More on the Torture Report

W.J. Astore Six years ago, Vice President Dick Cheney admitted that he had approved waterboarding as one of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Waterboarding had been defined as torture by the U.S. during World War II when the Japanese had employed it (although the U.S. had used the so-called water cure during the Filipino Insurrection…

The (Potential) Monsters Among Us

Richard Sahn In contemporary American society virtually every adult citizen knows how difficult it is to obtain medical information regarding one’s spouse, parents, or other close relatives. Agencies–notably insurance companies–are adamant about not revealing even payment data if you are not the patient. Agents or receptionists working for health organizations fiercely insist they are not…

Euphemisms and the Banality of Evil

W.J. Astore I teach a course on the Holocaust, so I’ve had ample opportunity to confront the use of euphemisms by the Nazis to cloak their murderous intent.  The most infamous euphemism was “the final solution to the Jewish question,” which of course refers to the mass murder–the extermination–of all Jews everywhere. But there were…

Martial Virtue: Promise and Peril

W.J. Astore Ever since the attacks of 9/11/2001, the United States has actively celebrated martial virtue.  We’ve portrayed our troops as heroes.  Presidents have celebrated them as the best led and best trained and most effective military in all of human history.  To question the wisdom of such hagiographic portrayals is to be dismissed as…

Education, Thoughtlessness, and the Golem

W.J. Astore Hannah Arendt, the famous philosopher and author of The Origins of Totalitarianism, wrote that “thoughtlessness“–the inability of people to think deeply and critically and reflectively–was a defining characteristic of our times. Thoughtlessness is characterized by the repetition of certain “truths,” often defined by the state, that are not meant to be questioned.  Contemporary examples…

The Perils of Zombie Education

Also at Truthout.com As a history professor with a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering teaching at a technical college after 20 years’ service in the US Air Force, I’m sympathetic to education that connects to the world of doing, of making, of providing goods and services to consumers. Yet we must not allow education itself…