Two days ago, I wrote a diary that's part of a series I call "Forays Into Freeperville" where I got to the Free Republic and cull out some of the most over-the-top, insane comments I can find. It's not hard to find them, of course, and I suppose a bit of my soul dies each time I go there.
The last one I did covered the topic of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the odious Fort Hood shooter. I doubt there are many people in this country that will defend him. Certainly there are those who would show a bit of compassion and ask why he went off his nut and killed his fellow soldiers. But, at the end of the discussion, nobody is asking for him to be treated any differently than any other mass murderer.
But there's been a shift of late in discussions about due process and civil rights and how to treat criminals. Where we were once a country that prided itself holding due process and civil rights in high esteem, there is now an element on the conservative side that sneers when due process must be allowed to proceed or when civil rights are invoked. Indeed, these people see this as just being "politically correct". As if we're going through the motions to coddle the alleged perpetrator at the expense of rationality and the needs of the victims.
Good gods, when did this happen?
Here are a couple of examples of comments regarding Hasan that illustrate my point. They are taken from the comments to articles posted at the Free Republic and are, admittedly some of the more fringey perspectives you'll find. But they illustrate the concept very well.
This is from someone who calls themself TYVets:
As soon as Hasan the terrorist is well enough, waterboard him until he is drained of all information.
Then put him on trial.
To hell with niceties and political correctness.
This is from yorkie01 in response to President Obama's request not to jump to conclusions until all the facts are available:
Barry, you’re hardly in a position to hand out advice like this. How quickly you forget how fast you ran to Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates’ side or to Honduran former president Zelaya’s side. Your sophomoric zeal in favor of your positions is insane. Hasan, a muslim, was in a room filled with military men and women while he raised pistols and fired indiscriminately at our troops. This is Islamic terrorism striking terror in the hearts and minds of those affected as well as our nation. FBI, stay out of this! Military tribunal, no political correctness - apply Whabbi Sharia law tactics. End the pathetic sycophantical slobbering by our leftwing appeasers.
In the first example, the writer suggests that bans on torture are simply exercises in political correctness. The second writer has no need for the due process laws we have in this country, they would proceed directly to the punishment.
Honestly, one commenter, grey whiskers simply posted this picture:
Today I spent a couple of hours driving to a customer's location in North Carolina and had the dubious "pleasure" of listening to the Glenn Beck show on satellite radio. Glenn's out recovering from appendicitis surgery but the host, Pat, filled in nicely. A number of callers called in to rail against the political correctness of this country and one caller in particular was outraged that Hasan is going to get a military trial. In the caller's mind, Hasan is a terrorist and should be dealt with like we deal with all our terrorists, presumably tortured and then killed.
I'm struggling to get my mind around this. Why would conservatives, a group of people who hold our American Constitution in such high regard that it appears to be second only to the Bible, be moving away from the bedrock, fundamental elements that are outlined in the Constitution? If you read through my other diary, you get a real sense that things like a fair trial, a right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise and a number of other most basic inalienable rights are now some perverse subordination to the whims of liberals.
Many of these people are the same folks who will scour the 10th Amendment for the most tenuous of arguments to avoid having their states participate in health care reform. Yet when it comes to the very clear and obvious rules set forth in that great document, they see their use as something weak and undesirable.
I'm not sure what to do with this realization. I don't know if they are capable of hearing us when we point this out to them. Or if they are even capable of having a civil discussion about this topic.
But I do think we need to be vigilant.
The term "liberal" all but become invective in the hands of conservatives over the past few decades. That was because they used consistently and relentlessly as a way of negatively branding those they disagreed with. The expression "political correctness" followed the same path. We must be intensely vigilant that they are not able to do the same thing to the rights that we all share as Americans. Things like civil rights, due process rights and the right to never, ever, under any circumstances be tortured by your government must not only kept from being viewed as weak or "politically correct", they must be continuously be held in the highest esteem and constantly renewed. For these are the things that do make our country great and that distinguish us from our enemies.
I'm just sayin'...