torture is nothing new. But if you keep it illegal, it will remain at the top of the slippery slope.

    By making it legal and insisting that it’s really OK, you’re just pouring grease onto the slope.

    Slippery slope may not be the strongest argument around, but that doesn’t mean you should put grease on the hill.

  35. kwais,

    If you asked a Communist Party member in Eastern Europe in the 1940s why he’s a communist, he’ll probably give you a whole spiel about the workers and the capitalists.

    But isn’t funny how many people developed these opinions about worker and capitalists right about the same time that the communists were the ones organizing partisan bands to fight the Germans who’d invaded their countries?

  36. I voted for Gore in 2000 on a “gridlock is good” basis, and I voted for Bush in 2004 on a “I really don’t like Kerry at all” basis.

    This taught me a valuable lesson: it’s more important to value gridlock than the guy running for office. I’m getting serious buyer’s remorse with Bush 2k4. Of course, the guy won Texas but a landslide, but I still contributed. At the time I found Andrew Sullivan’s claim that Kerry would be bound to finish up Iraq in a sensible way to be sort of ridiculous…maybe the guy was right.

    I guess that means I’ll be voting for Democrats in ’06 to get us back to gridlock, even if the candidates are even more irritating than the Republicans, which is quite a trick.

  37. If you asked a Communist Party member in Eastern Europe in the 1940s why he’s a communist, he’ll probably give you a whole spiel about the workers and the capitalists.

    Well, if he was in the German-occupied part of Eastern Europe, he would have denied having anything to do with the Communist Party. To keep the local Gestapo from putting a bullet in the back of his head.

    If he was in the Russian-occupied part, he would have given you whatever spiel about capitalists and workers he thought you wanted to hear. To keep the local commissar from putting a bullet in the back of his head.

    Really, joe, do you think Eastern Europe went Communist for any reason other than the Russian tanks sitting in front of various and sundry capital buildings?

  38. joe-

    I’m sure that the people who joined those partisan bands would have changed their minds if somebody had just explained that, economically speaking, the Germans and Commies were just as far to the left. The Eastern Europeans then would have realized that they had a choice between two groups that rejected self-ownership and property rights, and would have quickly rejected both philosophies.

    Yes, if only an H&R poster had been there to explain that, I’m sure that they would have rejected the impulse to go kill the bastards who bombed their houses.

  39. And hence the root of all the problems:

    Kwais, and those like him, see the enemy as only religious nutjobs who are purely evil. This monolithic view is so patently wrong that it is amazing that anyone could believe it, but many do. It’s the same thing, over and over. As long as you can make the enemy “them”, and make those who are fighting “them” “us”, people will stop thinking critically and just start demonizing “them” to the point where “them” stop even being viewed as human beings.

    It’s such a part of human nature that politicians in all countries are very well schooled at taking advantage of it. In fact, if I remember correctly, there is a very famous Nazi quote about it, as well as a pretty good Roman one.

    Nothing new under the sun, indeed.

  40. Kwais, and those like him, see the enemy as only religious nutjobs who are purely evil.

    Not only that, but they view “the enemy” as apparently the only advanced vertebrate lifeforms on earth who do not react based upon the way you treat them. I mean, if I have two dogs, and I treat one dog very nicely while constantly abusing the second dog, chances are the first dog will like me while the second dog will want to bite me every chance it gets.

    But according to some people, I am an innocent victim, and the only reason the second dog wants to bite me is because it is pure evil.

  41. RC, please do a quick google on “World War II partisan communist.” You’re talking out of you ass again.

  42. Quasibill,
    I do justify in my head what I do. And I do make it a point to tell myslelf that I would never have a job for money or joy that was not part of producing an overall good.

    So maybe I do look at how much I like my car, and how much I like the way America is today and treats me, and how much I don’t want a regular job. And maybe I compartimentalize and over justify.

    I don’t think so though. I really do think we are fighting the noble fight.

    Also, as I mentioned before, I have not talked to a bad guy recently. But I have talked to many of them. I have overheard their conversations to eachother. I can’t see inside their heads or read their minds, but I do have a grasp on what drives them. I think. I guess any one mans read on another mans reasons for actions is always purely conjecture.

