New poll on torture avoids using the word “torture”

According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, 51% of Americans approve of the CIA’s “harsh interrogation” of prisoners, while 28% disapprove and 20% aren’t sure.

Most striking and appalling is that 45% of Americans, says the poll, think it’s fine for such torture to continue. Only 28% of the nation thinks that such torture is morally wrong.

Of course, a different poll result may have occurred had the pollsters dropped the sophistry of calling torture “enhanced” or “harsh interrogation.” And it would be helpful if American journalists, such as NPR and the Washington Post, did not practice and enable such sophistry, as well. Here is a Glenn Greenwald piece for Salon chastising NPR for avoiding the word “torture” back in 2009.

Torture is apparently only what terrorists or other nations do when they treat a prisoner brutally. American journalists, for Christ’s sake, should not be a party to such hypocrisy.

While we’re at the denial-of-torture game, perhaps we should think up some new euphemisms for war: rough sport? glorious gore? non-collateral damage?

Postscript Update— But our moral decline is worse than first thought. For other polls, notes the Brookings Institutiondo use the word “torture” and a majority of Americans still approve of it.

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