America: A moral force for good

070911-N-4007G-008 SAN DIEGO (Sept. 11, 2007) - American flags bearing the names of victims from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, adorn a makeshift monument at the Balboa Park 2007 Freedom Walk. Service members and residents from the San Diego community showed their support through the walk to remember those who lost their lives on that day. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Gaines. (RELEASED)

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Gaines. (RELEASED)

Washington, DC (TFC) – When news broke that US soldiers stood idly by while children were raped in Afghanistan, phony outrage filled the internet. Commanders allegedly ordered their troops to turn a blind eye to the practice, but the outrage wasn’t genuine. There were no calls for the commanders to be executed, as would be the case in normal child molestation rings. The troops weren’t blamed either. It’s a case study in America’s morality.

The popular opinion is that the US is a force for good all over the world. However, our military is complicit in one of the most reviled crimes in our society, and people are more interested in talking about a foreign leader possibly engaging in a sexual act with a dead pig a few decades ago. That’s right, a sexual act with a pig is more important than the rape of a child. That is the USA today.

Maybe it’s time the United States embraces it’s real role in the world. Maybe it’s time we admit that we are the evil country bent on world domination that we have always warned ourselves about. There is no denying that the last half of a century has been an American one. Our policies and military shaped the last fifty years of human history. In fifty years, the most powerful country in the world has accomplished what, exactly?

The rich are richer. The poor are poorer. 47 million Americans are on food stamps. We killed hundreds of thousands of people in a war that was based on the premise that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or that the nation was somehow complicit in the September 11th attacks; neither were true. We’ve funded and trained Islamic State fighters and destabilized a nation, creating a refugee flood. We fund an ongoing ethnic cleansing campaign in Palestine. We have children in foreign countries telling us they are now afraid of the sky because of our drones. We’ve funded death squads in Latin America. We’ve tortured innocents. We’ve propped up dictators and allied ourselves to the worst of the world’s governments. We’ve turned our own country into a police state where security services kill thousands of Americans with impunity. We’ve eliminated and curtailed our freedoms in the name of protecting our freedoms. We enable governments all over the world to brutalize their own people. We exploit the natural resources of foreign lands and leave their people destitute. Where exactly are we a force for good?

We aren’t. It’s time to look in the mirror and see the horror on horror’s face. We are the bad guys. We’re hypocritical bad guys, as well. If some bearded Disney villain hatched a plan that wound up needlessly killing thousands of Americans, what would we do? We don’t have to guess. We’d terrorize the region he came from for 15 years, invade two countries, and destabilize a handful of others while killing hundreds of thousands of people. Yet, when an American lies and causes the deaths of thousands of troops he sent into harm’s way based on a lie, he receives a Presidential library. People call him a hero. I wish it were something as simple as good old-fashioned racism that causes this discrepancy, but it’s far worse than that. It’s the belief that the rules don’t apply to us, combined with the psychological phenomenon known as “diffusion of responsibility.”

Diffusion of responsibility is a psychological phenomenon in which people are less likely to take action or feel a sense of responsibility in the presence of a large group of people. Essentially, in a large group of people, people may feel that individual responsibility to intervene is lessened because it is shared by all of the onlookers.

What our leaders do isn’t really our fault. We did our part and voted for the lesser of two evils, right? The troops in Afghanistan suffered from the same condition. What can one person do? If it was really bad, somebody else would stop it, right? How much worse does it get than raping children? How much worse does it get than funding regimes that engage in genocide?

If you look at it with objective eyes, it’s plain to see that we are the bad guys. We’ve stumbled. We’ve abandoned everything that was said to have made this country great and become apathetic, obedient cogs in a wheel that is crushing the face of humanity beneath it. We’ve turned into a nation of “good Germans.” Voting for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil.

America is not falling. It is not in decline. It has fallen. Nero has played his fiddle.

Why did we miss the ethical collapse? We don’t reason. We think in images and emotions. We think in short abbreviated slogans that don’t mean anything anymore. “Land of the free and home of the brave.” Apply some critical thinking. Land of the largest prison population on the planet, and home of cowardice so rampant that we can’t even oppose the rape of children. A land so free that many Americans seek to build a wall around the country because out there, beyond America’s borders live a lesser people. People somehow unworthy of life. Those in support of the wall would suggest that we have to stop “them” from coming here to get “entitlements.”

Let’s talk about entitlements for a moment. That strikes at the root of the American condition. Those seeking to build a wall are the most entitled of all. Based solely on the colors of the flag flying outside of the hospital they were born in, they are entitled to live without care or concern while others perish. It doesn’t get any more entitled than that. These people feel entitled to allow others to die so they don’t have to press 1 for English. They attempt to rationalize their belief in the first slogan with belief in another. “Take care of Americans first.” Yet, these are the same people that want to end food stamps. We live in a world of slogans and abbreviated thoughts that have destroyed our ethical compass. Entitlement to a blue passport with an American Eagle on the front cover apparently also conveys a right to life that others do not possess. By geographic lottery, Americans feel more entitled to, well, everything. The guy on the other side of the wall just wanted to cut your grass and provide for his family.

Image Source: Jeff Turner, Flickr, Creative Commons Child Saluting American Flag

Image Source: Jeff Turner, Flickr, Creative Commons
Child Saluting American Flag

The odds are that somebody, as this article is shared around, will comment that most damning of all slogans: “love it or leave it.” They’ll make this comment, just as they are programmed to, without thinking about what they are writing. If the slogan was reasoned and the blanks were filled in, it would read “Love America’s complicity in child rape, or leave the country.” Those can’t be the only options. Obviously, no sane, reasoning person could support child rape, and I can’t leave for two reasons. The first is that I’m too much of a coward to put my family at risk of becoming a victim of this country’s foreign policy. The second, and most important, is that I have to believe that somewhere there are people that have a sense of what was lost. They know where this country has been and they fear where it is headed. They understand what it could be and by extension they understand what the world could be. It’s those remaining few that are America’s only hope. Those that understand that the people have lost their way have the fate of the world in their hands.

Some view those attempting to turn the country around as patriots, other see them as traitors. How much loyalty should one have to a government that engages in genocide and condones child rape? If my only options are treason or complicity, treason it is. If it takes treason, so be it; but until the last possible option is exhausted, I have to cling to the hope that the small group of people that still understand what “could be” are willing to keep up the fight against what seems like insurmountable odds.

Americans behind the glowing screens of notebooks, tablets, and phones all over the country are sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to fix the problem. Who will join the fight to leave our children a world worth inheriting? If not you, who?