The New Litmus Test

Rosa Brooks has a column up about how torture is the new GOP litmus test, replacing the good old abortion stand-by. She writes, tellingly:

Remember that golden, innocent time — the 1980s and ’90s — when the phrase “political litmus test” was associated with the debate about abortion rights, and torture was associated with the Spanish Inquisition?

Those days are gone. And, as usual in life, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news? Abortion isn’t nearly as divisive an issue as it used to be. The bad news? For the GOP, torture is the new abortion.
(…)
These days, you can forget that old-style GOP rhetoric about “values,” “human dignity” and the “culture of life.” Because the GOP has a new litmus test for its nominees: Will you or will you not protect U.S. officials who order the torture of prisoners?

It seems funny, on first glance, that the party of Family Values(tm) and Human Life would require that their candidates support torture. But it shouldn’t surprise us. The Republican party is dependent on hierarchy, domination, religiosity and control of “lesser” populations. Whether that control is exerted over bad women or Muslim prisoners is just details. And the GOP “base” seems to be motivated around oppressing people in one way or another. Torture fits into that pretty well.


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2 comments for “The New Litmus Test

  1. kate
    November 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    But it shouldn’t surprise us. The Republican party is dependent on hierarchy, domination, religiosity and control of “lesser” populations.

    Yup, the party of the Good Old Days! Whoo-Wee! I don’t think they go far enough, I think they should each be made to torture eachother, on stage to show us how tough they are.

  2. Cecily
    November 9, 2007 at 3:18 am

    I was just listening to NPR and some Baptist chap was getting interviewed about evangelicals and the upcoming elections BLAH BLAH BLAH. One of the callers said, “Hey, you said it’s good that the media is recognizing social conservatives are interested in more issues than just abortion and gay marriage…so, umm, why aren’t you guys talking about torture? Isn’t that pretty hideously unChristian?” The Baptist responded, “Of course, torture is completely unChristian! It’s just a question of what is torture.”

    I am weak of stomach, so I turned the radio off.

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