Americans now yawn at what was once unthinkable

Published on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 by Salon.com
Extremism Normalized: How Americans Now Acquiesce to Once Unthinkable Ideas
by Glenn Greenwald

Remember when, in the wake of the 9/11 attack, the Patriot Act was controversial, held up as the symbolic face of Bush/Cheney radicalism and widely lamented as a threat to core American liberties and restraints on federal surveillance and detention powers? Yet now, the Patriot Act is quietly renewed every four years by overwhelming majorities in both parties (despite substantial evidence of serious abuse), and almost nobody is bothered by it any longer. That’s how extremist powers become normalized: they just become such a fixture in our political culture that we are trained to take them for granted, to view the warped as normal. Here are several examples from the last couple of days illustrating that same dynamic; none seems overwhelmingly significant on its own, but that’s the point:

After Dick Cheney criticized John McCain this weekend for having chosen Sarah Palin as his running mate, this was McCain’s retort:

“Look, I respect the vice president. He and I had strong disagreements as to whether we should torture people or not. I don’t think we should have.”

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