What a fantastic opportunity for a Trump-style entertainment extravaganza!
The arena is packed with a bloodthirsty crowd. The house lights dim, rock music blares, laser lights swirl and fireworks dazzle.
The Torture Master bursts onto the stage underneath huge letters of lights: "TRUMP." The crowd goes wild. The terror suspects are paraded in chains through the jeering mob on their way to the stage.
The Torture Master carefully selects one of the many instruments of doom and goes to work on the victims. It is all displayed on giant Jumbotrons, replete with instant replays in slow-motion.
Now THAT's entertainment! Much better than a professional wrestling match. Way better than a reality TV show.
Who knows? Maybe this is exactly what Trump has in mind when he disgracefully advocates in favor of torture.
Trump's justification for torture is that terrorists are chopping off heads in the Middle East. So by Trump's logic, just because terrorists are doing it, we should do it too.
Yikes. If our course of conduct is to replicate the worst behaviors of others, then all of our principles would be out the window and we would foolishly plunge ourselves into a race to the bottom.
This makes no sense.
Torturing people is not an example of being "tough," as Trump says. And it will not solve any problems, as Trump preaches.
If torture meant being "tough," then hey, we could get "tough" right in our own neighborhoods. For people who shoplift, we could cut off their hands. For people who lie, we could cut out their tongues. For people who run away from the police, we could cut off their feet.
But we don't. Why not? Because we are better than that.
We have evolved as human beings. Or, some of us have, anyway. We have recognized the barbarity of these acts, and we have realized that the conduct of our government reflects the nature of our society. When the state engages in barbaric acts, this serves as a form of approval of these acts. People in society become normalized to these barbaric acts, and accepting of these barbaric acts, and people might even engage in such acts themselves.
But this is not who we are. We desire a civilized society that is free from barbaric acts instead of one that perpetuates barbaric acts.
We as a society do not need to stoop down to the level of the terrorists. This only diminishes us. The reason we are a great society is because we believe in high principles and we conduct ourselves in accordance with our principles. We do not abandon our principles at the first sight of a barbarian. We are perfectly capable of defeating the terrorists without compromising our values. We can demonstrate that a peaceful and principled society can prevail over one that is violent and destructive, and in so doing, we justly earn the respect and admiration of people around the world.
Some polls indicate that the American people are actually in favor of torturing terrorists. Well, indeed, people will say they support torture if it results in preventing the next attack and saving the lives of scores of innocent Americans. Of course.
But this is a false choice. It permits almost anything. Would we kill our neighbor to save millions of lives? Yes. Would we allow one innocent child to die in order to prevent the entire school from blowing-up? Yes. Would we burn down our own house to save the entire town? Yes.
The real world, however, is not so clean and simple. In reality, there is no way to know whether torturing a particular suspect will in fact prevent an attack. We would wind-up torturing a whole lot of people who did not deserve it before getting to someone who actually divulged useful information. So people might answer differently if they were asked whether suspects should be tortured when the likelihood that this torture would prevent an attack is less than a million to one.
Trump doesn't care about the truth though. He'll do anything just to be elected. This, however, is not leadership. True leaders do not prey upon people's fears and basest impulses, or encourage a misguided belief solely because it is popular. No. True leaders stand up for what is right regardless of whether it is popular, and lift us up to be better than ourselves.
The ideal of creating a civilized society that rejects torture is not new. In fact, our Founding Fathers built this right into the very structure of our nation. The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution bans any and all "cruel and unusual punishments," even for convicted criminals who have committed heinous crimes. Nope, this new nation would not stoop down to engage in torture.
This principle has also been recognized by people all around the world. Most nations, including the United States, have signed a number of international treaties that ban torture, including the Geneva Conventions (1949), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948), the American Convention on Human Rights (1977), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1977), and the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1988).
This ban on torture applies even in war. Even in war! Torturing the enemy in war constitutes a war crime.
But in his infinite wisdom, Trump thinks it's a good idea.