J.R. Dunn, at American Thinker, discusses the Left’s successful propaganda campaign on so-called “Torture.” The Left controls the narrative in matters of this kind by using a combination of its domination of the MSM and emotionalism to shout down dissent.
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.
No small number of elements of the War on Terror have suffered the same treatment. An offhand list would include profiling, wiretapping, border security, and rendition. All have been hijacked and turned into battering rams to support a particular left-wing interpretation of the War on Terror. The GOP has been unable to respond for a number of reasons: they’ve been blindsided, have been busy fending off corruption investigations, or simply couldn’t or wouldn’t defend certain obvious positions. As a result, the left has been able to peddle its version of events with near impunity.
“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. (Another method of judging these actions is to ask whether the activity would excite an individual like Mengele or Yezhov.)
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.)
Read the whole thing.