Waterboarding 1901

The picture is from the British seventies comic 2000AD, and depicts Tomas de Torquemada, future leader of the human race. 2000AD was a highly innovative British comic much affected by punk, which you can read about here.

I'm tired and a bit ill at the minute, so took to a hot bath after a long day with Edmund Morris' Theodore Rex, all about the first President Roosevelt. It's odd the things that jump out. Here's testimony described as a 'confession', but noted as publicity on page 101, from 'The Anti Imperialist League'. It seems to have been given during the Congressional investigation of America's occupation of the Philippines. The book was written in 2001.

"Witness after witness testified to widespread use by American soldiers of this traditional torture, developed by Spanish priests as a means of instilling reverence for the Holy Ghost; (the Spanish Inquisition seems to have thought that they were rebaptising heretics).
A man is thrown down on his back and three or four men sit on his arms and legs and hold him down and either a gun barrel or a rifle barrel or a carbine barrel or a stick as big as a belaying pin...is simply thrust in his jaws...and then water is poured onto his face, down his throat and nose...until the man shows some sign of giving in or becomes unconscious...His suffering must be that of a man who is drowning, but who cannot drown.
Other reports spoke of natives being...strung up by their thumbs, and tattooed facially for identification."

President Roosevelt subsequently issued a public statement of revulsion and ordered a court martial. These things happen, especially in Empires, which emerge right from the darkness inside us. Was anyone ever happy whilst one strode and chimped and murdered its way across the local world?

There was me thinking that water boarding was a French Indochina/Algeria thing that made its way through some manual or encrusted soul via Northern Ireland to the Americans--and the past blames a sort of Spanish bastardised Erastian excess all along. It's almost ironic.

I met one of America's special Nicaraguan forces once, and at a party in a religious house in Washington met a Cuban exile of a certain genus. Both terrified me, and I suppose both were dementedly terrified of their end, because these people are often religious. It's what allows them to cling to the idea that what they were doing was right, and for their country. People want to do right by that historical construction--for all the talk about the sixties, for instance, one of its best selling songs was The Ballad of The Green Berets. It's singer, I seem to recall, became obsessed with the soldier who speared Christ on the cross, and moved to central America to write books about him in between stints as a mercernary. He met his end when someone shot him in the head in a taxi in Guatemala.

God forgive us as a species. Just to cheer you up even more (and for my friends in Maryland who served), here is Billy Joel's Goodnight Saigon.

Chin up, it's Tuesday.


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