Sunday, June 01, 2008

Torture, inc and other items

Jonathan Schwarz calls attention to a FAIR fundraiser; I visited, and saw this:
TV’s Low-Cal Campaign Coverage: How 385 stories can tell you next to nothing about whom to vote for"
By Jon Whiten
(May/June 2008)

as you may know, FAIR stands for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. I think they shouldn't change their name, but maybe change their acronym to FEAR, as in FairnEss and Accuracy in Reporting, even if that doesn't make a lot of sense. Because maybe then more people would tune in, and give them lots of money as Jon Schwarz advises. Besides, we seem to live in an age in which fear is the key.

Mister Schwarz also has a post by Nell Lancaster of A Lovely Promise, "No Torture. No Exceptions. Just a Few Qualms."

When I saw this the first thing, greedily, that I thought was, "Oh, great. Now Nell Lancaster is going to be a big shot, and won't want to join my new group blog." (more about this later.)
Lancaster criticizes the group she discusses,, for making a primarily utilitarian argument against torture, and not discussing the humanitarian aspect. She does this within an otherwise approving context, although she also notes their tangentially humanitarian argument, that torture "betrays our values", and seems to dismiss that as an appeal to American exceptionalism*.

I wonder if the Reject Torture people are right to de-emphasize the humanitarian aspect, not because it isn't valid but because of how aggressive the right-wing noise machine in (seemingly) discrediting arguments against torture, and if as a consequence people are less likely to be reached by such an argument because it's tied in with the conditioned response of liberals and liberalism being self-indulgent exercises in feel-goodism.(I sound like Ned Flanders all of a sudden!)

But it also occurs to me that part of the problem is that Americans don't know too much about the robust street-fighting tradition of liberalism, denatured as it has become by corporate media insistence that Martin Luther King was just a guy who wanted to hug everybody and Malcolm X is just a movie you can order through Netflix. And then there's the tradition, well before the days of Jerry Falwell and the Left Behind series, of American religious figures fighting the good fight for abolition.

(Whistler Blue in ATR's comments mentions the National Religious Coalition Against Torture)

Elsewhere, Rob Payne in
"Indoctrination Nation" says
"We believe ourselves to be more civilized because we have car keys and unmanned drones."

And Chris Floyd has an excellent piece, referenced by Rob,"Outer Darkness: The Gulag Cancer Grows, State Terror Intensifies"

*which inevitably reminds me of Rob Payne, as well as why I wanted to ask her and Rob and 1-3 others to try a group blog I've been mulling over.

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