Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Matt Taibbi Says What Needs to be Said

If you have never or even if you have read Matt's blog, The Smirking Chimp, today's is especially good.

So many times I have heard the same thing he is saying. You are against Americans, you are for the terrorists. How can you say we tortured them, whatever we did was legal because they weren't actual armies, and weren't fighting for a real country.

Even Cheney and his daughter were saying the same things yesterday all over the TeeVee Machine and have been for the last 3 months.

I have had arguments with my own daughter over this very thing, more than once. She says they had no rights, because they attacked us without provocation. They flew planes into buildings.

I tried to explain to her, it was the same as what the Japanese did in Hawaii at Pearl Harbor, but she didn't see it that way.

For some reason, people don't recognize al Qaeda as human, they only see them as less than animals I suppose. They must because even animals would be treated better than what some of these people were treated.

Here is what Matt had to say in part:

The thing is, we’ve been listening to this stuff for so long that when we hear it, we don’t recoil in confused disbelief anymore — we’re so familiar with these arguments we’ve forgotten that they don’t make any sense. It’s similar to that other Bush-era standard: “We fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them here.”

I never understood what the hell that was all about. The best I could figure is that the people who were saying this think of the world like a big Stratego game, and they think that if we commit a big force to some place like Iraq, the “other side” will have to leave all his forces over there or something to keep us from moving through Eurasia. This might make sense in a real war, in a war-between-nations war, but it’s completely absurd in a conflict where the “other side” is actually hundreds if not thousands of different/unrelated actors and can successfully attack a country like the U.S. using just a few people at a time. Sending 160,000 troops to Iraq does absolutely nothing to prevent a terrorist group like al-Qaeda from sending over a couple of “exchange students” to dump botulinum toxin into the Akron reservoir.

Okay check that — it does nothing positive. Because it might prevent such attacks in the sense of giving foreign terrorists an array of more enticing targets to shoot at who are closer to home. But in real terms the idea “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them here” is just magical thinking, the kind of notion that feels like it makes sense because your brain is running amok in the unconscious making unsupervised connections between unrelated things, sort of like an OCD patient who believes that if he steps on every third sidewalk crack he won’t get into a car accident. What’s amazing about this sort of propaganda is that once it gets hammered into your head enough, the logic of it begins to feel self-evident, above the need for explanation. Over and over again on the campaign trail last year I had people explain this concept to me by simply repeating themselves. I once asked a guy in South Carolina who had laid that line on me if he thought our forces in Iraq were, simultaneous to their occupation mission, physically blocking the airports in Saudi Arabia and Yemen to keep potential terrorists from coming to the U.S.– if that was why fighting them over there kept “them” from committing terrorist acts here.

“You’re not listening to me,” he said. “The point is that if we weren’t over there, we’d be fighting them here. Now that we’re over there, they fight us there.”

“But why can’t they attack us here anyway?” I asked.

He stared at me for something like thirty seconds. I remember having enough time to check to make sure I had tape left on my recorder. “Because we’re over there,” he said finally.

This is the circular logic of the people on the wrong side of this so called argument. They say we are not fighting an enemy bound by a country, yet we are fighting them "over there so they won't fight us over here". That makes such little sense.

If we could keep them contained in a small area, we could defeat them and be done with it. That would have worked well... the "GWOT" that Shrub wanted to fight could have been done in a few days and we could have brought all our military home and we wouldn't have lost over 5,000 lives and spent ourselves into 1 Trillion dollars of debt.

Matt goes on to say,

It’s the same thing with this torture business. 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.

The reason it’s possible is that it’s been drilled into their heads to instinctively perceive opposition to their point of view as support for their enemies. They’ve lost the ability to distinguish between real, honest-to-God enemies (al Qaeda, Kim Jong-Il) and people they simply disagree with or dislike (Boston liberals, the French, gays, the ACLU, etc).


They don’t understand that this is not a question of taking different sides in a war; this is two groups of Americans having a disagreement about how best to deal with a foreign enemy both of these groups of Americans despise, fear and revile equally. My group, the anti-torture group, believes that what should make us superior to terrorists is respect for law and due process and civilization, and that when we give in and use these tactics, we forfeit that superiority and actually confer a kind of victory to the al Qaedas of the world, people who should never be allowed any kind of victory in any arena. We furthermore think that the war on terror doesn’t get won with force alone, that it’s a conflict that ultimately has to be won politically, by winning a propaganda battle against these assholes, and we can’t win that battle so easily if people in the Middle East see us openly embrace these tactics.

Whether or not you agree with that is up to you — we could be wrong, after all — but when you respond to these arguments by asserting that people like me didn’t “complain” when Americans were tortured and murdered, what you’re really doing is calling me a traitor. And while it may be more interesting and exciting for you to think like that, in reality it’s just nuts. Seriously. Trust us on this one. So think it over and ask yourself again if it really makes sense to say that torture opponents like me didn’t “complain” when Americans get their heads chopped off. Ask yourself if you really mean that, before you say it. And then get back to me.

He sites several things others have said and argued such as Charles Krauthammer who thinks torture is okay in certain instances... and then lists them. Well, sorry there Charles. I disagree. Torture is WRONG. Always has been, Always will be.

Besides, it is illegal. You know, I am and have been amazed by the Republicans who always LOVE to spout Reagan as their HERO... yet in this they seem to have covered his eyes and turned their back on him and forgotten he even existed.

Reagan signed a treaty, specifically outlawing torture. However, to get around this, Bush just told the OLC and the DOJ to write him some memos making torture look legal. He then preceeded to torture at will. According to Cheney Sunday, Bush knew what was going on, he signed off on it at the least. If he didn't know what was going on then he was at least complicit by signing off on it.

We, have to keep pushing this until something is done. Right now there is testimony in the Senate. I am watching it and hoping we can get something done.

The pictures will be out soon. Children were raped, children were killed and tortured. This has to be punished. We have to make sure people know and get outraged by this and finally maybe they will want something done.

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