  43. Jennifer-We always had pretentions in that direction, but we’ve usually fallen well short. I guess now we’re just done trying.

    We’ve fallen short in the past, but rarely as a function of official government policy. …I think you’d have to go back to Jim Crow, our removal, massacre and general treatment of American Indians, our treatment of Mormons and, of course, what we did to people of Japanese ancestry in the internment camps.

    I think the anti-anti-torture lobby goes above and beyond, though, because they so often claim that we just don’t and wouldn’t do things like this, even as they claim it’s un-American to outlaw it. I don’t think it’s a question of magnitude; just imagine the government denying that it was interning people or marching them off to a reservation some where, even as they were doing it. …maybe with some quibble about the real definition of “internment” or “marching”.

    …and this smear on McCain isn’t new. I was called pro-terrorist in this very forum for comin’ out big against torture, back when the issue was fresh and new. I don’t wear that as a badge of honor so much as I point to it as further evidence of the character flaw deep in the hearts of those who would disgrace America and its principles for the pretense of safety.

  44. But according to some people, I am an innocent victim, and the only reason the second dog wants to bite me is because it is pure evil.

    Come now Jen, you are being silly. Two things:
    1) In some cases the second dog will love you even more, because maybe it’s self worth will be lower and feel it is less deserving, and thus more needy.

    2) I am not saying they are evil. Maybe we are. I haven’t talked to God lately, maybe we unGodly Americans have our comeuppance coming and the only true followers of Gods way, the AlQ are here to deliver God’s wrath on us. Our women will be delivered from the slavery of whoredom. Our children will be freed from the distraction of tv, music, and modern distractions from their true pursuit of Godlyness.

    I don’t know. I like the way I live life in America, but I do admit much of it and much of my drives are sin.

  45. Come now Jen, you are being silly. Two things:
    1) In some cases the second dog will love you even more, because maybe it’s self worth will be lower and feel it is less deserving, and thus more needy.

    So we should base our foreign policy on the psychology of the abusive husband-abused wife dynamic? Sorry, but I love this country too much to let it turn into the drunk shirtless mulletheaded guy you see on every episode of COPS. “I only smack de bitch when she deserve it!”

    Bear in mind, my statement was to refute your comment that our torturing people makes no difference, concerning whether or not some people will become terrorists.

  46. OK, I did a bad job refuting your refute.

    Still, us torturing people is not going to add to the terrorist numbers. What is going to add to their numbers is what happens in Iraq, and how much money and what countries contribute to the formation of terrorists.

    If Iraq turns out well, I think the bad guys will have a hard time recruiting bad guys. If it turns out to be a hell hole, it will be easy. If it turns out to look like we cut and ran, it will be easy.

  47. IRAQ enters stage left. AMERICA is seated center on the couch.

    AMERICA: Where the hell have you been?

    IRAQ: (exhausted) I’ve been pumping oil all day, can’t you tell?

    AMERICA: Don’t lie to me! You’ve been fucking Iran!

    IRAQ: No, I haven’t! I swear!

    etc

  48. Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives both wholeheartedly and passionately support the WoD. ‘Nuf said.

  49. Still, us torturing people is not going to add to the terrorist numbers. What is going to add to their numbers is what happens in Iraq, and how much money and what countries contribute to the formation of terrorists.

    Ignoring the implication that “us torturing people” and “what happens in Iraq” are two completely different things, what is it about anti-American terrorists and/or insurgents that makes them unique among all human beings, in that they are indifferent to having themselves or their loved ones tortured?

  50. I still don’t get why the roots of our current terrorism problem are so often considered mutually exclusive. It seems pretty clear to me that both our foreign policy and the inherent prejudices of terrorists combine to create a truly dangerous situation. A drastic change in our foreign policy would probably lessen the danger, but it would not eradicate terrorism or hatred for the US. Maybe it would be enough, but I don’t know that for sure.

    As for torture “creating” terrorists, well I’m sure it does but I have a hard time believing that our current actions are a primary motivator. After all, it’s well known in the Middle East that America has been torturing and worse for decades now. Certainly, the fact that our torture is front page news validates the fears and hatred of terrorists, but I think that we find it much more shocking than they do.

