The Normalization of Torture, and, oh yeah, Obama is Probably the Anti-Christ…


I stumbled across this advertisement at

When I first saw this ad, I was just speechless. Isn’t this image downright TERRIFYING? : ‘Yeah, I’d rather be hanging out with the Khmer Rouge and breaking US law. Maybe then I can drown my victim in our nice family pool behind me; it’s all good fun. Then after that, I’ll get a slushy or hit mall for some new shoes.’ Good lord. On a t-shirt no less!

Can you imagine the moral bankruptcy of someone who would wear a casual clothing item declaiming a desire to torture? This is the sort of outfit that guy who tried to blow up the IRS would wear.

And who makes these shirts? Shouldn’t the FBI be investigating this company, ‘’? If you go the website, claims this to be humor. I’m just floored that torture debate is now so normalized that it can be a conservative punch line: ‘Hey dude, it’s totally hysterical that we make those Muslims guys vomit all over themselves at Guantanamo. Far out!’ 

Consider this counterfactual: If some Muslim walked around the mall with a shirt saying ‘I’d rather be on jihad,’ wouldn’t you call flip out and call the police?

Just in case you still don’t know that waterboarding is torture and that torture is a felony, click here and  here and follow all the copious links provided. If you want the full bore academic treatment explaining why US ‘enhanced interrogation’ is really torture, read this. The point is that we must stop deluding ourselves that is stuff is not a massive human rights violation.

Honestly, I wonder sometimes if the American right realizes what its post-9/11, post-Obama freak-out/meltdown/plunge into the abyss is doing to America’s reputation in the world. If those Tea Partiers could spend just 3 months in another country, I think they’d be shocked and then hugely embarrassed at the disdain and loathing imagery like this t-shirt provokes about the US. I see it all the time when I travel in Asia. The same people who are the most dogmatic that America is the greatest country on earth are the market for ‘pro-torture products’ like this. But you can’t have both. You can’t loudly insist on America’s unrivaled awesomeness and world-historic greatness while simultaneously undercutting the evidence of that by torturing foreigners. We can’t be the only superpower if everyone hates us.

Bonus Tea-Party Freak Out Moment: After health care, 25% of Republicans think Obama might be the Antichrist. This is not conservatism anymore; this is becoming nihilism…

12 thoughts on “The Normalization of Torture, and, oh yeah, Obama is Probably the Anti-Christ…

  1. Everything I used to detest about the left has become what’s detestable about the right. The desire for parallel institutions (think tanks, gated intellectual communities) rather than engagement and integration. The noisy demands for this or that (was: US out of Vietnam NOW! Now it’s “More Drilling NOW!” or “Show the birth certificate NOW!”. The street protests. The lack of seriousness about governing. The radical political agendas. The distrust or even hatred of expertise. The endless accusations of treachery and treason. The conspiratorial thinking. The identity politics. The thumb-sucking claims of victimization and persecution. The moral relativism (Left: Racism can only be practiced by white people; the new right: Torture isn’t torture if we do it.) These all used to be owned by the left; many of them were invented (in the US) by the left. The right has discovered them and has absolutely engorged itself on what it has found left behind by the liberals of the past few decades.

    Above all, the relativism, the hatred of objectivity or, perhaps more accurately, the hatred of those who claim to be objective. The right is so very po-mo now, so social constructivist. Those who disagree with the right do not have honest differences of opinion; they are accused of selling the country out to gain favor with secret liberal centers of power who secretly control everything, all in service of subverting the country’s sovereignty to world government.

    The insanity of the right is fun to mock and jeer at, but these crazy, deluded people could gain power one day, and if they do, the country is at grave risk.

    Any movement that sees in Obama treason, communism, a deliberate and conscious desire to destroy the country in the name of Islam or Marxism or world government, simply cannot be trusted anywhere near real power. I don’t care about Obama’s feelings (much); I worry about the right’s inability to accept common facts, such as the fact that their taxes haven’t gone up. They insist that they have. It’s an objective fact and it’s “unavailable” to them.

    The reality-based community can’t disengage from them as much as we’d like to. I still think mockery and shame are legitimate responses, and sometimes they seem like the only responses available.


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