09 December 2014

'Inconsistent with our values as a nation'

Upon receiving the on the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on CIA torture since 2001, the President released a statement declaring that "these harsh methods were ... inconsistent with our values as nation"

He really is out of touch, isn't he? He certainly looks dumb saying this at a time when millions of Americans apparently affirm that unarmed people deserve death for resisting arrest. What's a little waterboarding to such people? And he was just talking about that sort of thing the other day. I suppose he finds that inconsistent with our values, too.

I get it, of course. All of this is inconsistent with his values -- in which case, good for him. But he shouldn't insult our intelligence, not to mention that of the rest of the world, by trying to convince us that there's something fundamentally un-American about torture. Torture is no more fundamentally un-American than it is fundamentally American. Wherever people believe they know who the bad people are, regardless of legal standards of proof, they long to hear the bad people confess their crimes, and they long for someone to make them confess. It is arguably inconsistent with American values to torture people merely for expressing political opinions, but I'd bet that there are millions of Americans who wouldn't mind seeing certain dissidents tortured until they confess the treasonous malice behind their dissent. Anywhere, when people say they want bad people punished, they most likely mean they want bad people to suffer. The liberal humanitarian hedonists for whom the infliction of pain on anyone is an evil unjustified by any noble end are a pitiful minority around the world. On the simplest level, the majority assumes that suffering is necessary to learn right from wrong, while inflicting suffering is necessary to teach the difference. Like Americans in general, liberal Americans like President Obama like to think Americans are better than everyone else. Abhorring torture is how they sustain a belief in our superiority that justifies the sort of interventions around the world that end up with Americans torturing people. Interventionism brings us to torture just as it makes us the target of terrorists. Obama may think he solved the problem by issuing an order early in his presidency -- the offenses reported today took place under George W. Bush -- but he'd do more to solve the problem permanently if he renounced interference in other countries' affairs. By now it should be clear that he'll never do such a thing. It's terrible to torture prisoners, sure, but it's necessary for national security to kill families with drones. That's why the President's moral preening looks petty to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Given the high incidence of tarring and feathering in the early days of our nation, one could argue that mob "justice" and torture are part and parcel of the American people. Not to mention the needless cruelty with which slaves were dealt with, the way we dealt with the native Americans, etc. Given all this, one could easily believe that America is a nation of thieves, charlatans and murderers and probably wouldn't be too far off.