    I imagine that they think this is a great PR victory, as the rest of the world can finally see the light about the evil US, but I’m unconvinced as to the degree it helps with recruitment. It certainly doesn’t hurt, though.

  51. joe,

    No, you are the one talking out your ass (as usual). You do realize that most of the indigenous communists of Eastern Europe were actually rounded up and murdered by the Soviets? The classic example of this is Poland (see Davies’ various works on Polish history). Only in Yugoslavia was there breathing space for such partisans, and that was largely because the Anglo-American alliance provided them with some personnel and weaponry.

    As another example note that Prague was actually liberated by a German trained and armed army of captured Soviet officers and soldiers who were later betrayed by the Anglo-Americans. The Prague Uprising would not have gotten off the ground were it not for the held of Vaslov’s army, yet the Soviets and the local communists take credit for winning the day when it was an anti-communist like Vaslov who won the day for them so that they could later betray him.

  52. joe,

    My suggestion is that you shut your ignorant trap before I kick your ass all over this blog more than I already have.

  53. Torture me or not–feh, it’s all the same to me. Rape my daughter or don’t–it really doesn’t matter. Bomb my house to smithereens, don’t bomb my house to smithereens–in a thousand years no one will care, so why should I care now?

  54. Joe,
    That was pretty funny. Fucking Iran huh?

  55. So no one’s got anything to say about the analogy between Eastern European partisans and Iraqi insurgents? No one?

    That’s disappointing.

  56. Our torturing people likely doesn’t make a difference, since at best it only reinforces various stereotypes, ideas, memes, etc. about the U.S. Its not like those predisposed to commmit acts of terrorism started disliking us only in 2003 or 2001 or what have you.

  57. Another thing to consider: even if kwais and the like are correct, in that our enemies don’t care whether or not we torture people, our friends and allies do. Fine, maybe you’re right and the Islamists will hate us no matter what happens–that still leaves a few billion people whose hearts and minds WILL be swayed by whether America is the gentle giant or the big swaggering bully.

  58. If you asked a Communist Party member in Eastern Europe in the 1940s why he’s a communist, he’ll probably give you a whole spiel about the workers and the capitalists.

    Which countries? What groups? Like M1EK, you make broad, baseless claims about European history that simply don’t meet up with reality. For example, Poland’s indingenous communist population was dead by 1940; it had to be re-created by the USSR after they had killed it off. In other words, no communist partisans existed in Poland; the partisans who did exist there and were involved in the siege of Warsaw in 1944 were allied with the pre-war government largely and weren’t communists.

    So, again, which countries? Which groups? Until you can give me and others specifics your attempted analogy borders on the moronic.

  59. joe,

    You know who responded to you, your just shaking in your coward’s boots in the gulch.

    Jennifer,

    Most of the world doesn’t give a shit and they certainly don’t order their daily lives around whether the U.S. tortures people or not or change their economic relations, etc. with the U.S. over it.

  60. joe,

    BTW, it just completely amazes me that you buy into this Stalinist argument about independent communist parties leading the way in Eastern Europe.

  61. Strangely enough, I am agreeing with Hakluyt. There has been a recent running theme of that.

    Jen, have you ever talked to any foreigner who has changed their mind about us even remotely because of the allegations of torture?

    I’m not saying you haven’t. I just talk to many all the time. Many moslems all the time. The biggest complaint I ever hear about us is that we are too nice. I kid you not. Of course that is made by guys that like us.

    The guys that don’t like us are not complaining about torture. They are complaining about the existence of YOU Jennifer, you and people like you. Well that is a small part of it.

    Mainly I think it is about US and them. And to them we are the ‘Them’.

  62. Jen, have you ever talked to any foreigner who has changed their mind about us even remotely because of the allegations of torture? I’m not saying you haven’t. I just talk to many all the time. Many moslems all the time. The biggest complaint I ever hear about us is that we are too nice. I kid you not. Of course that is made by guys that like us.

    Kwais, you’re over in Iraq and/or Afghanistan. You’ve mentioned on this very blog that in the past you personally have picked up and turned over people who disappeared into our shadowy prison system over there. (But I’m sure they weren’t tortured and even if they were they deserved it, okay?) You have the guns, you have the ability to make these people and their families suffer all sorts of miseries (or at least, they THINK you do)–don’t you think this might possibly have some effect on what these people say to you?

