Friday, October 05, 2007

The Torture Race

The New York Times story on classified Justice Department memos authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques in alleged violation of American laws against torture has some people in a dither. Andrew Sullivan has called the President a war criminal. Sen. Arlen Specter called the memos "shocking." Congress is demanding to see the secret memos, while the Bush Administrations maintains, in the words of press secretary Dana Perino, "It is a policy of the United States that we do not torture, and we do not." But although it may seem like the memos permit torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions and the law that Congress had just passed banning the use "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" that is not actually the case. In fact, Sullivan and Specter are relying on outmoded definitions of torture that just don't apply to the 21st century War on Terror.

Sullivan has pointed out that many of the enhanced interrogation techniques approved by the CIA appear to be similar to interrogation techniques used by the Nazis. In fact, the Nazis even used the phrase "verschärfte Vernehmung" to describe these techniques, which roughly translates to mean "enhanced interrogation."

Now that sounds pretty bad, seeing how the Nazis were supposed to be so evil, until you look at what those techniques were. They included repeated beatings, long forced-standing, stress positions, withholding of food and medical care, sleep deprivation and other procedures to loosen up prisoners, which really doesn't sound so terrible. When I was a kid I got spanked, was forced to stand in a corner and went to bed without supper and I survived. Little did I know my parents were acting like Nazis! In fact, the Nazis initially banned the use of hypothermia and waterboarding as just too harsh for their delicate sensibilities, though they later discovered, as the CIA apparently did, that these kinds of limits really make life difficult for an interrogator.

Even though the Nazis were supposed to be really evil back in their day, their methods seem almost quaint by today's standards when compared with some of the stuff modern terrorists do. To even call some of these things torture is an insult to torture, according to The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb. "The Times indicts the Bush administration for exposing terrorists captured abroad to 'head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.' Boo hoo," he writes in a piece called "Trivializing Torture."

As Jules Crittenden points out, "Article neglects to mention we are fighting an enemy that considers powerdrills into kneecaps and videotaped beheading of captives business as usual. That in fact, we have yet to face an enemy in the modern era that observes anything approaching the standards we do." The Times, he says, would have us fight the War on Terror with "one hand tied behind back." (Apparently, a malfunction in Mr. Crittenden's word processor rendered him incapable of typing definite articles on the day he wrote this post.)

Mr. Crittenden makes an important point. As long as we can say the terrorists are worse than we are, we have the moral high ground. But we cannot let them get too much worse than us or there will be a morality gap that could be as devastating as the missile gap potentially was during the Cold War. So we need to stay just one small step behind the enemy in the torture race. If they ratchet up their interrogation techniques, we need to ratchet up ours, making sure that they always stay just a little bit more evil than us so that we can retain our moral superiority. If we had remained only not quite as bad as the Nazis, we would have fallen too far behind the terrorists. As the terrorists leave the Nazis in the dust, so must we if we have any hope of defeating them.

Unfortunately, the strict standards of the Geneva Conventions and American laws that incorporate them don't allow for the fact that the definition of torture is a fluid one. These rules seem to be based on an inflexible Platonic ideal of torture. But times change. What seemed like torture back during World War II is like a walk in the park today. The CIA and our armed forces need the flexibility to continually redefine torture and enhance our interrogation techniques as the enemy continually enhances its interrogation techniques. Only by frequently defining torture up -- but not too far up because we never want to be as bad as they are -- can we hope to stay on an almost even playing field with the enemy. As long as there are a few new atrocities that the enemy commits that we can point to as worse than things we do, then we know we are winning the moral battle and we still have a chance to win the military one. The CIA has a tough enough job making sure that their torture is worse than our torture (which can't even really be called torture anymore) but not so much worse that they pull too far ahead of us. They don't need to have their job made even more difficult by meddling politicians whose outdated conceptions of torture and rigid moral standards only strait-jacket our troops.

If we do win this war and Western Civilization survives, no doubt future generations will look back on this debate and wonder what all the fuss was about. "That's not so bad at all," they'll say, "compared with what we do today."

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Carnivals: This Is Not My Country, Carnival of Principled Government

29 comments:

Norman P said...

Sir,

The torture that these terrorists face is nothing compared to the torture I face watching the Cubs choke once again when they are THIS FAR from the pennant.

I wish people would just keep things in perspective.

liquiddaddy said...

