November 09, 2012

My Rage Is a Life Force, You Miserable Bastards (I)

I'm going to speak as directly and clearly as I can to some deeply loathsome people. When I speak of "you" in what follows, I do not mean the very small group of people who read this blog. In a number of cases, I know that those who visit here regularly are thoughtful and compassionate individuals, some of whom are also remarkably generous. I am very thankful that you're around, and that you choose to spend some of your time with me. Most of what I say here doesn't apply to you, but rather to the distressingly large number of Americans who understand almost nothing and who, with regard to every matter of political consequence, are driven most significantly by hatred and a close to complete lack of compassion for any human being who does not belong to their self-selected tribe.

There is only one exception to what I've just said, one specific area where my remarks also concern my readers. Let me get that out of the way here at the beginning. Yesterday, I published a short post about the profound immorality and hideous idiocy of United States policy toward Iran (and the Middle East more generally). I wrote the post, as I sometimes do, with a humorous slant. And in fact, and I only say this because a trusted friend told me that he found it very clever and amusing, it was pretty damned funny, as well as making a serious point. (My friend had read it during the brief time it was available.) But a few hours after I'd published it, I decided to delete it. I apologize to those who linked it in the very short time during which it appeared; I'm aware of only two people who did.

In the more than ten years that I've been blogging, this was only the second time I've deleted a post. On the first occasion (which I think occurred in 2005), I had written a post dismantling the stupidity of a well-known conservative commentator (a distressingly, embarrassingly easy thing to do in the case of the individual in question). Shortly after publishing that entry, I learned that the commentator's father had just died; I hadn't known this before publishing my piece. My post suddenly appeared horribly timed, and perhaps even malicious in intent, at least for those who might have thought I'd been aware of his father's death. It was too complicated to explain; in any case, I didn't view the post as important enough in content to keep under the circumstances. So I simply took it down.

I took down the humorous post yesterday because, the day before, I had published this: "To Honor the Value of a Single Life: The First Murder." That essay means a great deal to me personally. The theme is one I return to again and again: the irreplaceable, supreme value of a single human life, and how and why the vast majority of people refuse to understand and honor that holy value. I'm an atheist, and will remain one to the moment of my death (no death bed conversion for this nonbeliever -- and, yes, that is something I know to be absolutely certain). But the unique value of a single human life is genuinely holy to me, in what I consider the highest meaning of that word. "The First Murder" also addresses complex matters of political and historical analysis. And all of this, and here I set modesty (false or otherwise) aside completely, is presented clearly and effectively, and it is well-written. My feeling about that essay is simply this: This is desperately important. This is the most important thing in the world. Please understand this; we must understand this if we are to have a future which is not a nightmare of suffering, destruction and death.

And that essay is already well on its way to oblivion. As I write this, the post has been tweeted a mere ten times, and it's been linked on perhaps three or four sites. I'm very grateful to those who highlighted it -- but numbers like this are virtually meaningless in internet terms. In a recent post, I explained why I rely on readers to publicize my writing, if (and obviously only if) they think it worthy of a larger audience. You are the only people who can make that happen. But almost no one has chosen to do it with regard to "The First Murder" article. In the meantime, another post has received far more attention. That post covers some important points, but as far as I'm concerned, it is not nearly as important overall as "The First Murder." I long ago realized that it is impossible to predict which posts will find favor with an audience, and which will not. On several occasions, I've been astonished when a post I wrote hurriedly and which I thought very minor indeed was circulated far and wide. I well understand that dynamics of this kind cannot be controlled and, I hasten to add, I would not want to control them even if I could.

Nonetheless, when I write a post which I feel is torn from my guts -- and I feel that way about "The First Murder" in several respects -- and that post is almost entirely ignored, it's deeply depressing to me as the writer. And this isn't a zero sum game: readers obviously don't have to choose to link to one and not the other. Link a comparatively unimportant post all you wish; an obscure author is grateful for any attention at all in one sense. But can't a few additional people publicize a more serious piece as well? Sometimes, it seems not. That can be a bitter pill for me to swallow.

I was reflecting on these matters in the hours after I published the humorous piece yesterday. I decided that I wanted "The First Murder" to be the first essay that visitors saw when they came here. I was feeling so frustrated and depressed that I also thought it likely that I wouldn't publish anything further for perhaps a week or two. If that were to be the case, I most certainly wanted "The First Murder" to be the first article people saw. So I took down the humorous piece.

Then I decided I would write this essay, and explain what had happened. What I've just discussed is the only matter that concerns regular readers here. I hope I've made my perspective clear. The rest is up to you, as it should be.

I decided to write this piece as I looked out over the post-election landscape. Of course, the meaning of the election was perhaps the primary factor that led me to write "The First Murder": in particular, my view of the spectacle of roughly 120 million Americans voting for men who direct (or would enthusiastically direct) a Murder Program intentionally and systematically targeting innocent human beings as one of the worst imaginable indicators of what lies in our future. Before proceeding further, I should spell out an additional aspect of what the election means.

In several recent posts, I've made this point: In addition to pursuing its goal of global hegemony, the United States government uses foreign countries as a lethal laboratory in which to practice the techniques it intends to use domestically, at home within U.S. borders.

