(Slate)-- How does an enlightened nation descend into barbarism? That used to be a question for historians. Now it’s a process you can watch in real time. In recent days, Donald Trump has been casting aside moral constraints on torture and violence against civilians. At his campaign rallies, crowds have cheered him on. What kind of country would the United States become if Trump and his followers get their way? Just listen as Trump spells it out for you.
1. Torture. Since November, Trump has said he would approve not just waterboarding, but “a hell of a lot worse.” That’s a change from George W. Bush’s administration, which justified waterboarding on the grounds that it wasn’t torture. Trump dismisses the taboo against torture altogether. “Let’s assume it is” torture, he said of waterboarding at a campaign event in South Carolina on Feb. 17. It’s still “absolutely fine,” he concluded, and “we should go much stronger.”
2. Retribution. Other Republicans, such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, argue that brutal interrogation methods are justified only to prevent an attack. Trump rejects that constraint. On Nov. 23, he told a crowd in Ohio that waterboarding extracts useful information from terrorists, but that even if it didn’t, he would approve it, and “more than that,” because “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway, for what they're doing to us.”
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