Mr. Swift,

I think a new look at old ills would be helpful to understand the anti-terrorism methods employed by the Bush administration, such as you have done here. Thanks.

In fact, the arguments used recently by Michael Medved (R-Not Gay!) to make the point that slavery was not that bad, seems to work nicely with your nazi analogy:

I mean, they didn't really want to hurt them because they were worth more live than dead, right? And starving people can't do as much work as people who get to eat some cornbread and molasses. They got free housing, didn't they? Whipping sounds so harsh compared to "leather-based persuasion."

LD

Anonymous said...

As a reasonable conservative much like yourself, I share your outrage at our collective failure to live up to the standards the international community has laid down.

The trouble is that so many other conservatives value their lives over their principles.

We must all be willing to suffer and die for our principles; so that when the terrorists kill us and take over, our principles will still live on.

Yet some people seem unable to accept this truth.

Therefore in the spirit of reasonable conservativism, I offer the following modest suggestion.

I suggest that we apply the principle of unlimited forbearance and understanding in at least a limited fashion ... as a kind of test.

Say for example, that we discover that someone like the highly principled and outspoken critic of American policy, Michael Moore, has been targeted for abduction and murder by Al Qaeda operatives in the U.S.

The first question we should ask ourselves is not "How do we warn him?" but: "Has this information been acquired in accordance with our laws, and under properly supervised conditions?"

If we cannot answer that question in the affirmative, and beyond any shadow of a doubt, we must refrain from acting in any way which might take advantage of the forbidden fruit of the poisoned tree.

I am sure that Moore's survivors would not have it any other way.

And that - speaking of Moore - leads to the next point. As Moore himself has pointed out, there are entire swaths of this great nation (many of our larger cities for example) wherein the vast majority of the populace is extremely antagonistic to both the Bush administration and the principle of American hegemony.

If, as reasonable conservatives, we can't live principled lives ourselves, can't we at least honor the values of these progressive American citizens when the only principle at issue is their own safety?

They have courageously taken the position that they would prefer to perish, than to profit from information extracted by unconventional means.

Such selflessness is to be admired and respected.

I for one, will be happy to take a pledge to always bear in mind, first and foremost, that the progressives among us don't need or want my stinking help; and that only by allowing their sacrificial deaths, can their deepest ideals be realized.

I am sure that their glorious acheivements will grant them immortality, and their example will serve to inspire the rest of us forever and ever. Amen.

Norman P said...

Sir,

I'm afraid that I have to agree with Mr Anonymous. One of the great moral failings of (and let us call them by their real name, sir) Democrats is that they do not have the guts to be terrified of Muslims. An even cursory reading of any passage of the Koran will show that all Muslims want us dead and that we are only inches away from the establishment of Sharia law in Mississippi. Any serious person will want to torture as many of them as possible, even the innocent, for torturing innocent people still serves the purpose of training.

I only hope that our great country is able to continue to generate brave Conservatives telling us to be afraid in order to counteract all of those cowardly Liberals telling us not to be afraid.

Lex said...

You are pleased to consider yourself arch, I imagine?

That's quite a contribution to the debate.

Anonymous said...

Arch was was Nero Wolfe's assistant; I do not think that Dean Swift thinks he is a fictional character.

Anonymous said...

Yes, only by torturing can we survive.

Hipple, Rev. Paul T. said...

Brother Jon Swift

Thank you so much for clarifying the issue in a way we'd never see it clarified by the liberal main stream media.

I have NO doubt that God will favor a policy of Mutually Assured Torture, or else why in the World would God ever have created us with the capacity to torture other humans? Not that the terrorists are human.

-RPTH

new day said...

On Letterman last night, Tony Snow said that when listening to Bush speak in public "there are times you want to just dash your brains out against the wall." There is surely a practical application here that is not being put to its highest use.

Rather than play acid rock and/or Barney songs, we blast these terrorists with an endless loop of Our Leader's speeches. They then will be driven to finish the job themselves. No muss, no fuss.

Chuck Butcher said...

I am aware of the concept that humor makes the unbearable, bearable, but I'm afraid there are subjects where in the reaction is fury rather than humor. Possibly the reaction to a previous effort, "A Modest Proposal" among the humane during another of your incarnations. During my life and some difficult political circumstances (Nixon for one) I've managed to keep pride in this nation, that is so completely abrogated by it engaging in torture and terror that mostly I'm left with anger. A lot of it.

Sorry to be a drag...

new day said...

