Saturday, December 27, 2008

Ugly Americans Revisited

As the American people, sitting in the ruins of what used to be a great nation, impatiently await the departure of the vile little fraud in the White House back into the oblivion of Texas and into his deserved reputation as the worst president in the history of the republic, some (few) of us are considering what sort of charges these departing criminals should be accused of so they can be brought to justice and be punished. Without even considering foreign policy, the raft of Constitution-violation crimes is extensive: wire-tapping, domestic surveillance, rendition, unilateral suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and more. There's a body of opinion that regards the invasion of Iraq as a war crime. It's certainly comparable to the war crime of aggression we convicted the Nazis of at the Nurenberg trials.

Even without what I consider the most heinous of the Bush administration's crimes, there is more than enough to convict the man and send him away. Of course, there's hardly any likelihood of that happening. Nor, I'm sorry to say, do I think it possible that any of the people connected with the authorization of torture will ever be punished. Indeed, as Glenn Greenwald pointed out a couple of days ago, there's no lack of apologists for this crime. Although Greenwald is more fulsome, here's the gist of it: well, yes, it was torture, but we must understand the circumstances under which it was employed--that terrible 9/11 thing-- and the unsullied motivations of those who authorized it; it's a complicated question, this torture thing. This is not a minor position. No less than the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times propounds this argument, and says, in effect, that since our high-ranking criminals had pure motives, they should not be prosecuted for what they did.

I'm sorry, but this is veriest horseshit. Greenwald says the same thing, only far more eloquently. He also discusses one of the most reprehensible facets of the American character: our tendency, despite all evidence to the contrary, to consider ourselves morally, ethically, and intellectually superior to the rest of the globe. As our nation has descended steadily into the nasty, steaming pits of hell well explored by any number of nations before us, our homegrown apologists have become ever more irrational in defending the US for all the things we criticize other countries for. And we have steadily redefined what is moral and ethical and intellectually respectable until the terms are unrecognizable. No wonder so many people across the world despise us. Our hypocrisy reeks in everybody's nostrils but our own.
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