Monday, November 13, 2006
Or, the Impracticality of Duty, Honor, and Obligation
People who view the world through the prism of pragmatism remind me of those whose entire perspective is based upon science. Though I respect both pragmatism and science, neither is sufficient unto itself to form a complete worldview. Science dismisses anything that cannot be proved and pragmatism disregards anything that has value beyond its practicality, or lack thereof.
Love, arguably the highest reality of our lives, cannot be measured and does not therefore exist in strict scientific terms. If one truly rules out everything not strictly provable via the scientific method, one misses a great deal. The weakness of science finally, derives paradoxically from that which is also its strength, the fact that it is based upon skepticism and reductionism. With all due respect to science, who wants to live a life without love? That's why I argue that science is a subset of human knowledge, and not the whole ball of wax.
Pragmatism has similar blind spots and limitations. As useful as it is, it overlooks too much. It fails to recognize duty, honor and obligation for example, but also many other things.
It is fine and good that, as Democrats, we have expressed our intent to proceed in a pragmatic fashion, but let's not let our zealotry for practical solutions cause us to gloss over the harsh realities of our times. It is important that we face facts. Here are a few our society is resisting:
We've experienced two stolen Presidential elections, and our political system is rotten to the core. They tried to steal this election too; we just overwhelmed them with our numbers. Still, the election was rife with despicable behavior.
Our involvement in Iraq is not a war; it's a crime. Therefore it is not a thing to be won or completed; it is a thing to stopped or ended.
Our government has committed serious crimes, and there must be severe consequences to discourage future tyrants. Illegal invasions, torture, malfeasance and theft are all things that must be punished. And crimes have been committed against foreign governments, and foreign peoples, who are all entitled to their day in court. It is up to us to deliver it to them.
There are war crimes involved, and war crimes must always be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Otherwise we are placing an order for a future filled with war crimes. I do not wish such a future on my grandchildren or yours. It falls upon us to stop it.
We have no right to countenance these crimes, to dismiss these charges, or to pardon the culpable parties. Pelosi's pledge not to pursue impeachment is morally wrong. This is not a purely practical matter. We cannot ignore the enormous crimes against humanity that have been committed. If we do, we're saying that such crimes are allowable whenever punishing them is inconvenient. The future will rightly curse us for setting such a precedent.
So do we let Nancy have her way? Do the neocons get a pass for their ruthless take over of America? Do Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales et al walk away from the illegal invasion of Iraq, the torture, the theft, and all the rest? Are war crimes no longer prosecutable because it simply is not practical? If this is what comes to pass, I will be tempted to renounce my citizenship out of shame.
If they are allowed to get away with these horrendous crimes, it sets a precedent for which I do not want to be responsible. How many times in recent years have young Americans shaken their fists angrily at me and my generation demanding to know why we didn't stop the fascists back in the 60s and 70s so as to avoid the recent horrors?
The answer is we tried. We protested loudly, we marched in the streets, we were beaten, jailed, teargassed, and shot.
Only now can it be seen that we didn't try nearly hard enough. But at least we impeached Nixon. The closest the modern age has come to that is impeaching Clinton for a blowjob. I think maybe its time for me to shake my fist and demand to know what you are going to do to stop the fascist bastards for the sake of the future. If we didn't try nearly hard enough, you need to do much more than we did - NOT less. You can start by demanding the impeachment of the entire Bush administration, and their prosecution for war crimes.
If we allow war crimes to become acceptable, they will in short order become de riguere, in much the same way as has cheating and dishonesty in our government. We have allowed such lowlife behavior in American politics, that we've all but excluded decency from the process. That's why we have so few statesmen anymore; the majority of our politicians are all busy cheating like bastards to survive in the gutter. I'm disgusted by it, ashamed of it, and sick to death of those who condone it, rationalize it, or justify it. Cheating, lying, stealing, screwing the public behind closed doors - enough! It'll never stop until we put an end to it.
A (Partial) People's Indictment
* Illegal spying on the American people in violation of FISA and the Fourth Amendment, openly confessed to, openly promoted in signing statements, known to involve phone calls, phone records, internet use, library use, bank records, and observation of legal nonviolent activities.
* Illegal detentions in violation of the Fourth Amendment, International law, and U.S. Law.
* Rounding up of thousands of citizens and legal residents for detention or deportation.
* Torture, maintaining secret prisons, and extraordinary rendition, in violation of the Fourth Amendment, International Law, US Law, and openly promoted in signing statements and administration policy papers.
* Illegal aggressive war - in violation of international law, the U.S. Constitution which requires that the Congress declare war, and launched on the basis of feloniously misleading Congress and the American public.
* Use of a variety of illegal weapons.
* Illegal targeting of civilians, journalists, and hospitals.
* Illegal seizure of another nation's resources.
* Illegal use of funds in Iraq that had been appropriated for Afghanistan.
* Leaking of classified information in order to mislead the Congress and the public, and in order to punish truth tellers.
* Leaking of identity of an undercover agent.
* Retribution against whistleblowers.
* Use of signing statements to negate 750 laws passed by Congress.
* Production of phony news reports at home and abroad.
* Dereliction of duty in neglecting global warming, hurricanes, hunger, AIDS, and warnings of 9-11 attacks.
* Facilitating Israel's attacks on Lebanon.
* Obstruction of investigations by Congress, the 9-11 Commission, and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.
* Stealing elections.
* The murder of innocents in the tens of thousands.
There are such things finally as duty, honor, and obligation. It is our duty to restore our honor as a society and as a nation, to clean up our politics, to satisfy our obligations to the world, and to redress the wrongs committed by our own criminal government. We are responsible for doing this. This is our solemn duty. It is more important than anything.