Thursday, December 11, 2014

Enhanced Prevarication!


Can we please quit bandying about the phrase "enhanced interrogation". If ever there was a pure example of an Orwellian euphemism this one is it. It performs its desired function, to cloud an issue which ought to be seen clearly and unblinkingly.


Either you are in favor of torture because you think it's a necessary evil, or you are against torture because you think it does fundamental harm to the character of those who use and attempt to justify it. The United States cannot do this and retain any shred of the moral superiority which its enemies preach it doesn't have to begin with. The West must reject these barbaric tactics and wage this long war with techniques and tactics that don't change us all for the worst. (Yes, I am thinking of those drone attacks.)


Torture has been used by the United States and its allies. That's no longer arguable. It seems though that those who defend it now seem to have suffered a significant moral degeneration and the use of a patently idiotic phrase like "enhanced interrogation" only shines a light on that decline in character.


Hard times make hard people, and I can see some might say we need to fight fire with fire, but frankly if we want to maintain a separation between the civilized and the barbaric, we need to clearly define bright lines which make civilization worth the effort. We can at the very least quit lying to ourselves about it.

This article by Andrew Sullivan (pointed out to me by Mark Evanier) makes the point precisely and more eloquently than I can.

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4 comments:

  1. Well spoken, Rip. And some nice covers here that also support your point.

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    1. I thought the covers offered up a neat counterpoint about heroism and torture. As I've listened to the arguments justifying the torture today, it's clearer and clearer that folks have been corrupted by the acts, the very thing everyone warns about.

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  2. Americans' first reaction in times of crisis is usually the wrong one.
    After Pearl Harbor, our first action was to round up almost everyone who looked Asian (even if they weren't Japanese) and put them in internment camps.
    If BIll O'Reilly and company were around then, they'd have praised that action with..."See! There haven't been any attacks on the US itself since we locked up all those foreign-looking guys!"
    When you act like the bad guys, you're no longer the "good guys".

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    1. You are doubtless correct. I just watched O'Reilly argue with John McCain (hardly a shrinking violet on this issue) that the killing of soldiers at the end of WWII who were in the act of surrendering on the battlefield somehow equated to the clinical application of specifically listed prohibited tortures. He seemed to be somehow suggesting that back then this bad thing happened (regrettable but much more understandable) so then these other bad things were justified. It was a heinous argument. What a creep, a guy who argues himself into knots and then will not ever admit a mistake.

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