The quote is from Spider Robinson’s short story “Unnatural Causes” (found in his first Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon story collection, known as, well, Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon), and we’ll be revisiting it in a moment. But first: pro-torture pro-Obama bloggers Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan have decided that they are very unhappy about Obama’s decision to maintain the Bush administration’s policy of “asserting a broad “state secrets” privilege to shield from disclosure information related to the CIA’s rendition program.” You may find a link to Greenwald’s table-pounding via Glenn Reynolds, and one to Sullivan’s via Ace of Spades: no offense to either Glenn or Ace, but I’d rather not track the filth that they linked to directly into my nice, clean website.
And it is filth, because if you look at either pro-torture pro-Obama blogger, you’ll see that neither has done anything except pound on the table. And they won’t, either. Their outrage is rather finely tuned.
Come, I will hide nothing from you: I loathe rendition, I think that it’s a bad idea on every level, I’m sickened that Obama has brought it back – and I was never happy that the Bush administration ever used it in the first place. That being said, I also recognize that Gitmo existed to actually give us an alternative to rendition – and real torture, on the “wire him to a car battery level” that is apparently a standard trope on 24 – so it’s no particular surprise that we’re going to go back to it. Obama can tell himself that he doesn’t have a choice: his most fevered supporters’ desires demand it.
Desires of fevered supporters like Greenwald and Sullivan, in fact. And they are still fevered supporters, until they formally break with the man. Let’s go back to Spider Robinson. In the story mentioned above, an alien named Raksha who is in the business of encouraging the human race to become a food source for its species en masse walks into the bar for absolution – yes, and The Iliad is about two sets of thugs fighting over a woman for ten years; work with me, here – only to find out that sorrow is not enough:
“You can’t drink in my bar, brother,” he said, staring Raksha in the eye, “and you can’t have our forgiveness. There’s a price for absolution on this planet, and it’s called penance. Tony here gets arrested for joining demonstrations; Jerry has chucked away a pot-full of money in real estate and started lobbying for green-belts and cluster housing; Finn here exiled himself among of obnoxious, smelly humans for the sake of the ones worth saving. Buddhist monks who couldn’t influence their governments any other way set themselves on fire, by Christ, and for their souls I pray on Sunday. What do you figure to do for atonement?”
Raksha closed his eyes – they were double-nicititating – and knotted his brow. He was silent for a long time.
“There is nothing I can do,” he said at last, his voice hollow and bleak.
“Then there is no absolution for you,” Callahan said flatly, “here or anywhere. Get out o’ my joint and don’t come back.”
These two – and they’re not the only ones – have advanced their blogging careers at least partially out of howling about the imagined sins of the Bush administration. And now that it is becoming clear that by their own stated standards the new administration will be doing everything – and horrifyingly more – that the old one did, now they wish to disapprove. But they want to disapprove without facing their own complicity in this; for this is the President that they enthusiastically worked to elect, and they have absolutely no excuse to pretend that what he’s doing is a surprise. It’s the inevitable consequence of their wishes, and that’s pretty much the end of it.
So until they’re ready to actually seek penance for their sins – use of term deliberate – they can get out of o’ our joint and don’t come back.
Crossposted at Moe Lane.