The most horrifying part of the Senate's CIA Torture Report is the general public reaction, which is not a unanimous "this is horrendous." Rather, the report seems to be stirring an intellectual debate about the pros and cons of torture as a viable government tool. No, actually the most horrifying part of the report is the forced rectal feeding. But America's reaction to the brutality comes a close second.
The torture report -- which includes forcing detainees with broken legs to stand in stress inducing positions, exacerbating their injuries -- is not just a primer for James Bond villains. It's also a sociological study regarding human nature. "Normal" is a socially constructed idea, controlled by those with the power to brainwash people into thinking anything is acceptable. Do you remember, not that long ago, when texting at a restaurant was seen as unthinkably rude? Thank you, Steve Jobs.
It's a subtle, gradual process. Someone does something that's an affront to humanity. There is public outrage. Then they do it again, and again. The outrage subsides. People get used to it. It becomes normal -- and even encouraged. And then, next thing you know, the Academy Award for Best Director goes to Tyler Perry.
Our inherent morality is in conflict with the stuff we're told is acceptable, regardless of how overtly these words and images and situations contradict what we know to be human decency. A normal, thoughtful adult can't read a report about waterboarding and think, "Yeah, let's do this." But when the people protecting our safety tell us it's necessary, when television pundits debate the merits of torture, when your Facebook friends "like" reports about CIA officers threatening prisoners' families, then our moral base is jolted off its axis. And anything and everything suddenly seem acceptable. This explains why 2 Broke Girls is still on the air.
We're supposed to be the good guys. We don't torture people. Torture is immoral. President Obama declared, in regards to the torture report, "This is not who we are." And Fox News made fun of him for it. Our government was torturing prisoners, and conservative pundits are more outraged over football players wearing "I Can't Breathe" t-shirts and department store cashiers who say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. (Note to Fox & Friends: Torture is no way to make friends.)
Batman doesn't torture people to get information. America's moral compass has now fallen below a mentally ill vigilante who dresses up like an animal... which reminds me that I need to make reservations for next month's Furry convention. Instead, the new debate has become "Well, maybe the Joker has some good ideas, too."
Torture is what sets apart those with moral values from countries that bury women in the ground and throw rocks at their heads. How is this even a debate?!
I've heard people say, "Well, what if your kids were in danger? Would you approve of torture to save them?" Yes, I would. And in order to save my family, I would also stick my head up a bear's ass. However, that doesn't make it legitimate counter-terrorism policy.
Former Vice-President Dick Cheney, who remains in good health due to the gremlin heart transplant he received, was angered by the CIA torture report. He has repeatedly defended the use of enhanced interrogation methods. Though, in fairness, I do believe the torture that Cheney personally inflicted on detainees in his kitchen was reasonably justified. Who knew that Cheney was so skilled with a hammer?
Some people argue that CIA torture is acceptable if it "works."
First of all, torture doesn't work. People who are being tortured don't give you the truth. Rather, they give you responses. Heck, under physical and emotional duress, I'll give you my Internet password, the name of my best friend, and I'll tell you who killed Kennedy. But that doesn't mean this information is true. It's Craig T. Nelson, Craig T. Nelson, and Craig T. Nelson, in case you're wondering.
Also, "work" is a vague concept. We could stop drunk driving by banning cars. Does that mean the law works? Well, yes, on one hand. But that a policy makes our nation a lesser place hardly feels like it's "working." We could finally get the Kardashians off the air by simply banning free speech. But is it working if it means disregarding the Constitution? Ha! Trick question. The Kardashians don't work.
I've heard several television pundits say, "We were all scared after 9-11." Well speak for yourself. I wasn't scared. Just because you are a big pussy, that doesn't mean we are all frightened about something in which the chance of death is four times lower than being killed by a lightning bolt. True story. I was at the supermarket, and I overheard a morbidly obese man talk about his fear of terrorism. Buddy, you should be afraid of diabetes. Unless al-Qaeda is hiding inside those two family-size bags of Doritos in your shopping cart, your concerns might be misdirected.
But so what if you were scared after 9-11. Does that mean that things once thought evil are now moral? After 9-11, people spoke of a "new" normal. What they really meant is that there is a new morality- one that cuts corners. Normal might change. But what is right doesn't waver, even if we convince ourselves otherwise. And what is disguised as "debate" is really just a population trying to rationalize its actions.
The terrorists are hideous creatures- disgusting, depressing individuals lacking compassion. We're better than they are because we don't do what they do. The 9-11 attack was evil because they did it, not because they did it first.
A friend said, "I don't want to live in a country that tortures people." I disagree. I want to live in the United States of America. I love this country. I just don't want the people who support torture to live here.