08 Jul 2009

NYT Calls It "Torture" When Iran Does It

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It’s not surprising that Glenn Greenwald busted the NYT on its double-standard regarding the use of the word “torture.” (Hint: Americans don’t torture.) But if you’re interested, click on the link and see just how red-handed the NYT gets caught. Here’s Glenn:

It’s not particularly unusual for a government to permit itself to do something that it prohibits others from doing. The U.S. is hardly the only country that does that. But when that country’s media collectively abets that government effort by molding its language to reflect that exceptionalism, it elevates the propaganda to a much different level.

Then he got medieval on their hineys by quoting himself from a previous article:

Pointing to other governments and highlighting their oppressive behavior can be cathartic, fun and gratifying in a self-justifying sort of way. Ask Fred Hiatt; it’s virtually all he ever does. But the first duty of the American media — like the first duty of American citizens — is to oppose oppressive behavior by our own government. That’s not as fun or as easy, but it is far more important. Moreover, obsessively complaining about the rights-abridging behavior of other countries while ignoring the same behavior from our own government is worse than a mere failure of duty. It is propagandistic and deceitful, as it paints a misleading picture that it is other governments — but not our own — which engage in such conduct.

The thing is, I don’t think it’s actually as devious as GG portrays it to be. In a very real sense, it is much more unbearable to have strange foreigners doing awful things to you, than it would be to have kids who look like you, carrying them out.

In other words, when you read the description of what Iran interrogators would do to people, that really is a lot scarier than listening to descriptions of what the US did to its detainees. So it’s easier to automatically call that “torture.” Part of the whole nightmare of torture is not understanding and hence not being able to predict what your holders would do next to you. And so obviously NYT writers are going to classify it as “torture” without a moment’s thought, when it’s Iranians doing it.

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