    “Niggers love being slaves. How do I know this? I just went down to the quarters and asked my niggers if they like being slaves, and they all said ‘Yassuh, Massuh, Ah love being yore slave!'”

  63. Joe,
    Point of order. I am guessing you are doing the “ignore Hak” thing.

    However, you can’t make what appears to be a bogus historical claim and then while called on it by the historian that you are ignoring, then claim “I can’t believe no one wants to discuss this historical fact”

    I mean you can pull the old ignore the poster you don’t like skit, all you want. I think he himself pulled it on me when I threw some barbs out about France. But, if the guy you are ignorging points out that your point was false, and you want to keep ignoring him, you have to more on.

    Or else you are really asking someone to cut and paste his response to respond to you. In which case you are not really ignoring him.

    All right, I don’t know if that made any sense. I am going to bed, and I’m not going to proofread this post. It makes sense or it doesn’t.

  64. kwais, it’s not about people in the Middle East changing from flag waving America lovers to Al Qaeda members.

    It’s about people who are inclined to dislike us anyway becoming sufficiently motivated to actually start supporting terror groups, or even joining one.

  65. My objection to torture starts on moral grounds (“Not in my name, thank you very much”), but it extends to utilitarian grounds as well. I think we can all acknowledge that torture is a mixed bag as far as interrogation goes (where one draws the line between torture and psychological pressure is another question, of course). Aside from whether it works or not, there is no question that it strongly offends our allies and our enemies alike. The Islamic terrorists are going to hate us anyway, I acknowledge, but we but fan the flames by doing morally questionable things the rest of the world finds objectional. Besides existing and being successful, that is.

    In any case, I don’t want my country torturing people because I don’t want us to torture people. Whether the crazies out there care one way or the other doesn’t really matter to me.

    I have one question to toss out: What if one of our citizens was subjected to this kind of torture by another country, where that country approved of the torture and the fact of the torture were publicly known? What would we do?

  66. kwais,

    Ha ha ha. One of joe’s main means of argumentation is to ignore unpleasant facts and things which contradict his analyses.

  67. You have the guns, you have the ability to make these people and their families suffer all sorts of miseries (or at least, they THINK you do)

    Some of them may be telling a different story, as they want to be my friend. Most of them, I would wager not.

    Some of them are fully aware of the limits of my power and/or what I am allowed to do, and have no intention of being my friend.

    And some don’t know who is listening to them.

    And some more than that.

  68. Pro Libertate,

    What, morally, is wrong with torture (BTW, I’ve asked this question before of the H&R crowd and never got an answer)?

    …and our enemies alike.

    No, it may offend them that we commit acts of torture, torture by itself doesn’t though.

    What would we do?

    Depends on the context of the situation. Sometimes we’d try to rescue them, sometimes we’d let them rot, etc.

  69. OK now I am really going to bed. (Dammit, I didn’t want to stay up this late).

  70. I’m with Jennifer here. The suggestion that our torturing people isn’t likely to effect the appeal of insurgents to their sympathizers and supporters seems highly unlikely to me.

    Add to that what torture has done to our appeal to potential allies and their constituencies. …Consider what torture has done to support for the War on Terror here at home.

  71. I don’t know enough about the details of the underground movements in WWII. I only know that, when the allies arrived, it was learned that every European civilian and most Axis soldiers were members of resistance groups, and were just about to land the crushing blow against the Axis. But we beat them to the punch.

    As far as religion and terrorism: Over on grylliade’s forum (book section, thread on the Qur’an) Jennifer and I have been discussing the fact that religions seem to mold themselves to cultures rather than cultures molding themselves to religion. In a region with an economy that depends on slavery, a bunch of preachers will find Bible passages that can be used to justify slavery. In a region with a history of misogyny predating Mohammed (or even the Old Testament), the preachers will emphasize the misogynistic passages in the Qur’an (I’m using the same transliteration as the version that I read). But in Southeast Asia, where the historical lot of women is hardly equal but definitely not as bad as the Middle East, the misogynistic passages of the Qur’an are ignored. In Medieval Europe, the Bible was interpreted to support monarchy. Today, we see Jesus as being all about peace and freedom, man.

