Saturday, December 20, 2014

Americans (Mostly Republican) Choose Torture (Thanks, Cheney)

Dick Cheney has won over the American people, if by people you mean Republicans. Liberal Democrats, probably because they're bleeding hearts, mostly prefer a world without torture. Moderate Democrats and independents are somewhat split.

Got that? If you're moderate, you lean more toward torture. America, 2014.

Marc Ambinder gets to the heart of this swing with his meditation on, what would you call it, Torture Nation? Maybe that's what we've become:
I can only think of Cheney now as the personification of the Cult of Terror, that September 11th, 2001 political construct that gave Americans license to act outside the stream of history instead of at its headwaters, and to suppress dissent in the name of state security. What makes this scarier, even, and why I feel justified in calling it a cult, is that it also suppresses, denigrates, and stigmatizes the moral and political foundations that it seeks to protect. It's an American cult, because it plays to our own biases about what makes us special. It is not unique or exceptional.
But we are the exceptional nation, so we get to torture and call it something else. And we'd do it again because, uh, we're America. Here's a glimpse of what we've become, post-Dick Cheney:
On the question of whether the CIA's acts were justified, 76% of people who identified themselves as Republicans said yes, and only 12% said no. Self-identified Democrats split, with 37% saying the interrogation tactics were justified and 46% saying they were not. Among liberal Democrats, 65% said the CIA's actions were not justified, but among moderate and conservative Democrats, only 32% said so. A plurality of independents, 49%, sided with the CIA, and 30% said the agency's actions were not justified.
Not the world I want to be part of, Cheney's world. Don't like the ring of it. Ask yourself: Are you better off in a world where we torture, whether it does any good or not? Do you want to live in a world where we can even think up the question, "Does torture do any good or not?" (But torture works!)

Other fun fact from the Pew poll: Americans are split on whether the Senate's torture report should have been released. Why? Could it be we're ashamed, or afraid what the world will think of us? Will the terrorists use the information to inflame anti-American sentiment? If our use of torture would provide ammunition for our enemies, is that because torture rocks?

The answers to those questions would find Americans.....equally divided.

One final point: We tried and executed people after World War II for these practices, and torture remains, as it has been for as long as we can remember, against both U.S. and international law.

Jamelle Bouie in Slate thinks we have become not only Torture Nation but Punishment Nation, as well:
Americans like punishment. Not only do we have the world’s highest incarceration rate—716 inmates for every 100,000 people, compared to 475 for every 100,000 in Russia and 121 for every 100,000 in China—but we also have among the most draconian punishments of any nation in the developed world. “In the United States,” notes a report on sentencing from the University of San Francisco, “people who are found in possession of drugs, a non-violent offense, can be sentenced to die behind bars.” They can get life sentences for minor offenses and face decades in prison for a host of nonviolent crimes.
But here’s what’s key: It’s not just that Americans want a system that metes out punishment, it’s that—despite our Eighth Amendment—we are accepting of the cruelest punishment. And while it’s not legal, it exists and it’s pervasive. In theory, our prisons are holding cells for the worst offenders and centers for rehabilitation for the others. Inmates can work, learn, and prepare themselves for a more productive life in society. In reality, they are hellscapes of rape, abuse, and violence from gangs and guards.
Merry Christmas everyone! And God bless America!

Typical American family that typically approves of torture?

No comments:

Post a Comment