Now, think very carefully about what this means with regard to the government's Murder Program. Thus far, the Murder Program has been directed at demonized "Others" who are murdered in foreign countries. Even in the case of U.S. citizens, they are murdered abroad, and the State is very careful to portray them as "Others" who bear little or no relation to Ms. and Mr. Good American who live within our sanctified borders. Why, the State only kills people who aren't anything like you, you sweet, harmless, brainless American who quietly goes about her or his life here at home. As far as the State's brutalizing and impoverishing all those sweet, harmless, brainless Good Americans in every manner short of death -- well, never mind about any of that. And very few Americans do mind about any of that.

And almost no Americans at all mind about the regular, routine murders committed abroad. Americans don't care in the least that their government claims the "right" to murder anyone it chooses, for any reason at all. The government doesn't have to specify any crime that its victims have committed, or even might be planning to commit. Since the government also utilizes "signature strikes," which rely on vague, ambiguous "patterns of activity" which have nothing whatsoever to do with particularized, individualized guilt of anything, the State claims that it can murder anyone in the entire world for no reason at all.

I think you might agree that bears repeating: the State claims it can murder anyone in the entire world for no reason at all. The State has already done precisely that on numerous occasions, and the State proclaims that it intends to continue doing so into the indefinite future.

And almost no one cares. Moreover, approximately 120 million Americans have just granted their approval and support for the State's claim that it can murder anyone in the entire world for no reason at all.

So tell me: when the State decides to bring its Murder Program home, on what conceivable grounds will Americans object? This is what the State has been so determined to establish as the foundation for our future: when the State begins to murder Americans here at home, there will be no grounds to object whatsoever. Keep in mind that those who implement the State's immense powers are enormously skillful at such matters. For their first victims here at home, they will be very careful to target those who are easily demonized -- those who are Arab, or Muslim, or dark-skinned, or poor, or weak, or generally defenseless, and whose obliteration no one will be overly exercised about (at least, no one "important"). "He was planning to harm you!" (By which, the State will mean: maybe, perhaps, not that there's any evidence to suggest it, but we had kind of a funny feeling about him.) "He knew terrorists and spent a lot of time with them!" (By which, the State will mean: he had an acquaintance, who had a friend, who had a distant relative who may have had a remote connection to someone who did something bad sometime, although we don't know what it was or when it happened.) "She regularly donated to charities that were fronts for terrorist organizations!" (By which, the State will mean: she didn't actually harm anyone or ever intend to harm anyone, and what she did was entirely innocent, and we don't have any actual evidence that the charities funded terrorists, but we looked at it one day and it seemed sort of suspicious to us, if you squinted a certain way. That example was the basis for the story in the first section of "Accomplices to Murder.")

And because most Americans have been taught to obey, because they now obey happily and without ever examining what their obedience means, because they have also learned to idealize the authority figures who rule them and to believe that the president and his fellow murderers have only the best of intentions and only want to protect them, they will believe all of it. In this way, the murders will begin here at home.

Once they have begun, they will increase -- and the murders will target steadily growing numbers of people, while the justifications and explanations will become ever more sketchy and meaningless. If the nightmare gathers sufficient force, it will one day reach the point where the State will routinely murder Americans here at home and offer no reason whatsoever -- and no one at all will be heard to object. This is the meaning of the principle that the State has already established.

Yes, we are speaking here of immense evil. We must call such things by their rightful names.

Almost no one objected in any way that mattered when the State first announced this principle, just as they do not object now as the State acts on this principle repeatedly. Thus, almost all Americans have voluntarily surrendered any reason they might have had to object when the State targets people they know -- when the State murders their uncle, or the lovely woman who lives down the street, or their child, or you.

They had a chance to object, and to register their protest -- and they resolutely refused to see what was before them, to acknowledge what it meant. On the day the murders reach into their own lives, when someone they love is torn to pieces, perhaps while they watch helplessly, they will have nothing to say. When the first victims and those who love them scream in agony for endless minutes and hours, as the unendurable pain reaches into the remainder of the survivors' days, Americans close their ears, their eyes, and their minds; they refuse to hear the screams and to understand what they mean. When Americans themselves scream, when they feel pain of a kind they never thought possible, who will hear them and understand what they are feeling?

No one. No one at all.

This is the horror Americans have invited into their lives. They could have seen and understood it, they could have objected, they could have said, No. They chose not to. Remember: they had a choice. We must always remember that. It is one of the tragically few ways in which we can honor the victims.


The above is in the nature of an addendum to "The First Murder." This is not what I had originally intended as the major part of this essay, but it is a vitally important argument that I had planned to make very soon.

As to the sources of my rage, and how those sources are connected to the election and Obama, I will turn to that next time. Rage is not my primary reaction to what I have just described, although I do sometimes feel tremendous anger about the impenetrable state of ignorance in which most Americans have chosen to live. But with regard to the above, my major feeling is one of incommunicable grief. I have read a great deal of history. Of course, I know, as many of you doubtless know as well, that this pattern is terrifyingly common in human experience, including several notable examples from the twentieth century. Yet we will not learn. We refuse to learn. It fills me with heartache of a kind I am unable to describe.

Until next time.