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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, February 09, 2016

 
Normalizing torture one interview at a time

by digby


hazing

















Yesterday Chris Matthews interviewed Donald Trump. It was very friendly.He asked him about waterboarding and the following exchange occured:

Chris Matthews: You said you'd go further than waterboarding. Your're gong to be commander in chief if you. Your going to be responsible for every enisted person in the Army, you're going to be responsible. They get captured, there's always been the concern in our government and the reason why we don't torture prisoners, people in uniform is because our guys are going to be captured and we don't want them tortured. Now aren't you worried as commander in chief that you will legitimize torture?

Trump: It came up in thedebate, they asked Ted Cruz about waterboarding. And he was very tentative with that answer. I don't think he had a good night. He was very tentative tentative with that answer, you saw that. Then they looked to me, what do you think?" I said I'm all in favor and the reason I said I'm all in favor

Matthews: So you're with Cheney

Trump: I prefaced it with, the reason I'm in favor is because they're chopping off heads. Not since medieval times. You know when you and I used to ...

Matthews: By the way, it's not since medieval times, the French Revolution they did a lot of guillotining

Trump: All right, I used medieval times

Matthews: They did drawing and quartering in England in the 19th century...

Trump: You're right. But medieval times made more of an impression on me I guess. I said, not since Medieval times have we seen chopping off heads. I know the parents of James Foley I see what they've gone through...

Matthews: let's talk about that guy. I carry his picture in my wallet and I think we share that.

Trump: Great guy

Matthews: To me he is a man of noble courage

Trump: great parents

Matthews: noble courage right to the end. he saw what was going to happen to him when he reached his end on this earth and he stood his ground and never buckled. What a great man

Trump: Hundred percent


Not to take anything away from James Foley who died a terrifying death at the hands of ISIS psychopaths. All the people face that horror are courageous and he was too. But Matthews seems to have adopted some Hollywood version of what happened to him that isn't quite right. But that's him. The world is a western movie as far as he's concerned.

But what about this idea that the reason the United States doesn't torture out enemies in uniform (as Matthews carefully detailed) because we don't want our soldiers tortured in return? It's true that this is often cited as one concern, but it's hardly the prevailing reason for not doing it. After all, we tried Japanese soldier for war crimes for torture and yet in Vietnam our prisoners of war were badly tortured. It's true that the ban on torture was a leverage point to use against the North Vietnamese and many people think it was helpful in keeping it from being any worse (although it's very hard to say how it could have been. It was very bad.)

But setting all that aside, torture is illegal because it's the mark of a barbaric society and civilized people have evolved to understand that it is immoral. Trump has no problem with that. He is a barbarian. Over the week-end he didn't rule out using beheading himself! This is not just a practical choice is a moral choice, exactly like banning drawing and quartering which Matthews brings up in the interview. Does he think that was done because all the blood and guts on the ground was a health hazard?

Torture is a barbaric practice of the past that we have determined is unacceptable and immoral. Or, we had accepted that. Now, it's just another argument like whether we should have eminent domain or fracking. We know what side Trump is on. Matthews didn't seem to have a problem with it except that it might cause out troops to be tortured. If he did, he failed to articulate it. Indeed, his main concern seemed to be that trump didn't realize that beheading is more recent than medieval times.

I['m sickened, literally, whenever I hear Trump say this stuff and get huge cheers. but why wouldn't he? The media doesn't see it as a problem. At this point I don't know what depravity Trump could recommend to deal with terrorism that would make the press confront him to his face. It's true they did get worked up about his making fun of a disabled reporter, which was revolting, so that's promising. But they have a ways to go.


Update: A proud son weighs in:

Eric Trump defended his billionaire blowhard dad's Sunday night statement that he would "bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding" if elected president, bizarrely claiming that the banned torture tactic is "no different" from everyday fraternity hazing rituals that have routinely made headlines across the nation over the past year.

“You see these terrorists that are flying planes into buildings, right? You see our cities getting shot up in California. You see Paris getting shot up. And then somebody complains when a terrorist gets waterboarded, which quite frankly is no different than what happens on college campuses and frat houses every day,” said Eric Trump, the executive vice president of The Trump Organization, during an interview with "On the Record" host Greta Van Susteren.