Tuesday, April 25, 2006


By Cassandra D

Much as I hate any semblance of similarity between myself and Rush's Dittoheads, I must give a hearty ditto to Jane at Firedoglake for her post on torture as being the dividing issue between Republicans and Democrats.

"...there is nothing that reveals the utter moral bankruptcy, the complete dehumanizing vacuousness of the right more than when it steps forward to defend torture and those who petulantly assert their right to engage in it as somehow "patriotic," and call for the elimination of all those who oppose it.."

It makes absolutely no sense to me that this should be a left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican issue. To me it is a moral vs. immoral issue, but there you go.

Makes me want to go out and buy about a hundred of these.


At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Brett said...

I don't doubt Ms. Hamsher is sincere, and I myself disapprove of torture except in the "usual extremes" you find in classroom discussions, like, "A captured enemy knows the location of a nuclear device that will explode in several hours, killing millions. Would you use torture to learn its location and how to disarm it?"
But Cassandra, you hit the nail on the head when you say this is not a Republican/Democrat or right/left issue, but a moral/immoral one. And on that score, Ms. Hamsher is in trouble. Reword the quote paragraph just slightly, and anti-abortion persons, for example, could "prove" the "moral bankruptcy of the left" by noting that they have no problem with torture as long as it's done to a fetus, and they cast anyone who disagrees with them as "anti-woman" and call for the silencing of all who oppose them.
It could be that efforts to prove things like the moral bankruptcy of one's opponents convince only one's own like-minded friends, and further reduce any incentives those opponents may have to listen to one's point of view.

At 7:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The straw man arguments from Cassandra are multiplying so fast on CTTC there's a fire hazard danger here.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

Anonymous: What straw man argument? Many on the right DO support torture and many of those people DO assert that anyone who disagrees with that policy is unpatriotic and in favor of coddling terrorists. Where's the straw man argument?

And Brett, I think that the gray area regarding torture comes precisely from the classroon discussion you bring up. After all, who WOULDN'T think it was better to torture someone than to allow them to nuke one of our cities? The problem is that the torturing that is going on in our name in the real world doesn't seem to be anything like that classroom discussion. And what we've found out is extremely limited because of the lack of congressional oversight. Put that together with reports that CIA and other intelligence officials feel that torture doesn't even work, and we now are in a situation in which the moral integrity of our nation is being sacrificed for little if any gain. From a strictly pragmatic point of view, I think you could argue that every time we torture an innocent (as we know we have done) we create hatred of our people and country, which can't help in the war on terror.

But to go to your main point comparing condemnation of torture and of abortion. I have no problem with someone saying that they feel that supporting abortion is morally bankrupt, but I think that they would say that those who oppose them are anti-unborn child rather than anti-woman, and people can and do make that argument all the time.

I don't think that Ms. Hamsher is calling for the silencing of those who support torture,just for those of us who oppose it,as it is being done by the US today, to stand up and say so. The goal is not to prove anything, but to call people to action. I think there are enough of us like-minded people out there to matter politically, and it think it is wrong for the Democratic party to want to avoid offending people by not taking a stand on this issue.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Cassandra D said...

Here's the straw man argument from Karl Rove's machine: THEY oppose torture. That means that THEY support being nice to terrorists and allowing them to nuke our cities. Why would you want to vote for THEM?

Unfortunately people really seem to fall for arguments like this. I suspect that that is why Democrats are afraid to take a stand.

Could the Democrats come up with such straw man arguments too? They are out of practice but had better learn if they want to win.

At 12:29 PM, Anonymous Brett said...

Cassandra --

I may have been unclear in the comparison issue -- I meant to say that persons who are pro-choice often use the "anti-woman" label against those who are not. Those who are not pro-choice may then feel like the people who oppose torture do when confronted with the "You're unpatriotic" slander. For them, the issue is about the life of the unborn rather than the choices of the already living. And for the person who opposes torture, the issue is about the moral repugnance of torturing human beings, rather than whether or not they support their country.

You may also give Ms. Hamsher more credit for tolerance than I would. Her posts that I read frequently belittle those who oppose abortion as unintelligent and deluded by religion. Name-calling doesn't necessary silence one's opponents, but it can encourage others not to listen to them, and the end result is the same.

And you're right, the reason we can support in classroom arguments things we don't like in the real world is because there we have information and starkness of outcomes we rarely find in the real world. Even the professor who posed that one drew lines about some kinds of torture he would never use.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Chase McInerney said...

All o' y'all are too damn smart for me. Now if you'll excuse me, the E! Network has a documentary on the girls of the Riviera.


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