Saturday, December 05, 2009

America's regression.

Glenn Greenwald highlights a scary change which has taken place in US society since 9-11.

Ronald Reagan, May 20, 1988, transmitting the Convention Against Torture to the Senate for ratification:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. . . . Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called "universal jurisdiction." Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

Convention Against Torture, signed and championed by Ronald Reagan, Article II/IV:

No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law.

Pew Poll, today:

Public opinion about the use of torture remains divided, though the share saying it can at least sometimes be justified has edged upward over the past year. Currently just over half of Americans say that the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can either often (19%) or sometimes (35%) be justified. This is the first time in over five years of Pew Research polling on this question that a majority has expressed these views. Another 16% say torture can rarely be justified, while 25% say it can never be justified.
Think on that. 54% of American think that torture is "often" or "sometimes" justified. That beggars belief. 54% of Americans are now to the right of Ronald Reagan on this subject.

I remember thinking that Reagan was a reactionary old bastard, now he's the centre right, with most Americans more right wing on this subject than Reagan was.
Adam Serwer says that this is "what happens when one party in a two party system makes something outrageous part of its political platform: Even the most abhorrent behavior can be mainstreamed."
That's scary.

Click here for Greenwald's entire article.


Steel Phoenix said...

I think on 9-10-01 a poll of the American people would have shown you something much different. A hefty portion of our populace aren't deep thinkers these days. They are easily steered and herded by anger and fear.

I think it is a product of our two party political system. People become accustomed to being told they have two choices, that they are with us or against us, that they should pick a side and a representative who will think for them. It breeds an atmosphere where one side takes a stand and the other automatically opposes it.

nunya said...

Holy crap. I figured more than 25% would say that torture is NEVER justified. I can't believe how fucking stupid most of my fellow Americans are.

(hanging head in shame)

Kel said...

SP, You make the very point that Adam Serwer made. "Even the most abhorrent behavior can be mainstreamed."

Nunya, I think it is a shameful figure, but it is a product of the two party system. Americans have been asked to choose between torture and terrorist attacks.

It's a false choice, but people are falling for it.

The Republicans should hang heir heads in shame. History, especially American historians, will look back on this period with shame and wonder how these morons ever came to betray America's ideals with such complicity from large sections of the populace. They have achieved it through fear and false choices.

nunya said...

Yeah, I see your point. The mainstream media is complicit in creating an uninformed constituency.

I laughed also when one of my liberal bloggers referred to the US Senate as "The House of Lords."