A Torture Victim Speaks Out »« From Reagan to Palin on Torture

Christian Conservatives Hammer Palin’s Torture Remarks

It’s probably a good thing to be reminded now and then that not every Christian conservative in the country has sold their soul to Republican tribalism and several of them have stepped up to blast Sarah Palin for her hideous declaration that if she were in charge, waterboarding is how she would “baptize” terrorists. Here’s Joe Carter of The Gospel Coalition:

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

We must never hesitate to defend our culture, our future, and our lives against those who seek to destroy us. The liberal cosmopolitan elite appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy is suicidal. However, the right-wing populist position, which is willing to face up to and address the evil of terrorism, fails to understand the ramifications of becoming like the enemy by dehumanizing them.

The truly Christian position is to never forget that evil comes not just from the actions of “terrorists” or “enemies” but from the heart of fallen, sacred yet degraded, human beings. If we are to preserve our own humanity we must not forget that our enemy differs from us in degree, not in kind.

I would point out that this whole idea of a “liberal cosmopolitan elite” who favors “tolerance and understanding” of terrorists is one gigantic straw man. Here’s Rod Dreher:

OK, stop. Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith. It’s disgusting — but even more disgusting, those NRA members, many of whom are no doubt Christians, cheered wildly for her…

Palin and all those who cheered her sacrilegious jibe ought to be ashamed of themselves. For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture. Even if you don’t believe that waterboarding is torture, surely you agree that it should not be compared to baptism, and that such a comparison should be laughed at. What does it say about the character of a person that they could make that joking comparison, and that so many people would cheer for it. Nothing good — and nothing that does honor to the cause of Jesus Christ.

If I thought that kind of hateful declaration and abuse of the Christian religion was what conservatism stood for, I wouldn’t be able to call myself a conservative. Some conservatives do stand for that. They’re wrong, and they should be called out on it — not because some liberal somewhere is going to be offended, but first and foremost because we Christians who identify as conservatives are appalled by it.

And Patrick Brennan:

Torture — waterboarding being something reasonable people may consider to constitute it — is and should be a question of grave moral consequence for Christians, and is for any Catholic familiar with the Catechism. Palin wasn’t even just jokingly comparing a serious violation of human dignity into one of the most important transcendental recognitions of it – she was mounting an expansive defense of something near torture, on the grounds that our prisoners ”would obviously have information on plots,” and therefore ought to, apparently, be subjected to a horrible practice not as a morally necessary last resort but a habit of quotidian intimidation. There’s a word for that kind of practice: barbaric.

And finally, Andrew Sullivan:

A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits. And a former vice-presidential candidate who talks of “baptizing” Muslim terror suspects through waterboarding is handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup on a platter. She disgusts me. And what disgusts me even more is the rank cowardice of so many sane Republicans who for far too long have failed to take her on.

But here’s the thing: The very fact that Sarah Palin remains so popular on the American right means that these decent people are in the minority within their own political ideology.

Comments

  1. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Ah but how “popular” is she really? How many people do actually support and agree with her?

    I don’t know, I suspect a lot less than some fear.

    This post makes that suspicion – and hope – seem pretty reasonable doesn’t it?

  2. Kevin Kehres says

    @1– It’s celebrity worship. And tribalism. Anything that the celebrity supports is part of what the tribe supports and defends. Even if it’s abhorrent on its face.

    Heck, even “sophisticated” theologians will tell us that genocide is OK if god commands it. Palin is doing nothing less.

  3. eric says

    Its especially strange in the context – an NRA event. If torture is necessary, then I guess there are some crimes that gun-wielding citizens can’t prevent, eh?

  4. says

    Also, Mollie Hemingway:

    When my husband (who was baptized 10 years ago today, as it happens) told me about this, I had a hard time believing that she actually said it. Not just because baptism couldn’t be taken more seriously in traditional Christianity but because the media routinely misquote or fail to provide context for quotes. But the video makes the statement seem even worse. So why did the crowd cheer when she said it? And why did some folks defend or downplay the statement on Twitter? I couldn’t begin to say, but they shouldn’t have done so.

    (Though she’s a lot less down on Palin in general.)

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    OK, stop. Not only is this woman, putatively a Christian, praising torture, but she is comparing it to a holy sacrament of the Christian faith.

    Is that the same Christian faith which is centered around an act of torture, which it considers to be among the most significant events in the history of mankind, and uses the implement of that torture as their chief symbol?

  6. Doubting Thomas says

    She wasn’t getting her due of attention so she comes up with something guaranteed to get her silly face back in the news. Yawn.

  7. says

    “appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy”
    I forget just who, but isn’t someone supposed to have said “…Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you…” it’s a pity more of the Christian Right don’t follow him…

  8. busterggi says

    Now we all know that anyone who disagrees with Palin is no True Christian so those who disagree are likely closeted Muslims.