In all sincerity, I appreciate your fury. There is nothing funny about torture. And there are not sufficient words to describe what a horror it is that not only are we engaging in this barbaric behavior, but at least 85% of our victims are innocent citizens.

Jon Swift and his commenters keep me from being totally consumed by grief, outrage and helplessness. I am grateful for that.

This is an excellent doctoral thesis:
nothing about the holocaust was funny

Lord Higham-Johnson said...

There's one level this thing operates on and everyone could sort of accept it might be so - Abu Ghraib, the torture flights, this biz in your post.

Then there is another, lower level that there is a certain amount of circumstantial on - the selling of kids at airports, SRA, the whole thing with airforce bases named and so on. This one no one's going to accept because it could never happen in America, could it?

Anonymous said...

"Yes, only by torturing can we survive."

Funny, that's what everyone always says.

purvis ames said...

What is it with these sob sisters on the thread? America is clearly losing the torture race and it's time we did something about it! I liked the above suggestion about making detainees listen to George W. over and over again until they'll do practically anything. And I don't mean that to be a working definition of the United States.

Chuck Butcher said...

since I don't follow every link, I missed the one to me in your effort, thanks for making me more important than I am.

spaghetti happens said...

I think Jon is onto something here. The secret--and let's keep this in mind--seems to be that torture so-called is not torture as long as it's being done to people we don't like.

For example, if Jules Crittenden were captured by The Enemy and repeatedly head-slapped, waterboarded, and forced to stand for hours or even days on end while wearing the oh-so-chic Jose Padilla ensemble of headphones, opaque glasses and shackles, that would definitely be torture. Any information revealed by Mr. Crittenden under such horrific circumstances would certainly be unfairly elicited--"illicited" you might say! Ha!

On the other hand, if this same collection of techniques were used on a captive who speaks and reads the same language--and worships the same "God" so-called--as somebody who cuts off heads, well then, surely you see the difference. QED, as it were.

Anonymous said...

Several days ago I made a modest suggestion, or proposal if you will, in honor of our esteemed docent, the reasonable conservative, Jon Swift.

Norman P then responded thus(as I was the only anonymous who had posted to that point):

<<< Sir,

I'm afraid that I have to agree with Mr Anonymous. One of the great moral failings of (and let us call them by their real name, sir) Democrats is that they do not have the guts to be terrified of Muslims. An even cursory reading of any passage of the Koran will show that all Muslims want us dead and that we are only inches away from the establishment of Sharia law in Mississippi. ...10/05/2007 1:44 PM >>>


Norman:

I am very disappointed in your misreading of my suggestion; a misreading which apparently provoked you to a fit of spastic sarcasm.

My recommendation is merely that we reasonable conservatives try to respect the principles of the political progressives among us: at least to the limited extent of granting them personally the fruit of their ideological and political labors.

I am not at all recommending that Democrats, or anyone else for that matter, should fear Muslims, or read their Koran with fear and trembling.

In fact, a reading of the Koran would probably provide most normal people with a lot of laughs. (It's only when you realize that some people on this planet take that Koranic garbage seriously that one may feel qualms.)

I simply provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there is no one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity; and then extended it to a recognition that this principle is as true when regarding the differences between reasonable conservatives and progressives, as it is when considering the differences between Classical Western and Muslim values.

My plea is for tolerance.

Norman, if political progressives desire to climb up on a cross of their ideological making, and bleed for suffering humanity, then it seems like the duty of a reasonable conservative to step out of the way insofar as possible, and allow them to do so.

I am sure that Jon would agree.

Now, can't we all just get along?

Norman P said...

"I am very disappointed in your misreading of my suggestion; a misreading which apparently provoked you to a fit of spastic sarcasm."

Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter:

I am not quite sure how to respond to you. You seem to me to be a conservative posing as a liberal posing as a conservative. I'm afraid that my approach to life is rather direct and I am not very good at peeling these sorts of post-modern onions.

While you do make the valid although indirect point that we should let the liberalists, as it were, eat the pie that they would like to bake, I detect nonetheless a healty conservative fear that the ragged towelheads will be grabbing and torturing people here in the United States in the near future. I realize that you dismissed the general conservative angst about the Mohammedans with a flippant comment about their holy book (while playing coy about whether your flippancy springs from a liberal relativism or a robust reactionary Christianity). But the thrust of your argument seems to ask that liberalists follow their silly ideas to their logical end in a world which is nonetheless exactly as conservatives portray it.

