Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sadism Does Not Equal Security

I am proud to join Bloggers Against Torture for Torture Awareness Month.

It is 2006 and the United States of America, once a liberator of the tortured, has turned to torture as easily as a person changes his clothes.

As Jumah al-Dossari who was kidnapped on the Pakistani border, sold to American troops for $5000 and deported to Guantánamo, Cuba where he has been imprisoned and tortured writes:

"What I will write here is not a flight of fancy or a moment of madness...I have suffered ..."

An excerpt:

The soldiers then started beating us and walking on us and we were lying face down. The beating and kicking was so severe that the sackcloth bag fell one of the brother’s eyes. He saw the soldiers pointing their weapons at us so he shouted, "they’re going to kill us, brothers"; one of the soldiers hit him on the head with the butt of his weapon and he lost consciousness…

After several hours of this beating and the severe cold, they made us stand in one line. They started to wrap a very strong wire around our right arms; each of us was tied at a distance of about two metres from the person in front of him.

After they pulled this wire, they started making us run towards the unknown. When we approached the tents...they started to insult us savagely.

The prisoners started shouting and crying because of their severe pain – there were many young people with us – and the soldiers increased their insults and beatings and those of us who fell started to drag themselves on the grounds on the asphalt of the airfield and the others continued to jog.

As I have already mentioned, I still had the Pakistani shackle which made it hard for me to walk, so I was one of those who fell and was dragging himself along on the asphalt. I tried to stand and walk but I could not.

After that, we entered the tents and they started beating us extremely violently; I fainted several times because of the severity of the beating. Once I fell when I fainted and found my head under the boot of a soldier who started beating me severely.

I fainted again and woke only to find the soldier urinating on my head and back; he was roaring with laughter.

I was still lying on my stomach; he raised my head by the hair and started kicking me in my face with his boot and put it inside my mouth until my face and my lips were cut, my face was swollen and my blood was flowing copiously. Then he started hitting me on my eye; I almost went blind, were it not for the grace and mercy of Allah.

All this would sound very familiar to Victor Frankl, the author of Man's Search For Meaning. He knew well what those men are going through today, having spent three years in concentration camps, including Auschwitz.

Subjected to similar treatment by the Nazis, Frankl told about what happens to a person who has everything ripped from him, is taken from his family and placed, both unjustly and indefinitely, in prison without any hope of reprieve. He wrote and spoke of the tortures endured and the psychological effects of being treated like something unhuman and disposable.

He also addressed what must cross every compassionate person's mind: Who tortures? What kind of person tortures another?

Here is an except on that topic:

"...we shall consider a question which the psychologist is asked frequently, especially when he has personal knowledge of these matters:

What can you tell us about the psychological make-up of the camp guards? How is it possible that men of flesh and blood could treat others as so many prisoners say they have been treated? Having once heard these accounts and having come to believe that these things did happen, one is bound to ask how, psychologically, they could happen.

First, among the guards there were some sadists, sadists in the purest clinical sense.

Second, these sadists were always selected when a really severe detachment of guards was needed.

There was great joy at our work site when we had permission to warm ourselves for a few minutes (after two hours of work in the bitter frost) in front of a little stove which was fed with twigs and scraps of wood. But there was always some foremen wo found a great pleasure in taking this comfort from us.

How clearly their faces reflected this pleasure when they not only forbade us to stand there but turned over the stove and dumped its lovely fire into the snow. When the SS took a dislike to a person, there was always some special man in their ranks known to have a passion for, and to be highly specialized in, sadistic torture, to whom the unfortunate prisoner was sent."

Torture exists because 1) those who order it lack sufficient empathy and 2) there are people who enjoy doing it.

Normally we consider sadists to be a detriment to society. Normally we become aware of them when they get in the headlines through plying their delight in sadism as serial killers, child molesters, animal torturers.

But the U.S. military now employs them. And we give them jobs overseas.

Only now we don't call it sadism. We call it "necessary for national security."

But what is it really? It is a giving in to the sadism within our species and within our national character.

John Donne said it better than anyone else ever has:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

For whom does the bell toll when someone is tortured or driven out of his mind by unjust imprisonment and abuse?

It tolls for you and it tolls for me.

Say no to sadism, say no to torture.

No exceptions.

No excuses.
Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? Jeremiah 15:18

Today if ye hear his voice, Harden not your heart. Psalms 95:7,8

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for dakness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

They all with one consent began to make excuse. Luke 14:18

The fruit of the Spirit is...gentleness. Galatians 5:22

Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Ephesians 4:32


At 7/17/2006 6:56 AM, Blogger elendil said...

I came across this post just today while browsing links back to the central blog. Unfortunately I somehow missed your request to join the alliance. If you used the sign-up form, I'm really sorry about that, but I'm not sure what happened. I've added your blog to the blogroll now.


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