Incivility and Indecency Ensconced in America

By: Bill Whaley
18 December, 2012

(Comments below rated “R” for rage)

At Sandy Hook Elementary School, the five-foot two inch principal, Dawn Hochsprung, apparently threw herself at the gunman, who killed 20 children—innocents—aged 6 and 7 years, and another six staff. It’s a tradition in America, the least expected and most ordinary folk turn into heroes, trying to stop murderers, save victims from drowning or fires, in what you might call rare displays of human courage and goodness.

There were many local heroes at Sandy Hook, other teachers and staff, small children, who bravely guided their friends out of harm’s way or kept themselves busy while hiding in closets. In the military they give medals to the heroes; in every day life we give thanks. The cops who stopped the killer and the first responders, who saved lives, will face nightmares for the rest of their lives.

Yesterday at the former First State Bank on the Plaza, a band of elementary school children serenaded the tellers and customers, who joined in, with The Twelve Days of Christmas. (I can’t bring myself to call the banking behemoth by its new corporate name.) According to my wife Deb, everyone was teary-eyed: the symbolism and solidarity with Sandy Hook was not lost on the bystanders.

So here we are: what to do. This morning even the pro-gun Senators and NRA supporters say something must be done about the free-for-all weapons trade in the US of A. I don’t mind saying that for the last fifty years, America has been replacing traditional moral values with the values of the alleged free marketplace. Instead of discussing competing freedoms or ethics and morals, public discourse is about the freedom to choose from a wide variety of hand soaps, automobiles, telecommunication networks, and the gun for any and every occasion.

I’d much rather see folks choosing among ideas and issues aimed at restoring decency and civility to America, or creating  “a peaceful world” –despite Bethlehem’s new  role in Israel as armed camp.

When I was in the National Guard, “safety first” was our motto. During boot camp, the drill sergeants were extremely careful when they gave us live rounds on the firing range. The weapon was treated with respect, the privilege to carry one demanded discipline and training.  In those old-fashioned days, we American soldiers were taught that the Geneva Conventions meant we could not “torture” the enemy or our fellow soldiers (See Bradley Manning).

Is it too much to ask that the President and U.S. Congress to focus less on fake security traps for old ladies at airports and, instead, seek secure schools for our kids by licensing weapons?

Democracy—the tyranny of the majority, i.e. the one percent in reality, is failing miserably in this country. Many of us believe Barak Obama is a decent man and father and husband. But, we remind ourselves that he has flaunted his authority as wire-tapper in chief and chief assassin in the tradition of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney–all of whom normalized the practice of torture.

Apparently, Hollywood has been forced to bring back the issue to the table in a new movie, Zero Dark Thirty. I always thought torture was not only wrong but also unproductive. John McCain agreed with that view until he ran for president.

You’ve got a lot decent people (?) behaving badly at the top. And those characters who claim to live “by the rule of law” are some of the most egregious offenders against American mores i.e. the U.S. Justices of the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court transformed  the Second Amendment, meant by the founders to uphold the rights of the citizens to form a militia—today’s national guard—into a perverse individual right to sell, buy, and bear arms with automatic firing mechanisms and Gatling gun type clips. Further, the Justices turned a financial entity, called a corporation, into a person as if they were priests administering the Eucharist in a blasphemous attack on religious beliefs. Hey, some of the original colonies were founded by joint-stock companies. If the founders wanted corporations to have first amendment rights, they would have written them into the constitution.

Now democracy and its corollary—capitalism–is failing as Marx predicted. Perhaps there is some hope, despite the power of the one percenters because the have-nots fought back in the last election. Still, despite the gloss of decency,  the U.S. seems like an indecent state to the rest of the world. We don’t have moral standing.

Why must little kids in Connecticut, college students in Virginia, and moviegoers in Colorado die before Senators and Representatives realize that Charlton Heston (Moses) who speaks for the NRA, is a paid movie-actor like Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) of 24, who made torture popular as counter terrorism technique for the chicken hawk brigade during Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL)? Eh?

And why must we allow bandits like Wal-Mart to bribe planning and zoning commissions in Mexico or safety inspectors in Bangladesh so they can manufacture and sell cheap kitsch? And why must Texaco and Chevron be allowed to pollute Ecuador and escape without paying for the damages? And why should Rupert Murdoch’s company, which owns Fox and the Wall St. Journal, be allowed to operate in the U.S. when 87 former employees have been, reportedly, arrested in the British phone hacking scandal?

(The Murdoch employees got caught first when they hacked the “Royals” and then later for abusing the family of a lost and killed little girl, an innocent. They have no sense of decency.)

It is said in America, that kids get treated badly because they don’t vote. At least President Obama raised the question at Sandy Hook. What kind of a country are we? Not a very nice one, Mr. President. Ask the children killed by American drones and American-made automatic weapons in Afghanistan, Mr. President. Ask the parents of the elementary school children in Sandy Hook. Look in the mirror, Mr. President.

If Dawn Hochsprung can sacrifice her life for the sake of her student charges, we citizens can sacrifice by not buying consumer crap from corporations at Christmas.

Other than that, how was your evening, Mrs. Lincoln?

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