I am falling out of love with my country, and it hurts.
I read about an MIT student being busted at an airport for having a little LED display board attached to her hoodie. At first I thought it no more than a sad commentary on the times we live in. Then I read this:
[Massachusetts] state police Maj. Scott Pare said that Simpson is "extremely lucky she followed the instructions or deadly force would have been used. She's lucky to be in a cell as opposed to the morgue."
Damn. Had it not been for the six years we've already lived through irrational, useless, annoying, psychologically defeating overeager airport security -- put in place to prevent an event that could have been solved by a single measure, locking the cockpit doors -- the prospect of a promising young student being killed by cops for wearing a battery on her back might come as a shock.
But now it elicits almost no surprise. What, police at a major airport were about to kill someone for the crime of wearing a circuit board? Yeah, what else is new.
I see the video of another college student being repeatedly Tazered for the crime of being a bit of a verbose jerk at a public speech, and while that's disturbing, what is downright discouraging is that not one of the hundreds of other people in the audience came to his aid when he was attacked.
I see imaes of OJ Simpson and Britney Spears on the spash page of a once-respected outlet like CNN news and find either an incitement or a reflection of the dumbing-down of American culture and news.
I see the party I helped elect unable or unwilling to take real steps to end the senseless war in Iraq, which is now in its fifth year.
I see increasing encroachments on my and others' civil liberties by corporations, educational institutions and government agencies--and most of my fellow Americans utter not a peep of protest.
The writ of habeas corpus is suspended, the government claims the right to eavesdrop on my calls without a warrant, and travel within the US now requires the presentation of government issued ID cards. American citizens have been snatched up off the streets by our government and held without charge or access to counsel for years.
My government claims and exercises the right to torture people.
Voting procedures are becoming increasing unreliable and susceptible to fraud and manipulation.
Public outrage over all this--the kind of spirit that led to the American revolution--appears dead, replaced by manufactured umbrage. Tens of thousands of people turn out for a demonstration protesting the fact that criminal charges were brought against some kids who beat another kid unconscious, while the war in Iraq and the government's trashing of democracy and civil liberties elicit only small bleats of protest.
I've been thinking a lot recently about a wonderful teacher my kids both loved, John Bogusz, who moved to New Zealand a year and a half ago. He had a variety of motives for doing so, but one of them was the deteriorating democratic culture of the United States. At the time he moved, I still believed that once Bush was gone, America would once again become a country I could be proud of and give my heart to. But now I am coming to believe that the ills that afflict American culture and polity are deeper than Bush himself and that Bush's election and (espcially) re-election are just symptoms of an underlying social sickness.
I'm moving past cynicism and into disgust. And like I said, that hurts.