Thursday, March 17, 2005


It is an ivory tower intellectual's version of the Stockholm Syndrome. Hating someone we are attacking, a foolish leftist feels he must justify even our most extreme actions, in order to quiet his own conscience. Suddenly he starts using his wits, usually employed in helping criminals escape justice, to rationalize policies which he would be outraged over if they were directed at his own. He cannot mislead us. We know he is not really on our side, and, come the entrenchment of authority here, his late-found sycophancy will not save him from arrest "and all that that implies".

Over at Crooked Timber, Kieran Healy has gotten upset over something he just heard on the news. His rant is at "Needles Under the Nails":
The effort to normalize torture proceeds on two fronts. The first comes up with scenarios where torture seems justified -- the ticking bomb case that we know and love. ... The second front in the pro-torture offensive is the effort to blur the distinction between torture and "mere" pressure or extreme interrogation. ... Here, for example, is Alan Dershowitz speaking in the news report:
When you torture somebody to death -- everybody would acknowledge that's torture. But placing a sterilized needle under somebody's fingernails for fifteen minutes, causing excruciating pain but no permanent physical damage -- is that torture?
Gee, I don't know, Alan. Let's find out! Why don't you drop by this afternoon? I'll bring the needles and the bunsen burner, you bring Alberto Gonzales. Or better yet -- why not grab your daughter, if you have one, and we’ll get the empirical evidence from her.
In the comments someone added "... if you're debating the details of the torture, then the torturers have already won." Well, of course we have, and not just because one of our own is now the national abogado. First, unlike that fatuous embarrassment to his law school, we don't play silly games with words trying to claim that whether something is torture depends on the meaning of "permanent". Second, we know what we want and why, which focusses our efforts. We do not care whether torture "works". Obtaining information is not why we use it. Our opponents lack the imagination to believe what we say in very plain language. How many times do we have to explain this?
"How does one man assert his power over another, Winston? ... By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation."

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