It's useful to meet the argument that torture works with the facts: actually, there is not much evidence
that it does. In the end, however, the question is not whether torture is ever useful but whether it is morally permissible.
Theories of change vary widely. Does progress arise from
countless participants, working in countless places and ways? Does it require
an organized movement? How critical are public, influential leaders? At what
point is there a need for precedent to be set from the top down?
The national parks are rightly considered some of America’s great treasures, but their history is not as serene as their landscapes. A year after the Battle of Gettysburg, President Lincoln deeded Yosemite Valley to the state of California, to be maintained for public use for all time. Lincoln hoped these “magnificent lands . . . might offer a unifying peace for a divided nation.” But before Yosemite could be turned into a park for public use, the Ahwahneechee, its native inhabitants, had to be driven out. Similar wars of removal were conducted at the end of the 19th century at the sites of Glacier and Yellowstone parks (Times Literary Supplement, September 2).