Thursday, June 23


Keith Olbermann reminds us just how much our national rhetoric and behavior are mimicking an Old Twilight Zone episode.

Something, or someone, starts screwing with the lights and the electricity on an ordinary suburban street. Within minutes, the residents have concluded that aliens from outer space have invaded. As alliances and rivalries dissolve and re-form with incredible swiftness, these neighbors accuse each other of collusion with the invaders. One of them finally starts shooting. The director pulls back to a nearby hill, where sit two real aliens, one of whom sagely reminds the other that there's no need to actually attack any of these stupid humans — you can just scare them a little bit and then wait for them to tear themselves apart.
Substitute "terrorists" for "aliens" and Maple Street becomes the current American political scene. If there really is a functional al-Qaeda on the continent, it hasn't needed to attack us since 9/11 because we're all the Claude Akins and Jack Westons from the episodes accusing each other of collaboration.

In this vital area at least, the terrorists have already won. Nobody has to tear our country down; our leaders are doing it for them.

And before you say — yeah, but the Republicans/Democrats started it — go get a copy of that episode of "The Twilight Zone" and see if, by the end of it, you can remember which neighbor started the trouble — or if, after the shooting starts, that distinction even remotely matters.

I disagree with Keith that Durbin is in the same category with Rove and Santorum. Durbin was not vilifying an entire class, party or segment of the American population; it was very clear he was referring to a small group of interrogators at Gitmo when he cried out that this FBI report sounded more like it came from a Soviet gulag inspection, Nazi prison camp or Pol Pot. Rove specifically suggested that the motive of liberals is to put our troops in greater danger.

But I agree with Keith in that it all needs to stop. We should start naming SPECIFIC NAMES for accountability where possible -- and I don't mean the little guys taking orders, I mean if we're upset about Gitmo interrogators, then we should scream out "Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Cheney, Bush!" or whatever general, cabinet minister or Congressman shares culpability. These disasters we're faced with are the creations of the powerful, not everyday Americans. And the people most in the wrong don't suffer from comparisons to Nazis or Soviets -- too few take such analogies seriously. In fact, I think such comparisons are counter-productive: Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot are viewed as almost mythical villains with their millions of victims. That lends a kind of grandiose-ness that almost flatters the Right. I would depict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al as petty, privileged and larcenous, a coterie of smug politicrats who have made their careers and livings off the public teat by betraying the very American ideals they purport to defend.


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