Nick Kristof: Chop Off Body Parts = 'Torment'; Interrogation = 'Torture'

kristofYou would be hard-pressed to find a "better" example of a walking, talking, typing Old Media double standard-bearer than New York Times columnist and International Herald Tribune (IHT) contributor Nicholas Kristof.

Keep in mind as you read this post that Kristof infamously wrote the following in a 2005 New York Times book review about the person who was "the worst monster in world history," China's Mao Tse-tung (Mao Zedong):

..... his legacy is not all bad ..... The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. ..... Mao’s ruthlessness was a catastrophe at the time ..... yet there’s more to the story: Mao also helped lay the groundwork for the rebirth and rise of China after five centuries of slumber.

Here is Kristof describing an example of what is currently happening in Zimbabwe in the June 29 IHT (bold after headline is mine):

If only Mugabe were white

Patson Chipiro, a democracy activist, wasn't home when Robert Mugabe's thugs showed up looking for him.

So they grabbed his wife, Dadirai, and tormented her by chopping off one of her hands and both of her feet. Finally, they threw her into a hut, locked the door and burned it to the ground.

This is really hard to take. In Nick’s world, to chop off body parts to intimidate political opponents is to “torment.” The headline is more accurate than Kristof imagines: If Mugabe were white, Nick might have written his report using accurate words.

So what's the word Kristof uses to describe techniques people on our side have used to get information that might save soldiers’ or others’ lives that haven't involved permanent injury or loss of limbs?

You guessed it: “torture.” And, of course, it should never be allowed, and must be investigated.

In his News York Times column Sunday, Kristof called for a “Truth Commission, with subpoena power, to investigate the abuses in the aftermath of 9/11.”

I am all for throwing the book at any person or group who stepped over the line, especially into gratuitious violence and murder.

But in Kristof's world, "torture" includes "interrogation techniques borrowed verbatim from records of Chinese methods" and "waterboarding."

They must be "torture," because in his Times column Kristof did not use the objectively less-negative and arguably more accurate word “torment” even once. But he described what those charged with the dangerous task of handling Guantanamo and other detainees have allegedly done as “torture” five times.

Kristof also blithely assumes that "we knew that these torture techniques produced false confessions." Always? Somehow, I doubt that.

So in Nick's world, when our folks aggressively interrogate, it's "torture." But when black Zimbabweans chop off body parts, it's only "torment."

What a sickening double standard.

Posted in shorter form at the end of this entry at

Foreign Policy 9/11 Media Bias Debate Middle East Military Double Standards Zimbabwe Events Guantanamo Bay Interrogation Techniques Nicholas Kristof