Friday, May 21, 2004

Dis is Ya Goberment Talkin' to Ya, Mon
Random notes on a morning when you could hear the gears grinding at Fox News, as the grinning morons on Fox and Friends tried to come to grips with the fall of Iraq's George Washington (honest to God, some neocons have called him that) Ahmed Chalabi:

After the United States invaded Cambodia in 1970, a young diplomat named Roger Morris resigned from the Foreign Service in protest. At the time, he and his colleagues joked that the Nixon Administration was so unprincipled that it took nothing special to resign. Now, Morris says, Nixon and Kissinger seem like model statesman compared to the Bush gang, and he's calling on members of the Foreign Service to resign in protest themselves. "Unless and until you do, however, please be under no illusion: Every cable you write to or from the field, every letter you compose for Congress or the public, every memo you draft or clear, every budget you number, every meeting you attend, every testimony you give extends your share of the common disaster."

In the Hartford Advocate, Alan Bisbort considers every American's share of the common disaster: "Just as dog owners come to resemble their pooches, we all look like George W. Bush now. We have two choices: love it or change it."

Earlier this week, I wrote about individual responsibility in the prisoner abuse scandal. Even though there are plenty of extenuating circumstances you have to consider that put those American guards in that prison to begin with, there's still a simple matter of right and wrong and the requirement that each individual know the line and keep from crossing it. At ZNet, Zeynep Toufe says that if we take away the personal responsiblity of the Lynndie Englands and Jeremy Sivitses and ascribe all of their behavior to extenuating circumstances, we subject them to "The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations" and deny them their humanity. "Denying moral agency and refusing to push for full individual accountability is not respect; in fact, it’s rather blatant disrespect, especially given the fact that our concern for "our brave men and women in harm’s way" has been a central slogan of the anti-war movement. Concern without accountability is inherently contemptuous -- even children are generally held accountable, subject to the limits of their understanding." And when we start believing that people are not accountable, we become victims of historical forces who can only throw up our hands at injustice and say, "There's nothing we can do."

Recommended reading: The Memory Hole has become insanely popular over the last few weeks, so its pages are loading slowly. But it's worth the wait to read the story of a government pamphlet that was supposed to be translated into French Creole, but was mistakenly translated into English Creole.

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