Saturday, December 10, 2005

Torture Culture

There is, sadly, more than a grain of truth in this analysis of torture and American culture.

When violence is presented as the normative response to "evil," and then crosses what should be a brighter line over into how one relates to even family members and intimates (which, let's admit, is as American as Stanley Kowalski), is it really any surprise that the revelations about Abu Ghraib didn't prompt a stronger outcry?

I remember watching "Terminator 2" in the theater. In an early scene, Schwarzenegger pins a biker's hand to a table top by ramming a knife through it. My wife and I cringeed; everyone else in the theater laughed.

I think that was the "normal" response, frankly. I remember a line from Scorsese's "Gangs of New York," where the protagonist recalls a savage beating he once took in a street riot. "It was beautiful," he says.

That's America. I'd like to say it wasn't; but it is.

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