I will put it to you sir, madame, or Ms Coulter, that one cannot have it both ways. The liberalist assumption assumes a liberalist world. What you are proposing is both incongruent and incoherant. At the very least you should narrow your post down to either one or the other.

Anonymous said...

Norman P said...
<<< Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter:

I am not quite sure how to respond to you. You seem to me to be a conservative posing as a liberal posing as a conservative. I'm afraid that my approach to life is rather direct and I am not very good at peeling these sorts of post-modern onions.>>>


Dear Norman:

If you were unsure as to how to respond, then perhaps you would have served yourself better had you refrained from doing so, rather than by extravagantly puzzling over "post-modern onions" you are admittedly not very good at peeling.

Or, being the direct man you claim to be, you might simply have acknowledged that you had indeed misread my posting in the first place.

Now, as far as your implication goes that I am engaging in a kind of interpretive inconsistency by condemning "liberalists" to a self-induced fate that is logically entailed only within the framework of a demonstrably conservative world-view, I must again point out that your reading is defective.

No such sweeping metaphysical claims as you suggest are implied by my view, no such conditioning circumstances necessary to justify it, and no such conclusions as you advance are entailed by any proposition I have presented.

In case you need to be reminded, what I said was:

" I simply provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there is no one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity; and then extended it to a recognition that this principle is as true when regarding the differences between reasonable conservatives and progressives, as it is when considering the differences between Classical Western and Muslim values."


We need only advert to the world as it presently is, Norman, to contemplate the potential results of this process in action.

Again, I merely suggest that we reasonable conservatives make it a conscious principle of moral action - or inaction as the case may be; and that we honor political progressives by doing so.

I am sure that Robert Fisk could tell you all about how it might work.

By all accounts he was rather pleased with the result.

Anyway, why should reasonable conservatives stand in the way of the progressive's search for meaning ... or satisfaction ... or whatever it is that they search for ... when we might let them have much of it at little or no cost to ourselves?

Norman P said...

" I simply provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there is no one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity; and then extended it to a recognition that this principle is as true when regarding the differences between reasonable conservatives and progressives, as it is when considering the differences between Classical Western and Muslim values."

Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter,

I am afraid that I am forced to speculate about an underlying metaphysical position in your posts in part because you are prone to put out contradictory assumptions that you treat as self evident.

I think the basis of our misunderstanding comes from your quote above, which I have read twice now. If it is a progressive axiom that there is a "one size fits all" morality, then then it should follow that the conservative axiom is its opposite; that there is in fact a one size fits all morality. Fair enough and fair play to you so far. However, you then go on to state that there is such a thing as classical Western values to be contrasted to classical Muslim values. I put it to you that a person who believes in a one size fits all morality would not then talk about having discussions about "Western" as opposed to "Muslim" values.

A true conservative would be talking about a universal moral order and not some kind of local moral order, even a "Western" one. Or to put it another way, the kind of "conservative" that talks about "Western" moral orders when they claim to be talking about universal moral orders is in fact a radical nationalist. The operative word here, in case you are not sure, is "radical".

What I am afraid you are going to do next is try to tell us that Christianity is a Classical Western religious system. I am afraid that the Univeral God would disagree with you. In your identity problem, you seem to have allowed some liberal relativist concepts to leak in. You may perhaps feel that you can keep them at bay by maintaining the correct emotions about the Movement. But this way leads to folly Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter. I shall pray for you and light a candle for you this Sunday and I hope that Jesus will shine a light on you that will lead you away from your damnable confusion. (And I mean that literally.)

Anonymous said...

Norman P said...
[first quoting an Anonymous reasonable conservative]

<<< " I simply provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there is no one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity; and then extended it to a recognition that this principle is as true when regarding the differences between reasonable conservatives and progressives, as it is when considering the differences between Classical Western and Muslim values."

Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter,

I am afraid that I am forced to speculate about an underlying metaphysical position in your posts in part because you are prone to put out contradictory assumptions that you treat as self evident.

I think the basis of our misunderstanding comes from your quote above, which I have read twice now. If it is a progressive axiom that there is a "one size fits all" morality, then then it should follow that the conservative axiom is its opposite; that there is in fact a one size fits all morality. >>>


Dear Norman:

I think the basis of the misunderstanding more likely results from the fact that despite your saying that you had read the paragraph at issue twice, you still misquoted it.

