Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tribes, Again

What the hell, as long as I'm quoting other people instead of writing--Chris Floyd discusses Digby's authoritarianism, although he does not call it that.
I just want to note one comment I ran across in reading about the story. It's from a leading progressive voice, Digby, who does, to her credit, go through chapter-and-verse on the gulag hell-hole.... [Digby quote]... Yet after her admirable recitation of the facts, and their dire implications, Digby comes out with this surprising confession:
I've held off on this issue because of the unequivocal denial by the military that the prison existed and I was willing to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt. Now that the Red Cross has confirmed that the prison does exist, we know for sure that the military was lying --- and the benefit of the doubt goes to the former prisoners.
She "held off" on the matter, which had been thoroughly reported by the BBC, NYT, WP ... because the Pentagon had denied it. And why would she do such a thing, given the ceaseless flow of lies that has issued forth from that many-sided militarist monument squatting out in the swamplands of Hell's Bottom? Because she wanted to "give the new administration the benefit of the doubt."

The benefit of what doubt? Did she really believe that the Pentagon had somehow been born again through the soul-cleansing election of Barack Obama? The man who, er, retained the leadership of the Pentagon that George W. Bush had put in place? The man who placed a master of black ops and dirty war in charge of the entire "Af-Pak" campaign? A man whose military machine has been caught lying over and over and over and over again about a ceaseless flow of atrocities it has committed -- under his command?

And what is this "new administration" she speaks of? Obama will soon have been in power for 17 months. (He had been in power for 16 months when the BBC issued its first report on the prison). When does an administration cease being "new," with its leaders and agents regarded as genial greenhorns, fumbling their way, learning as they go -- "ya really gotta cut 'em slack on this, they haven't hit their stride yet." In any case, Obama has been intensely involved in the Afghanistan war since the very beginning of his term. Indeed, he has already masterminded not one but two "surges" of the conflict, as well as greatly expanding the murderous campaign of assassinations in Pakistan, killing hundreds of people, terrorizing hundreds of thousands, and exacerbating hatred and extremism at every turn. Afghanistan is Obama's war -- he asked for it during the campaign, and he has willingly made it his own. He has his own hand-picked commander in charge (plucked from the pool of Bushist brass, of course), and he -- he alone -- made the decision not only to keep Bush's Pentagon warlord, but to make him one of his closest advisers.

So I ask again: why would anyone feel compelled to give the Obama Administration the "benefit of the doubt" when it comes to atrocities in Afghanistan -- especially those reported by "respectable," mainstream media institutions?

Digby goes on to make what is, in some ways, an even more surprising statement:
I should have known better. Any administration which declares that it has the right to unilaterally order American citizens to be assassinated obviously isn't going to be squeamish about a little torture, is it?
Yes, exactly. How on earth could someone be cognizant of this universal murder program -- openly announced by Obama's security chief -- and still think that this "new administration" deserves the benefit of the doubt when mainstream media outlets release highly credible stories detailing the continuing atrocities of America's bipartisan gulag?


Yet still, after this, leading liberal voices can say, "Well, the Pentagon says that the BBC, the NYT and WP are all wrong about this nasty secret prison thing. And this new administration -- which I know full well is committed to killing people, even my fellow citizens, without the slightest pretense of due process, and which I know full well still has the proven liars of the Bush War Machine in charge of its operation -- deserves the benefit of the doubt." It boggles, as they say, the mind.

This is not a personal slam at Digby, whose diligent work in continuing to expose the creeping "taserization" of American society I find particularly valuable. Nor am I entirely without understanding of the way that tribal political loyalties can pull strongly on one's reasoning, like the moon working its power on the tides. But at this late date, for this in-no-way new administration, which has laid out its true corporatist-militarist-imperial nature with glaring, painful clarity, it is still striking, even shocking, to see the contortions of accommodation that so many are still willing to put themselves through, in the hope of keeping at least a scrap of obscuring cloth over at least a portion of the naked horror that confronts us.

