Sunday, January 30, 2005

An Occasion for Repentance

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby writes in the Ideas section today that he is profoundly disturbed and distressed by the use of torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, and most especially by the specifically religious forms of torture alleged by witnesses from within our own military. In one case, reported by former Army sergeant Erik Saar, a female interrogator wiped (faux) menstrual blood across the face of a devout Muslim prisoner, rendering him ritually unclean before his God. In another incident, detainees were forced to thank Jesus for their spared lives, and to renounce Allah. Some were forced to consume pork and liquor -- hardly a great torment -- unless your religion forbids both, as does Islam. Most of us are well-acquainted with the sexual humiliations practiced on the prisoners, but we may not have realized the religious taboos associated with the various pornographic tableaux arranged by the American jailers.

Jacoby writes, "Are Americans OK with using religious humiliation as tools of war?"
My short answer: Not this American - - even when my own religious and ethical convictions lead me to disagree with the spiritual legitimacy of certain Islamic taboos (e.g. homosexuality, menstrual blood). No. Never.

Jacoby continues, with an obvious sense of personal pain,
"As regular readers know, I write as a war hawk...[and] who has better reason to be outraged by this scandal than those of us who support the war? More than anyone, it is the war hawks who should be infuriated by it. It shouldn't have taken me this long to say so."

Americans of every stripe and kind should regard with horror the ongoing revelations that torture is routinely used to "break" prisoners and detainees associated with the War on Terror and the conflict in Iraq. However, what Jacoby did not say -- and someone should -- is that Christians have special cause to grieve and to repent this particularly sadistic branding of Christian triumphalism onto the very bodies and souls of Muslim captives.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.


Blogger Chalicechick said...


So basically we put the Muslims in the position of the little Catholic girl who gets raped and suffers torture for years because she thinks she's going to hell for it.

I appreciate American ingenuity in some senses. Knowing the Americans I know, it isn't a real shock that we were the first country to put someone on the moon.

But damn it if we wouldn't be the ones ot figure out a new way of torture to sneak around the Geneva convention as well.


Blogger PeaceBang said...

Yep, CC. Heart-sickening, isn't it? Because you know there are those who will say, "Aw come on! Smearing a little bit of fake blood on a guy is hardly TORTURE!" Maybe by legal definitions it's not, but is that how we now gauge the permissability of our actions? I appreciate your analogy to the little Catholic girl -- there's a lot to think about there, and I plan to think about some of it from the pulpit on Palm Sunday.

Blogger Chalicechick said...

I know that Catholic girl and she is one incredibly fucked up adult in the basically-functional-but-still-a-little-kid-emotionally sense.



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