Palin to NRA: "Waterboarding is Baptism"

She's back. Religion Dispatches reports that Sarah Palin spoke recently at an NRA gathering. In the context of her expected radical right wing ravings, she surprised and pleased her audience with this bon mot:
...Palin assured her audience: “If I were in charge, [our enemies] would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” At that, the crowd erupted into applause.
Needless to say Palin has been roundly criticized for rhetorically misusing a respected religious rite. In America you just don't bandy religious terminology around, especially in the context of political demagoguery.

Here are some criticisms of Palin's major religio-cultural faux pas.

Hollis Phelps says,
Suffice it to say that the comparison manages to instantly offend both Muslims and Christians. Insofar as Palin’s speech in general trades in the right wing rhetoric that paints Muslims as other, as opposed to “our rights, our values, our tradition,” all Muslims tend to slide into the category of “terrorists.” Palin reduces the latter—which now includes all Muslims—to objects of a violent evangelistic effort: torture, here, is no longer only an interrogative tool, used to wrest information from its subject; it’s now considered salvific, as a means of redeeming “our enemies.”

The equation of torture and baptism manages to come off as offensive to Christians, as well. As a sacrament to many Christians, baptism signifies regeneration, the rebirth of the individual as “a new creature” in Christ.

So understood, baptism is a work of grace; it is, as Gregory of Nazianzus says, “God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift.” To equate it with torture is, in this sense, not only unthinking, but borders on the sacrilegious.
Phelps quotes Rob Dreher in The American Conservative, who says:
Palin and all those who cheered her sacrilegious jibe ought to be ashamed of themselves. For us Christians, baptism is the entry into new life. Palin invoked it to celebrate torture. Even if you don’t believe that waterboarding is torture, surely you agree that it should not be compared to baptism, and that such a comparison should be laughed at. What does it say about the character of a person that they could make that joking comparison, and that so many people would cheer for it. Nothing good — and nothing that does honor to the cause of Jesus Christ.”
Palin's right wing cynical lack of respect for the essential components of our religion and culture continually makes a mockery of conservative political views. She will say it was a joke. Then we conclude that Palin is a clown who is not funny who must be driven from the platform of our public discourse.

No comments: