Monday 10 January 2011

Thoughts on Arizona

In Arizona a Congresswoman comes close to death from a gunman while six other die and over a dozen are wounded. The politicians – being sane for once, as they realise it could have been any of them – condemn the culture of violence that helped foster this assassination attempt.

And yet, many of them have been indirectly responsible for it. Those on the right have benefited from the escalating hatred, the vitriol that’s been put into the air by politicians and for many years longer by political commentators such as Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Hypocritical, yes, but it has to be hoped that it’s not too late to pull back from this brink. The commentators, notably, don’t feel any sense of responsibility for what’s happened. That, however, is no surprise.

But America is a country that seems incapable of doing anything by halves. Rather than quietly accepting the embarrassment of Wikileaks (and virtually all of these cable leaks have been nothing more than that), they empanel a secret Grand Jury and subpoena all manner of documents, as if revenge on a few individuals will satisfy an appetite, an hunger to strike back. Of course, if the country had been ethical in the first place, none of this would even be necessary. They’ve made Bradley Manning, the young, gay soldier suspected of leaking information (note that he’s just suspected, and that on the word of a reportedly unreliable source) into a scapegoat, violating his rights in the same way those at Guantanamo have been treated. For those of us who hoped for a new chapter with Obama taking office, it’s a case of plus ça change…

The ripples of what happen in America spill out into the rest of the world. Any country that has the hubris to consider itself the world’s policeman, and that feels bringing democracy, even if it’s not wanted or appropriate, is akin to a holy duty, is on very tricky moral ground. The divisions between left (such as any left remains anywhere) and right will deepen all over the globe. American can regain a little of the high ground by bringing back civility. Will it happen? Sadly not, as too many of its citizens are too stupid to want that (and that herd mentality isn’t just American, it’s duplicated in every nation). They prefer the swagger and strut of argument, and now that concealed weapons can be carried in so many states, the toll of blood, public and private, is just likely to grow.

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