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By C. Antonio Romero

SAN FRANCISCO, 24 APRIL 2009 - Ad absurdum, ad nauseam, the right wing blathers on about how torture is not torture, and how, even if it is, and even if we did, "America does not torture."

Today, though, they reach a new low, as Fox News blowhard Sean Hannity offers himself up as a sort of sacrificial reptile, agreeing to be waterboarded for charity-specifically, to raise money "for the troops' families."

Graphic reminder courtesy of
Amnesty International

The immediate temptation, for me and I'm sure for many others, is to take him up on it-indeed, to launch a campaign on Facebook, tap into the vast left-wing conspiracy that got President Obama elected, raise millions over the Internet, even sell spots in line on eBay to ensure Hannity will be half-drowned six times a day until the money runs out.

But of course, that points out the precise problem with this idea. It seems like it would feel so good to half-drown this nasty bastard, or to contribute in some small way, or even just to nod approvingly on learning that someone had done it.

Anyone who would line up to waterboard Sean Hannity would be doing it because:

  • They believe waterboarding is torture (if it's not, why bother?)
  • They believe payback is reason enough to torture (Hannity doesn't have a true word in him).

So to join in on a crusade to waterboard this man-to spread the call, to donate, to do the dirty work, to be an avid spectator-is to pollute one's own hands and soul, to re-enact the very crime at the heart of the debate.

To be sure, none of us Americans are perfect people. But we have defined ourselves, from the start, through our striving to be ever more perfect. And this American struggle demands hard things of us, as individuals and as a nation:

  • that we learn to gaze without flinching at our nature, however flawed, and our deeds, however ugly;
  • that we speak the truth, to ourselves, our friends and even our enemies, about the errors into which we have led ourselves;
  • that we be mindful every day of our imperfections, and choose each day to do what is right, for our own sakes;
  • that we accept our share of shame for doing what is easy, and take no special pride in doing what is hard.

So what, then, must we do? Abandon our baser impulses, ask ourselves what justice is, and hesitate when we have a knee-jerk reaction.

And, perhaps, give, anonymously, a dollar for each minute we savored the image of a man bound, pinned to the ground, a rag stuffed in his mouth, retching and gasping, water poured into him until his humanity is washed down the sewer, and ours with it.

However stupid, violent or bestial a man may be, we must not sink ourselves to his level, to satisfy ourselves or even save ourselves.

One apt charity would be the Disabled Veterans of America Charitable Service Trust. Highly rated by Charity Navigator, the Trust supports physical and psychological rehabilitation programs, meets the special needs of veterans with specific disabilities - such as amputation and blindness - and aids and shelters homeless veterans. You can donate online at the Trust's Web site to help veterans and their families.

C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau and Technology editor of He last wrote Brzezinski Spells it Out to Joe Scarborough.

Book Tip

All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to Culturekiosque readers.

Botero: Abu Ghraib
by David Ebony
Paperback, 112 pages, 95 color illustrations
Prestel, New York, 2006
ISBN: 3-7913-3741-6
US $ 35.00
GB £ 19.99

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