Monday, March 3, 2008

American Government's Betrayal

The George W. Bush Administration's dismal record on human rights, often as enabled by Congress, has caused inestimable damage to America's prestige around the world these last seven-plus years. And given the needless squandering of America's previously-held hard-won reputation for fairness, due process, and human rights, one can't help but feel infuriated by the massive betrayal of those principles by the American government. What would have seemed impossible just seven years ago - waterboarding, rendition, secret CIA torture camps, indefinite imprisonment without adequate process, warrantless spying on citizens, etc. etc. - is now reality.

As The Sun Editor and Publisher Sy Safransky comments in a 2008 reflection on the nature of the American government’s betrayal, “I wonder: Do I feel betrayed? Not like a groom whose bride backs out of the wedding at the last minute. Not that kind of betrayed. Maybe more like a groom whose bride shows up an hour late because she was entertaining the CEO of Halliburton in her motel room. The room with the waterbed. That kind of betrayed.”

Note the distinction. The first leads to feelings of betrayal, sure - but as the groom, one can rationalize that the bride is acting on principle in making the excruciatingly difficult decision in electing not to go through with the marriage if she is not ready, and if so maybe it's for the best after all. The second, on the other hand, with its callous, cynical disregard and outright mocking of a solemn trust - on a day of high hope and promise, no less – is of a different, more insidious sort altogether. It's just slimy - and that's about how things have gone these last seven years both abroad and at home.