Martin LeFevre: It Does Represent America
It Does Represent America
President Bush, and many other politicians on the Right and Left, have all repeated the same line: ''This does not represent America.'' But deep down Americans know that the abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere not only represent the political culture, but the social culture of this country.
There is a countenance of hate and rage behind Charles A. Graner Junior’s hideously smiling face. Along with his girlfriend, the ironically named Lynndie R. England, these soldiers have become the twisted poster children for the abuse and torture scandal, as well as convenient scapegoats for American barbarity.
They are just “bad apples,” and “rogue soldiers,” the Bushites would have you believe. In truth, they are typical Americans raised in typically dysfunctional homes and communities who were put in circumstances that both encouraged and allowed detestable behaviors.
One sees the same glowering look (minus a façade of friendliness, plus a twisted mouth) on Vice President Cheney’s mien, especially lately. There is also the same incipient look on far too many pre-pubescent boys in America, a set expression of hardness and anger on distressingly young faces.
In some of his semi-articulate, lowest-common-denominator speeches, President Bush refers, obliquely but tellingly, to “the culture.” Just what does he mean by this?
Deconstructing this phrase means examining the worldview of Bush and his base of evangelical Christians. A core tenet of their contradictory worldview is the debasement and immorality of “the culture.” While few would refute that premise, the fundamentalists’ remedy—a reinstatement and reinvigoration of “Christian values”—is not only hypocritical, but also conducive to the very debasement they decry.
When Bush and his echoers say that Graner and his ilk “do not represent the America I know” they are either deceiving themselves, or attempting to deceive the world. Disappointingly, even presidential candidate John Kerry repeats the same comforting illusion. The difference is that Bush’s presidency is based on avowedly moral principles of self-righteously moral people.
Kerry, on the other hand, avers a secular basis for his proposed policies, adhering to the tradition in America of the separation of church and state. That stance has put Kerry, a Catholic, on a collision course with the Vatican over his public support for a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. The Protestant Bush no doubt relishes Kerry’s conundrum.
The diabolically deceitful Bushites are banking on the dismay of the American people for the turpitude of ‘the culture.’ They are also banking on the deeply entrenched American habit of having it both ways. For example, a recent episode of one of the top-rated TV shows in prime time (when millions of children are watching) titillated the masses of asses with a scene of a female lawyer, fighting a custody battle for the lead character’s brother, reaching up his pants during the proceedings.
But that’s tame stuff compared to what’s really going on in ‘the culture,’ since hard-core pornography has gone mainstream and become a booming industry. It’s hardly a quantum leap from such social conditions, to Ms. England having videotaped sex with various soldiers in the theatre of America’s “war of choice,” after humiliating detainees by stripping and sexually abusing them.
Graner, a Marine who fought in Bush Senior’s War against Iraq, is a leader admired by his fellow soldiers for his “strength and experience.” Described and defended as a “devoted father,” this American patriot stomped on detainee’s fingers and hit the wounds of men with a baseball bat while saying in a baby voice, “Oh, does that hurt?”
The grotesqueries don’t stop there. The retreads from the first Bush Administration, such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, who set the world on its disastrous post-Cold War course, secretly sanctioned bending the Geneva Convention rules on the treatment of prisoners to the breaking point. But what do you expect from a President who sneered at a reporter’s question about international law by saying: “international law…I guess I’ll have to go find a lawyer.”
In a sane world, the entire Bush bunch would be brought up on charges of crimes against humanity, and Shrub would truly need a lawyer. Obviously that would require deep changes in ‘the culture’--the global culture that is.
- Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The author welcomes comments.