Monday, March 17, 2014

We still must say a loud "NO" to torture

You can pre-order the hardcover version of Mainstreaming Torture from Amazon (publication date is May 6, 2014), or download the Kindle version now.
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Torture Still Matters

U.S. torture didn't start with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, and it didn't end when they left office.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 reopened what many people in America had long assumed was a settled ethical question: Is torture ever morally permissible? Within days, people in government, academia, and the mainstream press began to suggest that, in these new circumstances, the new answer was "Yes."

In Mainstreaming Torture from Oxford University Press, Rebecca Gordon argues that September 11 did not, as some have said, "change everything," and that institutionalized state torture remains as wrong today as it was on the day before those terrible attacks. Furthermore, U.S. practices during the "war on terror" are rooted in a history that began long before September 11, a history that includes both support for torture regimes abroad and the use of torture in jails and prisons here at home.

Torture is not a set of isolated acts that arise in moments of crisis. It is an ongoing, socially-embedded practice, one that shapes not only its practitioners but the society where it finds a home. When torture goes mainstream, it affects all of us. To the extent that we accept torture as the price of an illusory safety, we risk becoming a nation of cowards.

We can stop torture. But first we have to understand what it is, and what happens to a country when torture leaves the shadows and enters the mainstream.

Advance praise for Mainstreaming Torture:

"This remarkable morally and politically challenging and courageous work confronts unblinkingly the profoundly disturbing truth that both popular and scholarly discourses in America consistently distort and sanitize the essential nature of the torture that has become a socially embedded practice in our country. If you care about our national character, consider these insightful and telling analyses and demand an appropriate accounting from our political leaders."---Henry Shue, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford
"We would rather avoid facing the reality of torture. In this book, Gordon shows us that our primary ways of thinking about torture are in fact ways of avoiding the full reality of it. Arguments for and against torture treat it as isolated acts by individuals, but Gordon shows that torture is embedded in a system of social practices with a set of moral habits which are in many ways fostered by society as a whole. This is a well-researched, well-argued, and disturbing book." --William T. Cavanaugh, Professor of Theology, DePaul University
"Torture by our U.S. military and spies is not new. Nor is it the result of a few bad apples. Gordon documents the systematic teaching and use of torture by the U.S. since Vietnam. This excellent book challenges us to end torture. Not only by prosecuting the front line people who get caught, but also going after the high-ranking public officials who are torture's intellectual authors." --Bill Quigley, Professor of Law, Loyola University New Orleans

If you would like Rebecca to speak at your school, university, place of worship, or organization, please contact her at

For updates about Mainstreaming Torture, blog posts, and to find out about Rebecca's appearances, visit
Copyright © 2014 Rebecca Gordon, Ph.D., All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Hattie said...

Yes. Mainstreaming torture. Normalizing it as "enhanced interrogation."

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