The American people are understandably fearful about another attack like the one we sustained on Sept. 11, 2001. But it is the duty of the commander in chief to lead the country away from the grip of fear, not into its grasp. Regrettably, at Tuesday night's presidential debate in South Carolina, several Republican candidates revealed a stunning failure to understand this most basic obligation. Indeed, among the candidates, only John McCain demonstrated that he understands the close connection between our security and our values as a nation.
What they don't mention in the op-ed is that the republican crowd viewing the debate also not only failed to understand that basic obligation, they reveled in it. Mitt Romney received one of the loudest cheers from the crowd when he suggested that he would be the strongest in using enhanced interrogation techniques on captured combatants. This got me thinking, did Romney go far enough for this crowd. Would they have cheered even louder if he would have said the T word? I'm not sure they wouldn't.
Now, the question that prompted these responses was very specific and extremely improbable. This may make you somewhat uncomfortable, but given the situation described, there is no person currently running or about to be running on either side of the aisle who would not authorize these techniques given the short time frame allowed, save perhaps Dennis Kucinich. Would it work to save American lives? Maybe, maybe not.
And that may have been what the republican candidates were saying, but it certainly wasn't what the crowd was hearing. No, the authoritarians in the crowd were hearing was what to them were dog whistle phrases that they took to mean as Romney and the others were perfectly content with wide scale torture. They've been trained, much like a cult to hear these things and believe they mean something else. It is very troubling.
So, what causes the authoritarian right to not only endorse but crave torture? Is it fear? No. Fear is the reason the sheep might wobble from side to side, but sheep don't attend republican primary debates a year before the primary. These are not sheep. I can only conclude one thing. These are people who simply do not believe in the basic tenet that all men are created equal. This is what allows them to disallow rights to minorities and gays in this country, and if you're a foreigner, you can only imagine what they think of you.
And I don't believe they do this out of a sense of superiority, but rather a sense of entitlement. Seeing this, it is no wonder that republicans regularly run up victories in the South, which has a distinct history of not treating all men as equal. When someone tries to infringe on their sensed of entitlement they must be stopped whether they are trying to gain equal rights or just being a little too stingy with their natural resources. How many times have you heard one of them say, "Why don't we just nuke them and take the oil?"
It is because they do not value anyone's lives but their own little clique. Everyone else, including the troops, including firemen, including policemen, are simply seen as lubrication for their lifestyle to be discarded in various Walter Reeds when that lubrication becomes a little too gritty.
I'd like to mention one other thing about the above referenced article. Several of the commenters to that article on the Washington Post website have asked why we should afford enemy combatants protections they don't offer us. It is simple really. When you are fighting an enemy and you're troops know they have to fight to the death to avoid torture or worse, and the other side knows that it will be okay if they give up, that is a hell of a force multiplier, one which we have lost. And to those who say they never give up, we sure have captured a lot of them, haven't we?