Extreme Euphemisms

1514 Words7 Pages
When most Americans think of the word “torture”, images of barbaric and savage individuals inflicting pain in repulsively innovative ways are what usually come to mind. Torture is what foreigners do, because, as Americans, we are too civilized and morally superior to engage in such behavior. In “Regarding the Torture of Others,” Susan Sontag argues that because American readers and the culture have become a sexually charged and violent entity concerned with having “fun,” the heinous photos depicting the torture of terrorists at Abu Ghraib is as much their fault, as it is the Bush administration’s. Though Sontag is effective in proving the administration’s liability, her extreme parallels of Americans to Nazis, fraternal organization practices and video games to the torture committed in Abu Ghraib make the essay and her argument overall ineffective. In Section I., Sontag is able to artfully make the reader understand and agree that the Bush administration is ignorant and hypocritical for avoiding responsibility for the humiliation and torture that occurred in Abu Ghraib. Though the administration was “shocked and disgusted by the photographs,” any reasonable reader would find it unfair and ridiculous that the administration would not admit to what truly happened. Sontag, laudably, reveals there was an “avoidance of the word ‘torture’,” by government officials, such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. If the government cannot admit that the detainees were objects of torture and not objects of the euphemism, “abuse,” it is plain stupidity. In quoting the definition of torture from the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Sontag shows that the administration is wron... ... middle of paper ... ...re of the torture and someone in the chain of command did not order its conclusion. The American people at home, who identify simply as the people, are blameless because they were unaware until the photos too surfaced. The order to have the prisoners tortured and the subsequent publication of the sexual images was immoral and proves that we, the morally upright Americans, became savage and desperate for any satisfaction that comes from wielding power. Sontag’s essay is overall ineffective because most readers will not believe it was their fault because they were not the soldiers in an “endless war”. The torture is a byproduct of the policies enacted by the presidency at the time, which indeed tarnished America. The images circulated and the countless others that may never be leaked will unfortunately, to some degree, are representative of the Iraqi war.
Open Document