We are urged to resist Trump’s lies: the lies of US capitalism. But there are lies about those lies that are not resisted. They are not recognized.
You see this in an intriguing new book about US interrogation during the Korean War, Monica Kim’s The Interrogation Rooms of the Korean War: the Untold Story. [i] The “untold story” it tells is not untold. It is about “a complex eco-system of violence, intimacy and bureaucracy” aimed at solidifying US global power. We learn the self-proclaimed guardian of the world lied about its methods, claiming “our traditional lack of imperialistic ambition”.
The empire denied being an empire. The war in June 1950, Monica Kim argues, was about violation of the 38th parallel; by 1952 it was violation of human subjects. The US made the “stunning” claim that a simple “yes” or “no”, recorded by an interrogator, was the “free individual choice” of Koreans and Chinese prisoners. US policy of voluntary repatriation was psychological warfare.
It is not an “untold story”, not even, or especially the subject-violating part. Only the details change. US subject fashioning was known more than a century before the Korean War. A group of non-radical priests in Cuba began a remarkable debate (1836-8), influencing neighboring countries, about precisely this question.[ii] They knew imperialism erases people. It erases them to themselves.
It deadens moral imagination so there is no…