L.B.: The Imaginary Liberal

Left Behind, pp. 413-415

One of the reasons I consider the Left Behind series to be the World’s Worst Books is that they achieve the precise opposite of what their authors intend.

The authors sought to provide an illustration that would persuade readers of the truth of the coming events supposedly prophesied in their premillennial dispensationalist interpretation of the Bible. But their best efforts to portray such events occurring in a “real world” fictional setting have instead served only to illustrate the implausibility and impossibility of those events actually happening in a world that is anything like the one we live in. The only way they are able to conceive of and present a scenario in which such events might occur is to have everyone in their story behave irrationally, inhumanly and inexplicably. The books thus disprove what the authors set out to prove. They illustrate powerfully that the event of PMD prophecies are impossible in the real world. Every page of these books provides evidence that such events could never occur without sweeping fundamental changes in nature and human nature (and in our understanding, such as it is, of the nature of God). These events are not merely supernatural, they are unnatural or even anti-natural. They are impossible.

In the previous post, we explored the possibility that the authors might, on some level, realize this. More than that, really. The authors must, on some level, realize this. And that has to be terrifying. Appreciate how high the stakes are for them here. They have placed themselves into the unenviable position of having everything they believe — about God, the Bible, the meaning of life and their place in the universe — rest upon six impossible things happening before breakfast. Thus when forced to choose between believing in those impossible things and believing in the real world as it presents itself to us all, well, to paraphrase the people of Krikkit, the real world’ll have to go.

Rejecting the real world in favor of the impossible reality of PMD prophecy can’t be easy, even for Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The real world, after all, is where they pick up their mail and do their shopping. They must be at least dimly aware of its stubborn refusal to cease to exist despite its incompatibility with their idiosyncratic interpretation of scripture.

Trying to get inside the authors’ heads to understand how they cope with this stubborn persistence of reality has proved a bit grammatically taxing, forcing me to rely on unwieldy constructs like “chosen to pretend to believe” in an attempt to convey the willful self-deception that it seems they must be employing. The subject of that self-deception in the previous post was the nature and function of the United Nations. Today we’ll examine how that same willfully self-deceptive ignorance shapes their understanding of something much closer to home — their understanding of people like me and, quite possibly, of people like you as well. The authors have chosen to pretend to believe some very unpleasant and demonstrably untrue things about people like us.

We left off as Buck and his Chicago-office colleagues were watching a CNN report on Nicolae Carpathia’s faux-reluctant acceptance of the role of global dictator:

“There is no guarantee, of course, that even member nations will unanimously go along with the move to destroy 90 percent of their military strength and turn over the remaining 10 percent to the U.N. But several ambassadors expressed their confidence ‘in equipping and arming an international peacekeeping body with a thoroughgoing pacifist and committed disarmament activist as its head.’”

A “thoroughgoing pacifist” could never accept the leadership of an armed peacekeeping body. That’s what “pacifist” means. We could, I suppose, imagine some kind of pacifist army of peacekeepers, something like Christian Peacemaker Teams writ large. They could be sent into areas of conflict to march, unarmed, between the guns of opposing forces, where they would likely get mowed down like Jeremy Irons at the end of The Mission, thus achieving a moral victory that would compel the aggressors to rethink their use of violence. Or something. But that’s clearly not what Carpathia has in mind, since his scheme starts with him acquiring an effective global monopoly on military force.

The idea here is so confused that it’s confusing. If everyone is already disarmed, what’s the point of a peacekeeping force? And where, exactly, is there room on First Avenue to park all of those tanks and fighter jets? (As for the latter question, readers should recognize that one of the authors’ unstated misapprehensions about the United Nations is that it has a standing army of its own — an army equipped, trained and employed by the U.N. itself. I’m not sure whether they conceive of this as an all-volunteer force composed of expatriates from throughout the world or whether they imagine it to be staffed by conscripts drafted from among the citizens of U.N.-istan, but I’ve already given this idea more thought than they ever have, so let’s try not to explore this particular absurdity further for now.)

The authors — and thus the CNN reporter, Buck and all the others watching — also don’t seem to realize what this means. They seem to think that Carpathia’s tithe of the world’s weaponry, and the destruction of the rest, would be merely some kind of tax or tribute and not, in fact, the effective surrender and dissolution of every nation that agreed to it. The monopoly on the use of military force is part of the definition of a state. To surrender that to some other entity is to surrender statehood itself. Agreeing to Carpathia’s scheme would involve not just a reduction, but the abandonment of sovereignty. The authors here portray every nation on earth as willing and eager to do this, with only the slightest reservation. That’s not just far-fetched, it’s impossible. It describes a world that is completely unrecognizable.

Not even Carpathia himself is portrayed here as recognizing that he has just been given the keys and pink slips to every nation on the planet:

The CNN anchor continued, “Among other developments today, there are rumors of the organization of groups …”

This isn’t intended as a parody of CNN’s shabby journalism. The CNN report here is simply an expository device and it’s thus supposed to be a realistic presentation of the sort of thing one might actually hear a news anchor say. In a novel with a journalist-protagonist readers deserve something better than a headline or lead-in such as “Rumors of the organization of groups.” Anyway …

The CNN anchor continued, “Among other developments today, there are rumors of the organization of groups espousing one world government. Carpathia was asked if he aspired to a position of leadership in such an organization.”

Just to clarify, “such an organization” there does not refer to its grammatical antecedent — “groups espousing one world government” — but to the OWG itself. So Carpathia, who has just been named head of the United Nations, which has just been reconfigured as one world government, is being asked here if he “aspired” to lead one world government. So Nicolae, now that you’re global sovereign, world caesar and commander-in-chief of planet earth, do you also “aspire” to become international prime minister?

Carpathia looked directly into the network pool camera and with moist eyes and thick voice said, “I am overwhelmed to have been asked to serve as secretary-general of the United Nations. I aspire to nothing else. While the idea of one world government resonates deep within me, I can say only that there are many more qualified candidates to lead such a venture. It would be my privilege to serve in any way I am asked, and while I do not see myself in the leadership role, I will commit the resources of the United Nations to such an effort, if asked.”

Of course he aspires to nothing else. There’s nothing else left to aspire to. The authors intend Carpathia’s moist and thick response to come across as a humble alternative to a “Today, Berlin … tomorrow, the world!” statement, but what it really amounts to is something more like “Today, the world! and tomorrow … well, ‘the world’ about covers it already, I guess. So tomorrow just more of the same.”

For no apparent reason other than the End Times Checklist, Carpathia’s conditions for his reluctant acceptance of global dictatorship also included a peace treaty with Israel:

“Also coming out of today’s meetings was the announcement of a seven-year pact between U.N. members and Israel, guaranteeing its borders and promising peace. In exchange, Israel will allow the U.N. to selectively franchise the use of the fertilizer formula, developed by Nobel prizewinner Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig, which makes desert sands tillable and has made Israel a top exporter.”

When peace in the Middle East is presented as an afterthought, then you know the U.N. has had a very busy morning. This achievement would have seemed more impressive, though, if we hadn’t already been informed that Israel had achieved peace with all of its neighbors and secure, guaranteed borders before the events of this book even took place. Here again is LB’s description of Israel’s status, from a flashback set a year before The Event, on Page 8:

The prosperity brought about by the miracle formula changed the course of history for Israel. Flush with cash and resources, Israel made peace with her neighbors. Free trade and liberal passage allowed all who loved the nation to have access to it.

Buck’s account of the harmless nuclear assault on Israel also lists the West Bank cities of Jericho and Bethlehem as part of that nation. So an expanded Israel is already at peace with its neighbors. The checkpoints and occupations are a thing of the past, and now the entire world will be voluntarily and completely disarming. So it’s not really clear why Israel needs a new peace treaty or, for that matter, how Israel could enter into a treaty with “U.N. members” when it is, itself, a member nation of the U.N. As such, of course, Israel is also among the nations that has just agreed to hand over its arms to Nicolae, making this treaty something akin to a treaty between Caesar and Rome. But whether it makes any sense or not, it’s in the checklist, so it has to happen.