  9. says

    What? It is biblical! Remember when Jesus rushed to a place that he thought might be the temple “And said unto them, It is written, Whatever this house is shall be possibly called the house of prayer; but I think ye have could have made it a den of thieves!” And then He whipped them and flipped their tables. Totally justified. They might have been money changers.
     
    eric “Its especially strange in the context – an NRA event. If torture is necessary, then I guess there are some crimes that gun-wielding citizens can’t prevent, eh?”
    The only thing that can stop a bad terrorist with a waterboard is a good terrorist with a waterboard.

  10. dugglebogey says

    Wouldn’t it be great if christian leaders led by example instead of just talking shit?

  11. rory says

    I’d love to hear more about these “liberal cosmopolitan elite” who are so tolerant and understanding that they welcome death by jihadists. I’m pretty sure no sane people are arguing that our tolerance ought to extend as far as letting ourselves be killed with impunity by fanatics. I guess it wouldn’t be a straw man if such a thing really existed.

  12. abb3w says

    Again, I note there was a distinct lack of outrage back in 2009 when Ted Poe made a similarly stupid comparison of waterboarding to baptism.

  13. Hercules Grytpype-Thynne says

    I would point out that this whole idea of a “liberal cosmopolitan elite” who favors “tolerance and understanding” of terrorists is one gigantic straw man.

    I’d add one qualification: certainly we want to understand terrorists. Not only do we need to be able to protect ourselves from them, but presumably we want to learn whether there are steps we can take to prevent potential terrorists from being turned against us in the future.

    Is Carter’s claim that we’re better off not knowing what makes the terrorists tick?

  14. laurentweppe says

    The very fact that Sarah Palin remains so popular on the American right means that these decent people are in the minority within their own political ideology.

    Or simply that the american right is filled with cowards who applaud out of fear of a minority of bullies.

  15. felidae says

    How bout dat!–Palin finally says something so outrageous and disgusting even the far right turns on her. Hopefully, the visibility of the Shrilla from Wasilla will start to fade

  16. machintelligence says

    This is just a case of biblical literalism bleeding over into political speech. They are taking baptism in the religious sense, when I’m reasonably sure she meant it in the same sense that exposure to combat is referred to as “baptism under fire.” I fear their outrage is based on misunderstanding, rather than condemnation of torture.

  17. atheistblog says

    The liberal cosmopolitan elite appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy is suicidal.

    Come on, good conservative christian ? and of course strawman indeed, because Obama and co are Bush 3.0, so there no such thing as liberal cosmopolitan elite. By the way, ” why is appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy is suicidal ” ? Could you explain Ed ?
    Humanist have higher moral ground than Bollocks christians, so there is nothing wrong with ” appeal to tolerance and understanding “.

    ” Palin and all those who cheered her sacrilegious jibe ought to be ashamed of themselves. For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. ”

    And this rod guy biggest worry was that palin compared torture to their sacred (BS) baptism ? Really that’s what bothers him most ? And this guy is good christian for you Ed ?

    And of course andrew sullivan, that moron also bothered by palin use of baptism than palin and the conservative christians hungry for torture.
    Christian culture disgusts me. I hate this christian culture so much, and I am trying very hard not to hate these christian people.

    Christian culture should learn some ethics first instead of quoting all the BS form stupid bible. Learn something christians

    Whatever besides you leave unguarded, guard your tongue; otherwise errors of speech and the consequent misery will ensue

  18. jaybee says

    Joe Carter said:

    We must never hesitate to defend our culture, our future, and our lives against those who seek to destroy us. The liberal cosmopolitan elite appeal to tolerance and understanding in the face of such an enemy is suicidal.

    Wasn’t one of Jesus’ Greatest Hits the admonition to turn the other cheek when someone strikes you?

  19. lofgren says

    @16

    I’m pretty sure that the concept of religious baptism and baptism by fire are using the term in exactly the same way. One is baptism by fire and one is by water, but both refer to a transformation and a rebirth into a new life. I’m not sure what point you are making by claiming Palin meant one and not the other, nor what any of this has to do with literalism. Even if I agreed with you that she wasn’t referencing the Christian practice, which I don’t.

  20. atheistblog says

    Ed, you seemed to missed the point as well. All these moron good® christians you mentioned have problem with sarah palin using of the word ‘baptism’ not torture itself. Please don’t call these ugly minded christians as good®.
    And I request you to apologize for saying

    not every Christian conservative in the country has sold their soul to Republican tribalism

    but you forgot the actual intent of these ugly minded christians. This is nothing but Christian conservative tribalism. You call these religious fanatics as “decent people”, in that andrew sullivan is included ? Gosh, if christian religious fanatics who are so offended by use of the word baptism in the contest of torture so much than torture are good decent people ? andrew sullivan is symbol of all the liberal christian warmongering.
    Ed, you offended humanist like me. You need to retract your comment or give a damn good explanation. Nahh, I don’t expect you would do, I believe you are one of those, ” I don’t believe in god and magic, but I like the christianity culture BS” and so and so.

