Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Hard Working Traditional Values With A Dash of Fun

Thursday, December 11, 2014

FDR's Waterboarding Connection


A debate over waterboarding has ramped up recently as the Democrats in the Senate have released a report criticizing the CIA for torturing captured terrorists. It seems that such actions are considered barbaric for the first decade of the 21st century. Such was not the case during the first decade of the 20th century when the scions of many of the nation's richest families found waterboarding to just be part of the New England boarding school experience.

Like many sons of millionaires from the eastern establishment, Franklin Roosevelt attended Groton School, a private Episcopal college prep boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts. One of Roosevelt's first major biographers, James MacGregor Burns wrote this about FDR's teen Groton School experience in his book, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (1882-1940):

"Franklin in short was a trifle unorthodox, and unorthodoxy at Groton could encounter harsh penalties at the hands of the older boys. One of these penalties was the 'bootbox' -- being shoved forcibly doubled up, into a small locker, and being left there. Another, also permitted by the faculty, was 'pumping' -- sixth formers would call out the name of an offender in study period, drag him quailing and shaking to a nearby lavatory, bending him face upward over a trough, and pour basins of water over his face and down his throat until he went through the sensations of drowning."

Franklin was never waterboarded. We don't have a record if he ever participated when he was  sixth former. The practices was common around the time period with writing from Robert McCormick, Teddy Roosevelt, Jr., and Dean Acheson also referring to the practice.

So in a hundred years we have 'progressed' from faculty condoned waterboarding of America's future leaders to the condemnation of waterboarding of the world's most dangerous terrorists.


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