Wednesday, June 4, 2014
What Have We Become?
I swear, I think I may have to back off politics for a while and take a mental health break. Over the last many years, I have been angry, frustrated, despairing, stunned, confused, discouraged....pick a word....by some of the beliefs and actions of my fellow citizens but I don't think I have ever been as disgusted as I am right now.
Google "images" for Bowe Bergdahl" prior to his release and you'll see photos by groups, many of them military (yes, military!) with captions like "Bring Bowe Home" and "Don't forget Bowe" and "No Soldier Left Behind" And it wasn't as if they weren't aware that there were questions about his leaving his post because that was known even then. Still, the prevailing attitude seemed to be that in America, we bring ALL our soldiers back with no limiting conditions. And it isn't just an attitude, it's the LAW and part of the military code that is as old as the U.S. itself.
So, when Bowe was released, I was expecting "Hurrahs!" but nope, the Conservatives changed on a dime, which it is what they always do when it involves President Obama. Their default position is - "Obama = BAD!" no matter the issue.
Suddenly, Bowe Bergdahl became a piece of garbage who deserved nothing better than being left to rot in a Taliban camp. But what about a trial, some of us asked, what about an investigation and an opportunity to tell his story and mount a defense? You know, all those things Americans are guaranteed in the constitution? Screw that! "We doan' need no steenkin' trial and defense!" The feeding frenzy that has gone on regarding this man makes you think, the conservatives would tear him limb by limb and feed on his flesh if they caught him. It makes me sick.
When some of us asked for patience - "let's get him home and wait for an investigation to see what should happen next, then if it is found he should be be brought up on charges, so be it." But, hell, that's no fun. Some of the hate might die down by then. We're ready to crucify him RIGHT NOW!
And the Taliban leaders we released in exchange? That was terrible and wrong too, of course. Never mind the hundreds that George Bush let go. Heck, they weren't really bad guys. We were just keeping them in Guantanamo for shits and giggles, they didn't really need to be there. Not like the men Obama released.
And never mind that the Obama Five weren't classified as terrorists in the accepted sense of the word. They weren't out to get Americans in general. They were fighting us because they wanted us out of their country, just as they had done with the Russians before us. And never mind, that as such, we would have to release them BY LAW when the war is over, which it soon will be.
All this is down to 911 when our whole American mindset changed from the land of the free and the home of the brave to the land of the surveilled and the home of the afraid. So fearful, in fact, that we've been willing to give up every principle America ever stood for. Torture? Hey, gotta' do it to keep us safe? Extreme rendition? Hey gotta' do it to keep us safe. Take my shampoo and my shoes at airports. I'm good with that....to stay safe. Monitor my phone calls and e-mails? Anything in the name of safety! We used to like to think we were the country everyone else looked at to be just and honest and fair (although we didn't always live up to that) but but we had to give that up to be safe...sigh. The Geneva Accords (which we helped write), that banned torture, habeas corpus, the right to face your accuser. Those were luxuries we couldn't afford anymore. We were all about Gitmo and Abu Ghraib and Jack Bauer. It was nice knowing you honorable America but you were naive.
Because you never know where a terrorist might be lurking although the odds of being killed by one for the average American is probably one in a kazillion. You're much more likely to be shot with your neighbor's or your husband's or a random shooter's gun. (But don't think about that because, you know, the Second Amendment.)
So, the object of our fear now are 1) poor Bowe Bergdahl, who may have suffered a nervous collapse. Instead of committing suicide as many do, he simply walked away. But we don't want to know his story. He should have to pay for his actions, and perhaps, if it comes to that, he should be sent to an American prison but the cost shouldn't be spending the rest of his life as a prisoner of the Taliban.
And 2), the Obama Five, who will mostly likely have an American intelligence drone targeting them for the rest of their lives because you are foolish, if you are under the illusion that we simply set these men free to do as they please.
Anyway, this whole situation has nauseated me for my country. Maybe I'll just go concentrated on precious puppies and clever cats and beautiful birds for a while.