It’s something that I, as well as others, have been pondering all week. Will the death of Osama bin Laden ingratiate outright killing of untried criminals by the state into our cultures as “justice?” Have we finally become a reflection of big budget action flicks the movie companies push on the public now?
While the death warrant by President Obama for the targeted killing of Anwar al-Awlaki was generally accepted without question by the American public, there were still a large number of voices saying “this is wrong.”
Now, the killing of a man who’s been largely accepted as being unarmed was gunned down is celebrated by the public and voices saying “why didn’t we capture him?” or “was it worth the deaths of 100,000-plus civilians?” are condemned and shouted down.
Because of this, no longer can I say that we’re a nation that’s showing progress. At this point, it looks like things are likely to start going backwards to me.
Our culture cheers the beating and torture of suspects on TV shows like 24 and NCIS. Cops who shoot first and ask questions later are heroes, while at the same time our prisons are overflowing with criminals, many of them nonviolent.
Hell, our movies have essentially become propaganda films, with many of them being little distinguishable from military recruiting commercials.
At the same time, we’re outraged over sex and nudity on TV. Like the Puritans, we seem to believe the nude human body is something that’s corrupting and needs to be hidden, while at the same time we have no problem with violence. And say, the violence we might have a problem with … say, photos of Pakistani children killed by an American drone or civilians gunned down by American mercenaries, are hidden from the public view.
We’re a society that doesn’t value truth. We have hundreds of TV channels to distract us from it or “news” stations on cable or the radio to tell us the news in a way that suits what we already believe.
Americans don’t even have regard for their own land. We bulldoze miles of forest in the name of “development” even when there’s little chance of attracting buyers. We claim wolves are overpopulated so they can be shot and Americans don’t have to cut down on their hamburger intake. We don’t even address our own population, even as our suburbs are pushing into the homes of bears and mountain lions, who we then demand killed when they cross paths with us.
And, of course, we all know how Americans are on climate change.
Call me a pessimist, but I just don’t see a trend that things are going to get better. We have two rightwing establishment parties that put the needs of “business” (aka corporations) above the need of the people and both seem to treated the poorest of our society as problems to push out of sight, into the inner cities or into the most rural parts of the country.
While the poor are treated as something that should disappear, our leaders seem determined to create more of them by making sure more wealth floods to the top, in hopes that a little might trickle down and keep the mass satisfied, sort of like an IV drip on a growing boy. And the poor, as well as the disappearing middle class, seem to be just fine with this, even claiming that the real issue is that the rich are not keeping enough of their wealth.
It makes me wonder, where are we going to be 10 years from now? Are we going to join Mexico and the rest of Central America and be in a country where the wealth is locked up among the lucky few who live in protected compounds and the rest of us are forced to bear the brunt of poverty and crime? I can’t help but think so.
I think bin Laden’s death might have tipped us over the edge into regression as we reached the peak of American progress