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Torture – Why Are You Surprised?

(crossposted to my dairy over at DailyKos, which has some… interesting reactions.) 

The political blogs are all over this whole torture thing and shrub’s hissy fit in the Rose Garden. I am watching the debate from way, way back because I don’t see any good outcome from this. Sometimes even I need a break from being angry.

However, there’s an element to this topic that I find surprising. I shouldn’t, I’m sure, but I do. You see, some people are completely shocked and outdone that Bush and some Republicans would be involved in torture or condone torture or try to make weasely laws that allow torture to happen in American-run prisons or properties. People are seriously surprised. They ask, how can this even be a conversation? How can Bush even say that protecting human dignity is a vague concept? How?

May I remind you people that this is America. This is the country that brought us Amadou Diallo’s murder at the hands of cops who were set free. This is the country that brought us Abner Louima’s brutal rape and torture at the hands of, again, cops, all of whom aren’t rotting in jail right now. This is the country that brought us Rodney King, black men being dragged behind trucks until dead, black church bombings, and cops allowed, over the course of decades, to torture black ‘suspects’.
Not to mention the historical legacy of lynching in the South, which had the air of public carnivals. Many of the people currently in power are old enough to have been present at that kind of event, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them were. And we wonder why we have to debate the definition of human dignity with them?

This isn’t just about black people or just about cops or even just about white supremacist pigs. It’s about the fact that people are blind to the torture that goes on in this country and act shocked, surprised, and outraged when they discover that we’re perpetrating it elsewhere. To me, that’s not some big surprise. To me, that’s just business as usual for the American government.

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8 thoughts on “Torture – Why Are You Surprised?”

  1. Anna in Portland (was Cairo) says:

    This is also the country where prison rape is considered normal and fodder for jokes, coincidentally most prisoners are POC.

  2. Chasingmoksha says:

    I am always shocked at people being surprised. A friend of mine called to tell me about an article about Racism that was recently in Time magazine. All the parts that she read because they were so enlightening, I was just like DUH!

  3. Solange Echeverria says:

    The fact is that it is white middle class america that is surprised-even the liberal ones. Those of us that grew up in neighborhoods that were virtual police states (NYC) are not surprised. It’s just like the school shootings-kids have been getting gunned down in school in poor neighborhoods since god knows when-it’s only when white middle class kids picked up the weaponry that the country woke up to it.

  4. Liz Henry says:

    Amazing… from the country who brought us the notorious torturer training facility “The School of the Americas“… who would have guessed that our military and govt. would find torture useful and so would train its members? I repeat, who’d have thunk it? SUCH a surprise!

  5. Teresa Nielsen Hayden says:

    It may happen a lot, but I refuse to see it as “business as usual”. Torturing prisoners is evil no matter where it happens. We should stop it overseas and we should stop it at home.

    One of the less-acknowledged reasons we should stop torturing prisoners abroad is that those interrogators will come home afterward and go back to civilian life. For as long as they live, they’ll know how easy it is to get a confession out of someone who can’t fight back. If they’re in a line of work where that comes up, they’ll probably teach it to some of their co-workers. Torture is a poison that stays in the body politic a long time.

  6. Josh Jasper says:

    The main thing I’m disgusted about is that anyone with a claim about being tortured can’t bring that claim to court because “National Security” prevents anyone who’s been kidnapped and tortured from bringing a lawsuit.

    So Bush can get up and claim “we don’t torture” and even if 1000 innocent victims of his torture campaign got up and presented themselves as proof, Bush can still claim “we don’t torture” because no court in America can allow them to contradict him in any meaningful way.

    I’m not surprised. I have no faith in America being some exceptional place full of the spirit of democracy, and spirit that will have people rising up to stop this. People are clearly content to let it happen, and have been since the coutry was founded. It’s human history. Nearly every nation on earth has this sort of history.

  7. the angry black woman says:


    I definitely agree that it should end both here and abroad. That was never in question (for me). But considering what goes on here on a daily basis, I don’t see how it can be viewed as anything but buisness as usual. That dosn’t mean we don’t work to stop it, it just means I’m not going to be OMGShocked!1! when I hear about it.

    And it makes me really cynical because I wonder where some of this outrage was when it was happening here to brown people? Sure, there are plenty of people who were outraged and said so. But so, so many of them were not.

  8. Radfem says:

    I was reviewing training information on tasers from Taser International, Inc. and reading about the procedures for using them in drive stun mode which is when you apply them directly to a person’s body and shock them which causes an incredible amount of pain.

    At one point, the training manual stated that great care had to be taken to avoid using them iin the head, neck and genitals, which could cause severe injury. However, in the next statement, encouragement was given to tasing these same body areas because they were “highly affective” targets for “pain compliance”.

    It reminds me of how shocked people are when they hear about the use of electrical shock on genitals and other body parts to torture people. They do it here.

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