You present a conditional statement that has as its antecedent my saying that: " ...it is a progressive axiom that there is a "one size fits all" morality,..."

But of course, I said nothing of the kind. Instead, I asserted the contrary proposition in the following statement: " ... I simply provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there is no one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity ..."

Thus, again: " ... the progressive axiom that there is NO one size fits all morality when it comes to humanity ..."


But let us suppose that what you really meant to say after all, was that I provisionally admitted the progressive axiom that there was "no one size fits all morality. "

Does the fact that I might admit the golden mountain does not exist, imply that I believe that it must in some way nonetheless exist simply because I have used the term "golden mountain"?


As for the rest:

1. You imply, and even state outright, that because I provisionally granted the progressive axiom of "no one size fits all morality", (which I did in the name of reasonableness and tolerance, and for application in the first instance to the progressives' own cases), that there is then some immediate inference available to you that the Classical Western values I mentioned in distinction to Muslim values, are to be identified as the foundation and the basis of a "one size fits all morality" which you think that I as a reasonable conservative must chauvinistically advocate being applied to everyone.

No such inference is warranted.

2. Contrary to your assertion, it does not follow that given some particular progressive moral axiom, the conservative axiom will be "opposite" in any intelligible sense. Did you mean to say "contradictory"?

3. There is no logical contradiction at least, between the possible existence of what you call a "universal moral order", or what one might call a " discoverable pan-cultural moral bedrock" and it's explicit recognition: as, say - hypothetically and just to give it a name - the "ius gentium", or further, as the "ius naturale", by only some particular segment of humankind.

Classical Western values may reflect it, if it exists, or they may not.

All you have done here Norman, is to pile illegitimate inference upon illegitimate inference until you built up a mound of nonsense from which to declaim.

Really, your time would have been better spent otherwise.

Yours truly,
Anonymous, a reasonable conservative

Norman P said...

"There is no logical contradiction at least, between the possible existence of what you call a "universal moral order", or what one might call a " discoverable pan-cultural moral bedrock" and it's explicit recognition: as, say - hypothetically and just to give it a name - the "ius gentium", or further, as the "ius naturale", by only some particular segment of humankind."

Dear Sir, Madame, and or Ms Coulter,

One might posit that there is both a discoverable pan cultural bedrock and that it is explicitly recognized by one segment of mankind. You appear to be retreating from your earlier implication that this particular segment of mankind is the West; as well you might since Classical Western thought has also generated the "principles" of liberalism. Your Classic Western values argument falls apart here, unless you are stating that Westerners who believe in a universal moral order or, as you put it (in a rather Thomist way, I would add) "discoverable pan-cultural moral bedrock" are the true perpetuators of Classic Western values and other people in the West are not actually espousing Western values or are not actually Western or something like that.

Your use of the word "pan-cultural" with your idea that not all or perhaps only one culture embraces these universal priciples of natural law is misleading, because pan-cultural would imply that all cultures possess these, and it seems to be your point that not all cultures posses these. This is the problem with the radical nationalism that underlies your position. You require that the values you celebrate as a "conservative" be embodied in your particular culture. This is why you feel comfortable using the word "pan-cultural" when talking about universal and transcendent moral values. You believe that these values should be pan-cultural. The only problem is that the other cultures don't know this yet; a situtation that your radical associates are assiduously working on to correct as we speak.

Universal moral law (or natural law) is not culture bound at all. It is transcendent, which is why we need to resort to metaphysics when we discuss it. Conservatives (even the unreasonable ones) used to know this.

Anonymous said...

Norman P said...
"There is no logical contradiction at least, between the possible existence of what you call a "universal moral order", or what one might call a " discoverable pan-cultural moral bedrock" and it's explicit recognition: as, say - hypothetically and just to give it a name - the "ius gentium", or further, as the "ius naturale", by only some particular segment of humankind."

Dear Sir, Madame, and or Ms Coulter,

One might posit that there is both a discoverable pan cultural bedrock and that it is explicitly recognized by one segment of mankind. >>>


It is well of you to recognize and admit that, Norman.


<< You appear to be retreating from your earlier implication that this particular segment of mankind is the West; >>>

That is not my implication Norman, it is yours, it is unwarranted, and I have informed you of it twice now. What more is required?


