Sweet Neo-Con

Lately, a fair number of people I know have been expressing considerable lament about a number of U.S. policies.  They speak in favor of the C.I.A.’s recently revealed enhanced interrogation tactics (which many believe are nothing more than torture), or strongly oppose lifting the decades long travel ban and embargo of Cuba, or support increasing the national debt and government spending through the “Crommibus”, or laud the expansion of a police state; although mostly self-identified Republicans, they seem to advocate policies that expand the power and authority of the federal government.  For them, the Cold War never ended but merely changed form and so they take an “any methods necessary” approach to continually wage war against foes despite the fact that these people do not have anything approaching the capability the Soviets had to pose even a remotely legitimate threat to the United States.  This fight over foreign policy, civil liberties, and shrinking the size of government continues to divide the Republican Party.

What I find most troubling about the whole affair is that so many of these big-government people seem to wear their Christian religion on their sleeves but then advocate policies that belie their own faith and the underpinnings of our constitutionally limited republic.  As such, as I read comment after comment on Facebook, I’m reminded of the song “Sweet Neo-Con”.

For those who haven’t heard of this particular piece, it was written and performed by The Rolling Stones in 2005, during the zenith of the Bush presidency.  Although primarily serving to oppose the conflict in Iraq and neo-conservative foreign policy, many of the words and thoughts expressed within are still relevant today.

I encourage you to listen to the words of Sweet Neo-Con, especially if you’ve never heard it before though please be advised that it contains some mildly profane lyrics.

Palin’s “Baptism”

Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia
Image from Gage Skidmore on Wikipedia

This weekend, 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate spoke at a gathering of the National Rifle Association.  During her talk she stated, “If I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”  That line was met with considerable applause from the crowd.

Although I have a lot of areas of disagreement with Sarah Palin’s former running mate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, one position that I did appreciate was his steadfast opposition to torture.  Having served in Vietnam, we have been told that he experienced horrible treatment at the hands of his captors and thus knows firsthand of these loathsome practices.  As such, McCain believes that America should not embrace the inhuman tactics of torture.  Regrettably, it seems that Sarah Palin thinks otherwise.

Palin’s viewpoint seems to harken back to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who famously declared that anyone suspected of being a terrorist, whether proven or not, should not be afforded due process or legal protection under either the U.S. Constitution or international law.

Also, Sarah Palin doesn’t seem to understand that although torture can sometimes provide useful information, it can also be wildly unreliable as “people will say anything when subjected to intense pain“.

Not only are Palin’s comments on Saturday disturbing from the perspective of constitutional liberty and human rights, they also indicate a troubling theology.

Does she believe that we ought to forcibly baptize non-Christians?  Are her thoughts a nod to the idea of conversion by the sword, the same practice that many on the right condemn some Muslims for enacting on their non-Muslim neighbors?

And shouldn’t most Christians be offended by the idea of comparing baptism, which many of us believe holds deep theological significance, to the loathsome torture of waterboarding?  Do we honestly believe that baptism ought to be held up in the same light of simulated drowning?

Therefore, as they are an affront to both civil liberties and to Christianity, Sarah Palin’s comments regarding baptism by waterboarding must be completely and utterly repudiated.