Friday, May 06, 2005

Who cares if we torture? Look at all those purple fingers!

I think it's instructive to see the reaction of the hawks when confronted with the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and extraordinary rendition. Point out that there appears to be a whitewash going on over a widespread problem and they -- surprise! -- completely change the subject.
Abu Ghraib and anger are all our Eugene Robinsons have. While they can see Lynndie England and her dog leash, they miss Saddam’s mass graves. Ink-stained Iraqi fingers and pro-democracy demonstrators in Beirut. Why? At some level our planet’s Robinsons know they’re on the wrong side of history. “The Robinsons” once thought they were the forefront of progress, the leading edge of ideas and engagement; now they are habituees of the rear areas as a New Greatest Generation confronts embedded tyrannies and changes bitter history for the better. While the rest of us have entered the new era of liberation, the Robinsons are trapped in a decayed and fossil liberalism, cranky voices delivering a predictably negative and myopic prattle.

In other words, "Was their torture? Was it widespread? Is it being covered up?" Eh. So what? Lebanon!!!! And I can't speak for Robinson, but does anyone really question the bravery and initiative of the overwhelimg majority of our troops? Of course not. The point is this: when confronted with the ugly truth of what appears to be a common, ugly practice that was at the very least tacitly approved by our highest levels of government, do we shrug and turn the channel? Or do we stop it and save ourselves. In fact, note how Austin Bay fails to say even one disapproving word (other than characterizing the torture as "mistreatment") that would indicate his revulsion for torture, abuse and extraordinary rendition. He certainly has a lot more room on his blog than Robinson had in his column. And yet he doesn't. Why not?

And, yes, I know this was a "how will history judge us" essay. So Bay has every right to bring up what he considers the relevant victories from this global campaign against terrorism. But Bay can't bring himself to address what I consider Robinson's thesis: If the cost for our safety is our soul, than was it all worth it?

It certainly is a "new era of liberation." A frightening one.

Permalink posted by Jonathan : 6:58 AM

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