    So the fact that a terrorist tells you he’s in it for religion means very little. Why did he decide to act on the more militant passages of the Qur’an rather than, say, the parts about alms and widows and orphans? Probably because he’s got a desire to fight. And why fight us instead of somebody else? Probably because we’re there.

    Taking a terrorist at his word doesn’t seem like a good way to get the bottom of what’s going on.

  72. My suggestion is that you shut your ignorant trap before I kick your ass all over this blog more than I already have.

    FUCKIN’ BALLS, HAKLYUT!

    YOU’RE A BIG MAN ON THE INTERNETS!

  73. What, morally, is wrong with torture?

    I suppose it’s on my list of things that simply aren’t done. You can ask the same question about why murder is wrong, too, so at some point, all moral questions boil down to personal beliefs.

    From the political perspective, I don’t think the government should be doing anything against the text or the spirit of the Constitution. The Eighth Amendment hits this point pretty squarely (even if you want to quibble over whether torture is “punishment”). Our foundational belief is that human beings have certain natural rights, and if we start parsing everything down to the point where any action is justifiable, we will lose our way and, eventually, our freedom. If torture is okay for terrorism suspects, then why not for drug dealers? Maybe there are situations where it’s going to be used–damn the consequences–but to legally sanction it? No, I must object.

    I suppose I’m basically saying that it’s a priori with me that torture is wrong. Not a terribly convincing argument, but that’s what it boils down to.

  74. What, morally, is wrong with torture?

    What is the utility embodied by torture?

  75. If people don’t form bad opinions of us based upon the fact that we torture them, does this also mean that they don’t form GOOD opinions of us when we do nice things like build hospitals for them? I’m just wondering if Bush’s old “win their hearts and minds” idea was doomed from the outset, if these people don’t care one way or the other what we do.

    Or is it: the good stuff changes their opinion of us but the bad stuff does not?

  76. The suggestion that our torturing people isn’t likely to effect the appeal of insurgents to their sympathizers and supporters seems highly unlikely to me.

    Oh for [your deity here]’s sake.

    Most of the insurgents and their sympathizers and supporters live in countries where torture is much more routine and widespread than anything the CIA could cook up and pull off. These people would all be leading revolts against the local capos if they were offended by torture.

    I mean, the insurgents torture their captives to death on videotape. Your telling me that their supporters and sympathizers have the slightest problem, at a moral level, with torture? I’m sure someone who was on the fence is going to say “Gosh, those Americans with their rendition and their waterboardin, they are bad guys. I think I’ll join up with the fellows who saw off their prisoner’s heads with a dull knife to show my support for human rights.”

    Nah, the allegations of torture give them something to talk about, something to hang their hate and anger on, but I really don’t think these allegations move any appreciably number of people to do anything different than they were doing already.

  77. Most of the insurgents and their sympathizers and supporters live in countries where torture is much more routine and widespread than anything the CIA could cook up and pull off. These people would all be leading revolts against the local capos if they were offended by torture.

    You’re not suggesting that torture by locals doesn’t bother these people, are you?

    When I picture what winning the War on Terror looks like, I see it as something like post World War II Germany. …where, overwhelmingly, the actors were ashamed to tell their children what they’d done, and their children were dismayed at the disgrace their parents had brought on them.

    …where our old enemy’s only adherents are considered detestable freaks, a group mainly comprised of rebellious teenagers, not something with which American forces need to worry about.

    Torture makes that outcome all the more unlikely.

    “I mean, the insurgents torture their captives to death on videotape. Your telling me that their supporters and sympathizers have the slightest problem, at a moral level, with torture? I’m sure someone who was on the fence is going to say “Gosh, those Americans with their rendition and their waterboardin, they are bad guys. I think I’ll join up with the fellows who saw off their prisoner’s heads with a dull knife to show my support for human rights.”

    I don’t think the insurgents are playing for the middle. They’re playing to their radical support.

    …Giving the insugency something to show the middle suggesting that our moral authority isn’t much different from theirs hurts our cause.