Digby has grown tremedously in understanding the past year, but a life-time habit is hard to break. I think that the refusal to look at what we do--torture, murder, exploitation--is half horror, half ego. We are Exceptional! We didn't invade a foreign country and murder its citizens because we grew up in a freedom-loving country and are freedom-loving people. We don't rape, murder and torture because our god is the One True Loving God and we are his people. We don't steal everything we can get our hands on because we are rich. While the truth is that we are rich because we steal, we torture because we justify everything in the name of religious solidarity, and we don't murder because we're spreading freedom, we murder because we want to take it away.

We are not special. We are not better than anyone else. We are not exceptional. Those are lies we tell ourselves to feel better about ourselves. I don't want to have to constantly measure myself against the world around me, deciding who belongs to the Special Club of Me and who doesn't. I just want to be the best Me I can be. And that better be enough, because it is all that we really have.


Downpuppy said...

Thing is, there are 2 sets of rules.

If Digby messes up just once, they'll tear her to shreds forever.

If George Will messes up, its a day that ends in "y".

So most of us stick to the areas where we have a reasonable level of certainty, and hope that somebody will uncover facts.

Susan of Texas said...

We can't go by others think because what you say is exactly correct--the people fighting for right, which usually is against the powerful, are always torn to shreds.

If we stick to the facts we're on firm ground and don't have to worry about criticism or being wrong. There are two sets of rules but there aren't two sets of facts. From that point everything else follows.

One the one hand you have a propagandist who'll do whatever it takes to win. You can't change his behavior because you are not a factor in his decision-making process. Therefore you should not take his actions into account when making your own.

So the only thing left is the people on your own side and the few honest people on the other side. And they must either accept facts they don't like, or admit that they are ignoring the facts as well.

The problems arise when you start rationalizing the facts you don't like. That's where all the fighting occurs. For example--Obama refused to say he would not use signing statements before his election. That's a fact. The obvious reason is because he wanted the power to use signing statements if he felt it necessary. That's interpretation, but is still very sound. To say he wants it to create a socialist country is wingnutty, but to say that he does not want powers outside the Constitution is wrong.

After eight years of being horrified at Bush and Cheney, ashamed of our government and frightened by its ruthlessness, we wanted so very much to be the good guys, to right wrongs and restore the law and moral order. To have our hopes crushed after being raised so high is a painful thing.

Kathy said...

Perhaps Digby was waiting for real evidence from a trustworthy source, rather than scary gossip?

Susan of Texas said...

I don't think so, she said that despite the evidence she held back because she wanted to give the new administration the benefit of the doubt. That is, when presented with facts, she chose to believe the Pentagon when it said there was no secret prison. She said she ought to have known better, and now she does.

It took a long time for her to admit that Obama is continuing some of Bush's policies, but when presented with the incontrovertible facts, she chose to accept the truth. That's an amazing achievement and a testimony to her intelligence and ethics.

zeppo said...

Digby rules....

Personally, I got rid of that idea of "American exceptionalism" a while ago. It's the horror about what more we might discover about ourselves that has me scared.

I think this country may never really recover from 8 years of Bush/Cheney. We can't even acknowledge to ourselves what was done in the name of "the American people", much less actually start fixing them.

Kathy said...

Oh, well, I want to give the benefit of the doubt to people I admire, too.

I think one of the worst days I've experienced was the day after BushCo was re-elected. I really could NOT believe it; I still can't believe it. Regan & Bush had prepared the way, Clinton didn't really reverse the damage they'd done. The stage was set: Cheney & Haliburton and the rest of our corporate rulers went mad with power, and destroyed everything they came near.

So far, Obama hasn't even slowed the free-fall of the cliff. We'll crash fairly soon, and China and India will fight over the remains, while Americans will blame everything on gays and feminazis and illegals. I'm bummed.