September 30, 2006

The death of America

Wouldn't you know it. I'm away just a few days to work on some terrific political ads for Massachusetts, and the very core ideals of "America" die in the House and Senate.

What have we become?

I don't quite have the words yet to describe my reaction to passage of the Military Commissions Act on Thursday. I know that maybe for the first time in recent memory, I'm actually afraid. Oh sure, I've been disgruntled, apprehensive, pissed-off, concerned, and alarmed during the reign of George the Younger, but this is different.

I'm more afraid now of what's been done to the fundamental principles that used to define "America" than I was of the stolen elections and trumped-up war and corporate cronyism and diplomatic incompetence that came before. More afraid than I was of the national debt, or illegal immigration, or John "Let the Eagle Soar" Ashcroft.

More afraid than I was the morning of 9/11.

Using the irrational excuse that we face a greater enemy now than we did during World War II, or the Korean War, or the protracted Cold War with a nuclear-armed Soviet Union, our elected officials blithely decided to abandon those very things that have set America apart from the villainous regimes of history. They tossed aside the fundamental tenets of this nation that have allowed us to claim moral superiority to our enemies.

They made us them.

George Bush once sneered at the world, "You're either with us, or against us" - and it's certain that al Qaeda is with us now. With us in excusing the brutalization of captives. With us in self-servingly interpreting the Geneva Conventions. With us in denying prisoners the right to confront any "evidence" against them as part of a just and fair legal process.

With us in claiming that our single-minded ends justify any and all means.

For we have become al Qaeda. We have become the Stalinist state. We have become Chile under Pinochet, Argentina during the "Dirty War." We have become the antithesis of what "American democracy" used to represent to the world.

Even in tougher, more genuinely dangerous circumstances throughout our history, we've always been better than that.

So until I find a more cogent way to express my sense of utter bewilderment, take time to read these thoughts from around the web. And be sure to absorb the typically stirring opposition of Russ Feingold to this egregious assault on our most precious fundamentals.

And lower your flags to half-mast, kids, to mourn the death of "America" at the hands of the very people entrusted with her protection. Shame on the White House for its sadistic and unpatriotic insanity. Shame on the GOP for its mewling, lock-step compliance. Shame on the spineless Democrats who failed to stand up for democracy - doubly so on those reprehensible turncoats who actually voted for the bill.

Shame on all of us for what we've allowed to happen to our ideals in the name of "protecting our freedoms." Now, there's really something to fear.

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