Archive | December 2014

How Did Torture Become a “Gray Area”?

ACADEME BLOG

For several hours, I have been puzzling over Ulf Kirchendorfer’s most recent post, “Why Torture Is So American!” Irony and satire are sometimes as difficult to understand and to respond to as they are engaging and provocative.

Ulf’s post is certainly very provocative in highlighting the ways in which “torture” may be said to have deep roots in American culture and the ways in which we have been conditioned to overlook the conditions under which many people live and work, which may be said to be tantamount to extended torture. But I ultimately think that Ulf may be conflating brutality and a lack of empathy with torture, when those are more precisely preconditions for being able to torture without conscience.

During World War II, my father served in the Marines and was in the first landings on Iwo Jima. There were 20,000 Japanese on that island honeycombed with tunnels and…

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