  21. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    It’s probably a good thing to be reminded now and then that not every Christian conservative in the country has sold their soul to Republican tribalism and several of them have stepped up to blast Sarah Palin for her hideous declaration that if she were in charge, waterboarding is how she would “baptize” terrorists.

    Joe Carter, Rod Dreher, and Andrew Sullivan are not representative of conservatism. I don’t know the other guy. So, point not taken unless you want to claim outliers or a small minority exist; where no reasonable person argues otherwise.

    This is how conservative Christians will react to Palin’s advocacy of torture: They’ll ignore it, treat her remarks as a joke, or they’ll use a red herring. Conservative Christian will not confront the implications of the Bush Administration using torture, they will not concede the impact torture had on people, and they will not advocate against torture. Their policy advocacy and voting patterns will not change.

    A joke was how NRO commenters handled an NRO column critical of Palin and her remarks that Andrew Sullivan linked to Monday or Tuesday. That was their avoidance tactic. As much as I love Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, I have no appetite to see even them turn Palin’s remarks into a joke in order to criticize her.

  22. says

    A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits.

    Good ol’ Andrew Sullivan, always telling us that conservatism and Christianity are something other than what their practitioners actually believe.

    I’m sorry, but Christianity is what Christians do. And many, more than the average person, are big fans of torture.

  23. D. C. Sessions says

    I’m really surprised that more Christians aren’t offended by Palin’s equating torture with baptism.

    It really is logical. By the same token that “atheist”=”liberal”=”communist”=”fascist”=”muslim” etc. (that is, all of them are bad and things that are equal to the same thing are equal to each other,) “baptism” is good and “torture” is good so …

  24. Trebuchet says

    @1, Steveo:

    Ah but how “popular” is she really?

    Popular enough to have made a VERY good living just by saying stupid shit for more than five years now.

    @26, dannorth:

    According to this report poor Sarah Palin’s star is already fading.

    That’s just the BBC, owned by the Commie/Atheist/Muslim British government. Hardly a credible source to
    Sarah’s devout followers. Why, do you know, the PM of that country was CRITICIZED for saying it was a Christian nation? FREEZE PEACH! And all that.

  25. grumpyoldfart says

    I wonder how many of those Christians speaking against the water-boarding torture will be prepared to speak out against Jesus Christ who suggested even more despicable punishments for people who upset him,

    …it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:6)

    My guess: Not one of them. Not one.

  26. dingojack says

    Rod Dreher sez: “They’re wrong, and they should be called out on it — not because some liberal somewhere is going to be offended, but first and foremost because we Christians who identify as conservatives are appalled by it.“.
    Not because any poopy-headed, non-tribe member (who are only worth 3/5 of a person anyway) is offend (or even morally outraged) but because WE are offended.
    To hell with immorality of torture, WE ARE OFFENDED!!!!

    Patrick Brennan:sez: “Torture… is and should be a question of grave moral consequence for Christians, and is for any Catholic familiar with the Catechism.
    Bwhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
    Boo — Spanish Inquisition. (The Crusades, forced conversion of aboriginal peoples, sex-abuse within the church and church run institutions etc. etc.) Great argument Brennan.

    Sullivan burbles: “A Christian who can equate the sacrament of baptism with a barbaric form of torture is not a Christian, whatever self-righteous blather she emits.
    Yep No True Scotsman that’ll work (this time for sure).

    THIS is the best that ‘sane’ Christians can do?!?

    Dingo

  27. Nihilismus says

    The liberal cosmopolitan elite appeal to tolerance and understanding …. However, the right-wing populist position, … fails to understand the ramifications of becoming like the enemy by dehumanizing them.

    The truly Christian position is to never forget that evil comes not just from the actions of “terrorists” or “enemies” but from the heart of fallen, sacred yet degraded, human beings. If we are to preserve our own humanity we must not forget that our enemy differs from us in degree, not in kind.

    “You see, liberals appeal to understanding our enemy. I, a right-wing populist, am appealing to understanding that the enemy is human, just like us, differing only in degree, and for understanding that we could become like our enemy if we fall. We become fall by torturing, but we can turn back toward good. And since our enemies are like us, they too can be good, and we should understand the reasons why they have fallen. What’s that — that’s essentially what the liberals meant? Yeah, but it sounds better when I say it, because I’m one of you. Liberals actually are a different kind. There not even human, they’re made of straw.”

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