Thursday, May 21, 2009

Outrageous quote of the day

"Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice."
Adolf Hitler: Mein Kampf.
I just saw this quote at the blog of Rev. Matthew Harrison, Executive Director of LC-MS World Relief and Human Care. (He of course was painting it as an ugly thought.)

I guess this is the exact opposite of my worldview, and how convenient for it to be expressed by Hitler. I would say that courage is being humanitarian even when it seems to go against your interests-- your long-term interests are almost always served by being humanitarian when mocked by those who wear their courage on their sleeve. Hitler's view here is exactly what is wrong with "conservative" nationalism.

The other day, I was listening to a story featured on NPR Story of the Day podcast. It featured an interview with- more a lengthy editorial by-- a psychologist who had been involved first in training U.S. military personnel to resist torture. Some of these psychologists then went on to perform "enhanced interrogation" techniques. Two things particularly bothered me about the psychologist's remarks:
  • He summed up the whole interrogation program with the example of bugs. If you know someone is afraid of bugs, lock him up with a bug. That doesn't sound so bad does it? The problem is that this one tactic is probably the least offensive of the techniques used, which ranged from breaking bones to sexual humiliation to waterboarding. To poo-poo concerns about the whole program by bringing up one of the least offensive measures is an exercise in propaganda. I find it interesting that Tony Blankley, in a recent Left, Right and Center program, also engaged in similar mocking of the concerns about torture as being about "putting a bug on someone's shoulder."

  • The psychologist said, "I was not there to be concerned about the mental health needs of javascript:void(0)terrorists. I was there to gather information to protect the country I love." [quote from my memory]. I wonder how many other people find that the problem with this psychologist's remarks is that they sound too much like Hitler's view of humanitarianism.

ADDENDUM: The American Psychological Association has a statement against torture. The statment lists many proscribed acts in this statement against torture, which of course includes "exploitation of fears". If the Association has a "zero tolerance" of these acts, I wonder if there are any penalties for going on the radio to defend passionately placing a bug on someone's shoulder? Given the above, I'm also convinced that the reporter in no way did her homework. I found that statement in 15 seconds of googling.

No comments: