On the excellent blog which Julie Christie kept during her hunger strike, she noted that one of the things she missed most was the sense of taste. She was absolutely right. Taking nothing but water for a week effectively deprives you of one of your five senses, like spending a week with your eyes closed. I find that I can watch pictures of food on the television and it doesn’t effect me, but the smells of food wafting in from the kitchen when the children are cooking almost drive me crazy. Smell is, course, closely attuned to taste, and the food seems so real I could almost touch it. I find myself dreaming about great steaming bowls of curry, not just because I like curry but because the flavours are so strong. Yes, I’m becoming a bit weird!
Of course these mild discomforts are nothing compared to the pains endured by Shaker and the others in Guantanamo. I keep thinking not of how difficult this is, but what it must be like to endure starvation and on top of that be tortured each and every day by unthinking, grinning thugs. I can only stand in awe of such courage. How can we not stand with such men? And as for the American guards, what about them? If they were ever brought to trial for their actions (which of course they won’t be) they would only have one justification: that they were only following orders. This is, of course, the Nuremburg defence. When Americans find themselves using the same justification as Nazi war criminals, it’s time for us all to get the message that the “war against terror” has gone way off course. Having had a lot of time to think about it recently, I believe that this is the true legacy of 9/11: after that day a sort of poison entered the American soul. Osama Bin Laden really did acheive his aim. He destroyed something fundamental in America. Their sense of justice.