The text says in very simplyfied fashion:
A country, like a person, is what it does.
But judging the text by this classic over-simplification doesn’t do it right.
The text has another message: Actions are something to reflect on instead of listening to your political reflexes of just denying and when no longer deniable to justify unlawfullness of your side.
I like texts that are to-the-point critisizing and giving hope for solution at the same time. Here is how it does that.
From the text – undeniable:
Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that wasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.“
America has tortured throughout its history. And every time it has, some Americans have justified the brutality as necessary to protect the country from a savage enemy.
Being a successful American politician today requires declaring that America is different, blessed, exceptional. Thus, when other countries torture, it reflects their basic character. When we torture, it violates ours.
And a solution – hard to imagine for few:
In the mid-20th century, men like Schlesinger and Reinhold Niebuhr argued that, paradoxically, the more Americans recognized their sinfulness, and restrained it within systems of law, the more America would prove its superiority over those totalitarian systems that refused such restraints.