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On Torture and Testicles

February 10, 2009

jumper cables

I recently received the following email forward:

One thing about TEXANS is that their hearts are always in the right place!

T. B. Bechtel, a part-time City Councilman from Midland , TX , was asked on a local live radio talk show, just what he thought of the allegations of torture of the Iraqi prisoners. His reply prompted his ejection from the studio, but to thunderous applause from the audience.


“If hooking up an Iraqi prisoner’s nuts to a car’s battery cables will save just one Texas GI’s life, then I have just three things to say:  Red is positive, Black is negative, and make sure his nuts are wet.”

I don’t know if this is a true story, but it very well could be.

I imagine we could line up a young Iraqi-American from Texas alongside a young Iraqi, and Bechtel probably couldn’t tell the difference between the two. He probably would have little in common (if anything) with either one. Let’s say he’s a stranger to both.

There would seem to be no reason for him to prefer one over the other.

But, alas, he does show a preference—it is okay to torture one, but not the other.

It is okay to electrocute the testicles of the one identified as an “Iraqi.” Both look the same to him, both are strangers, but he identifies with one of the two simply because of the distribution of the labels “American” and “Iraqi.” Identity performs powerful work.

I hope I’m always identified as an insider by the people with car batteries, jumper cables, and an inclination to ignore the fact that torture is unreliable.

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