(We covered the odd notion of prosperity-through-agriculture way back — see “Weird Science” — but let me just note here that making sand “tillable” isn’t really that impressive. A bit of a nitpick, I suppose, but a helpful reminder to young writers that the thesaurus is not always your friend.)

So now we’ve got one world army, without objection. And One World Government, without objection

Have I also mentioned that Carpathia’s conditions include one world religion?

A reporter asked Carpathia if that included plans for one world religion. … His response: “I can think of little, more encouraging than the religions of the world finally cooperating. Some of the worst examples of discord and infighting have been between groups whose overall mission is love among people. Every devotee of pure religion should welcome this potential. The day of hatred is past. Lovers of humankind are uniting.”

Again, the authors imagine and portray this as occurring with no objection — Sunni and Shia, Hindu and Buddhist, Sunni and Buddhist, Shia and Hindu, all embracing in one moist and thick global group hug. The authors don’t portray this as something difficult that must, somehow, be achieved in order for their prophecy to be fulfilled. They portray this as something their prophecy says must occur, and thus as something that will happen unremarkably and almost instantly. The problem here is not merely that of an unconvincing portrayal of the transition from Point A to Point B, but of the off-handed juxtaposition of Point A and anti-matter Point A.

Oh, and language.

There will also be one world language.

This idea is also enthusiastically embraced without the slightest opposition or concern for the vast and impossible logistics involved. Which language will survive and which 6,799 or so will be criminalized and euthanized? Don’t worry about such trivial details. Who could possibly concern themselves with such questions?

So OK then, here are Buck Williams and his colleagues, sitting in the offices of the dear disintegrated Lucinda Williams. They have just learned that their country has effectively been disbanded/subsumed into the OWG, that their religion or lack thereof will need to be brought into line with an as-yet-undescribed new global belief system, and that their magazine may soon need to be produced exclusively in French or Urdu or, for all they know, Romanian.

How do you suppose they receive this news?

They’re thrilled. Ecstatic. This is exactly what they’ve been waiting for all of their lives.

Smooth, Buck thought, his mind reeling. As commentators and [former?] world leaders endorsed one world currency, one language, and even the largesse of Carpathia expressing his support for the rebuilding of the temple in Israel, the staff of Global Weekly’s Chicago bureau seemed in a mood to party. “This is the first time in years I’ve felt optimistic about society,” one reporter said.

Another added, “This has to be the first time I’ve smiled since the disappearances. We’re supposed to be objective and cynical, but how can you not like this? It’ll take years to effect all this stuff, but someday, somewhere down the line, we’re going to see world peace. No more weapons, no more wars, no more border disputes or bigotry based on language or religion. Whew! Who’d have believed it would come to this?”

Please note here what does not happen in this newsroom full of reporters. No one jumps up, scurrying back to their desks to get as much of this into print as possible before their next edition goes to press. They should be scrambling to the phones, shouting like Cary Grant in His Girl Friday, “Tear out the whole front page! … The whole front page, never mind the Chinese earthquake! … What? Leave the rooster story alone. That’s human interest.” But of course they’re not because this is Global Weekly: “We won’t tell anyone.”

The reaction here to Carpathia’s announcement is mystifying. Faced with the surrender of country, conscience and culture everyone is “in a mood to party.” The Panzers are rolling into Warsaw and the people are responding like it’s V-E Day. And it’s not just here in the GW offices that this madness occurs. This is how the entire country and the entire world receives this news.

It’s flabbergastingly unreal. Unimaginable. Impossible. (I’m using that word a lot today.) But it makes perfect sense if you understand LaHaye & Jenkins’ concept of the Imaginary Liberal.

Forget what you know about actual liberals (including, of course, what you know about yourself if you should happen to be a liberal). There are no actual liberals in this book, only Imaginary Liberals. In the authors’ view, this is also true of the world.