    Nah, the allegations of torture give them something to talk about, something to hang their hate and anger on, but I really don’t think these allegations move any appreciably number of people to do anything different than they were doing already.

    I disagree, especially in regards to passive and financial support in places like Saudi Arabia.

    …and you’ve ignored what the appearance of torture has done to potential support from potential allies (as well as old ones). You’ve also ignored what a loss of moral authority does to support for the War on Terror here at home.

  78. …even in the immediate short run, does torture help or hurt Sunni leaders who want to join with the new, American installed, democratic Iraqi government? What does torture do for insurgent leaders who might want to lay down their arms and join the new government?

    Torture prisoners, and isn’t any leader who joins with the new government all that more likely to be branded a traitor? …if things don’t go well after we leave, won’t every insurgent leader that decided to work with the new Iraqi government be seen as a collaborator?


  79. The guys that don’t like us are not complaining about torture. They are complaining about the existence of YOU Jennifer, you and people like you. Well that is a small part of it.
    Mainly I think it is about US and them. And to them we are the ‘Them’.
    Comment by: kwais at December 12, 2005 01:33 PM

    It’s kinda strange that this is what I thought of all the Irish Catholics in Boston that would funnel money to the IRA until I actually moved here and got to know the people.

  80. I guess that means I’ll be voting for Democrats in ’06 to get us back to gridlock, even if the candidates are even more irritating than the Republicans, which is quite a trick.

    I’ll be voting for the Democratic candidate in 08 if s/he will actually stop the torture. That’s expecting a bit much from the party of Clinton (extraordinary rendition, anyone?), but I can hope.

    Failing that, maybe the Republicans will put up an anti-torture president.

    Hey, stop laughing…

  81. And the same in 06. I don’t expect to be voting for many people…

  82. So we can’t leave since there’s nowhere to go, and as for fixing it–how? All those platitudes about the beauty of voting and civic involvement turned out to be mostly bullshit, I’ve discovered.

    Funny, you called this sort of arguement “convenient” in the global-warming discussion.

  83. So we can’t leave since there’s nowhere to go, and as for fixing it–how? All those platitudes about the beauty of voting and civic involvement turned out to be mostly bullshit, I’ve discovered. . . .Funny, you called this sort of arguement “convenient” in the global-warming discussion.

    What the hell are you talking about?

  84. What, morally, is wrong with torture (BTW, I’ve asked this question before of the H&R crowd and never got an answer)?

    If you have to ask, you’re never going to get an answer you’ll understand. That’s one of the things that struck me the most about ethics; for all the efforts of philosophers to understand why certain things are moral and others immoral, there’s never been a theory that does a good job of explaining morality (no, not even rule utilitarianism). Some things are wrong, regardless of good or bad results. Torture is among them. A good start might be with Kant’s dictum that people are ends, not means, and torture treats people as means. But in the end, torture is wrong because torturing people is wrong, just like murder is wrong because murdering people is wrong. There might be cases where torture is the lesser evil, as in the famous cases of “LA is about to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon,” but that doesn’t make torture right; it just makes it better than letting LA be nuked.

    I must agree with Pro Libertate: what would we do if we found out American citizens?-?innocent Americans, at that?-?were being tortured? Would that change our opinion of the torturers? Probably not. Would it affect our actions? You bet your sweet ass it would.

    Ha ha ha. One of joe’s main means of argumentation is to ignore unpleasant facts and things which contradict his analyses.

    Hello, pot? Yeah, this is the kettle. You’re black.

  85. What the hell are you talking about?

    I misquoted:

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2005/12/forests_thrive.shtml#comments

    Captain Holly: When one actually considers the scale of the problem, stopping global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions becomes somewhat like interstellar travel: Interesting on paper, but virtually impossible in real life.

    Jennifer: The beauty of this is that even if global warming IS our fault, we STILL don’t have to do anything about it!

    The very “there’s nothing we can do about it” argument you mock, you engage in here:

    So we can’t leave since there’s nowhere to go, and as for fixing it–how? All those platitudes about the beauty of voting and civic involvement turned out to be mostly bullshit, I’ve discovered.

    It’s a libertarian website. The libertarians here spend enough time complaining. There’s no point going into overtime and slagging off on somebody who says “I’ll do what I can”.

