By Ben Cohen
Matt Taibbi explores the bizarre belief by the crazy Right that opposing torture means you condone terrorism:
There are a lot of people in this country who genuinely believe that
torture opponents are “not upset” about things like 9/11 or the
beheading of American hostages. The idea that “no one complains when
Americans are murdered” is crazy — of course we “complained,” and of
course we’d all like to round up those machete-wielding monsters and
shoot them into space — but these people really believe this, they
really believe that torture opponents are secretly
unimpressed/untroubled by Islamic terrorism, at least as compared to
American “enhanced interrogation.” For them to believe that, they must
really believe that such people are traitors, nursing a secret agenda
(an agenda perhaps unknown even to themselves, their America-hatred
being ingrained so deep) against their own country. Which is really an
amazing thing for large numbers of Americans to believe about another
large group of Americans, when you think about it.
I have this type of argument all the time with conservative friends who use a similar logic when it comes to criticizing America and Britain (the two countries I was raised in). “Why do you always come down on America/Britain? What about the crimes other countries commit?”
My answer is that while other countries commit heinous crimes, I am not responsible for them and I have no way of influencing anything that might make a difference. However, I live and pay taxes to the governments in my own countries and am therefore partly responsible for their actions. Not only do I have a moral duty to speak out, but I can actually effect some limited change by doing so. As Noam Chomsky points out:
It’s extremely easy to condemn the crimes of others, especially when you’re not making a proposal to do anything about it…….There’s nothing easier than condemning the crimes of an official enemy.
On the other hand, looking at your own crimes, that takes moral
integrity. And that’s difficult. You don’t get praised and lauded: You
get denounced and vilified. It’s not just true of the United States. If
you were in the old Soviet Union, it would’ve been very easy to protest
American crimes, with great drama and breast-beating, but how about
Soviet crimes? That would’ve been different.
At the end of the day, condemning crimes by terrorists/ official enemies etc is completely pointless. Crimes like 9/11, genocide in Darfur and so on, are so evidently evil only action is required. Otherwise, it’s just hot air.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.