It’s possible that you’re reading this with some relief because you do not consider yourself a liberal. If so, I should clarify. Are you a Real True Christian of the sort that you can be confident that you would be Rapture-qualified and not among those left behind? If not, then you’re a liberal. And by that I mean that you are, to the authors, an Imaginary Liberal. These are the only two categories that exist.

And if apart from the RTCs the world is populated by Imaginary Liberals, then this passage is a model of objective realism. This is exactly how a world of Imaginary Liberals would respond to an announcement like this.

Imaginary Liberals are awful people. They hate America and they hate God.

Even the ones who claim to believe in some other non-RTC religion hate the RTC God specifically, they’ve just pretended to latch onto that other religion, which they know isn’t real, as a convenient vehicle for expressing that hatred. Thus the abolition of all religion, seeing it subsumed it into one ill-defined, featureless global porridge is exactly what they’re hoping for. (Carpathia spoke of “cooperation” among religions, but the authors know that, for Imaginary Liberals, that’s really just a code word for the annihilation of all individuality and its absorption into a collectivist whole.)

Even the ones who claim to love some other country really just hate America, specifically, and they’ve just pretended to latch onto that other nationalism, which they know isn’t real, as a convenient vehicle for expressing that hatred too. Thus the abolition of all nations — including the delicious elimination of America itself — is also exactly what they’re hoping for.

Awful, awful people those Imaginary Liberals.

And the authors think you’re one of them. Those ridiculous reporters swooning and gushing over Carpathia’s moist and thick tyranny are the authors’ stand-ins for you and me. This is how they imagine we would respond if we heard just such an announcement. This is what they imagine we want to see happen. The authors don’t realize that the Imaginary Liberal is imaginary. They think they’re real and they’re everywhere.

This is obviously a bit more troubling than some of the authors’ other delusional beliefs. Tim LaHaye’s delirious fantasies about the form and function of the United Nations may have some influence over his politics and the political beliefs of his 50 million or so readers/followers, but those beliefs are directly shaped by this idea of the Imaginary Liberal.

Believing in the Imaginary Liberal, like believing in anything else that is demonstrably unreal, requires a great deal of effort. That effort, again, can never be wholly unconscious. Some part of the self must always be vigilantly attempting to explain why the abundant evidence against that belief doesn’t matter while also attempting to explain why the utter lack of evidence for that belief doesn’t matter. Thus, again, the lie must constantly be reinforced or reconstructed. And thus, again, this active effort to persuade oneself inevitably persists as a nagging reminder that oneself still needs persuading.

Which brings us back to the tortured grammar of trying to convey this multi-layered self-deception: The Imaginary Liberal is something in which the authors have “chosen to pretend to believe.” That’s not quite the same thing as actually believing, mind you, but it’s close enough for them to not-quite-comfortably convince themselves that this passage provides an accurate portrayal of Nicolae’s rise to power and the enthusiastic reception they have chosen to pretend to believe it would receive.

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    Aunursa: If [torture] elicits an address in Germany, for example, and if authorities find bomb-making materials and al Qaida manuals at that apartment, that’s a pretty good indication that the information is true.
    If torture elicits 100 locations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and teams are sent in to investigate, and at 10 of those locations bomb-making materials and al Qaida manuals are found, that’s a pretty good indication that 90% of the information was bogus – and expensively obtained.
    They did presumably at the time of their capture. That’s when [torture] should be done.
    Which results in torturing people who are not guilty of anything but being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only will the actual terrorists be giving out 90% bogus information, resulting in timewasting efforts to figure out which 10% is true – the many, many people who know nothing will be giving out 100% bogus information, resulting in timewasting efforts to figure out which 10% is true until the Detaining Power can be certain that none of it
    If a soldier stood on a Koran during an interrogation session, would you consider that to be torture? If a female interrogator dressed provocatively and touched her breasts to a detainee’s back in violation of an Islamic taboo, would you consider that torture?
    Shorter Aunursa: I don’t believe it’s torture when it’s just violating someone’s deeply held religious beliefs or their sexual modesty.

