FERGUSON: Blessed are the water boarders?

May 2, 2014 

Have you ever wondered what America would be like if Sarah Palin was elected to be our president? I certainly haven’t. I have a good imagination, but it’s not that good.

Nevertheless, good old Sarah clued us in on what one her policy directives would be if she was ever in charge as she addressed a National Rifle Association convention in Indianapolis this week. Railing against President Obama for failing to “put the fear of God into our enemies,” she assured the adoring crowd that if she were in charge America’s enemies “would know that waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists.”

I think that it’s always important to acknowledge when someone really exceeds our expectations. Palin is known for saying things that make very little sense, but with this one unforgettable phrase she has managed to merge stupidity with impiety in a way that very few people could do in so few words.

Waterboarding, as you may recall, was a method of interrogation the U.S. employed during George W. Bush’s presidency that involved immobilizing a suspect and pouring water in his face to simulate the feeling of drowning. It was used during interrogation sessions on suspected terrorists being held outside U.S. soil (it being sort of an illegal practice in this country) as a way to gather information on possible planned attacks.

One key word in the previous sentence was “suspected.” These people were not tried and convicted of a crime, and the waterboarding was not used as punishment. Apparently, under a Palin presidency, the use of waterboarding would be expanded somehow and used to make an example to the world of how a tough-as-nails president deals with dangerous terrorists.

I’m not sure if these suspects would have the opportunity to defend themselves against charges of terrorism before they experienced a simulated drowning, but I suspect that even asking that question would have me accused of coddling terrorists among Palin’s faithful followers, assuming she still has any.

It’s likely she has fewer fans than she had before making this latest speech. A number of prominent Christians took issue with her associating the word “baptize” with the practice of waterboarding. For Christians, baptism is a sacrament they willfully (and joyfully) enter into after they have made a decision to dedicate their life to service in Christ. Using the word to describe a brutal interrogation technique didn’t sit well with many Christians. For good reason, too.

I have read the Bible from cover to cover, read the New Testament through more than once, and read the four Gospels numerous times. I do not know what people like Palin read (if they read anything at all), but I don’t know how they could be reading the words of Jesus and calling their ideas and actions “Christian.” “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” -- Matt 5:9. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” -- Matt 5:38-39. “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” -- Luke 6:27.

I wonder if Palin has read these words, and if so, why she thinks they no longer apply to Christians today. It may be that absolute nonviolence isn’t feasible as a workable foreign policy for our nation, but it certainly boggles the mind to think that a follower of the man who spoke the words quoted above could tell a cheering crowd that our country is weak because we haven’t established a reputation for ourselves as a country that gleefully tortures its (suspected) enemies in a public fashion.

I know this is all politics and the Republicans want to whip up their conservative base. Painting the Democrats as weak and ineffectual on defense matters is a standard play this time of year. But they need to put a muzzle on this Mama Grizzly. Her act has gotten old.

Bill Ferguson is a resident of Warner Robins. Readers can write him at fergcolumn@hotmail.com.

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