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Speaking about Torture$
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Julie A. Carlson and Elisabeth Weber

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823242245

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823242245.001.0001

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Waterboarding: Political and Sacred Torture

Waterboarding: Political and Sacred Torture

(p.129) Chapter 9 Waterboarding: Political and Sacred Torture
Speaking about Torture

Stephen F. Eisenman

Fordham University Press

This chapter extends arguments that Eisenman has made elsewhere regarding the “Abu Ghraib effect,” which is the public’s desensitization to images of torture because of the long history of artistic representations of it. In particular, it explains the American public’s seeming acceptance of the use of waterboarding in the struggle against terrorism by both highlighting how visual representations of torture across the centuries depict torture victims as accepting, even participating in, their denigration and by suggesting that longstanding depictions of the “water cure” evoke images of religious sanctification that make waterboarding appear no more threatening than full immersion adult baptism. A concluding section considers practices of art that resist or otherwise seek to undo this desensitization to images of torture.

Keywords:   Abu Ghraib effect, Desensitization, Waterboarding, Pathos formule, Baptism, Michael Mukasey, HUMINT, Emotional love approach

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