Systematic brutalization of whole peoples, predicated on racism, inevitably provokes a violent response.
As the United States has slid (so easily, so casually) into fascism — right down to eliminating due process and collecting and storing virtually all citizen communications — American culture has embraced savagery and bloody revenge as “values.” Americans today cheer for war (as many did when George W. Bush took us to war in Iraq and, more recently, when President Obama helped bomb Libya into chaos). Americans today celebrate outright murder (Saddam Hussein’s, Muammar Qaddafi’s, and Osama bin Laden’s). And we defend, or at least tolerate, torture, PRETENDING that it yields good intelligence (something that liberals, Alan Dershowitz through Hollywood, have now joined conservatives in doing — with Tinseltown’s pernicious propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty, misleading Americans in theaters across the nation as I type these words).
How far have we sunk?
Over the last few days, an African-American ex-cop turned vigilante/cop-killer has become something of a folk hero to some misguided Americans who have clearly adopted these post-9/11 values — in part, because they see justice in this ex-police officer’s recent crimes, but also because they have embraced their own victimhood (often a necessary step in making the transition from abused to abuser). The media is in a state of high dudgeon, a veritable hypocrites’ parade, with the typical double-standard being applied when it comes to blacks, Muslims, and other targets of official discrimination (to illustrate the point: Christopher Dorner, the ex-cop “vigilante,” has been generally depicted as a monster by the MSM, whereas American Sniper author, Chris Kyle — the proud butcher of over 150 “damn savages” in Iraq — has been treated in media reports as a “hero” …turned martyr, thanks to the rash, bloody act of a fellow Iraq War veteran at a Texas gun range).
But this kind of senseless violence is simply a logical consequence — and, increasingly, a commonplace event — when a nation blithely chucks its traditional values and instead exalts pure, unadulterated savagery.
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Some shrewd observers of our politics have noted that had the United States prevailed in Iraq, few Americans would have had any problem whatsoever with that grotesque incident of mass-slaughter founded on witting lies. Having witnessed the rapid disintegration of American values in the post-9/11 period, I have no doubt at all that this sad observation is 100% correct.
[Incidentally, please set aside the conventional use of the word “values” in our modern political discussion, which I realize is usually coded bigotry -- an excuse to denigrate homosexuals, minorities, artists, and intellectuals. I’m talking about actual traditional American values: RESPECT FOR THE LAW; REVULSION AT THE VERY SUGGESTION OF TORTURE; CIVILITY; TOLERANCE; HUMAN DECENCY; and JUSTICE -- which is, in fact, distinct from REVENGE.]
Savagery, permanent war, and barbarism have been inculcated as “values” for some time in America, I realize — and largely through the efforts of supposedly liberal Hollywood: Death Wish, 24 (the torture-lobby’s favorite TV show), Zero Dark Thirty, etc. But we have arrived at a new and terrifying place, and it’s time we stop and take note of that reality.
Following the example set by their cowed and feckless elders, America’s youth (my outstanding-educator wife tells me) have adopted “savage” and “sick” in place of “awesome” and “cool.” That’s the new slang in classrooms today. (But, kiddos, I am not down with this particular sickness, however “legit” you might deem it. No, thank you. Not now. Not ever.)
What rogue ex-cop Christopher Dorner did is not remotely acceptable… but it was predictable (just as Major Nidal Hasan’s bloody actions at Fort Hood in 2009 were utterly predictable after years of enduring Muslim-bashing bigotry from his peers — and even more predictable when we take into account the way Hasan’s superiors were forcing him to deploy to a war he found profoundly morally objectionable… his objections, like his record of treating the psychological wounds of his fellow soldiers, were casually dismissed).
The sad truth is: what Mr. Dorner did comports perfectly with America’s post-9/11 values. Attacked by terrorists? Exploit that tragedy to invade an uninvolved, geopolitically-significant oil-rich country, quite possibly leaving over a million people dead. No worries — and, save for the American casualties, no qualms.
In short, no values.
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My friends, the only respite we have from this madness lies in a return to human decency and the rule of law. We might even try something truly radical and adopt the “Truth and Reconciliation” model that helped end Apartheid in South Africa without prolonging the extreme racial violence that had marked that conflict. Such is the kind of conduct that we need to emulate and model for our children — else discard all our high-sounding rhetoric and admit that we’re not substantially different from the enemies we habitually demonize.
In the wake of tragedy, the late, great (brilliant) American writer/filmmaker/political activist, Susan Sontag, warned (all-too presciently) that the official response to the September 11, 2001 attacks was to manipulate Americans in a way that would ultimately infantilize us as a people. At the time, I found her words chilling. Unfortunately, she was right. And it’s high time someone told the alleged “adults” in this country that TWO WRONGS DON’T MAKE A RIGHT and KILLING IS WRONG. Seem pretty basic? Well, it’s a lot easier to preach than practice… but VITAL that we make the effort to live by these values.
America, I beg you: NO MORE GODDAMN LYNCHINGS, NO MORE BLOODY REVENGE. END THIS MADNESS NOW.