The Kids These Days


Daniel Stone reports on a depressing study by the American Red Cross that "found that a surprising majority—almost 60 percent—of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable":

More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans. When asked about the reverse, 41 percent thought it was permissible for American troops to be tortured overseas. In all cases, young people showed themselves to be significantly more in favor of torture than older adults. … [T]he generational tip-toe back from humanitarian legal norms may say more about a nation increasingly removed from the costs of war. “For young people,” says Harvard’s [law professor  Lawrence] Tribe, “to put themselves in place of a soldier is a level of empathy that most people simply don’t have anymore."

And one should never discount the messages sent by our political leadership. One party wanted to embrace torture as a virtue; the other ended it without much fanfare and refused to prosecute war criminals if they were American. Those who have come of age in this era have gotten the message.