In his weekend roundup, driftglass reminds us that there was a time when our mainstream pop culture villified torture and praised those who attempted to resist it:
And then Fox TV’s Torture Porn Show, also known as 24, made torturing fashionable. Strength was to be had in torturing people, not in resisting it.
At this point, it’s tempting to bemoan our nation’s sorry fate, but Thomas Levenson offers a good explanation of how we reached this dismal point (italics mine):
….this [bizarre and obscene definition of lynching] is an example of the kind of rhetorical deceit that would have made the patron saint of political thuggery-by-deception proud. Joseph Goebbels famously said “Propaganda has nothing to do with the truth.”
By this measure, of course, Lord’s post is a triumph. It takes someone already the victim of an artful and astonishingly effective hatchet job, pursues one of the most awful incidents in her family history, and tells the world that her accurate account of her relative’s murder is false — and disqualifies her from public regard. Slick, evil, and just what Dr. Joe would have recognized as the political manipulator’s stock in trade.
I’m not trying to Godwinize myself here. Rather I want to draw one thread out of this admittedly loaded comparison.
At no time up to the end of 1933 did the Nazi party command a majority allegiance within the German electorate. They did, however, create a powerful climate of opinion in which their recognizably crazy and fringe politics came to be seen as reasonable and a plausible element in national governance.
At no time did the old right elite among the German political classes intend to deliver real or lasting power to the Hitler and his crew. Notoriously, the failed former German Chancellor Fritz von Papen, after persuading President Hindenburg to invite Hitler to lead a coalition government in which von Papen would serve as Vice Chancellor, crowed “We’ve captured him!”
As we know, it didn’t quite work out that way.
We have always had a batshit lunatic quarter of the population. In different eras, they have been known as John Birchers, segregationists, the Moral Majority. The Palinist impulse, sadly, never goes away, only mutates. But the question for the rest of us is why do we grant these loathsome people a place in the discussion?