OPINION: Torture is inevitably and inextricably bound to tyranny

The president-tyrant

It is common for people today to question how any leader can be a tyrant who achieves office through popular election, and, indeed, who remains popular. But such talk is foolish and betrays an ignorance of the origins of the term and the historical context of its use. Throughout history, tyrants came to power through means of control and manipulation of popular opinion. This was so familiar a feature to the thinkers of antiquity, that Aristotle charts it as a characteristic of the tyrant. And in the history of the dark, past century, how many little men in search of a balcony came to power on the back of a jubilant and cheering mob? And indeed, no less a man that Thomas Jefferson was quick to remind his fellow citizens of this principle. And it was Jefferson who raised the cry of “tyrant” against the president, when he proceeded in disregard of the constraints of Constitution and law, setting into play a plan of persecution targeting his political opponents and the poor, downtrodden and defenseless immigrants. Jefferson spoke sharply and loudly because the republic was under siege by a popularly elected (and popular) government. He was right to have done so, and he is vindicated by history for it.

The question was whether the president has put himself above the law and assumed powers far beyond those the Constitution measured to him.

And today, America faces precisely this question. We have a president who acts in shameless disregard of the Constitution’s restraints upon his office, and who feels himself above the law, and who constantly seeks to manipulate and mislead the public. How many times just in the last week have we witnessed this? [complete article]

See also, Democratic complicity in Bush’s torture regimen (Glenn Greenwald) and The Democrats and torture (Andrew Sullivan).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email