[Marxism] Torture "fundamentally un-American" ?

Paul H. Dillon illonph at pacbell.net
Mon May 10 09:14:57 MDT 2004


  Nestor,

  I think to frame the problem with the term "torture" misses the point.  I
heard some idiot neo-con from Georgia on the radio calling what's happening
"torture-lite" and I wanted to vomit.  The cultural key to the issue was
present in the week-end box office #1, "Bad Girls", which concerns how 4
girls humiliate and degrade a new girl to the high school.  That behavior is
characteristically American: degradation and humiliation.  And being such a
materialist country it totally escapes most Americans that the kind of
degradation and humiliation that was seen in the Iraqui photos  could be
considered worse than physical torture, but it is clear that living with
indelible shame is as bad as death for people in some cultures and the Arab
culture might well be considered one of them.

  Americans are bullies and love to humiliate people.  I once read the
commentary of a native American who remarked on the American way of  shaming
its conquered.  Not content with defeating the enemy's body, the man said,
the Americans also want to defeat his spirit.  An example of this (which
will probably be totally surprising to most Americans) is the practice of
"rebuilding" the people in the American image instead of leaving them alone
after defeat.

  Another little irony, comparable to "Bad Girls" big box office success,
was the opening of a new exhibit on lynching in the South.  Emmett Till
comes immediately to mind.  But that it was opening at the same time as the
murdering thug who currently occupies the White House was saying, "It's not
in the American character."  Wrong.  It's just not in the American
self-image and we all know the difference between a person's character and
their self-image.

  The photos out of Abu-Ghraib reveal a deep flaw in the American character
that goes all the way through our society from "jocks and burnouts" in the
highschools to the  police with broom sticks in New York City.  Perhaps,
(i'm overly optimistic), Americans can transform our visceral shock and say
to ourselves, "you know, we really aren't the nice people we think we are."



  Paul Dillon




  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: "paul bunyan" <cutemdown2003 at yahoo.com>
  To: <nestorgoro at fibertel.com.ar>; "Activists and scholars in Marxist
tradition" <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
  Sent: Monday, May 10, 2004 7:17 AM
  Subject: Re: [Marxism] Torture "fundamentally un-American" ?


  > Nestor, I read you well. My comments were for anyone with illusions.
I've read enough of your posts to know that you have no illusions in the
"goodness" of US "democracy". My apoligies for any misunderstanding.
  >
  > Nestor wrote:
  > >Please, Paul, read me well. I did not say that there was _no torture_
  > >in America. What I said was that _torture_ was not included in the
  > >best representative of American values, Mark Twain. This is quite a
  > >different thing.
  >
  > Respuesta a: Re: [Marxism] Torture "fundamentall
  > Remitido por: paul bunyan
  > Fecha: Sábado 8 de Mayo de 2004
  > Hora: 7:24
  > *****
  >
  > > No torture in America, huh? During World War I, in Ohio, imprisoned
draft resisters were hung by their thumbs. There are too many other examples
to mention here, unless someone else wants to. Hell, torture here in freedom
land is as American as, what, mom and apple pie?
  > _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  > "Sí, una sola debe ser la patria de los sudamericanos".
  > Simón Bolívar al gobierno secesionista y disgregador de
  > Buenos Aires, 1822
  > _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
  >
  >
  >
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