  • Rosina

    If a female interrogator dressed provocatively and touched her breasts to a detainee’s back in violation of an Islamic taboo, would you consider that torture?
    If American privates are fondled by their captors, would that count as torture?

  • Tonio

    Aunursa, again I’m not sure if I would consider that type of emotional manipulation as torture in terms of the harm committed. But I condemn that for the same reason I condemn things like waterboarding. These are simply exercises in domination.

  • Caravelle

    Caravelle, do you consider torture to include any and every act intended to cause the detainee to experience humiliation or disgust?
    I don’t know if I would call any and every such act “torture” (given how that definition covers acts so innocuous it would trivialize torture to call them that), but I certainly don’t believe one should be causing a detainee humiliation and disgust in the first place. As a method for getting information it’s worthless, and as a method of punishment it’s mean, petty and unneccessary (detainment and whatever else the court ordered is enough for me. The court, because we shouldn’t be detaining people in the first place if there isn’t a trial).

  • Tonio

    I certainly don’t believe one should be causing a detainee humiliation and disgust in the first place.
    I absolutely agree. When we focus on defining torture, we risk losing sight of the principle of legal and moral treatment for prisoners.

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    Jeff: Cock-sucker Bush and Take-It-From-Behind McCain
    Jeff, I would take it as a personal favour if you would refrain from using the implication that someone is gay as an insult. Thanks.

  • Ursula L

    Jeff wrote:
    Cock-sucker Bush
    Why do men use the phrase “cock-sucker” as an insult?
    It strikes me as behavior that a typial man would want to encourage. Using the phrase as an insult is an insult to the person in your life who might be sharing such an intimacy with you – in doing this for you, is he or she making herself the thing you scorn a person for being?
    If a man considers such behavior degrading, then the only sensible response is to not do it for him.

  • http://mikailborg.livejournal.com/ MikhailBorg

    Ursula, I think it’s for the same reason that “f*ck you!” is an insult, when indeed, most people are eager for the experience.
    The insult is in the idea that the target can be forced to do so against their will. It is a declaration of the target’s weakness, not one of their preferences.

  • Ursula L

    MikhailBorg,
    That would make sense if the insult was “suck my cock” – that one was going to force the other, whether they want it or not, in the same way that you describe “fuck you” Although, since both are rape threats, they seem to degrade the speaker more than the spoken to.
    “Cocksucker” is phrased simply as a statement that the spoken to does the activity – no threat or force, the person is despised simply for being associated with the action. A different sort of mindset, at least in the origins, I think.

  • Rosina

    It’s a very Republican Rome/ macho attitude. A manly man might occasionally screw his male slaves, or have one of them perform fellatio – that’s just having one’s natural manly urges taken care of by an inferior. But any citizen who allowed himself to be buggered, or fellated another man, had shown himself to be so much less than a Real Manly Roman.
    That there are people who still see the world in that way just goes to show how lingering some points of view are. And I don’t think it’s just that the words have survived the sentiments that lie behind them. Not everyone can create well crafted, personalized invective, and just fall back on Reddi-Slurs, without examining the contents. But if you don’t consider the meaning of your insults, you probably don’t consider the validity of your prejudices either.

  • Caravelle

    It’s the same kind of mindset that degrades prostitutes, too.
    One thing I don’t get about it is the apparent self-loathing : if a woman sleeps with me it means she’s a prostitute (will sleep with anyone for money) or a slut (will sleep with anyone, period). It logically follows that only prostitutes or sluts are willing to sleep with me. Do the people who think this way really hate themselves that much or am I missing something ?

  • http://bifrosts-edge.blogspot.com Jon

    In the typical male mindset, it’s generally viewed as a negative for another male to engage in activities that are considered to be the domain of females. Thus, while it’s fine and dandy for a woman to be a cocksucker, the same doesn’t hold true for a man.
    It’s often used as a sort of derogatory adjective to describe objects (“The cocksucking cable is out again!”), but it’s generally directed as an epithet against other men to impugn their manhood.
    I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a man use the term derisively in reference to a woman (though I’ve heard women do so), unless it’s part of some larger implication about her being sexually loose.
    The homophobic aspect is, of course, readily apparent.
    Of course, with most such epithets, I don’t think people put much thought into what they actually mean or what the implications are; they just pick them up somewhere along the line and use them as a matter of course.

