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Thursday, September 05, 2013

Huzzah For Torture!

Senator George Frisbie Hoar of Massachusetts, speaking in 1902, the third year of the Phillipine-American War, on the costs of foreign occupation and the state of constant war, and how it imperils the Republic:

...Gentlemen tell us that the Filipinos are savages, that they have inflicted torture, that they have dishonored our dead and outraged the living. That very likely may be true. Spain said the same thing of the Cubans. We have made the same charges against our own countrymen in the disturbed days after the war. The reports of committees and the evidence in the documents in our library are full of them.

But who ever heard before of an American gentleman, or an American, who took as a rule for his own conduct the conduct of his antagonist, or who claimed that the Republic should act as savages because she had savages to deal with? I had supposed, Mr. President, that the question, whether a gentleman shall lie or murder or torture, depended on his sense of his own character, and not on his opinion of his victim. Of all the miserable sophistical shifts which have attended this wretched business from the beginning, there is none more miserable than this...

Among the many discussions it casts light on is that of our own institution of torture, specifically water boarding, which is still even now held up by many politicians and public figures as a well devised means to a good end. I seem to recall Dick Cheney just a few months ago saying something like,
Huzzah to water boarding! It is jolly good, and so say all of us!


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