The Corner

I’m Going to Burn In Hell

From a reader in response to my column today:

Jonah, I would call your latest NRO column a perfect expression of fascist thinking—but that would be mean and intellectually unrespectable, wouldn’t it?

So here’s a piece of advice instead: go read The Gulag Archipelago, by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. It will tell you all you need to know about torture.

Oh, and one more thing: There’s a word for someone of your ilk arging that something is okay because some Democratic legislators didn’t object: It’s called sophistry. Dude, you’re going to burn in hell. 

Me: I know it’s a waste of everyone’s time, but let me offer some quick responses.

Line 1: No, it would simply show your ignorance.

Line 2: I’ve read the Gulag Archipelago. It didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about torture, it told me almost everything I needed to know about the evil of the Soviet Union. And, guess what? The comparison between the United States and the Soviet Union is idiotic and slanderous. Our recent experience on waterboarding proves exactly that. 

Line 3: A. I didn’t write that waterboarding was okay because some Democratic legislators didn’t object. I wrote that waterboarding wasn’t carried out as some sort of rogue operation by a cowboy president because (in part) Democratic leaders were briefed. 

B. Your distortion of what I wrote is in fact a better example of sophistry.

C. As William F. Buckley has noted, if you believe in Hell you should at least capitalize it.

One last point, I don’t like the headline of my column. The syndicate put it on there. “Five Minutes Well Spent” sounds like I think waterboarding is a good or enjoyable thing. I don’t. Just as I don’t think bombing targets where civilians could die is a good or enjoyable thing. I do think, in very rare circumstances, it might be a necessary thing. And preening pests who take comfort in absolutes and assert that anyone who tries to think these things through is going to burn in  Hell  do nobody  any favors.

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