David B.




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April 30, 2009

Who Would Jesus Torture?


There is no shortage of repulsive aspects to the current debate surrounding the efficacy and appropriateness of U.S. government-sanctioned torture – pardon me, “enhanced interrogation techniques.”


Let’s start with the nomenclature. Calling barbaric, inhuman practices such as waterboarding, forced stress positioning and other forms of physical and psychological abuse “enhanced interrogation techniques” is rather akin to labeling rat poison as baby food. Those who do so with a straight face are no less than sociopaths, and are barely deserving of being considered human.


Such people, unfortunately, have always been abundant within American society. This nation has always been a welcoming host to that sick subspecies of the human race that will turn a blind eye to human suffering in return for personal power and profit or the advancement of an ideology. At various times, this diseased breed of homegrown Goebbelses and Eichmanns have provided moral cover for the extermination of Native Americans, the My Lai massacre, the napalming of Cambodian villages and the rejection of Jewish refugees during World War II. The 21st Century sees them sitting soberly in commentators’ chairs on Fox News, blithely dismissing the most barbaric of war crimes as being the ethical, sensible conduct of American statecraft.


Some of the apologists do it for their own power, profit or prestige. Their motivations are clear and comprehensible, however disgusting. But a significant and strange subset, possibly the most risible and inexplicable of all, are those who somehow square such practices with their Christian “faith.”


Some of the same people who wept their way through the sado-porn that was The Passion of the Christ are now cheerleading the CIA’s inquisitors and their cut-rate contractor counterparts, enthusiastically embracing the notion that fevered imagined threats against Godly America are sufficient justification for the barbaric abuse of their fellow human beings. It’s sad, it’s sick, and it’s a measure of the depths to which American culture has descended. The nation that once proudly welcomed the tired, the poor and the huddled masses now prefers to beat and drown them, with some of its most ostentatiously pious leading the charge.


Perhaps actually reading and comprehending the Bible they profess to follow has fallen from favor amongst these most rabid lambs of God. Perhaps they feel that its messages of charity and compassion apply only to the in-club of themselves, their families, friends and fellow flag-wavers. But nowhere in the Good Book that I am familiar with is wanton cruelty by one human being against another sanctioned in the name of country, apple pie or national defense.


Matthew 25:40 lays the ground rules out pretty clearly: “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” It is simple as it is written: According to the inerrant, universally-applicable “Word of God,” what a person does to even the least of his fellow men, he does to Christ also – whether the act be sacred or profane. Show compassion, mercy, charity and humanity, and the scripture tells you you are “righteous” and bound for “life eternal.” Act less charitably – say, by waterboarding a POW – and it’s “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”


What part of this don’t these “good” Christians understand as they cheer those who act in ways diametrically opposite to the “savior” they profess to follow? They are not exceptions to this dictum, because there are no exceptions according to their faith. For all its other inconsistencies, the Bible is pretty clear on a couple of counts: Hypocrisy isn’t cool, and human beings are not supposed to treat their fellows like crap. Presumably, this means that we are not to chain them to walls for days at a time, lock them in enclosed boxes with biting insects, strip them and blast them with icy water, waterboard them or partake in any of the other exercises in creative cruelty that the crippled minds of Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Jay Bybee, John Yoo and the rest of Bush’s cabal of criminals conjured up. Nor are we supposed to come up with clever euphemisms or logic-leaping justifications for such behavior after the fact whilst pretending to virtue.


“And these shall go into everlasting punishment,” says Matthew – presumably accompanied by the fawning supplicants who cheered them on.


Fortunately, there’s no such thing as a “Get out of Hell free” card.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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