Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Freedom Showers

Stephen Suh at the new Cogitamus Blog asks for defenders of torture policy to tell us why we were wrong back in the 1940s when we stood strong against torture. We prosecuted Japanese military officers after WWII for waterboarding our guys. Even the Mississippi Supreme Court, at the height of Jim Crow, declared it beyond the pale. Why were they mistaken?

My TMV co-blogger Pete Abel thinks the era of the culture war is over as foreign policy and national security take their place as the primary political issues of the new era. I'm afraid I can't share his optimism. Even if abortion and homophobia fade to the background as my generation takes over, they'll merely be replaced by different areas of concern. One of the more terrifying developments of the past few years has been the significant segment of the American electorate -- including a goodly portion of the presidential candidates for a major political party -- unabashedly declaring themselves pro-torture. Like the debates on abortion and gay marriage, this is a moral issue that speaks to the very soul of the nation. Culture still matters when it is still a matter of debate as to whether the American culture will sanction simulated drowning, endless detention without trial, and the other gross human rights abuses that have characterized the "war on terror". Foreign policy hasn't changed the game, merely the frame.

In any event, with a nod to this comment, I move we rename "waterboarding" to the far more apt "freedom shower." It certainly fits the self-image of its barbaric proponents.

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