All our high school and college students should be made to read Henri Charriere’s 1969 memoir, Papillon, about his life in the penal colony at Devil’s Island in French Guiana, and then view Franklin Schaffner’s 1973 film of the same name. This writer first saw the film when it came out, and most recently read the book. Interesting, or rather frightening, are the similarities between Charriere’s experiences and those of the (so called) ‘detainees’ at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo (AKA ‘Gitmo’) prisons. Torture or the use of techniques to ‘break a man’ had been outlawed decades ago by the Geneva conventions… to no avail. When the war criminal Cheney stated that our country was moving to the ‘dark side’, he meant just that.
Papillon, during his incarceration, was sentenced to solitary confinement on ST. Joseph’s Island, where for 24/7 he was forbidden to speak or be spoken to unless the warden decided to question him. Papillon was also lectured to upon arrival that they would ‘break him down’ during his stay there. Is not that what our wonderful Bush gang did to their prisoners… oh sorry ‘[i]detainees’ through sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual humiliations, chaining them like dogs, keeping them hooded or who knows what else was done to them? Did the American public generally care when news got out? Some of us did care, but for the majority of us… ‘Ain’t happening to me or my family so….’
We have politicians and media whores (sorry to you working girls out there to be associated with such trash) who gloss over the use of drones as killing machines in the Middle East. They ignore the fact that for every so called ‘high level target’ our missiles destroy so too are destroyed many innocent lives AND innocent villages etc. Who cares? It’s just a bunch of rag heads who are not as worthy as we Americans, right? Amazing how some so-called Christians go crazy about abortion, but don’t care that little babies and pregnant women in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are DEAD by our drones or overzealous military hardware! Just do what government officials do when our cops err and kill innocent civilians: FORK OVER SOME CASH!
When one reads Papillon or views the film, one should be ever mindful that what our government is doing to others in our name is actually worse than what the French did to their criminals… and these were actual criminals, tried and convicted in courts of law, unlike the majority of those we kept and still keep in our foreign prisons. Most of them have had no ‘day in court’ with proper legal representation. How sad this empire has become!
Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on World News Trust, Nation of Change Blog, Truthout.org, TheSleuthJournal.com, The Intrepid Report , The Peoples Voice, Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at PAF1222@bellsouth.net