  • Tonio

    In the typical male mindset, it’s generally viewed as a negative for another male to engage in activities that are considered to be the domain of females.
    The mindset has the same view when the genders are switched. That suggests a desire to enforce a concept of gender roles. Why do you think men seem to care more than women about those roles? I hope this is societal and not genetic or hormonal. I oppose the idea of gender domains for activities. Society has no right to tell people they should or shouldn’t do things because they belong to a certain gender.

  • http://bifrosts-edge.blogspot.com Jon

    I think it’s because the concept of “being a man” is so rigidly defined – and so frequently reinforced by various sources – and within a peer group there are usually immediate consequences for failing to stick within those boundaries.

  • Jeff

    Jeff, I would take it as a personal favour if you would refrain from using the implication that someone is gay as an insult. Thanks.
    I will do my best. I take it that does not include calling someone an asshole — the implication there is what’s coming out, not what’s going in.
    How about: shit-eating Bush (apologies to any copraphages) and his toady Mccain (apologies to any amphibians). Does that work?

  • http://jakobknits.blogspot.com Jake

    Jon: Of course, with most such epithets, I don’t think people put much thought into what they actually mean or what the implications are; they just pick them up somewhere along the line and use them as a matter of course.
    I think this is largely true, and if it had only been “cocksucker” I probably wouldn’t have said anything. That, like bitch, fuck you, asshole, bite me, etc. has largely lost its surface meaning and is relegated, linguistically, to just generic insult status. It was the “take-it-up-the-ass McCain” comment that really bugged me because it *isn’t* a common, thoughtless phrase and therefore still carries a strong implication that men who take it up the ass are inferior to, less manly than, worse than, etc. men who don’t.
    And Jeff, thank you.

  • aunursa

    Jesurgislac: If [interrogation] elicits 100 locations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and teams are sent in to investigate, and at 10 of those locations bomb-making materials and al Qaida manuals are found, that’s a pretty good indication that 90% of the information was bogus – and expensively obtained.
    If humiliation and disgust of detained al Qaida officials elicit 100 locations around the world, and teams are sent in to investigate, and at 90 of those locations bomb-making materials and al Qaida manuals and attack plans are found, that’s a pretty good indication that 90% of the information was factual – and well worth the cost.
    If a soldier stood on a Koran during an interrogation session, would you consider that to be torture? If a female interrogator dressed provocatively and touched her breasts to a detainee’s back in violation of an Islamic taboo, would you consider that torture?
    Shorter Jesurgislac: Yes.

  • aunursa

    I note for the record that Jesurgislac cannot cite any international authority that considers torture to include any act that produces humiliation or disgust.

  • aunursa

    Tonio: I’m not sure if I would consider that type of emotional manipulation as torture in terms of the harm committed.
    So your definition of torture includes acts that produce a certain type of emotional manipulation?
    When we focus on defining torture, we risk losing sight of the principle of legal and moral treatment for prisoners.
    First, if we cannot define a legal term, then we can’t set — or agree on — legal boundaries. And second, “legal” and “moral” are two entirely different things.

  • aunursa

    Caravelle: I don’t know if I would call any and every such act “torture” (given how that definition covers acts so innocuous it would trivialize torture to call them that)
    I’ll take that as a “no”. I agree with you.
    but I certainly don’t believe one should be causing a detainee humiliation and disgust in the first place. As a method for getting information it’s worthless, and as a method of punishment it’s mean, petty and unneccessary
    I would not support interrogation techniques as a form of punishment. So we agree on that as well. The only reason I would support techniques designed to elicit humiliation or disgust would be if they are expected to provide useful information that cannot be obtained by other methods. So it would seem that the only area where you and I disagree is whether or not certain interrogation techniques can provide truthful information.

