Conservatism’s Black Hole

CONSERVATISM’S BLACK HOLE….Matt Yglesias at Tapped:

A little while ago Dick Durbin noted on the Senate floor that torturing prisoners was the sort of thing Nazis or Communists would do, and that the United States, trying to be one of the world’s good guys, should hold itself to a higher standard of conduct….Hugh Hewitt and Bill Kristol, both of whom I firmly believe know perfectly well that Durbin said nothing objectionable, fall over each other in The Weekly Standard to see who can win Hack of the Year prize by demanding ever-harsher retribution against Durbin.

It’s…telling as an instance of the ethical black hole into which the contemporary right has fallen….Every time, the point of the defense is not to defend the conduct in question, but simply to note that someone, somewhere, at some time has done worse things. We’re better than Saddam Hussein! Our prisons aren’t as bad as Auschwitz!

People like Kristol and Hewitt seem to feel that anything other than polite, mild-mannered criticism of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib is wholly out of bounds ? a position that’s hardly surprising, I suppose, since they belong to a conservative movement that in recent years has tried to rehabilitate Joe McCarthy and defend the World War II internment camps. One might rightly shudder in anticipation of which moral depravity is next up on the right wing’s “wasn’t nearly as bad as you think” list.

If conservatives spent half as much energy condemning torture as they did shedding crocodile tears over Dick Durbin, maybe the head of their party would get the message that this stuff is wrong. Until then, they should spare us the moral outrage.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation