Re: Non-Bloodthirsty Edition (John McWhorter & Glenn Loury)
I'm just a few minutes in, but I think both Glenn and John both really misconstrue the motives of people agonizing about the torture issue. I don't have cable, so I will admit that I don't have a full view of the TV news coverage, but that said their description bears no resemblance to any of the discussions I've encountered. From where I'm sitting this is not a matter of opportunistic politics. The fact is that we've called into question legal and moral positions we've advanced for decades and we have to make a decision as a society where we stand. By instituting waterboarding (for instance) as policy we've sanctioned that for which we have executed enemy soldiers in the past. This is not a nit picky technicality, but a flagrant transgression. If we don't hold ourselves to the same standards we demand everyone else adhere to we look like, or are, hypocrites of the worst kind.
The painful situation I find myself in is that if we don't do something about this I don't know how to defend the US against accusations of hypocrisy in conversations with my friends abroad. Glenn may be right that clinging to ideals about this is moral high horsery, and it may be childish variety of american exceptionalism on top of that, and he certainly has a point about our comparative comfort with war and capital punishment, but there are plenty of folks who sincerely understand their position as an american citizen in such a way that this situation causes a deep moral crisis. Torture really is a special variety of cold blooded brutality. I think John and Glenn are both needlessly uncharitable in dismissing people's motives so easily here.