LAND OF THE FREE AND SOMETIMES FREAKY
I am addicted to the Sunday morning talk shows.
I watch as many as I can, except the CBS ones — never got into CBS shows.
Depending on the guests, they usually provide the most balanced, well-argued points of view on the week’s political happenings. (OK, Bill Safire’s ridiculous “it has been a bad couple of months for the Republicans because of the prison scandal and the death toll” viewpoint notwithstanding. FYI: Mr. Safire I think it was a bad month for the tortured prisoners, court martialed guardsmen, surviving family members and injured soldiers…)
Last week, the guests on “This Week” were journalists who cover the Middle East commenting on Abu Ghraib and why Bush’s apology was insufficient. I expected the obvious “well because he didn’t apologize for doing anything, but for what happened” argument. Instead, the one female journalist said it was because the President and his surrogates basically said “a terrible thing happened, but that’s not America. What does that mean to us?”
And she’s right.
I mean raise your hands if you feel better about the attacks on the WTC because that’s not what Saudia Arabians typically do.
Should I wait?
Look, fact is Lynndie England is American — (thumbs up, cigarette hanging out of her mouth — c’mon), her lover-boy supervisor, with his goofball mustache and horn-rimmed glasses? So very American.
Our nation’s history is chock full of Abu Ghraibs and worse. Amadou Diallo, Rodney King, Matthew Shepard, Columbine, Oklahoma City, Selma, Salem Witch Trials… anything involving Andrew Jackson.
Rage, violence, anger, venegance, deceit — they’re all as American as pissed off settlers, dressed as Native Americans, dumping tea into the harbor because the taxes were too high.
Quick, name the only country ever to use nuclear weapons in a war.
Should I wait?
But at the same time the current outcry is equally American.
The shock, 24/7 media coverage, shame, legal proceedings, apologies — been there, reparationed that.
Whose idea was it to “isolate” Japanese Americans again? That guy is in so much trouble, right now.
Last week, Federal officials reopened a 50-year-old race-driven murder of Emmett Till.
A candidate for President of the U.S. is asking for billions of dollars to be paid to the families of innocent civilians killed during Operation Iraqi freedom.
America, Americans, are not all one thing or the other.
Andrew Carnegie was evidently a vicious killer and a thief, but his charity gave rise to the finest public library system in the world and some of the most incredible cultural art centers.
Nixon was a racist paranoid, but his policies began affirmative action in the country.
TV has given us Buffy and Xena, but also Home Improvment and the Littlest Groom.
In high school, one of my favorite teachers showed us the movie “The Mouse that Roared” about a small European country that starts a war with the United States because it knows that if it’s defeated the U.S. will rebuild it and ensure that it thrives. (Hijinks ensue when caught by the surprise attack the U.S. decides to surrender…)
But I’ve always thought that summed things up pretty well: we can fight, destroy, kill, maim; but we can also create, rebuild, nurture, repay.
It may not fit the whole “moral clarity” mold, but it’s the American way.