Of course Jon Stewart is a wimp. I saw his cowardly denial of his own opinion, his recantation under duress. But I am concerned about the rest of the article, which seems to be a demonstration of the very rules of the game which Raimondo deplores.
What’s with the pose that torture is something nice people don’t talk about because of course they wouldn’t engage in it any more than they would eat caca? Or that they can hardly believe anyone would do such a thing if civilized? I’m sorry, but a functioning democratic republic or whatever we have, is still a much more responsive organ than the state of Louis XIV/ George III, or what was our own Revolution all about? If you don’t force yourself to look at the deeds of your government, however nasty, you will never stop them. So this pose of aristocratic hauteur, although the only rational course of action in some societies, is de trop in this one.
The seeming concession Raimondo makes, that the al Qaeda suspect knows something harmful to the US and will act upon it, is a conclusory sentiment which is, by its very nature, based on “hearsay offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.” It is from the point of evidence simply lacking proven substance. That’s the real problem with torture: even though it violates a contingent treaty like the Geneva Convention, were there no such treaty, it would still violate the principle that evidence obtained in that way is worthless because it is given in order to stop the pain and not to reveal the truth. If you are looking for true facts, you must follow a rational path, instead of getting your dope second hand from torturers and their desperate prisoners. The best interrogators never break a sweat as they lead a prisoner along a garden path strewn with innuendo and convenient lies, if legends of WWII England are to be believed. And they get the goods even with a “ticking time bomb.”
But since Raimondo is a rightist, he must demonstrate his own bona fides with his group and get off into a sidetrack about the personality of the current resident of the White House. He must complain that the left is hypocritical in engaging in its debate about torture. Has it ever occurred to him that so-called leftists are as ashamed as any lace hankie-toting aristocrat that their own country (it is theirs, they fought for it too, and developed it) is still mired in shame over the evil it did to both its traditions of habeas corpus and to actual men who were unjustly punished (and who may return home with a very different opinion of the land of the free than they once may have had).
It might have been a much better essay. I am relieved that Bush is no longer President for some reasons, but I feel that in his own way, Obama is just as much of a wimp and a wuss of the other party. He has merely come into the other stream of the inheritance, so to speak, from the other side of the family (or from a rival Mafia family). He can thus say with Raimondo (he is, after all, as elegant as any Republican) that he disdains torture, that “we” don’t do it, while at the same time absolving, without taking any evidence into consideration, all those who participated in it at Gitmo. It seems there are some doing time for Abu Ghraib, but since releasing them under this stated set of principles (that you don’t do it, but those who did are not going to be brought to justice) would be a negative, poll-wise, you will leave them to serve out their sentences. It is this kind of obvious contradiction which should be brought out.
Or is Raimondo confessing that he is merely the Jon Stewart of the right?
Dianne C. Foster
I was stationed in the Pacific during World War 2 and well remember during the final weeks before Truman used the atom bombs the U.S. Navy removed all censorship allowing us to send home letters detailing military information if we so chose to do so. The most blatant display of the power we had at the time over Japan was our navy openly broadcast their future plans to devastate Japan’s ocean cities giving the times and dates when this would be done. Japan was so thoroughly beaten that they could do nothing to deter or prevent such actions.
Looking for courage and valor among the airwaves is a bit like me locating an “Origin of the Species” copy in one of the backwoods churches near to where I live here in rural Georgia. Let’s move on to more attainable conclusions.
The Japanese people pervasively believed, as you know, [that] their emperor was a God and [that] martyrdom [was] as acceptable as today’s suicide bomber. What brought the Japanese to the deck of the Missouri weren’t heat and radiation but rather the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the threat of invasion to the Japanese mainland. Death, like torture, is relative.
In reply to “American Wars — Both Hot and Cold — Through Revisionist Eyes,” by Jeff Riggenbach, 05/04/09):
I first studied American History in my senior year of high school in 1955, and it was not a “triumphant tale” that has now been reversed. The reality of the teaching was quite different — ranging from the US-Indian Wars, the economic causes of the Civil War, the 15 years of black rule in the Reconstruction Era (a bloody era often ignored by writers like Zinn) thereafter leading into more white rule called Jim Crow, and the fictitious causes of the Spanish-American War and WWI were thoroughly discussed. Still a little soon then to digest the corruption of WWII and the atom bomb at that time.
It is a fantasy that historical interpretation made an abrupt change because of writers like Zinn — he merely expanded the negative view of America to an all encompassing view and deleted all positive insights, but he wasn’t the first one to question a “triumphant tale” as alleged by Jeff Riggerbach, who needs to get his history of historical revisionism re-tuned.