TORTURE OR TICKLING?
So I'm watching "Washington Journal" this morning and they have Heather Mac Donald from the Manhattan Institute on. She is a neoconservative apologist, though it takes a few callers to point that out. C-Span, in its stenographic, completely objective way (and it now strikes me that "complete objectivity" is really ignorance--one can only be "completely objective" if one has no knowledge of good and evil, of actions and consequences, of history, and so forth; so to ask a reporter or journalist to be completely objective is to ask them to be as innocent as a child, to pretend they don't know anything and to dutifully and unquestioningly scribble down whatever anyone tells them just because that's what was said), never challenged her and never ID'ed her for what she truly was. Since C-Span is objective, I think a lot of people assume that their guests are objective.
Anyway, this woman answered a caller (who said she was lying about the torture not being ordered from the top and who said he'd been in contact with Abu Ghraib's Janice Karpinski) by offering this comforting scenario (I don't have a transcript, so this will be the gist). In contrasting how the U.S. treats prisoners vs. how al Qaeda treats prisoners, she pointed out that they cut off heads, while we offer McDonald's Filets-o-Fish (for real, apparently) to these "terrorist" yahoos. Who's better then, is her implication, us with our filets or them with their decapitation?
Which would be a good point if she wasn't employing the logical fallacy of comparing apples to oranges. She compares our best behavior to their worst behavior. That doesn't compute, especially when our behavior involved prisoners being killed at Abu Ghraib, not being given Filet-o-Fish sandwiches.
This is also what Justin Raimondo is getting at in his antiwar.com column today. The neocons want to play semantic games, i.e., they say "define abuse." They want to know if "abuse" is yelling at a detainee or if it's sleep deprivation or if it's keeping them from going to the bathroom, expecting that critics will back down and say, "well, I guess that's not exactly 'abuse'--it's unpleasant and aggressive, but not really 'abuse.'"
That's what they want us to say, and they want to get us bogged down in an argument over whether yelling is abuse. Notice they don't ask whether or not hooking up electrodes is abuse, or whether putting naked people in piles is abuse, or whether threatening them with dogs is abuse, or whether killing them is abuse. There's one simple answer to this question that every neocon critic needs to give--if it's abuse when done to one of ours, then it's abuse when done to one of theirs.
Oh no, they'll scream--that's moral equivalence! We don't target civilians--they can't wait to kill civilians--that's what Ms. Mac Donald said! She said that is all they think about, it's their only goal in life, killing civilians. Goddamn it, these vile neocons are good at demonization!
Well, here's moral equivalence for ya--as a result of our actions, as many as 100,000 Iraqis have died. Even if you assume that's wildly inaccurate and concede to only a tenth of that figure, that's still more of their people that we have killed than they have killed of ours. For a long while, people were fond of hollering "but they murdered 3,000 innocent civilians on 9/11!" ARE WE FUCKING EVEN YET? Frankly, who's smarter and more efficient--they sacrificed 19 to kill 3,000 for what was the figure, $50 K or $500 K? We've sacrificed over 1,300 (that's just the dead, not counting the thousands more wounded) to kill maybe 100,000 for how much now, $200 billion? Who the fuck is laughing now? We've killed more of their citizens, sure, but we spent a lot more money to do it and lost a lot more of our fathers, mothers, sons and daughters to do it! The "terrorists" are probably thinking of that schoolyard taunt where you beat someone up with their own hands "America, why are you hitting yourself? Stop hitting yourself! Why won't you stop hitting yourself?"
So suck on that! Americans have no morality monopoly. We gave that shit up long ago. Hell, we've never been moral--in the original constitution, blacks were property and counted as 3/5 of a person, women couldn't vote, poor whites couldn't vote, we slaughtered the Indians, and so forth and so on. Only the worst kind of sick and dangerous religious zealot could paper over those and hundreds of other instances to say that America was conceived in some kind of unimpeachable righteousness and that's the banner that George W. Bush carries us forth under today. But there are a hell of a lot of sick, dangerous, religious zealots out there, and right now they control us all...
We should all pray for not only this country, but for the whole world...because in 50 years, the stuff these religious and government wackos are saying will seem like clear statements of intent to undermine American society and people in the future will wonder why we didn't see it coming when it was as plain as the noses on our faces...