Friday, November 1, 2013

Scary Conversations

   It  really is a  scary time to  be an American, and the scary part isn’t  where I thought I would find it.  Let me explain.
  Decades of government school indoctrination and electronic media  ‘programming’ have  apparently  rendered most of my fellow citizenry incapable of  critical thinking.  That’s the only explanation I can muster for the  visceral and entirely predictable reactions that I see on display as people consume the news cycle. Like Orwell’s 2 Minute Hate, they have been conditioned to give reaction A when stimulus A is presented.  Interestingly the control mechanism takes it one step further and subdivides its subjects into small groups. These groups   call themselves various names, like ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’, names assigned to them by the control mechanism.  Everybody in the group knows what their reaction should be, and people that don’t react the way the group should must belong to some other group, and are probably the enemy.  Assumptions must never be questioned, and root causes never considered. At the very least, opinions that deviate outside the   programmed responses are suspect, and maybe even ‘un-American’.  In doing so, the control mechanism masterfully limits the possible opinions to just a handful, and keeps people suspicious of each other all in one fell swoop.  In a frankly brilliant piece of misdirection, the suspicions is removed from the control mechanism and cast onto people who are similarly being controlled.
  Now that I’ve laid that out, let me apply it to a real –life situation.  I am sitting around a table with 4 or 5 other people when a news items comes on about the Guantanamo detainees.  The other people are prior military like myself, and would consider themselves ‘conservative’.   The news item mentions some unpleasant fact about the conditions at  ‘Gitmo’ , of which there are a whole slew to choose from, and the  visceral reactions start.
  “Stupid liberal news media”
  “They should have just killed those guys”
  “ Yeah, I don’t know why we’re bothering to give them a trial. Just shoot ‘em, I say.”
  Now these are well-traveled waters for me, and though not particularly bright in most areas, but I am curious as to how people arrive at their assumptions, so I ask.
“Why do you say that?”
Already I’m straining at the outside of the box. “Because they are terrorists.”
“According to who?”
“The military, you know, the government.”
“Ever known them to be wrong?”
 I can see the hostility start to bubble up.  I’m questioning the narrative, and  people haven’t been taught  anymore how to process that.  There’s a bit of an edge in their voice as they answer.
“Look those  guys  took up arms against our military. They were captured on the battlefield, and  since we’re at war, they ought  just be executed.”
  “Do you know that, or have you just been told that by their captors?  How do you know those guys weren’t ratted out by their neighbor and snatched out of their bed in the middle of the night?  How do you know it’s not mistaken identity? The truth is, we don’t know how those guys were captured,  or under what conditions. All we know is that the government, who we all agree can’t be trusted, says they are bad guys.”
  “ Oh sure, I  see where you’re going. You   want all these   terrorists to have a trial. You want them to have lawyers and rights. You want them coddled.”
  “ I want them treated as human beings, yes.”
 “Terrorists don’t have any rights.”
  “Well according to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, everybody has rights.  And everybody gets a trial regardless of the accusation.”
  By now I have stepped too far outside the box, and the name-calling starts, along with the questioning of loyalties.  I am accused of wanting buildings to blow up, murderers to walk free and all sorts of other silliness.  In a weird slant that seems to happen a lot with this group, I am accused of wanting illegal immigrants to ‘drink the country dry’, whatever that means.  It’s a dizzying assault of straw men and  clich├ęs.  But think for a second about the bigger picture; if you are accused of the right crime by the right people, your fellow citizens will cheer your march to the gallows and never even question whether or not you should be there.
  I personally would be horrified to be snatched up in the middle of the night, taken to a cell, denied counsel, and kept there for years.  I could easily be waterboarded and undergo sensory deprivation without ever being charged with a crime. My family would have no idea where I was, and the military would deny having me in custody. When and if I finally got a trial, I would be horrified to learn that all the information the prosecution has against me has been deemed ‘classified’ and my lawyer can’t see it to prepare a defense.  This is  Soviet show trial justice on a level  they never even dreamed of, , but it would be hard for my cries to be heard over the roar of applause from the manipulated sheep who are so glad that he world is a little bit safer without me in it.  They would cheer on the ‘heroes’ who slip the noose around my neck.  Not only could this happen, it has happened, and is happening.
  I want the Gitmo prisoners to receive a trial not because of any affection I have for them, but rather because we are supposed to be the good guys!
 How in the world did we get here, and how do we get back?
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