Thursday, January 7, 2010

I Don't Understand My Fellow Americans

I don't understand my fellow Americans.

If many of them had their way there would be no justice system. There would be good-doers and evil-doers. Period.

The concept of "rule of law" to them is a joke. Our founding principles of fairness, nuance, tolerance and human dignity, subsequently substantiated by science again and again, are foreign to them.

It's as if there's this large artery of evil, pumping out anger, fear, pridefulness, resentment, and other reptilian emotions responsible for everything wrong with the world. And they just mainline it, along with the the xenophobes, the racists, the majoritarians, the theocrats, the homophobes, etc.

They got theirs. Good and evil. Black and white. Fuck everyone else.

Our prison system is a festering nightmare of cruelty. We can't decide whether to punish or rehabilitate, so we just let people rot - subjected to daily humiliation, brutality and threat of death. Then we wonder why recidivism rates are so high. To many convicts, life inside isn't so different than the outside - with it's "game" mentality, dysfunctionally anti-love and anti-life.

But we didn't really care about them before they went to jail. So why care now? We set them up to fail and then kick them while they're down.

The whole mindset of American conservatism makes me physically ill. The pomposity. The callousness. The knee-jerk assumptions. The cowardice. The narrow-minded ignorance. The hypocritical values. The selfish greed. The impatience. The failure to put themselves in the shoes of others. The uncritical embrace of tradition. The acceptance of inequality. The self-satisfaction.

Pieter Bruegel - The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride

So much of it can be chalked up to simple ignorance. But what about the college-educated conservatives? What about the ones that make it their business to understand the world? There are other religions. There are other types of people. There are other ways of viewing the world. Did they never read about studies of human behavior? Anthropology? Philosophy? Economics? Colonialism? Race relations?

Why is their view of why people do what they do so different from mine? Why is mine so much more concerned with systemic injustice? Why is theirs so concerned with deflecting blame? Why is mine reflected in every major faith's emphasis on humility, sacrifice, love and kindness, the least among us - while theirs in the absolute congratulation of the self? I'm a fucking Atheist and I know this!

The politicians represent them. The media feeds on their worst, most craven impulses (within FCC limits - an irony). But they live and fester on their own, seeping into the sunless nooks and crannies of darkened, blinded thought. Unconcerned with ever looking at the world in a truly fresh or objective manner, everything must first be passed through conservative goggles of "the free market & me".

Healthcare must be neither redistributive, nor bad for business or me. The free market couldn't have made it the way it is. And government will only make it worse.

Economic catastrophe couldn't possibly be the fault of a free market. Government couldn't possibly help. In fact, they must have caused it. The solution is a freer market.

The problem with education couldn't be society or a failure of the free market to meet social needs - it must be government and unions (organized labor). Although we can't exactly stop offering public education, right? I mean, they are children after all.

The problem with the criminal justice system can't be solved by supporting people before they go to prison, or helping them learn to be better individuals once they get there. The solutions is simply to lock more people up, for longer, and offer less support! (Oh yeah - and let's blame the cost on prison guard unions).

Who am I kidding. What problem in the world could not be solved by free markets and people "deciding" to do the right thing? If they don't, it's their fault. There are no social forces at work! You have a choice to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior and if you don't, you'll burn in Hell anyway!

Problem fucking solved.

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