After the revelations that Alabama Republican U.S. Senate candidate and long-time moral scold Roy Moore initiated inappropriate “sexual encounters” with four teenage girls while he was an assistant district attorney, including one fourteen year-old who was there for a custody hearing, the Republican Party immediately dropped him, conservatives and fundamentalists renounced him, and Moore ceased his campaign.
Of course that didn’t happen. Many Republicans, including many fundamentalists, stepped forward to support Moore. This led to many, including some on the right, to wonder if there is no ‘red line that can be crossed’ (and other such apocalyptic-sounding phrases). As I noted before Il Trumpe was elected (never mind Moore announcing his candidacy), once you normalize torture, there is nothing that can not be normalized. We’ll outsource the short version to resistance fighter and Nobel Laureate Albert Camus:
Reprisals against civilian populations and the use of torture are crimes in which we are all involved. The fact that such things could take place among us is a humiliation we must henceforth face. Meanwhile, we must at least refuse to justify such methods, even on the score of efficacy. The moment they are justified, even indirectly, there are no more rules or values; all causes are equally good, and war without aims or laws sanctions the triumph of nihilism.
To gain support for torture, to train them to overcome a basic revulsion towards the act, you must teach people how to fear and to hate some group. Once you have successfully done that, it’s trivial to expand the hated group to include anyone. The triumph of nihilism means you can train them to justify anything. Many conservatives, in no small part due to conservative media, fear an elected Democratic senator so much and hate the left (defined at this point, as anyone who isn’t a loyal movement conservative) so much that they are willing to countenance a very evil and damaged man as a U.S. senator.
This didn’t start with Il Trumpe at all. The rot runs much deeper.