Saturday, April 5, 2008

Waterboarding Only Takes a Minute

Blog doc 19 My Hand in Distant Torture

There was an endless, pundit driven debate, slightly nauseating, over the question: “Is this a civil war [in Iraq]?” There was another, also slightly nauseating, debate over the question: “Is this a recession?” Here, however, we must consider yet another nauseating question: “Is this torture?”

Well, we can take some comfort from the fact that we didn’t really do it too much. In fact, on considering what we did, some, several, many, most folks don’t really think it was torture. In any event, what could it have to do with us, anyway? It amounted to a few days of panic, hysterical screaming elicited from a really bad person. No more than that.

Once it was complete, there were a trickle of bad feelings, all originating from some Moslem whose name we never knew. If he was lucky enough to encounter our “high-borne,” idealistic side, he returned to his life of poverty and insignificance. Once there, he could begin his own journey toward “forgiveness” or “I just got what I deserved.”

Of course, he told his grandchildren. And they told their neighbors. And the daughters of these neighbors told their sons. And these sons talked about this with other sons after school. So, did it become perpetual in some esoteric way?

Sliding forward a decade, or several decades, we encounter yet more war. One of these other sons, one of those who talked about it fifth hand, years later, after school, now finds himself with a Kalishnikov and twenty-eight bullets. He is hiding behind the wreckage of a wall which used to be part of a mosque, before the air planes, before the bombs. They bombed the mosque a day after they bombed his uncle.

There are a few targets, all U.S. Marines. They are good shots. They have plenty of everything. Good rifles. Good bullets. Good boots. They seem to be everywhere, and they already suspect he is there somewhere, waiting for his shot. It might be his shot at one of them. It might be their shot. At him.

Three of the other boys had already been captured that morning. This boy had never read the great debate in the New York Times about whether or not it was torture. All he knew about it came from the after school talks with his friends. Still, there was the question for him. “Should I sacrifice everything to get my chance to put one of these bullets in one of those Marines?” or “Should I let them take me? At least then I might have a chance. But, ...”

Facts mean nothing. Facts mean everything.

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