Thursday, July 14, 2005

Volokh: The Golden Age

Volokh takes on Andrew Sullivan, who invokes a "golden age" of American culture, during which rough treatment of suicide bombers would never have been countenanced by the American public. In response, he reasonably wonders:
Is there really reason to think that once upon a time, Americans were less willing to support harsh treatment -- I haven't read the report, so I don't know how harsh, but let's interpolate from Sullivan's correspondent's message -- of suspected terrorists than they are now? When was this time, and how long did it last?
I submit that the question compels the answer. The American public, though fair-minded, is generally less concerned about the niceties of the Geneva Convention than it is about security and victory. It is to America's credit that there are those voices which question our treatment of even the worst and most vicious criminals in our custody. At the same time, women's panties on the head of a Taliban gunman will not evoke, and never would have evoked, mass moral outrage on the part of regular Americans. As a good friend of mine used to say: "Always keep an open mind, but don't let your brain fall out."


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