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.
–Albert Camus, Resistance, Rebellion, and Death
I’ve been saying this since before Il Trumpe was elected, but, in light of the barbaric treatment of immigrant children by ICE (and now there are reports that some kids are hurting themselves), it bears repeating.
Once people establish a system to torture and brutalize people under their complete control, it can–and given human nature, will–be used against other groups. Because Abu Gharib and other facilities were not a few rogue operators. An entire propaganda apparatus, including a major ‘repurposing’ of the conservative media, was constructed to justify torture. It worked: currently, 46% of U.S.-ians think it’s acceptable to torture people (Pew has a slightly higher number), which is an increase from 1999.
Once torturers have erected a system to convince people that torture is acceptable, that is it something to ‘discuss’, and not immediately condemn, that if you support torture, you are not an abomination before God, then this system can be–and again, will be–retrained on other groups when it is politically convenient to do.
Make no mistake about it. The Trump administration and its supporters are brutalizing and traumatizing children (and their parents) to achieve certain results: ‘scaring away’ undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers (which probably won’t work), and coercing Democrats into supporting what is de facto white nationalist policy (Il Trumpe is a caste system racist, after all).
Unlike what happened with torture in the aftermath of the Iraq War, we must never again ‘look forwards, not back’ regarding those who supported these policies. They are not good people, and the stain on their souls makes them untrustworthy and unwelcome.