  86. If you have to ask, you’re never going to get an answer you’ll understand.

    I understand. …but I’d add that my vision of morality has something to do with coercion, and torture is blatant coercion.

  87. You’re not suggesting that torture by locals doesn’t bother these people, are you?

    If by “these people” you mean the insurgents and their supporters, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. After all, they have plenty of bad actors close to hand that they could target if they were really bothered by torture, but they don’t seem to do so, do they?

    I mean, if you have one single example of “those people” complaining about homegrown torture, do share.

    I don’t think the insurgents are playing for the middle. They’re playing to their radical support.

    My point exactly.

    Giving the insugency something to show the middle suggesting that our moral authority isn’t much different from theirs hurts our cause.

    Maybe a tiny bit at the margins, but let’s face it, people who make decisions about who to support based on things like human rights are not going to hook up with people who saw off their prisoner’s heads with dull knives.

  88. The very “there’s nothing we can do about it” argument you mock, you engage in here: So we can’t leave since there’s nowhere to go, and as for fixing it–how? All those platitudes about the beauty of voting and civic involvement turned out to be mostly bullshit, I’ve discovered. It’s a libertarian website. The libertarians here spend enough time complaining. There’s no point going into overtime and slagging off on somebody who says “I’ll do what I can”.

    So then I ask you in all sincerity, Eric: what can I do? Seriously. I’ve asked this before. My country is turning into a monster–how can I stop it? Bear in mind that I do not wish to break the law–no assassinations, no coups–otherwise, please, tell me why I am wrong to say I can’t do anything to stop the US Army from engaging in an official pro-torture policy. Tell me how I can stop the torture! Tell me how I can stop the erosion of our civil liberties! I’ve already voted–it did nothing. Now what?

  89. “What, morally, is wrong with torture (BTW, I’ve asked this question before of the H&R crowd and never got an answer)?”

    If you have to ask, you’re never going to get an answer you’ll understand.

    The problem is the question, “If we decide it’s justifiable to bomb an enemy’s city, unavoidably killing people we know are innocent, why is torturing people who we think at least may be enemies so much worse?”

    I’m adamantly against torture and do consider it worse than causing unintentional (but not unexpected) civilian deaths for reasons I can sincerely explain…but I get a very uncomfortable feeling when I consider the question.

  90. If by “these people” you mean the insurgents and their supporters, that’s exactly what I’m suggesting.

    Actually, I was talking about “the middle”.

  91. thoreau,

    I don’t know enough about the details of the underground movements in WWII.

    You don’t know anything about it at all.

    I only know that, when the allies arrived, it was learned that every European civilian and most Axis soldiers were members of resistance groups, and were just about to land the crushing blow against the Axis. But we beat them to the punch.

    Steven Crane,

    Do you anything of actual substance to state which refutes what I have stated about Eastern Europe? If so, do it. Otherwise just continue your job as the jester here whose main contribution remains the O RLY? owl you borrowed from someone else.

    Pro Libertate,

    I suppose it’s on my list of things that simply aren’t done. You can ask the same question about why murder is wrong, too, so at some point, all moral questions boil down to personal beliefs.

    So, in all cases murder is morally wrong? I certainly don’t think that murder is always morally wrong.

    From the political perspective, I don’t think the government should be doing anything against the text or the spirit of the Constitution.

    Torture likely doesn’t violate the text or spirit of the Constitution in light of the approved of “police” or judicial practices found in the Early Republic.

    If torture is okay for terrorism suspects, then why not for drug dealers?

    Well, every decision we make deals with a slippery slope, but you have to demonstrate that the slope actually exists.

    I suppose I’m basically saying that it’s a priori with me that torture is wrong. Not a terribly convincing argument, but that’s what it boils down to.

    No, its not a very convincing argument and my question remains unanswered.

    Ken Shultz,

    …where, overwhelmingly, the actors were ashamed to tell their children what they’d done, and their children were dismayed at the disgrace their parents had brought on them.

    They weren’t ashamed, that’s the point I’ve made over and over here again. The Nazis and Nazi sympathizers viewed their acts as moral and necessary ones. It’d make us feel better if they were ultimately bothered by these events of course.

    grylliade,

    If you have to ask, you’re never going to get an answer you’ll understand.

