I Dare Him to Call Me a Torture Apologist
There has been much written in the Catholic blogosphere over the last couple of days about Mark Shea's latest foray into calumnious rumor-mongering.
Christopher Blosser, Patrick Archbold, and the Cranky Conservative (as well as others) have all made fine contributions. But it's Red Cardigan's post that I believe distills the issue down to its most basic elements:
... Mark is saying that it doesn't matter if the story is true or not, but that because we know this administration has condoned torture, murder, and the cover-up of murder we can't dismiss this out of hand.My Comments:
Patrick, and others, are saying, in effect: hold on. We do know the administration has done some bad things ... But knowing that the administration tried to use all sorts of legalistic wiggle-room about how waterboarding really wasn't torture, not really, and cold cells aren't really torture, not really, etc. seems to me to be a far cry from saying that we know for certain that our non-military intelligence officers are routinely shoving forty-plus prisoners out of cargo planes (despite the enormous difficulty in doing any such thing while the plane is in flight--these aren't skydiving planes, after all) as the sort of thing which is All in a Day's Work, so to speak; or at the very least, that we can't say that the story is impossible.
Now, Mark appears to be saying (and I'll be glad to be wrong) that the only way you could object to this story is because you're bound and determined to give the Bush administration a pass when it comes to torture and murder, and you're so blindly partisan that you can't even accept for a moment that things have deteriorated so much that we now must face the possibility that it might be true that we have members of the CIA hiring civilian contractors to fly cargo planes out of which they plan to push three or four dozen prisoners en route. In other words, he appears to be saying that raising objections on the grounds that this story seems highly implausible, could not be kept a secret if it really were occurring, and might not even be physically possible are all a smoke screen for one's determination to bow down to Moloch and ignore torture and murder so long as it's Our Guy doing it.
But that's a bit unkind. I, for one, don't condone torture, and would be outraged at any proof that our government has been committing wholesale murders of people just as I suspect most of us would be. But I don't read this story and think, sadly, "How terrible it is that we can't categorically deny this!" Instead, I read it and think "Sounds like somebody along the line had Way Too Much to drink, and was determined to tell an impressively horrific tale!" And I don't think I'm covering up for Bush in reaching that conclusion; if anything, I'm employing God's gift of reason, and failing to fall for the latest fashion in conspiracy theory.
[Read the whole thing]
Yeah, what Red said! This story is such obvious B.S. that it is not even debatable that Mark had no business posting it and claiming it to be an "entirely believable anecdote."
Yet, Mark persists in calling his post legit and tarring those who object to it either as partisan torture apologists for the Bush Administration or as fixated upon "trivial" matters of secondary importance to the overall objective of his post.
Let's start with the second allegation. I no more view as "trivial" that one might calumniate an entire group of people in order to denounce the intrinsic evil of torture than I view it as "trivial" that one might torture a captive in order to prevent the intrinsic evil of a terror attack. Mark rightly rages against the consequentialism of the latter, but appears oblivious to the consequentialism inherent in the former. But last I checked, calumny was intrinsically evil, too.
And to address the first allegation: I dare Mark Shea to accuse me of being a torture apologist, especially when he has plenty of evidence to the contrary.