Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Twins & Torture

Even with the great joy of twin granddaughters bouying my spirits, this whole torture "debate" has really got me down. & pissed. Down & pissed is not the way it ought to be, what with the granddaughter's dark eyes & cute noses & pursed lips & little open hands that seem to say "no, no, wrap me back up, remember, I'm way early." The last thing that I thought would be a result of the 1960s is that America would allow the stealing of two presidential elections by a man who thinks, if you can call it that, that he is on some holy crusade. In today's WaPo, Ariel Dorfman has a good piece in which he begins with a torture victim from Chile:
It still haunts me, the first time -- it was in Chile, in October of 1973 -- that I met someone who had been tortured. To save my life, I had sought refuge in the Argentine Embassy some weeks after the coup that had toppled the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, a government for which I had worked. And then, suddenly, one afternoon, there he was. A large-boned man, gaunt and yet strangely flabby, with eyes like a child, eyes that could not stop blinking and a body that could not stop shivering.

That is what stays with me -- that he was cold under the balmy afternoon sun of Santiago de Chile, trembling as though he would never be warm again, as though the electric current was still coursing through him. Still possessed, somehow still inhabited by his captors, still imprisoned in that cell in the National Stadium, his hands disobeying the orders from his brain to quell the shuddering, his body unable to forget what had been done to it just as, nearly 33 years later, I, too, cannot banish that devastated life from my memory.

It was his image, in fact, that swirled up from the past as I pondered the current political debate in the United States about the practicality of torture. Something in me must have needed to resurrect that victim, force my fellow citizens here to spend a few minutes with the eternal iciness that had settled into that man's heart and flesh, and demand that they take a good hard look at him before anyone dare maintain that, to save lives, it might be necessary to inflict unbearable pain on a fellow human being. Perhaps the optimist in me hoped that this damaged Argentine man could, all these decades later, help shatter the perverse innocence of contemporary Americans, just as he had burst the bubble of ignorance protecting the young Chilean I used to be, someone who back then had encountered torture mainly through books and movies and newspaper reports.

Bu$hCo's legacy - a man who can never again be warm, like The Twins, bundled in soft felt blankets, Lucy with a cap on, Marigny, the heat machine, bare headed. A man who will never be calmed in the arms of anyone.

Also in today's WaPo, Edwidge Danticat has a piece on Haitian torture. I commend the Washington Post for putting these two piece in the paper. I wish Senators McCain, Warner, & Graham would read them. Danticat mentions Carolyn Forche's poem The Colonel. I read the poem 25 years ago. & as I've said many times, this is not the country I envisioned 40 years ago. I thought I'd be living in a country that was honorable, that would not even be discussing torture as a means to an end, that would not be condemning a generation to worldwide hatred & humiliation, that didn't care about its own people. I, & many others, are handing The Twins a hell of a problem. Anyway, here's the poem:
What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daugher filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken
bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps
from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were
gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine,
a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes,
salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then
of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The
colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me
with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves.
There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our
faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around,
he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He
swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of his wine in the air.
Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

This is Bu$hCo's legacy, severed ears on the floor. I hope the bastard is happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine poste this earlier today.

The culture of terror, er torture, is nothing new to our conservatives.