How political and media elites legitimized torture

For years, American politicians, polling companies, and popular entertainment have essentially been conducting a pro-torture propaganda campaign

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Since the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report, numerous commentators have gestured to opinion polls that show significant levels of public support for the practice. They conclude that the American people are at least partially responsible for the fact that torture was (and probably will be again) formal U.S. government policy. Christopher Ingraham argues in The Washington Post that most Americans are "fine" with torture, while Peter Beinart argues in The Atlantic that torture is "who we are."

These arguments are partially correct. A majority of Americans (especially Republicans) do support torture in the abstract. And Beinart is particularly correct to note that America's historical legacy is violent in the extreme — torture and a dozen other brands of systematic violence are central to American history. The fact that nobody in power is going to enforce the law, for the obvious reason that it would be politically inconvenient, is a great stain on American democracy, as David Simon, the creator of The Wire, argues.

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