Bush and Torture
I did this summer. It was a devastating experience. One evil treatment for homosexuals involved hanging a man by his heals and then using a two-handed 6 foot saw to litrerally cut him in half, beginning in the crotch.
I was repulsed by the exhibit.
How, I wondered, could anyone justify the treatment? There was no shortage of justifications: God hates sodomites. Sodomites are evil. Children must be protected from sodomites.
At the bottom of all of the explanations was the belief that the torturers were good people and the tortured were bad people. Once that sharp line had been drawn between them anything was justifiable. Anything good people do is perforce legitimate.
President Bush insists the US does not torture. This is a lie. Were another government to do to an American what we are doing Mr. Bush would be the first to conclude that the name for the treatment is torture.
But Mr. Bush cannot and will not go there. And he will not because he is sincerely convinced that we are the good guys and the terrorists are the bad guys. Once the issue is framed in this manner, all moral qualms are swept away because by definition good people cannot be guilty of bad crimes.
One of the insidious cultural traps into which we have fallen as Americans is to frame all issues in the sharply delineated moral terms associated with frontier justice. This is true of both liberals and conservatives.
Liberals should be wary of this trap. It gives conservatives like Mr. Bush an advantage in public debate.
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