Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Literal Insanity To Which The Logic Of Torture Leads

Via Andrew Sullivan:
"Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud,"--Deroy Murdock, National Review.

Have you noticed that the pro-torture right has gone from saying that torture is abhorrent to saying that torture isn't occurring to saying that torture is not torture to now saying that torture is "something of which every American should be proud". And why not indeed? The Cheney logic is impregnable: the president is not bound by the law or the Geneva Conventions; torture reveals information that allows the government to seize individuals who might at some point commit terror attacks; the president's job is to prevent terror attacks. Torture is thereby a good.
This is indeed the inevitable logic of tyranny. In the ante-bellum South, the same logic was applied in defense of slavery, until ultimately even Christian clergymen could be found to assert that slavery not only was not an evil but was a positive good.

As you might expect, the best evisceration of this logic came from Lincoln:
The sum of pro-slavery theology seems to be this: "Slavery is not universally right, nor yet universally wrong; it is better for some people to be slaves; and, in such cases, it is the Will of God that they be such."

Certainly there is no contending against the Will of God; but still there is some difficulty in ascertaining, and applying it, to particular cases. For instance we will suppose the Rev. Dr. Ross has a slave named Sambo, and the question is "Is it the Will of God that Sambo shall remain a slave, or be set free?" The Almighty gives no audable [sic] answer to the question, and his revelation--the Bible--gives none--or, at most, none but such as admits of a squabble, as to it's meaning. No one thinks of asking Sambo's opinion on it. So, at last, it comes to this, that Dr. Ross is to decide the question. And while he consider [sic] it, he sits in the shade, with gloves on his hands, and subsists on the bread that Sambo is earning in the burning sun. If he decides that God wills Sambo to continue a slave, he thereby retains his own comfortable position; but if he decides that God wills Sambo to be free, he thereby has to walk out of the shade, throw off his gloves, and delve for his own bread. Will Dr. Ross be actuated by that perfect impartiality, which has ever been considered most favorable to correct decisions?

But, slavery is good for some people!!! As a good thing, slavery is strikingly peculiar [sic], in this, that it is the only good thing which no man ever seeks the good of, for himself.
I suppose slavery is now no longer "the only good thing" that no one wants for himself. We can add waterboarding to the list.

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