CX – Moral Cowards In Hiding

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Whenever
you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself,
ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at
you, and act accordingly.

~ Thomas
Jefferson 

Many Americans
are acting like members of a lynch mob who later become aware
of their viciousness and attempt to disguise their involvement. 
When President Bush finally got his long-planned Middle East
war games going, most Americans hid their erstwhile sense of
decency and responsibility behind the statist flag.  Once
the war mania was underway, eighty percent of my neighbors had
flags flying from their homes.  One household even took
to holding occasional revival-like meetings in their front yard,
with patriotic songs helping to reinforce the statist mindset.

Just as
the lynch mob later discovered, to its embarrassment, that the
hired hand they had hanged had not murdered his employer,
the whooping-and-hollering chorus of flag-wavers slowly became
aware that there were neither WMDs nor an Al-Qaeda connection
in Iraq.  Mr. Bush and his neo-anderthal co-conspirators
had fed the world a steady diet of lies.  The flags began
to disappear from homes and cars. Now only ten to fifteen percent
of my neighbors continue to fly the statist symbol.

Increasing
numbers of Americans now realize that they had allowed themselves
to be gulled.  But so deep was their psychic investment
in Mr. Bush's necktie party, that most were unwilling to cut
their losses, admit to egregious moral error on their part,
and demand an end to the continuation of the deadly fraud. Because
the flag had become an expression of war-mania, these people
no longer felt comfortable hiding behind it. What evolved from
this foggy state of moral confusion were the bumper-stickers
with the words u201Cpeace is patrioticu201D superimposed over a picture
of the flag.  One could thus appear to be both a patriot
— even as the government continued its butchery — and an advocate
of peace!

But the
lies, deceptions, and forgeries soon escalated into clear evidence
of torture practiced upon Iraqis by brutish American thugs emulating
the same kind of behavior that made Hussein's regime tyrannical. 
Even the major media outlets — who had eagerly served as megaphones
for statist propaganda — became aware that what little credibility
they had in reserve would quickly be spent by continuing to
ignore what the rest of the world — including those of us who
rely more on the Internet for information — knew to be true. 
American military and foreign policy was being conducted by
those whose principles and values were contrary to the character
and sense of decency by which most people like to think of themselves.

What a
dilemma this poses for those who have supported the war. 
Through years of conditioning, they have learned to identify
themselves with u201Ctheiru201D government, and are thus unprepared
to see that the state's principal function has always been the
conduct of wars.  On the other hand, they regard themselves
as too decent to sanction a war that was carefully put together
by an administration of pathological liars.  If one is
not psychologically prepared to admit to his or her moral malleability,
where does one go to hide from that harshest of critics: one's
inner sense of self?

Once again,
the bumper-sticker industry came to the rescue of weak-souled
Americans.  Out came what has become the generic, noncommittal
attitude about the war: u201Csupport the troops.u201D Here is a phrase
which, like the word u201Cdemocracy,u201D means absolutely nothing
and, for that very reason, means everything to those whose souls
are in hiding.  To the war-supporter, it means u201Csupport
the troops by continuing to support the war and stop being critical
of the president.u201D  To opponents of the war, it means u201Csupport
the troops by ending the war and bringing them home.u201D 

If you
saw one of these looped-ribbon messages on the back of a car,
would you be able to interpret its meaning to the driver? 
I met a woman in New Hampshire last week who had a bumper-sticker
that read: u201Cbring our troops home now.u201D  There was no guesswork
as to her intentions; she wasn't hiding behind some empty clich. 

Even President
Bush — who began his post-9/11 duties hiding out in a bunker
outside Omaha — continues to reveal himself only within environs
in which he will be safe from public criticism.  Having
discovered the bipartisan docility of Congress, he has no fear
of speaking before this body.  His other public speeches
are at settings supportive of his views: military bases, the
White House rose garden, right-wing Christian groups and colleges,
contrived so-called u201Ctown hallu201D meetings, military academies,
or business associations.  When he is required to go out
into the hostile world peopled by ordinary Americans — such
as at the Republican National Convention — his critics are forcibly
penned up in barb-wired u201Cfree speechu201D zones far from the convention
site.   

If this
man has so much confidence in his programs and policies, why
is he too cowardly to defend them before a genuine American
public?  Why does he not schedule addresses at the University
of California–Berkeley or Columbia University, either of which
could be sandwiched in between appearances at Bob Jones University
or the Air Force Academy?

President
Bush knows better than to try to defend his policies before
audiences that he is unable to control.  He will continue
to insist upon hiding out in safe neighborhoods, as in his recent
speech at Ft. Bragg.  But the Bush leaguers may have made
a fatal calculation error in selecting this seemingly secure
stage.  His in-house audience — the young men and women
who will be sent off to risk death or serious injury in furtherance
of his wicked policies — was clearly unmoved by his words. 
Even the one instance of audience applause was reportedly cheer-led
by White House flacks. Dubya may have over-reached himself and,
like children playing u201Chide-and-seek,u201D may have to search out
new hiding places in a world of rapidly-shrinking alternatives.

I read
one response to Bush's speech from a man whose words echoed
reactions I have heard from others. While acknowledging that
over 1,700 American military people had thus far been killed,
along with many thousands of Iraqi civilians, the man said that
such costs are u201Cworth it.u201D  This man apparently took his
cues from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who,
in defense of her administration's boycotts that led to the
deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children, said u201Cthe price is worth it.u201D

George
W. Bush babbles this kind of ruthless logic as well. The military
speaks of its personnel as u201Cassets,u201D little more than fungible
u201Cresourcesu201D to be moved around at the will of the state's master
butchers. President Bush is comfortable being the calculator
of the worth of the lives of people. A man who was sufficiently
well-connected to be able to hide out in Alabama while other
men died in Vietnam, now hides out in his personal fortresses
from which he is free to direct the killings of others. 

Unlike
the soldiers at Ft. Bragg, neither President Bush, Ms. Albright,
nor other armchair war-supporters, will be the ones who will
pay the u201Cpriceu201D of such vicious behavior.  These are the
people who remain at home, safe from the death and dismemberment
of battle, able to cheer on the sacrifices of others, and to
continue the spread of their own moral leprosy. They will not
stand by your children — as you would as a loving parent
— but behind them, out of the line of fire, both for
their own safety and as a convenient hiding place. But of one
thing you can be assured: like their fellow Americans, they
will be content to hide their moral and intellectual bankruptcy
behind such phrases as u201Csupport the troops.u201D

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