<<< as well you might since Classical Western thought has also generated the "principles" of liberalism.>>>

You seem determined, assuming you are even conscious of it, Norman, to drag us into a swamp of equivocation, wherein we will be forced to endlessly examine the principles of "Liberalism", and sort classically liberal principles from the principles of progressivism and collectivism.

I wish to avoid this unnecessary toil Norman, and that is why I generally take care to use the narrower term "progressive"; though my doing so seems to have completely escaped your notice.



<<< Your Classic Western values argument falls apart here, unless you are stating that Westerners who believe in a universal moral order or, as you put it (in a rather Thomist way, I would add) "discoverable pan-cultural moral bedrock" are the true perpetuators of Classic Western values and other people in the West are not actually espousing Western values or are not actually Western or something like that.>>>

Despite your repeatedly saying so, I did not make a "Western values" argument, Norman.

In essence I adverted to the fact that it would be as consistent for a reasonable conservative to adopt a values neutral stance when considering any solidarity based moral claims of progressives viz-a-viz conservatives, as it would be to do so when considering under progressive moral rubrics whether or not Classical Western or Muslim values had some kind of interpretive priority when evaluating moral effects.

You then, for some reason best understood by yourself, transmuted this suspension of judgment analogy I made, into a claim that I was ...

Well, to be blunt, Norman, despite your many misstatements of fact and erroneous interpretations, I am unsure what it is that you are really trying to argue ... at least globally.

You seem to be trying to portray me as having made argument I haven't made; and you do this by repeatedly substituting your own words for mine, and then assuming implications that do not obtain.

This is poor practice, and if conscious and intentional constitutes dishonesty.


< Your use of the word "pan-cultural" with your idea that not all or perhaps only one culture embraces these universal priciples of natural law is misleading, because pan-cultural would imply that all cultures possess these, and it seems to be your point that not all cultures posses these.>>>

I did not say embrace, Norman.

Norman, ... on the hypothetical that there is a discoverable universal moral law, I merely asserted that it is not logically necessary that everyone explicitly recognize it as such. I gave an example, and hedged it with provisos. I said nothing about "possession" or "embrace", nor did I concretely speculate in that regard as to just who possessed or who embraced.


<<< This is the problem with the radical nationalism that underlies your position. You require that the values you celebrate as a "conservative" be embodied in your particular culture. This is why you feel comfortable using the word "pan-cultural" when talking about universal and transcendent moral values. You believe that these values should be pan-cultural. The only problem is that the other cultures don't know this yet; a situtation that your radical associates are assiduously working on to correct as we speak.

Universal moral law (or natural law) is not culture bound at all. It is transcendent, which is why we need to resort to metaphysics when we discuss it. Conservatives (even the unreasonable ones) used to know this.

10/12/2007 2:16 PM


Dear Norman:

You persist in arguing against your own misreadings: illogically assigning unwarranted implications to what I have written, and then declaring that you perceive retreats when I attempt to bring you back on target and narrow your focus to what I actually said, and to what can be legitimately inferred.

Do you not know the meaning of the words "provisional" or "grant"? How about the meaning of my term "explicitly recognize" as opposed to your term "possess" ?

Do you not understand the concept of a hypothetical?

Norman, I have demonstrated, using your own words, that you have misread and misquoted me.

I have patiently explained to you why your previous assumptions and inferences were unwarranted, and (even alluding to the theory of descriptions on an alternative explanation) why your conclusions were invalidly derived.

Although you have now twice granted the logic of corrections I have made to your erroneous interpretations, you nonetheless continue to fixate on a specious conclusion of your own devising; and to worry it like a neurotic terrier.

For some reason you feel compelled to assign to me, a self-proclaimed reasonable conservative, a role as the pontiff of a pseudo-objective and imperialistic if incomplete, Western morality: merely because I have provisionally granted, in the name of reasonable conservativism, that we tentatively assume some of the larger moral axioms of relativistic "progressivism" (not liberalism, Norman ) when we evaluate what ought to be our proper moral stance concerning certain events that might befall ideological progressives themselves.


It is obvious from the final paragraphs of your last, that you have some cultural or ideological ax to grind, that you wish to inveigh against those you suspect of a radical agenda; and, that you feel somehow that my limited remarks embody the hegemonic impulse that you find offensive.


But I assure you Norman, you are simply barking up the wrong tree: as your hasty misrepresentations and misquotes ought by now to have amply demonstrated even to you.


Yours truly,
Anonymous, a reasonable conservative

Norman P said...

