Friday, February 23, 2007

President Bush to reopen the African slave trade. News, weather and sports at 11.

Andrew Sullivan draws a parallel between the torture of terrorists -- that is, some of the most depraved human beings on the planet -- and the African slave trade (author's italics and included link):
On the aniversary of the abolition of the slave trade, it's worth recalling that torture is inextricably linked to slavery. As Scott Horton explains more fully here, when Wilberforce and Wesley aimed to persuade the British elites that the slave trade was evil, they did not cite Biblical proscriptions against slavery. Why? Because the Bible is actually very ambiguous about slavery (the Southern Baptist Convention even used scripture to defend slavery in America). So Wilberforce stressed that the slave trade required unspeakable cruelty, abuse and torture of its victims. That was his rhetorical gambit. He framed his case against the slave trade as a case against inhumane treatment of prisoners of war.
Hey, just because you're a mass murderer of civilians, a perpetrator of gruesome atrocities against innocents, and a warrior in a campaign of unrestrained mass violence for anarchy's sake doesn't mean that you're not entitled to possess the same human dignity as, say, Ghandi (assuming that you're still capable of possessing dignity, that is). John Derbyshire refers to Sullivan's type of argument here as the reductio ad servitum:
Well, there is a style of argumentation in present-day America that is starting to annoy me mightily. I call it reductio ad servitum — reducing to slavery. The arguer wants to show that some change, or some refusal to change, is desirable and correct, even though masses of people are opposed to it. “After all,” he says triumphantly, “masses of people supported slavery…”

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