Umair Haque has a very good post about where we stand morally and ethically as a nation–as the kids used to say, read the whole thing. His point about normalization is excellent (boldface mine):
The bad guys are winning, my friends. In a very stark and horrific way. Let’s put the above in plain English. The bad guys have normalized rape, camps, torture, genocide, and crimes against humanity.
Yes, really. We use the word “normalization” in a way we shouldn’t. It doesn’t mean that you necessarily accept that things above. You don’t for sure, if you’re a sane person, a civilized human being. You shudder. You are disgusted. You are furious. But it doesn’t matter. These things go on. They become normal, everyday parts of the bland, featureless landscape of humdrum life. They are normalized. Bang! See the point? You don’t need to applaud, much less endorse, or even approve — you just need to remain silent, paralyed, mute. Then normalization is inevitable, isn’t it?
But the one problem is that Haque keeps repeating how this happened over three years (“Three endless years — in which the unthinkable has happened”). That is, this started during the Trump era–’for a thousand generations, the Jedi…’ The problem is the rot started back when we normalized torture–during the reign of the Little Lord Pontchartrain (Bush 43). As some asshole with a blog put it months before Trump was elected (boldface added):
…normalizing the abnormal started well before Trump even considered running. If Trump would be Caesar, then the open advocacy of torture by most Republicans was Sulla (though #NotAllRepublicans and, shamefully, there was the tacit acquiescence of some Democrats).
For once you have decided that the mutilation and violation of other people is openly acceptable state policy, you have hit rock bottom. You can not fall any further. While I’m not naive about what the U.S. has done (especially in ‘outsourcing’ torture), it was never publicly acclaimed as a right and just action. Time was, in popular culture, torturers were viewed as evil, not as heroes ‘doing what needs to be done.’
Leaving aside “the score of efficacy”–though in isolation, torture is useless and requires a regime of mass torture, doesn’t work, and offers the temptation of manufacturing false evidence–once you have normalized torture, there is nothing left that can not be normalized. Telling ridiculous lies, spouting racist rhetoric, or offering laughably unrealistic policies is nothing by comparison to the brutal and vile degradation of human beings…
In a sense, it’s remarkable that it took the Republican Party this long to nominate someone like Trump: the moral rot had set in long before 2015.
Unlike Abu Gharib and Gitmo, now the torture apparatus is on U.S. soil:
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).
(Seems my prediction about torture not stemming immigration might have been correct.)
The rot has existed much longer than three years. Much longer.