Saturday, 23 April 2011

Immoral and repugnant

This post is not about the 2012 elections. It is not about whether Republicans are better or worse than Democrats. It is not about which candidates for whom I might cast votes at some point in the future. (Balloting here remains secret, for now.) It is not a nuanced weighing of the pluses and minuses of our current leadership. It is about how I, a citizen, perceive the president, Barack Obama, for whose election I actively worked.

I am over him.

I am gladdened by the impact of the enormous pressure put upon him to stop the torture of Bradley Manning, to which I contributed by sending back an Obama bumper sticker to the Democratic National Committee, enclosing a note about the Manning case. (The campaign apparently started with an article by Lynn Parrimore at NewDeal20.) More persuasive, perhaps, was the letter sent by 250 constitutional scholars to Obama questioning whether ‘the commander in chief meets the fundamental standards of decency’. And the serenade by infiltrators to his merry fund-raising affair with rich people this week undoubtedly iced the cake.

As a result Manning was transferred away from the systematic campaign at Quantico to psychologically annihilate him organized by his military captors. Obama defended that torture at the time and then this week added the unusual statement that Manning ‘broke the law’.

This is extraordinary since Manning has not yet appeared in a court of law. But Obama, like Bush before him, knows who is guilty and who is not without the need for judges or testimony. It must be great to have lots of power and know, like a Middle Eastern satrap, who should be punished and for how long.

This is consistent with our national attitude toward our own laws since the early days of Guantánamo when eager recruits from Kansas solemnly informed us that the detainees were ‘the worst of the worst’. No one bothered to ask them how they knew this. Apparently, the act of being accused by an official of the U.S. military now constitutes proof.

Post-9/11 Americans needed to see people rounded up arrested for attacking us. It was not important then—and it is not important now—whether the individuals detained were actually guilty of those crimes or any crimes. We will some day come to regret this bipartisan, consensual toss of our civil protections into the trash bin out of self-indulgent, emotional reactions to that assault. Enormous sacrifice and great quantities of human pain will be required to retrieve them from the dumpster.

Bush moved, Obama seconded, motion passed. Rude, unforgiving dissent is now required.

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