"Torture" is one of many current topics of significance that have been abandoned to the left. Leftist commentators have been allowed to set the terms, make the definitions, and generally run the argument without much in the way of serious opposition or debate.
"Torture" is probably the most egregious of these cases. That's the explanation for the sneer quotes. Because, quite simply, in much of the debate over "torture", we're not talking about actual torture at all. We're talking about rough treatment, harshness, or coercion.The American left has defined these upward until they mean the same thing as torture, all as a part of their efforts to undermine the War on Terror in general. The core of this stance is the assertion that a slap on the head, several days without sleep, or hearing Rage Against the Machine played at full volume is fully the equivalent of torture in the classic sense. (Well... maybe we should reconsider that last....)
Of course, it's no such thing. Torture is easily defined as physical assault carried out over a prolonged period against a victim under complete control and holding the possibility of permanent physical or psychic damage. Official legal terminology contains the proviso that torture consists of acts that "revolt the conscience" We can also add, by way of Dashiell Hammett, that such actions must have "threat of death behind them". If they contain these elements, they are torture. If not, they're something less. Not necessarily something justifiable or commendable, but not torture either.
The left has succeeded, through a relentless media campaign (is there any other kind?) in obscuring this distinction. According to the latest criteria, torture is anything unpleasant that occurs to a prisoner while in American custody. (Overseas it's different. It's very, very difficult -- almost impossible, in fact -- for any developing or left-of-center regime to commit torture, no matter what they do to their prisoners. Unless, as in the rendition uproar, the U.S. is somehow involved.)
Needless to say, none of the foregoing must be taken as approval of torture or any other kind of brutality. But that's just the point: the left has drawn a vicious cartoon in which every individual involved in fighting the Jihadis from the Oval office on down is being portrayed as the equivalent of the Abu Ghraib guards: halfwit knuckle-draggers capable of going out of control without warning. This can endanger us in any number of ways - encouraging officials to back off when they should bear down, to hesitate when they should strike.
It's no news that the Bush Administration has done a horrible job of selling itself and its policies. Bush, being a Texan, evidently believes that accomplishments speak for themselves. But the great world, unfortunately, is not Texas. If you don't create your own narrative, lay down your own version of events, someone else is going to do it for you. And you probably will not like the results.Sphere: Related Content