The Comforting Violence Of Jack Bauer
Batocchio has posted another in his series of trenchant essays on the torture issue that is well worth reading if you are still struggling with understanding how we came to this place. Here's just a short excerpt:
Movement conservatives' public support for torture has contradicted even their own cherished mythology. The only constant has been their unyielding conviction in their own righteousness. Consider – they love to invoke WWII, if simplistically and inaccurately, yelling that every new threat is a new Hitler and anything less than belligerence is "appeasement." Yet they ignore that during WWII, we prosecuted the same torture and abuses they've defended under Bush. The Cult of Saint Ronnie still worships the poor policy and cartoonish morality of Reagan denouncing the Soviet Union as an "evil empire." (In his recent Reagan book, Will Bunch relates that Reagan himself regretted using the phrase, and later the far right accused Reagan of being Chamberlain for dealing with the Soviets.) Yet the torture program instituted under Bush borrowed directly from the hated Soviets. The key reason given for invading Iraq was that it had WMD and was an imminent threat, but Saddam Hussein was also depicted (fantastically) as the next Hitler and (accurately) as a dictator and torturer. The Hussein regime's victims were invoked more often after the invasion as a way to browbeat Iraq critics. So how is it that what made Hussein evil became good when done by the United States? When Iraqi Muntadar al-Zaidi threw a show at Bush, several far-right conservatives approved of the broken hand and ribs he received in prison. As Roy Edroso quipped, “I always suspected that when they were denouncing Saddam’s torture chambers, they were just angry that they didn’t get to say who got tortured.”
I think that's right. But I have to say that it's purported Christians for whom I've lost the most respect in all this:
The disconnect from professed Christians on the torture "debate" is particularly astounding. Given how central the crucifixion story is to Christianity, and that it depicts Jesus tortured and then executed in one of the most cruel methods ever devised, it's mind-boggling to see anyone claim that supporting torture and Christianity are compatible - or that Jesus would support waterboarding. According to Christian doctrine, Jesus' suffering redeemed him and the world - but it's not the Romans who Christians are supposed to emulate in the story! "Turn the other cheek," "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" and "As you have done to the least of my brethren, so have you done unto me" are hardly pro-torture slogans. But in the hearts and minds of movement conservatives, not even Churchill, Saint Ronnie or Jesus himself can compete with the comforting violence of Jack Bauer.
Read the whole thing. It's great.