"It is obvious from the final paragraphs of your last, that you have some cultural or ideological ax to grind, that you wish to inveigh against those you suspect of a radical agenda; and, that you feel somehow that my limited remarks embody the hegemonic impulse that you find offensive."

Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter,

You do make it hard to see through so much smoke. But I suppose I will grant you that if you surround yourself with qualifications, you neither have to state anything directly nor take responsibility for anything.

"For some reason you feel compelled to assign to me, a self-proclaimed reasonable conservative, a role as the pontiff of a pseudo-objective and imperialistic if incomplete, Western morality: merely because I have provisionally granted, in the name of reasonable conservativism, that we tentatively assume some of the larger moral axioms of relativistic "progressivism" (not liberalism, Norman ) when we evaluate what ought to be our proper moral stance concerning certain events that might befall ideological progressives themselves."

For example, the smoke lies rather thickly here. You are in fact talking about the people who call themselves liberals when you use the term progressive, unless you are including the neo-cons, who also refer to themselves as progressives (as in "the true progressives").

But in your suppositions about the outcome of the "progressive" moral stance, you are characterizing the stance in the way that I described. Really, if you want to make fun of progressive moral stances, you should put them in the way that "progressives" see, use, and understand them rather than lay them out in the fashion of the radical nationalist that you are (despite your self proclamations). Your slip is showing once again, (hypothetically, of course).

Anonymous said...

Norman P said...

<<<

"It is obvious from the final paragraphs of your last, that you have some cultural or ideological ax to grind, that you wish to inveigh against those you suspect of a radical agenda; and, that you feel somehow that my limited remarks embody the hegemonic impulse that you find offensive."

Dear Sir, Madame, or Ms Coulter,

You do make it hard to see through so much smoke. But I suppose I will grant you that if you surround yourself with qualifications, you neither have to state anything directly nor take responsibility for anything.

"For some reason you feel compelled to assign to me, a self-proclaimed reasonable conservative, a role as the pontiff of a pseudo-objective and imperialistic if incomplete, Western morality: merely because I have provisionally granted, in the name of reasonable conservativism, that we tentatively assume some of the larger moral axioms of relativistic "progressivism" (not liberalism, Norman ) when we evaluate what ought to be our proper moral stance concerning certain events that might befall ideological progressives themselves."

For example, the smoke lies rather thickly here. You are in fact talking about the people who call themselves liberals when you use the term progressive, unless you are including the neo-cons, who also refer to themselves as progressives (as in "the true progressives").

But in your suppositions about the outcome of the "progressive" moral stance, you are characterizing the stance in the way that I described. Really, if you want to make fun of progressive moral stances, you should put them in the way that "progressives" see, use, and understand them rather than lay them out in the fashion of the radical nationalist that you are (despite your self proclamations). Your slip is showing once again, (hypothetically, of course).

10/12/2007 4:57 PM >>>


Dear Norman:

Good luck to you as you hopefully wander these pages in search of specimens to use in populating your "radical nationalist" category.

Though I will not accompany you any further along this particularly tedious journey, please feel free to pursue it as long as you continue to find the prospect interesting.

Do remember to write back occasionally with what you have found.


Oh, Norman, one final point.

You write,

" Really, if you want to make fun of progressive moral stances, you should put them in the way that "progressives" see, use, and understand them ... "

Norman, did I not give examples in my first of this series? Did I fail to allude to Mr. Robert Fisk's real life, Progressive's Ode to Self-Loathing and Masochism, in the third?

Now there, Norman, was a real person, a real progressive, and a real beating; from which the poor bugger apparently derived a great deal of enjoyment.

There is little or no doubt that he later wrote about it with great relish as well.

(I will refuse to speculate here if it is ethically permissible for it to be read by a reasonable conservative in the same way.)

http://www.counterpunch.org/fiskbeaten.html

Nonetheless ...

Yours truly,
Anonymous, a reasonable conservative

Edwin said...

I never, in my life, thought I'd be seeing and hearing Americans debate this. Never!! Making torture policy is a slippery slope, and sets the door ajar for future "interpretations" and abuses (you may not like). As I'm not American, I'll suffice it to say, the respect I once had for your country has largely evapourated. It's not the America I thought it was. I always thought you were better than this. Turns out your not. Once a beacon of liberty, now akin to banana republics everywhere. You may speak, but we're not listening any longer.

Yojimbo said...

OH! "Torture"!! Now I get it. I could not see why all the debate about meat pies...

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