  • aunursa

    Rosina: If American privates are fondled by their captors, would that count as torture?
    If the Americans were covered by the Geneva Convention, it would be a violation. But it would not be torture.
    Rosina: if a female interrogator dressed provocatively and touched her breasts to a detainee’s back in violation of an Islamic taboo, would you consider that torture?

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    Aunursa: The only reason I would support techniques designed to elicit humiliation or disgust would be if they are expected to provide useful information that cannot be obtained by other methods.
    Eh. Given the amount of times on this board you’ve lovingly described the sexual humiliation of Muslim prisoners by female interrogators, I think you just get off on it – and you justify your fantasies by claiming – against all evidence – that you only want to obtain information.

  • aunursa

    Rather than rise to the challenge, you stoop to ad hominem. I wish for once you would surprise me by actually answering a challenge … and keep personal attacks to yourself. But I guess that’s asking too much.
    You remind me of a discussion a couple of years ago when I visited a message board and joined a heated argument over neo-natal circumcision. I’ll offer you a backhanded compliment in that the circumcision opponents were far, far nastier toward me than anyone on this board. They believed that circumcision was the primary cause of violence in the world, that the act was child abuse, and accused me of being a child molester who delighted in the suffering of powerless baby boys. My opponents’ arguments were driven almost entirely by hysteria — almost no objective evidence — and they virulently attacked anyone who dared to question their position. After a couple of months I found that I was wasting my time for nothing — and I left.
    So I can take it. It’s still disappointing, however, that you would take cheap shots to score points with the peanut gallery. Since you’re clearly intelligent, you’re underwhelming me — shouldn’t you be able to defeat me with facts?
    (And no, this isn’t a “poor me, woe is me” whine, though you’d probably charaterize it as such.)

  • Sniffnoy

    …can’t anyone find some proper data on the effectiveness of torture and put an end to this? If it’s only possibly marginally justifiable if it works, it’s definitely unjustifiable if it’s known not to. Seems to me you already have been defeated with facts – well, once the central fact is established, anyway.

  • http://jesurgislac.wordpress.com Jesurgislac

    Aunursa: Rather than rise to the challenge, you stoop to ad hominem.
    Mmm. Yeah – I suppose it was unjustifiable to suppose that just because you seem to really like the idea of a female interrogator sexually humiliating a manacled male prisoner, this means you, well, really like the idea.
    OTOH, it is something you dwell on quite a lot here – I don’t know how much you write about it elsewhere. Whenever the subject of torture comes up, and you feel the need to defend Americans torturing prisoners, you keep recurring to the image of a dominant woman sexually humiliating a submissive conquered man. Perhaps this image is wholly sexually neutral for you – but it’s evidently something that you think about a lot, and that conflation of real-world torture with a stock pr0n image arouses in you no disgust or outrage, but repeated, satisfied certainty that this is “not torture”.

  • Tonio

    So your definition of torture includes acts that produce a certain type of emotional manipulation?
    Why do you keep asking me what I would consider to be torture? I’m not claiming to know what constitutes torture, either legally or morally. I’m focusing on the goal of domination, which itself seems wrong to me. I’m don’t know enough about torture to know when an action aimed at goal would qualify.
    First, if we cannot define a legal term, then we can’t set — or agree on — legal boundaries. And second, “legal” and “moral” are two entirely different things.
    You’re right to a point. In the case of torture, perhaps the moral definition drives the legal definition to a certain extent.

  • Rich

    “If a soldier stood on a Koran during an interrogation session, would you consider that to be torture? If a female interrogator dressed provocatively and touched her breasts to a detainee’s back in violation of an Islamic taboo, would you consider that torture?”
    You could call it art and get a federal grant from the NEA.

  • cjmr

    Anna won the thread on Feb 29, at 3:30 and yet it went on for how many hundred more comments???
    (eta: Ah, I see. This is the thread that got Charlotte Allen AND Obama’s racist-ish pastor AND torture (again) AND sexual ephithets. But not the one about rape fantasies, which I have yet to find.)

