Let’s get to the core of this thing. Let’s cut to the quick. The bone. The meat.
Why do we really allow this?
Remember the question asked of John Yoo, cheerleader for uncontrolled executive authority: If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, is there no law that can stop him?
And the answer he gave there and in his August 2002 memo: “No law, no treaty.” “I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.” And in The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them (2001), Yoo said “In the exercise of his plenary power to use military force, the President’s decisions are for him alone and are unreviewable.” (link)
What he’s saying is, not only can you torture an individual, you can torture his child just to pressure that individual. I guess you could also torture innocent villagers, just to get them to identify the partisans amongst them (just like the Nazis in all those WW2 movies).
So, are you a parent? I want you to think about that: your child tortured merely to extract information from you.
Now imagine I’m the torturer – I’m holding a wicked big sharp knife to your already sadly abused child’s throat. I want you to really try to imagine it, to feel the helplessness, the humiliation, the frustration and anger, the panic and self-hate.
Now, what would you exchange for your child’s life? The life of the torturer’s child? The lives of the torturer’s entire family?
What about the life of a random death row prisoner? Or a paedophile? Or the children of a “terrorist”? Or his whole family? Or the family of a Palestinian, an Israeli, an Arab or an Afghani, an Iraqi or a Pakistani?
If you said “no” to all of these, I really don’t believe you. Be honest. Really try to imagine it, feel it. Anyone who can honestly say “no” to all of these are displaying saintly forbearance.
So what about an entire family, tribe, village or neighbourhood. What about an entire people or nation?
Most people (I think) will start to hesitate at this point, if not earlier. But the point is, if you’re honest, nearly all of you will say “yes” at least once in this series of possibilities. And maybe to all.
As a nation, America has said yes to all of these. As a nation you are murdering entire families, tribes, villages or neighbourhoods. Simply because some serial liars have told you some among them are a threat, “terrorists.” Many more are dying simply so that your children can be more comfortable.
And this is a clear example of how our leaders exploit basic human impulses, even the best, including values like motherhood. Our stories and movies valorise the mother fighting for her cubs, we recognise this both as instinct and social value.
So by telling you a certain group represent a threat to you and yours, including your children, our leaders trigger this kind of response.
Throw in a few death images for good measure, and we’re done. It seems we’re wired that way, the product of our history, of countless generations in primate dominance hierarchies and tribal societies.
So you’ll support the barbaric murder of tens or hundreds of thousands of outsiders, foreigners, and still get a warm fuzzy from it. You’re being virtuous, you’re protecting the family.
And for as long as this goes on, we’re all doomed to futures of violence, bloodshed and injustice.
Led by venal criminals who feel no compunction about using these techniques in the pursuit of power and profits.