International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Reality Check
Last Words on the United States of Torture
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".
These 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.
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
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
The rest are up for grabs; torture, death, you name it.
If I were a card-carrying Jihadist, I'd expect nothing
© James Campion
April 25th 2009
is a subject I talk about incessantly with colleagues: What is news?
In other words, what should be something we know about nationally...
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