Summary: Our rulers have become secure and confident enough to share the truth with us: we are sheep, they are our shepherds. Let’s respond with collective action: “Baaa, Baaa, Baaa.”
Update: Palin was right! Obama has instituted a “death panel.” She neglected to mention that Republicans and Democrats alike would cheer their creation. Welcome to our brave new America.
American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials. There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate. (From Reuters, 5 October 2011).
This frank admission, like the ones preceding it (about torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, and domestic surveillance), represent our leaders steady effort to acclimate the American people to their new state. Like Caesar Augustus building the Empire, they keep the forms of our Second Republic (based on the Constitution) while radically changing the actual political regime.
Despite our fantasies of rebellion while watching TV or standing in line (shoes in hand) at the airport, we embrace the security and passivity of the new system. As apathetic consumers, we rejoice at the absence of responsibility and relief from the burden of self-government. No more guilt over our governments deeds. No need to be ashamed at our failure to get involved in elections — or even vote. Why bother?
They promise to protect us from all the scary monsters out there, foreign and domestic. As gutless cowards, we appreciate that security (however fanciful). There are people in caves planning horrible attacks on America– in the deserts of Yemen, in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in the wastelands of Somalia. We see on NCIS and the TV news about sleeper cells everywhere in America, ready to destroy entire cities with five pound bombs on toy airplanes. Sheep are fearful animals, and we are sheep.
We chant “kill kill kill” when reading about our drones striking from the sky at those our government has marked for death (we know not why, and their constant lies provide no reason to listen to the reasons). We chant “go go go” when our special ops teams break into homes at night, kidnapping unarmed men and shooting women and old men. These things make us feel strong. Vicarious power.
Of course there are no prosperous sheep. Fat is the best we can hope for (and have already achieved).
Nor are there secure sheep. We have become accustomed to being treated with contempt by our shepherds and preyed upon by the wolves of our large banks and businesses. The next stage will be more painful (requiring ever-larger doses of coke, booze, and TV to mask the pain). Our security came not just from America’s power but its reputation — deeds of the past. The great victories of WWII and the equally great programs after WWII. Turning enemies into allies and building the great engines of peace and prosperity (NATO, the World Trade Organization, the UN and its agencies, the IMF and World Bank) — unlike anything seen before in history. Even those that opposed us were handicapped by our many good deeds.
Now our government relies on assassination by drones and special ops, declaring the world as our battlefield. We thump our chests loudly, but the rest of the world correctly sees this for what it is: acts of a fearful people, a lawless people, cowards. Everybody has seen Hollywood movies, and will easily recognize our actions as those of the villans. Like the opposition to Skynet, foes will arise faster than we can kill them.
Hard times lie ahead. Soon the statues of the Founders themselves will cry at what we’ve become, and what we’ve done to their dream.
4 thoughts on “Today is a red letter day in American history! Our leaders speak honestly to us about an important issue.”
May god(s), of your choice, bless you! Excellent post!
You hit the nail on the head when you write: “This frank admission, like the ones preceding it (about torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, and domestic surveillance), represent our leaders steady effort to acclimate the American people to their new state.”
Keep up the good work!
Imagine an America with the highest per capita income in the world. Whose citizens have guaranteed access to education — including graduate school — and lucrative careers. Whose women citizens enjoy rights unique among its peer nations. Whose ruler supports democracies abroad, a vibrant news media, and a strong defense.
This model state exists today — in Qatar! For details see “The Strange Power of Qatar“, Hugh Eakin, New York Review of Books, 27 October 2011. It’s worthwhile reading!
This reminds me of the bad joke that was going around, prior to the invasion or Iraq:
Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld are in a briefing room at The Pentagon, discussing how they plan to justify the attack on Iraq. Rumsfeld says, “So, our plan will involve some damage and potential casualties. Probably massive destruction of Iraqi infrastructure, a few thousand of our troops, a couple hundred thousand Iraqis and a blonde cheerleader. Any questions?” The room is completely silent for a while and finally Condoleeza Rice says, “A blonde cheerleader? Did I hear that correctly?” And Cheney turns to Rumsfeld, “See? I told you nobody’d ask about the couple hundred thousand Iraqis.”
Sheep need to be scared of the wolves, otherwise their deal with the shepherds doesn’t look quite so good. Actually, though, it’s a better deal than they’d have gotten otherwise. There are a lot more sheep on earth than there are deer, and sheep aren’t as fast or even as smart. The “trade off” the sheep made was – for now – pretty good.
I just wish the shepherds weren’t such a load of blithering idiots and venal liars.