Your column, sir, entitled Torture, Accountability, and Name Calling assumes a great deal and says very little in the way of clarifying your comments about the use of torture.
You title your post "name calling" and you begin it with just that, by claiming that my November 11 post discussing your comments is an illustration of how "some blogs endanger rational discourse and substitute-name calling for serious debate about controversial issues." I did not realize I had endangered serious debate by discussing your moral ambiguity on the topic of torture.
You state, again, and I assume for the record (because why would you otherwise continue reminding us of how fixed your moral position is?) that you are "personally opposed to the use of torture." Yet the implied "but" that follows as you examine the mechanics of torture and how useful these brutal tactics have been in the past, brings into question your claimed fixed moral stance on the issue.
The moral argument cannot be qualified by providing support of the workable results for the thing that you find immoral to begin with. In other words, I cannot argue that murder is immoral, but then also state in the same argument that in some cases, the best way to kill someone would be to shoot them. You are confusing two separate arguments and by doing so, muddying your own position on the issue.
The question is simple: is torture moral or immoral? There is no room in this discussion for its viability as a weapon of information gathering. The question is not "does it work," because even if it does work, it is still immoral. It may work and it may not work, but it does not change the basic moral question. So when you say you are "personally opposed to the use of torture," you have already stated your moral position. You have already established where the line cannot be crossed. Why then, is it relevant, or even necessary to argue that torture has been an effective method in the past? Do you not see that you have created this ambiguity?
You then go on to say the following:
Alexandrovna distorts this factual evidence into an "endorse[ment]" of torture as moral matter, despite my clear statement of my personal opposition to the use of torture. She then begins her name calling, analogizing me to "monsters", "a multinational crime syndicate", "political parasites", and "political prostitutes." Going even further she blames me for the increase of anti-Semitism around the world and challenges my commitment to Jewish values. These ad hominem attacks distort my position and that of President Clinton and Senator John McCain. I am against torture on moral grounds despite the empirical evidence that may sometimes produce life-saving and self-proving information.
And you claim that my original piece did not link to your WSJ article. That is a lie, sir, a blatant lie. Let's examine what I actually said about you (note the big blue underline, that is a link to your original piece):
Take for example the latest Alan Dershowitz column in the Wall Street Journal. Aside from getting the new meme on Mukasey about how the Democrats are beholden to MoveOn.org - echoed by meister Rove, President Bush, Dick Cheney, and the right wing propaganda machine as if one ring ruled them all - Dershowitz actually writes this:
"There are some who claim that torture is a nonissue because it never works--it only produces false information. This is simply not true, as evidenced by the many decent members of the French Resistance who, under Nazi torture, disclosed the locations of their closest friends and relatives."
This statement defies logic. Even if in some instances Nazi tactics worked, why would anyone endorse them for any reason, especially a Jewish man? Dershowitz, and others like him - Joe Lieberman, et al - do not speak for Jews, nor do they speak for Israel. In fact, the far right regime that has co-opted Israel and the US both is not representative of Judaism or Christianity for that matter. Whatever or whomever it is they represent, it is not the Israeli people or the American people. It is as though a multi-national organized crime syndicate has taken over both countries and is using the cover of religion as a shield against criticism.
I don't distort what you said. I actually cite it verbatim including a link to where you say it. Do you not see how what you wrote can be read as supportive of torture methods? You say that I have called you names. Did I call you names? No. Did I react to your statement on the moral argument? Absolutely! If you cannot see that what you wrote offended me, a Jew, and is likely offensive to other Jews, then I think you have most certainly lost your moral compass.
You then go on to somehow merge my discussion of your views on torture with me attacking your support for Israel. That is in fact distortion, because I said no such thing nor have I implied any such thing. Here is what I said about Israel, America, and Jews - all of us - have a responsibility to stand against that which is not part of moral tradition:
When torture becomes policy for politically influential American and Israeli Jews, then the whole of our history becomes polluted with monsters whose crimes we lose the right to condemn. It is the responsibility of other prominent Jews in both countries to take our religion back from these political parasites, because if we don't, their handy work will create the kind of antisemitism not seen since WWII. Ever since this morally repugnant right wing extremism has in a "paper coup" taken over both Israel and the United States, antisemitism has skyrocketed.
"To look at the global situation, racism and xenophobia had become more acute, particularly antisemitism. Worldwide, there had been 590 cases of deliberate violence and vandalism against Jews, an increase of 31 per cent from the previous year, with the most incidents in Europe and the Middle East."
If Israeli citizens will not demand a more moderate government, then Jews around the world will have to ask the hard question: what is more important, the country of Israel or the Jewish people as a a whole?
And if American Jews do not demand that right wing political prostitutes, Jews in name only, stop the US march toward world domination, then American Jews might have to ask themselves a hard question as well: Is the United States more important than our traditions, morals, values, and history as a Jewish people?
In both cases, Jews of the world have to stand up against torture that other, more visible Jews in the US and Israel publicly endorse. We have to do this because we are a good people, a victimized people who know what torture is, and because we know that someday in the future we might, once again, be on the other side of this debate.
I am not in any way attacking your support for Israel. In fact, I am showing my support for Israel by stating that I do not wish to see it destroyed by political ideologues just as the US is being destroyed by political ideologues. In the end, however, sir you have offended me, a Jew, and no amount of turning the argument against me will change what I view as your ambiguous and questionable statements on the topic of torture.
You can claim that I distorted your viewpoint sir, but in reality, it is you who distorts your own point of view. I make no apologies for my column that you found so offensive as to devote an entire blog entry into claims of me ruining rational discourse. That is pure nonsense and intellectual laziness.
I once respected your intellect, sir, despite my disagreements with you on a host of issues. I can, however, no longer respect an intellect that crouches in the corner of a moral position hoping no one will notice. This sir is both moral and intellectual cowardice. The issue of torture is not one that I take lightly and as a Jew, it is not an issue I will allow you to distort for your political purposes and then defend by questioning my support for Israel.
On a final note, I have not seen nor been responsible for the editors of Huffington Post censoring you as you claim. You appear to say whatever it is you want to say wherever it is you wish to say it. Unlike you sir, I don't get a full spread at the Wall Street Journal and every other publication. You and I share one venue - this one - and from what I have seen, we have both been given equal time. If anything, sir, I am at a disadvantage because you can smear, distort, and call me names in any number of places while my rebuttal to your remarks will always be kept out of the corporate press, effectively censoring me.
I think the editors here have done a fine job allowing all of us to speak for ourselves. Or is that what actually bothers you, the freedom in which people can exchange ideas?
Perhaps we can clear all of this up by you doing an interview with me. Let me ask you the tough questions and you can then speak to those issues directly, clarify your position. You have my offer. Are you willing to take it?