  • Bernard

    I have been recommending a book called “My Stroke of Insight – a Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey” by Jill Bolte Taylor and also a TEDTalk Dr. Taylor gave on the TED dot com site. And you don’t have to take my word for it – Dr. Taylor was named Time Magazine 100 Most Influential People, the New York Times wrote about her and her book is a NYTimes Bestseller), and Oprah did not 4 interviews with her.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    These folks “listen” to Obama, and what they hear is Nicolae Mountainrange coming to TAKE YOUR GUNS and OUTLAW THE BIBLE and ABOLISH AMERICA.
    Actually, what I hear IS Nicoale Mountainrangey, but in a different direction. Obama is such a charismatic speaker he actually seems to have The Romanian Robert Redford’s Mutant Mind-Whammy power,
    inspiring quasi-religious devotion in his listeners to the point of creepiness
    no matter what he actually says. (And what I hear him saying is a slick politician promising each group of voters whatever they want most to hear, working the audience like a charismatic preacher. I wonder what would happen if Obama made a speech where he listed the UN’s member nations in alphabetical order, but done with his rhetoric and presentation. Would we see a similar emotional reaction to a standard speech?)
    In this respect, I can halfway see Nicky’s rise as an exaggerated caricature of a charismatic politician slipping into a personality cult. Just not done very well. (Again, LH&J screwed up in using a realistic pseudo-technothriller setting instead of a frankly-mythic one. Even having ordinary people suddenly caught up in mythic events (like Close Encounters of the Third Kind) would be preferable to what we’ve got.
    And a lot of the Obama supporters I’ve run across show the Imaginary Liberal characteristics Slack mentioned above — “…thrilled. Ecstatic. This is exactly what they’ve been waiting for all of their lives.” Including a lot of the media, the equivalent of the
    Global Weekly staffers. (Is this a function of age? Baby Boomers are an Idealist-type generation, and would probably be an easy mark for someone who fulfills their dream, whatever that dream is. Gen-Xers are more cynical from bad experience, and Gen-Yers tend to be more group/herd oriented.)
    It’s not just Obama. I saw something similar in ’92 with Ross Perot, the last guy who gained momentum with Messiah Politics — in Perot’s case, a good sales job whose platform was “Just put me in the White House and THEN I’ll tell you.” My parents were Perotistas, and they had this utterly idealized mythic image of the man — “Ross Perot will Take Back America! Ross Perot will Save us! America for REAL Americans!”
    Like Perot, Obama is able to present himself as a Savior figure, The One who will fulfill the needs inside the voters’ psyches. This is primarily a function of Obama’s charismatic personality, much greater than Perot’s — sheer force of personality allowing needy voters to project their ideals onto him. In such a case, it’s important for the politician to NOT get pinned down on anything specific; reality must not intrude on the fantasy of the image.
    What I see here is LaHaye & Jenkins capturing an over-the-top reaction to a charismatic leader type (which I expect happens a lot in PMD/RTC preaching circles) — just they can’t pull it off very well. Even though (as described above), I see a lot of the same reaction regarding Obama’s presentation of himself. (You either worship the guy or you hate his guts, no middle ground.)

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    italics off.

  • Ryan Ferneau

    Give up, italics will never die.

  • Melissia Blackheart

    There’s plenty of middle ground.  Thing is, Obama knows (knew?  he doesn’t seem as good at it now that he’s in office…) how to work a crowd– that’s hardly unique.

    Mind you, I live in the bible belt– I see people every day who even now practically worship Bush, alongside the less extreme variants– those who think Rick Perry is not a corrupt hypocritical douche who constantly contradicts himself.

  • Melissia Blackheart

    There’s plenty of middle ground.  Thing is, Obama knows (knew?  he doesn’t seem as good at it now that he’s in office…) how to work a crowd– that’s hardly unique.

    Mind you, I live in the bible belt– I see people every day who even now practically worship Bush, alongside the less extreme variants– those who think Rick Perry is not a corrupt hypocritical douche who constantly contradicts himself.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X