In Palin’s America, Waterboarding Is Baptism

At this weekend’s NRA convention, Sarah Palin compared waterboarding to baptism and declared that the controversial practice would be the norm if she were in charge.

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If Sarah Palin “were in charge,” anyone who might have knowledge of terrorist plots could, and probably would, be waterboarded. The former Alaska Governor defended the enhanced interrogation technique also known as torture at the National Rifle Association’s annual conference in Indianapolis this weekend.

“They obviously have information on plots to carry out jihad,” she said to a cheering crowd of NRA members. “Oh, but you can’t offend them. You can’t make them feel uncomfortable, just even a smidgen. Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.”

It’s hard to know where to begin in response to a statement like this. Palin’s comments fly in the face of her former presidential running mate—and prisoner of war—John McCain’s opposition to waterboarding. As The Atlantic points out, the statement also raises the question of whether, “If the wrong Republican is elected, or if there is another major terrorist attack, will the United States once again force water into the lungs of captive humans (no ticking timebomb necessary) when they stand accused of terrorism?” American Conservative editor Rod Dreher called Palin’s comparison of waterboarding to baptism “sacrilegious.” Not to mention the notion that Palin is basically suggesting that under her rules, the United States would punish would-be terrorists motivated by an extremist version of their own religion essentially by violently converting them to Christianity.

Palin herself, however, hardly seems concerned about the implications of her words. An NBC News reporter asked Palin on Sunday whether, if given the chance to do the speech over, she’d say the same thing. You betcha she would.

“Would I make it again? Why wouldn’t I, yeah, absolutely,” she said. “Terrorists who want to annihilate Americans, innocent Americans, our children—whatever it takes to stop them. If I were in charge, I’d be stoppin’ em.”