The End Of The Torture Debate

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I think Digby is right--we've lost this one. It's deeply disconcerting to watch journalists embrace the language of politicians. I think it says a lot that we hear those claim to be "keeping them honest" using terms like "enhanced interrogation." 

This is a deeply depressing failure on so many levels--and yet I feel like I should have seen it coming. My own deep personal experience with police violence says that people will accept the brutality of the state, if they think the state is trying to protect them. Not to flog this, but I keep going back to how my buddy was killed in PG County, and nothing happened to the officer who did it.

The fact is that that officer represented something about us, something about our hatred of drugs and crime, as well as our self-absorbed lack of empathy for any innocent--especially an innocent who we consider as "other"--caught in the crossfire. Likewise, Cheneyism says something about who we are, and where we're willing to go.

I think our politicians failed us. But it's weak to put it on them. I think journalists failed us. But it's weak to put it on them. We have too much faith in our innate goodness, in our exceptionalism. And if there's one big failing of Barack Obama it's that he continues to sell us on this notion that we're special. Maybe that's how it has to be. I'm admittedly confused by all this. I just suspect that someday soon we're going to find out how "special" we really are.

We really have no idea how low we can really go. And when confronted with evidence of it, we obfuscate. As a black man living in this country, I should have known better. It all makes too much sense.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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