a quote for the middle of the afternoon
“I’m sick to frigging death of people – self-identifiedly conservative or otherwise – whose reaction to the ongoing revelation of what our government and its representatives did post-9/11 is to say, Oh, well, I’m really opposed to torture, and clearly there were some cases where a few bad apples crossed the line, but we were just trying to do our best, and national security is really important, and these people are pretty awful people after all, so despite the fact that I’m really opposed to torture I’m still okay with what our government did. NEWSFLASH: If you’re okay with all or most of what our government did, you’re not opposed to torture.” ~ John Schwenkler responding to Sonny Bunch et al
Exactly right. It makes me wonder when the tide will turn. How many years (decades?) does it take for the now-supporters and apologists of the Bush “interrogation tactics” to wipe the blindness from their eyes, take a hard look at the history books and say: no, that was torture; that was wrong….? Because at some point in time, from one moral conflict to the next, a sort of two-pronged history unfolds. For every wrong we admit to, a separate myth is woven, which casts our actions in a softer, even noble light. Hard denial gives way to denial-lite.
This is why the general sentiment surrounding Lincoln is so positive despite the fact that he was hugely unpopular in his day; and why the second World War is thought of as a “good war” without any irony at all. We embelish. We create of the world archetypes by which to measure our values. In the second World War, the villains were larger than life; Hitler’s crimes were far more despicable than anything we could possibly imagine. America was the hero par excellence.…
Which isn’t exactly true, of course – the reality is we dropped atomic bombs on Japan; we firebombed Germany; we killed lots and lots of civilians unnecessarily; we put our own citizens in internment camps. We were certainly not even remotely as bad as the Nazis, but that doesn’t mean our hands were clean. We have admitted to much of this, but we keep the heroics front and center. We’re not as bad as the terrorists either. We’re only just beginning to learn how bloody our hands are now.
How will we spin this myth together? How will we hand this story down?