Thursday, May 26, 2005

Sometimes a cliche is not just a cliche

"Orwellian" is one of the most overused words around - but - what else can you really say when the Bush Administration denounces Newsweek for a single-sourced story that we now know was essentially true (i.e., the incidents happened even if the military was not on the verge of confirming this officially), and blaming Newsweek for disturbances that its own on-site military officials said were totally unrelated?
When you think of all the lies and deceptions that the Administration fostered in its rush to Iraq, and the horrendous harm it has done to our country's standing in the Muslim world and elsewhere through all the torture and murder perpetrated through its deliberate policies, this one is so far beyond belief that ... I don't even know how to finish the sentence. Utterly, utterly astonishing. When people in the future look back at this, they will be dumbfounded.
The type of mindset one needs to perpetrate and accept this type of blatant hypocrisy doesn't seem compatible with respect for democratic institutions, which is one reason I worry that the forces behind the Bush Administration are unique in U.S. history.
UPDATE: Looking further through the on-line Times I see that Amnesty International has "listed the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called rendition of prisoners to countries known to practice torture as evidence that the United States 'thumbs its nose at the rule of law and human rights.'"
It would be nice to be able to disagree with this. And from the self-centered perspective of an American, it would be nice if our country's leadership at least did not apply this worldview to domestic affairs.
A bit more from Amnesty International:
"'It's not because the United States is the worst human rights abuser in the world but because it's the most influential,' said Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, via phone from New York. 'United States disregard for international human rights standards is damaging those standards,' he said, referring to some governments with poor human rights records 'citing the U.S. record to justify their own.'
In a separate telephone interview, Dr. Schulz of Amnesty International USA acknowledged his organization had used 'strong language' because it felt that 'the United States has betrayed a very fundamental principle that this country stands for.'"
So this is not left wing, Jean Paul Sartre-style hypocrisy and double standards. It is a reflection of how far this country has fallen since January 20, 2001.

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