Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"If I go crazy, I'm taking you with me!" * 

What connects most of the US news lately -- Justice department memos justifying torture, pretentions to presidential imperial power, the Patriot Act, Gitmo, CIA secret prisons and ghost prisoners, airline no-fly lists, the Plame leak, colour-coded threat levels, the Pentagon's Office of Special Plans, roundups and deportations of Muslims by Homeland Security, the preemptive war doctrine, the hysterical attempt to connect Saddam with Al Qaida -- is its overall craziness.
The Bush administration went crazy after a terrorist attack within US national borders -- an attack which, but for the bravery of a few airline passengers, could have killed them all. And their craziness is getting worse, not better.
Now, over the last 30 years or so, dozens of other countries have suffered hundreds of other terrorist attacks, including Canada with the FLQ. Britain with the IRA, India, Pakistan, France with the communists, Spain with the Basque separatists, Italy and Germany with the Red Brigades, Russia with the Chechnians, Indonesia, Malasia, Mexico, most of south and central america, Japan, not to mention Israel - the list goes on and on. And I suppose every one of these countries went crazy for a while -- Canada did too -- remember the October Crisis and the War Measures Act?
But it ended. Most of the time, nations came to their senses and figured out a combination of police and policy to deal with it. They healed, and their national life went on.
But in the United States, supposedly the greatest, strongest, democracy in the world, the craziness has now lasted three years and counting.
Maybe its because neither the police nor the policy responses have been very effective or competent. Judging by the cases reported by the Justice department, the "police" response has been pretty minimal. And America's two wars have both failed to make America feel any more safe or secure, less so in fact. And the "policy" response hasn't gone anywhere -- the Bush administration has not taken the lead on any national dialogue because they refuse to discuss any of their policies, responses, tactics, strategies, or philosophies.
So American national life now seems to consist of a lot of crazy people screaming all the time.
My hope for Kerry is that he will help America heal, in a way the Bush Administration has been incapable of doing.

*This was, by the way, Catherine O'Hara's best line from Beetlejuice.

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