But fear exerts a strange influence over the human mind. Fearfulness is a form of foolishness, indeed, it is one of its more powerful forms, capable of overruling reason and wisdom alike. The evil, the lazy and the intellectually corrupt make habitual use of fear in their arguments, because unfortunately, the ease with which fear can be inspired makes it an irresistably tempting instrument for politicians and commentators alike.
It has been disgusting to see the enthusiasm which conservatives supposedly adhering to concepts such as limited government, human liberty and Western civilization have been cheering the Bush administration's attempts to circumvent the limits of the Geneva Convention. Worse, they have urged it to altogether cast off the strictures of human decency and civilized behavior. They argue, with fearful lips aquiver, that if America does not assert the right of the Executive Branch to indiscriminately kill and torture, the Dread Terrorist Osama will rule from the White House as an iron-fisted Islamic dictator.
I had to think for a while about posting this. Vox has a tendency, as one of his regular blog commenters says, to charge Hell with a squirt gun. Since the discussion on torture seems to have devolved into a very Clintonian episode of definitions, this kind of thing can get lost in the rhetoric. Vox makes a couple of good points, though, especially the one on the use of fear by pols to keep the rabble in line. It should be noted that pols of both shirt colors are guilty of this.