Wednesday, May 04, 2011


The crowds at the spontaneous demonstrations in response to bin Laden's death were disproportionately young, and the glee of those young people made some oldsters upset. And some of us who weren't upset at the demonstrations were disturbed earlier this month when this was reported:

But now, during a time of two overseas wars, Americans' opinions on torture seem to have fractured, and largely on generational lines. A new study by the American Red Cross obtained exclusively by The Daily Beast found that a surprising majority -- almost 60 percent -- of American teenagers thought things like water-boarding or sleep deprivation are sometimes acceptable. More than half also approved of killing captured enemies in cases where the enemy had killed Americans.

So this finding, from a poll just conducted by Gallup, seems surprising:

Demographically, the major distinction in these preferences for how bin Laden should have been handled is within age groups, with 50% of 18- to 34-year-olds in the survey saying they would have preferred to see bin Laden captured alive, compared with 27% of those aged 35 to 54 and 26% of those 55 and older. Republicans (22%) are less likely than either independents (38%) or Democrats (36%) to express a preference that bin Laden be captured rather than killed.

So they favor torture, and killing prisoners, but in this case they would have preferred a trial. Hunh?

Maybe they just wanted to sustain the sense of triumph over the man who'd haunted their generation. Or maybe they just have more faith in government institutions -- the military, interrogators, courts. I just don't know.

Me, I'm glad bin Laden was killed. I wouldn't have wanted a capture and trial. Oh, sure, I would have wanted a capture and a trial if we still lived in the relatively sane pre-Bush/Cheney America. But there's no way bin Laden would have been allowed to have the trial on U.S. (New York!) soil he should have had. And prior to that, right-wingers would have demanded that he be tortured. The torture of bin Laden would have become a non-negotiable demand of the right, a new rallying point for teabaggers and neocons alike. I'm glad we didn't have to live through that.

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