Last Words On U.S. Torture

Aquarian Weekly 4/29/09 REALITY CHECK


As usual, everyone has this torture thing wrong. The Right conveniently paints it as “special tactics to ensure security” and The Left predictably sees it as “indefensible war crimes”. GitmoThese simple designations have not changed in the nearly eight years that have passed since The Jihad came home to Lower Manhattan. All the denials by the Bush Administration to last week’s release of “classified memos” dealing with a host of rough-and-tumble action on the coastline of Cuba has added up to a spectacular load of shit. As is the subsequent shock, outrage, and surprise we express when faced with the inevitable truths of existence. But we’re all entitled to our opinions and our perspectives, but not so much entitled to our own facts.

Let’s get at least one of these inconvenient facts settled; this idea that the United States is above anything nasty and underhanded in the realm of warfare or just about all else one can conjure up is living a wondrous fantasy someone, maybe your school teachers, your church, your parents, or a radio talk show host has led you to believe.

No worries. This is why I’m here.

Time to curb your flag-waving Pollyanna for July 4, and leave the rest to the people who made the revolution possible. It helps take the edge off.

You know how hard it is to maintain Power status when you’ve been hit in the kisser by the Little Guy and then spend all your time and energy avenging it, only to come up broke and weakened by the terrible truth that you ain’t all that Big and you’re days may indeed be numbered? I have seen it from the playgrounds to the halls of governance. It is not pretty. And it never produces anything close to good feelings or sober responses. Humans who have felt the smooth brilliance of the Brass Ring slip off a digit tend to practice the art of crazy.

The whole notion of torturing human beings for information or a deterrent to future terrorist activities are dime-store rationalizations for the insatiable need to inflict a pound of flesh for one surrendered. It is brutally feral and a unique insight into our more bitter demons, something we have nourished like our yearning to breathe free lo these two-plus centuries. It is no more a tactic as it is for the bully in class to take your own fist and punch you repeatedly in the face, reciting the beloved query; “Why are you hitting yourself?”

Moreover, this is a nation built on the primacy of the human spirit to make one’s decisions free from the judgment of someone else’s parameters; Live & Let Live, Power To The People, Let Freedom Ring. This is a country like none other in the annals of civilization in that the rugged individualist can pursue the dreams and aspirations of what he/she strives to accomplish on his/her own merits, damned be the naysayers and full speed ahead.

We are the world’s drug; the true opiate of the masses. We’re the dangerously mercurial lover that is untrustworthy and vindictive, but so goddamned fun.

This brings me to the second and most vitally undeniable fact: Anyone signing onto a Holy War as a martyr deluxe does so with the understanding that they are not only expected to be tortured, but hopefully die in the process. That is the very definition of religious martyr. This is their sole and divine purpose. Everyone needs a Pontius Pilate to help nudge along the destiny. It is a simple Yin/Yang equation. The world at large, certainly the United States, didn’t demand that these people choose this route. It is not our place as a society or its government to deny them their goals, especially if they are doing so under their own free will, a marvelous concept protected and heralded by our forefathers and branded in word and deed for 233 glorious years.

This, of course, includes freedom to worship without hindrance. Spirituality is a funny thing; it cannot be and should not be defined. The mysteries are deep and we as an evolved and rational people need to accept this. Some go a-churchin’, some fast, some get out rugs and pray, others run around with signs or pump fists, and then there are those who go in for the hardcore theology, The Jihad. Strict Freudians call this Playing For Keeps.

Understandably, it is hard for an occasional weekend worshiper to comprehend the expanding soul of the religious extremist, no matter what the faith. These are the True Believers who use this life to attain the mystical Part II, because somewhere along the line Part I has either failed them or someone possessing enough charm has convinced them of this. It is the ticket they purchase to be part of the international mischief making. Suicide is like chocolate ice cream to these people. They have no sense of what else exists beyond The Mission. These types of creatures have given up anything resembling our empathy and certainly given up the scant refuge of The Law or what you and me dabbling in the real world might call Rights.

This is the trade off for the Holy Freedom Fighter. They want to bleed, suffer and die. Their dreams are something akin to Mel Gibson’s: Gore = Salvation. This doesn’t change when they’re busted and out of options. Religious conviction is above The Law. It is beyond our notion of Rights. It is The Truth and it will set one free, or so it goes.

So let’s stop thinking that there is anything we can do to “help” those who sign on to mass murder in a blaze of self-mutilation for a place in heaven. They don’t need to be saved. That is condescending patronization of the most elitist order.

If anything, the idea that we’re still talking about these people in the present tense is remarkable. I made the tidy suggestion seven years or so ago that we should have led them into the desert and have them dig their own graves and then shoot them. We have denied them their place in the Great Hall of Lunatics, and there is no telling what price we shall pay to The Lord God when the final screed is read, but enough about existential madness.

The very notion that we hide from enacting vengeance and mayhem on mutants is sad and unnecessary. Whom are we trying to impress? The UN? Amnesty International? Green Peace? Bono?

Look, I have belonged to, given cash to, and worked for Amnesty International for decades. I support the freeing of artists, writers, spiritual leaders, and all other oppressed peoples across this miserable globe, but not one of these individuals have overtly positioned themselves as terrorists, despite whatever despotic regime dubs them so.

The rest are up for grabs; torture, death, you name it.

If I were a card-carrying Jihadist, I’d expect nothing less.

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