    Oh my goodness. And you are the one making accusations against me re: my view of aesthetics. Honestly, if you can’t explain why something is wrong then you have no business saying that it is.

    …there’s never been a theory that does a good job of explaining morality (no, not even rule utilitarianism).

    Sorry, that’s a very silly claim from a very silly person that strikes me as basically based on upon personal biases.

    A good start might be with Kant’s dictum that people are ends, not means, and torture treats people as means.

    Here you go doing what you say that can’t be done. I’m shocked! I’m shocked.

    I don’t avoid other people’s arguments, etc. I attack them.

  92. grylliade,

    If you have to ask, you’re never going to get an answer you’ll understand.

    Anyway, I see living in ignorance is your modus operandi.

  93. They weren’t ashamed, that’s the point I’ve made over and over here again. The Nazis and Nazi sympathizers viewed their acts as moral and necessary ones. It’d make us feel better if they were ultimately bothered by these events of course.

    Surely, not after the war was over?

  94. Ken Shultz,

    You’ve never read interviews with these people. Those that survive till this day still try to justify extermination of Jews, gypsies, gay people, etc. in one way or another. Basically de-Nazification had to wait until the next generation.

  95. Ken Shultz,

    BTW, I don’t think its too much of a burden to ask people to justify or at least explain their views on what is and is not morally upright.

  96. I am an Ohio State Buckeye fan. I want the Buck’s to win the big game against Michigan. I grab one of the Wolverine coaches and torture the hell out of him and learn what plays the Buckeyes should expect to be up against. After OSU wins big the story comes out that we won due to torture.

    Did OSU win?

  97. Yeah. It totally sucks how we lost world war two. If only we had tortured it would all be different!

  98. Hakluyt,

    Maybe its not immoral but it seems to be illegal. Rendition would seem to be illegal as well, if I understand the concept of “accomplice before the fact” correctly. Maybe some of our lawyers can help us out …

    US Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, Para. 2340A, Torture

    (a) Offense. – Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

    (b) Jurisdiction. – There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if –

    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

  99. Anyway, I see living in ignorance is your modus operandi.

    Pffft. I’ve thought about things like this a lot. I think that there are various approaches you can take to ethics, but none of them can logically convince you that it’s wrong to kill someone else. In the end, ethical theories are rationalizations rather than reasons. For most people, they do ethical things because it’s just right, and they’re decent people. The underpinnings of ethics are interesting, but ultimately irrelevant. Mostly I think it’s instinct and tradition that interplay to give us ethics.

    A good start might be with Kant’s dictum that people are ends, not means, and torture treats people as means.

    Here you go doing what you say that can’t be done. I’m shocked! I’m shocked.

    Well, if someone were to ask me why people should be ends rather than means, that’s where the difficulty comes in. What do you say to a sociopath to convince them that other people matter? Or to someone who just doesn’t care about others? How do you convince Hitler that Jews are people too, and should matter? In the end, there’s nothing you can say. With torture, it’s the same thing. I can give you a bunch of reasons, but if at the end of it all you still say, “So? Why should I care?”, then there’s nothing to do but lock you up so that you can’t hurt anyone else.

  100. grylliade,

    In the end, ethical theories are rationalizations rather than reasons.

    No, rationalizations are based on pretexts, and I am not asking for that. Honestly, you need to know the meanings of words before you use them. Anyway, ethical theories clearly are not rationalizations, they are at their best well balanced and thought out reasons for doing X or not doing X.

    For most people, they do ethical things because it’s just right, and they’re decent people.

    No, most people live by an ethical code, be it conscious or unconscious – they are part of the memes of our existance. Honestly, you act like were are exclusively genetically hardwired to do X, which clearly isn’t the case.

    Mostly I think it’s instinct and tradition that interplay to give us ethics.

    You are now flip-flopping.

    How do you convince Hitler that Jews are people too, and should matter?

    It wasn’t an issue as to whether they were people, it was an issue of whether they were good for the Volk.

    In the end, there’s nothing you can say.

    Persuasion and argument are powerful forces you fool.

  101. Persuasion and argument are powerful forces you fool.

    Yep. You should try them sometime.

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