http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/12/07/prisoner.abuse.ap/index.html) were on the methods used by the U.S. military to silence dissenters of its torture methods.
I could have picked any number of juxtapositions of stories to write about, but these will do nicely. The parallel between Hitler’s use of moral and religious authority to provide propaganda cover for his criminal campaign is eerily similar to what is going on in the U.S. today. The ready use of criminal abuse of prisoners is also eerily similar.
But what is most useful about these stories is what they say about the slippery path a country can slide down when it abandons its standards. Standards of morality, ethics, civility, decency, respect, mutuality, reciprocity, entertainment, law enforcement, justice, government, journalism, business, education, religion, and etc., etc., etc., are all out the window.
The Catholic Church colluded with Hitler, and now they collude with Bush. I especially got a laugh out of the Bishops giving the Sieg Heil salute on the Nazi photos site (http://www.nobeliefs.com/nazis.htm). They are nothing if not consistent. Little boys, Hitler, and Bush. I grew up in the Catholic Church, and even graduated from a Catholic college, so I know of whence I speak. Much good is done by individuals and groups within the auspices of the Catholic Church, but the basis, the reason for being, of the Church, is authority. The hierarchy of Catholicism would like to go back to the good old days of the “Holy Roman Empire,” but will always settle for authority over its members - to the threat of eternal damnation, and whatever scraps of authority or influence it can muster over the rest of the world.
The threat to withhold Holy Communion from John Kerry was but the most blatant example of this addiction to authority. This wasn’t so much a message to Kerry as a message to all Catholics: that access to the Divine can be given and access can be taken away. It’s all hokum, of course, but that doesn’t slow them down a bit. If nothing else, the Church hierarchy needs to create a diversion from its P.R. troubles with the ongoing child molestation scandal.
This is just one example of the times in which we live. We can look anywhere and find holograms of the general malaise. I watched David Letterman for a while last week, and he joked about a new think tank for Democratic losers, and things they could do to lose again. One of the proposals was about nominating someone whose wife is a “nut-job ketchup lady.” Who in this entire planet is David Letterman to be calling anyone a “nut-job?” He makes his living trashing people. His counterpart on NBC is just as bad, and both of them have a nightly slam on Martha Stewart. We have a sociopath for president, a criminal organization running the Federal Government, the movie actor son of a Nazi governing one of our largest states, the environment is being destroyed, the economy is tanking, and the biggest threat to society these supposed funnymen can come up with is Martha Stewart. Steve Allen and Ernie Kovacs must be turning over in their graves.
The ongoing prisoner abuse/torture/murder scandals put this problem in sharper focus. We were never threatened by Iraq, or, for that matter, Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein was our boy, helped all along the way in his political career by the CIA and U.S. policy. It was criminal to support him from day one, but our government supported him up to Gulf War I, and corporations like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton supported him until the start of the current war on Iraq. The first Gulf War was not needed any more than this one was, but was a large scale Mafia-style doublecross. Saddam Hussein was no longer useful to the criminal interests of U.S. policymakers. These policymakers in the first Bush administration cared not about the safety and security of the people of the United States, or of anyone anywhere else, except themselves. They cared about their own power, influence, and wealth, and the same is true today.
When standards at the top are discarded, it should be no surprise that standards all the way down the line are also discarded. In the case of the military, whether it is the “Shock and awe” bombing, the intentional killing of civilians, the destruction of water, sewage, electrical power, and telephone communications, the spreading of depleted uranium (http://www.sfbayview.com/081804/Depleteduranium081804.shtml) throughout the country, or the abuse, torture, and murder of prisoners, the common theme is lack of standards. It is at least a matter of some encouragement that some soldiers are resisting this evil, and that some honorable journalism is taking place (Consortium News, Robert Fisk, Greg Palast, Alternative Press Review, News Alternative, Global Free Press, Online Journal, Salon, and many others).
I don’t end these analyses with hand-wringing, whining, sky is falling, woe is us lamentations. There is cause for optimism. Optimism with eyes wide open, though. Criminals do not get away with their crimes. It all balances out in the end. We are living witness to the playing out of the greatest criminal operation in history. The degeneration of an entire culture is taking place in front of our very eyes, on television, radio, the Internet, in newspapers, DVD, VHS, video games, and in media delivery systems that are only just beginning. We will, if we stick around long enough, see the dénouement of this degeneration, and of the criminal operation that both fosters it and feeds on it. This is a symbiotic relationship, and one way we will be able to tell when the dénouement has been reached is when David Letterman and Jay Leno are no longer seen as worthwhile entertainment. Of course, by that time other concerns will make the dénouement more obvious.