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schencka
The Terror of Torture
In a previous post, I wrote about how the various and multiplicitous Bush Administration scandals (Abu Ghraib, the RIP-habeas corpus 1215-2006 "Military Commissions Act of 2006," the entire Iraq War, and other instances of brutality and "outrages to human dignity" (i.e. the Geneva Convention language that Bush finds "vague")) -- all these things point to the reality of Western political use of terror, mass violence and deliberate destruction of human rights & dignity. I stand by that statement; no longer can we hold ourselves beyond criticism; Bush has nearly singlehandedly made this happen. "Take off the gloves!" writ large: leave your idealism at the door, thank you very much.

       
(Thank you for destroying our collective myths, George.)

Yet as I read and think more, I'm less saddened; I increasingly feel impelled to use interpretation to describe the nature of this American "thing" that has overtaken our country. What is it? Political discord, "partisanship," a simple refusal to deal with reality? How about a simple answer: violence and dehumanization, and the concomitant mass denial. After all, it's hard to come to terms with, "My country tortures and detains citizens and foreigners alike indefinitely," and, "My country sends more and more young soldiers to die merely in order to honor those who have died before them." These are the realities of our time. Thus spake America.

Along these lines, I read the following, from On Killing, an essential book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
The Israeli research mentioned earlier indicates that the risk of death for kidnap victim is much greater if the victim is hooded [emphasis addded]. Cultural distance is a form of emotional hooding that can work just as effectively. Shalit notes that "the nearer or more similar the victim of aggression is, the more we can identify with him." And the harder it is to kill him.

This process also works the other way around. It is so much easiser to kill someone if they look distinctly different from you. If your propaganda machine can convince your soldiers that their opponents are not really human but are "inferior forms of life," then their natural resistance to killing their own species will be reduced.
  (Woe is America.)



      
(Perhaps, perhaps, Saddam's methods were worse. Then again, I really doubt it.)

So, keep in mind, friends, that war hates you.
 
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