“I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to.” -Gina Haspel, confirmation hearing for CIA director.
Sometimes, I feel as though I’m taking crazy pills, as the saying goes. The Gina Haspel hearing, and the debate surrounding it has been one of those times. For those unaware, almost the entirety of the hearing centered around one topic: torture, or enhanced interrogation. Gina Haspel was put through the wringer in her confirmation hearing, mostly on the question: “Do you think torture is immoral?” Gina practically twisted herself into a pretzel trying to avoid the question, and the answer she gave is the quote cited above, that she conveyed multiple times. The non-political translation is that she supported doing what she felt had to be done at the time to get retribution and bring to justice those responsible for 9/11. In the years since we as a society collectively decided (or least politicians did) that torture is wrong. I don’t agree, but I can see the argument, and I’m well aware that a society can adjust its morals over time, so that things that were just fine 20 years ago, are now considered vile. Where people (and it’s principally the left) lose me is when they play the retroactive morality card. Retroactive morality is when you take today’s standards of what’s considered “moral and good,” and apply it to events that occurred before your particular civilization adopted those standards. You then take the current moral standard and use it to demonize them or to advance your agenda in the present. In other words, it’s playing the guilt card to achieve the desired political ends. We’ve seen how no one is immune to it; even the founders of the country now have it applied to them on a regular basis in the statue debate.
The reason this feels odd to me is that I remember 9/11. In the wake of those buildings falling, the country was united in a way that is unique in my lifetime. I cannot remember another time in my 40 years on earth when the country was so unified. We were united on one thing: we wanted payback. We wanted security from anything like that ever happening again, and we craved to reduce to ash anyone responsible. I was pretty progressive at the time, and generally anti-war, yet even I was on fire for some payback. At the time, it seemed like everyone was ready to bomb some people back to the Stone Age. Torture? Hell yes, I thought to myself, if we have to break some arms to get these monsters then, by all means, let’s do it. We bombed, we tortured, we surveilled. We did it all, even if it was the wrong people and the wrong country. We allowed our confirmation bias to see things that weren’t there, all because we wanted payback so desperately. We made mistakes, but in the end, we did get the responsible parties, and we used “enhanced interrogation” to do it. Everyone, from John Brennan to Gina Haspel, all acknowledge that it worked; that we used torture and got information that led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. So on board was virtually everyone, that even Marvel had issues of Captain America where he went over and beat the hell out of terrorists. Even prominent Democrats like Dianne Feinstein and Nancy Pelosi supported these tactics.
Now, here we sit, watching Mark Warner, Kamala Harris, and other Democrats lecture Gina Haspel about morality. Let’s be clear; the enhanced interrogation techniques were overwhelmingly supported AT THE TIME by Congress, Law Enforcement, the Executive branch, and the people. These Democrats love nothing more than to virtue signal about retroactive morality, yet will be more than happy to support no limit abortions even when the child is indisputably alive. Speaking of which, since we are playing the retroactive morality card, I think we should apply Margaret Sanger’s statements about aborting black babies to any current supporter of Planned Parenthood, the organization that sells dismembered baby parts for profit. The reality is, in the course of human events, every civilization has done questionable things. There is no race, no group, and no country that is immune from some retroactive morality. Playing this card is absurd on its face, and frankly, I wish more people would take a stand on it. Gina Haspel came pretty close, as she refused to disavow her actions during this ludicrous hearing, saying only that she would stick to the current moral standard. To be honest, these hearings are a joke, and nothing more than a blatant attempt to grandstand to score political points. I’d argue they shouldn’t even be televised, but be made available after a seven-day window, to de-incentivize the absurd virtue signaling that goes on from both sides.
Let’s also be clear about another element: the enhanced interrogation techniques are not torture; you can go online right this moment and watch dozens of waterboarding videos. Just yesterday, MMA fighter Tim Kennedy underwent waterboarding for extremely long periods of time, to prove that although it isn’t pleasant, it’s not torture. Playing loud music, sleep deprivation, bright lights, and waterboarding all suck, but they aren’t torture on the level of pulling out fingernails or the rack; just the fact that you can do it to yourself and upload it to YouTube should tell you it isn’t torture. On top of that, are we really acting as if actual terrorists don’t deserve what they get? The Democrat line is that it’s somehow immoral to be too mean to terrorists. I’d argue that it’s immoral not to do what’s necessary to keep your country and citizens safe. “We hold ourselves to a higher moral standard; these are not our values!” They screech this line repeatedly; meanwhile, terrorists are laughing their asses off at us and bombing, stabbing, shooting, and torturing in an effort to overthrow the West. They know that if they are captured, they will get plenty of meals, prayer time, and in some cases, legal assistance.
Retroactive morality means that we can hold people in the present accountable for “sins” of the past. I’d argue some of those sins aren’t even really sins, and maybe we had it right the first time. We have a moral duty to protect the country, and it’s citizens at all costs, and I’d place that duty higher on the moral scale than dumping some water on a terrorist.
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