The Best Of The Dish This Weekend

Andrew Sullivan —  Dec 14 2014 @ 9:00pm


I’ve been really heartened by many Christians’ responses to the Torture Report’s cataloguing of evil done in our name and behind our backs. The Catholic Bishops need to do much more, but this was a start:

The Catholic Church firmly believes that torture is an ‘intrinsic evil’ that cannot be justified under any circumstance. The acts of torture described in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report violated the God-given human dignity inherent in all people and were unequivocally wrong … We have placed ourselves through our history as a beacon of hope, a beacon of reason, of freedom: and so, this recent chapter in our history has tarnished that.” He went on to say, “It is not something that can be easily regained, but I think that the publishing of this report begins the cleaning up of that tarnishing of our reputation as a nation that is on sound moral footing.

Today, we also noted one Christian now refusing to say the Pledge Of Allegiance, with sentiments, to my mind, completely appropriate to this moment:

From reading the report, it should now be crystal clear to anyone who has read the teachings of Jesus as found in scripture that one cannot swear their allegiance to America while simultaneously giving our allegiance to the alternate way of Jesus. Absolutely, positively, impossible. The contents of the report reveal what the US has done, and what has been done is anti-Christ – pure, absolute evil.

The crucifixion of those with already broken limbs should surely have a resonance, even among white evangelicals.

I also sense a slight opening for a way forward. There is no question in my mind that these grotesque human rights violations will require justice – if only compensation for torture victims. I agree with Harold Koh that not prosecuting open war crimes is equally intolerable in a democratic society – and sends a terrible message to all dictators and thugs across the planet that they can now torture at will. But there’s also an obvious next step: give Michael Hayden what he wants.

The Intelligence Committee should insist on interviewing all the torture suspects who are busy complaining they didn’t get to give their take (even though interviews with them from the CIA’s internal review is in the report, as are the CIA’s full, considered response). For good measure, the Obama administration should provide to the committee all the documents it has on the torture program. In other words: let’s update the report with as much data as we can possibly find. I sincerely doubt that it will turn up anything less incriminating than the CIA’s own records, but this is so grave and foundational a matter, we should make every effort to have the equivalent of a Truth Commission. The SSCI report is a great start.

Some relief from the weekend: Niebuhr on the temptations of mixing religion and politics; Wieseltier on the social peace among argumentative Jews; the grand tradition of drunk professors; the last wondrous video stores; and lesbian graffiti in ancient Pompeii.

The most popular post of the weekend was Watching Cheney: He’s Got Nothing. Runner-up: this Mental Health Break celebrating New York City.

21 more readers became subscribers this weekend. You can join them here – and get access to all the readons and Deep Dish – for a little as $1.99 month. Gift subscriptions are available here (you purchase one today and have it auto-delivered on Christmas Day). Dish t-shirts are for sale here and coffee mugs here. A final email for the week:

I want to thank you for the writing you’ve done about the way we treat animals in the factory farm system.  Before reading your blog, I was vaguely aware that there was controversy, but I will admit that I was not as thoughtful about where my food came from pigsas I ought to have been.  It was your blog that introduced me to these horrifying maternity pens, which sent me looking for more information, and pretty soon after that I decided that I couldn’t be part of a system that included such cruelty.  I don’t think there’s anything morally wrong with raising animals for meat; I just think that before they are humanely slaughtered, there ought to be some recognition that these are living creatures who can feel pain, both physical and emotional.

Anyway, I stopped buying pork from the grocery store, found two local farms that raise and slaughter their animals in humane conditions, and then stopped buying meat from the grocery store all together (because what the farming system does to chickens and cows might not be as bad as what it does to those poor sows, but it’s not much better).  It’s undeniably more expensive, so we eat quite a bit less meat, which in the long run is probably a big win for my family’s overall health and small win for the environment.  So, even if there’s nothing you and your staff can do to convince Christie to buck political forces and do what’s right for these animals, you’ve inspired at least one of your readers to do what little she can by taking her dollars elsewhere.  Thanks, and keep up the great work!

I’m taking next week off blogging to deal with other pressing Dish business. Michelle Dean and Will Wilkinson will be guest-blogging, alongside our regular Dish team. I may post on torture and a few other topics, so I won’t be off-grid. Just trying to keep the Dish alive and well.

The rest of us will see you in the morning.

(Photo: The shadow of a protester in a hoodie is seen in the glow of police lights on the wall of a church during a ‘Millions March’ demonstration protesting the killing of unarmed black men by police on December 13, 2014 in Oakland, California. The march was one of many held nationwide. By Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images.)