Every so often, I hear something that makes me say “Wait, what?” The latest episode of what I’m thinking about calling “The Spit-take Chronicles” was Sarah Palin’s comment that if she were in charge, our enemies “would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” Seriously? Waterboarding, an “enhanced interrogation technique” that causes the victim to experience the sensation of drowning and can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to their lungs and brain due to oxygen deprivation is analogous to baptism, a central rite of the Christian faith? That would be enough by itself, but, when she said it, the crowd lost their minds. Seeing this, it has never been more obvious to me that Sarah Palin (and those who agree with her) believe in a different God than I do.
Of course, Palin’s statement drew the ire of progressives everywhere. That’s not news, since almost everything she says does that. But, wonder of wonders, there were even conservatives peeved at her latest bout of foot-in-mouth disease. Rod Dreher, on The American Conservative, called the comment “disgusting”. And, the hard-core conservatives over at the Gospel Coalition are unhappy with the her, too. Joe Carter called it “a mixture of pagan ethics and civil deistic religion“. He also said “In our attempts to dehumanize our enemy we end up becoming less than human ourselves. It would be a Pyrrhic victory to save civilization and lose our humanity.” I rarely agree with anything I read on the GC blog, but those two sentences are a definite exception. Finally, Mary Moerbe (not sure if she’s all that conservative, but this is too good to pass up) said Palin’s words cross the line “into government aggression, specifically against those already subdued and captive. She merged government with religion in one of the worst possible ways: by making herself judge and arbiter.”
Religion aside, torture is illegal in this country (that damn 8th Amendment), a fact that seems to escape the former governor. I always find it interesting how staunch “defenders” of the Constitution like Palin have no problem tossing that document in the trash when it suits them. Just as interesting is how it never suits them to do that when they’re the ones affected. Sort of like government violation of the 4th Amendment (the Patriot Act and FISA) wasn’t a problem as long as it was just brown people under surveillance. But, once it came out that white Americans were also being spied on, shit blew up. In that vein, I’m sure if Palin or one of her loved ones were being water boarded, she wouldn’t see it as “baptism”, she’d be screaming “TORTURE!!!” at the top of her lungs. Isn’t it funny how it works that way?
Practically all of the statements I’ve read/seen/heard on this topic revolve around Palin’s linking of baptism and torture. But, I have to ask myself what’s worse, her low view of baptism (i.e. equating it with a certain “enhanced interrogation technique”) or her all-too-high view of torture? Because, let’s face it, any favorable view of an act as reprehensible as subjecting those utterly under your control to violence is too high. It kind of makes me wonder if we’re not mad about the wrong thing.