Via Glenn Greenwald, the above graphic illustrates just how tribal American politics can be.
As mentioned before, we love pointing to the Iraqis and rationalizing our invasion of their country by saying, “We didn’t destroy their country, they did because they are tribal and barbarian.” But take a look at the American civil war in the 1860s, the Spanish civil war in the 1930s, the Pan-European civil war that was World Wars I and II, and you see that it doesn’t take much to turn neighbor against neighbor in horrible bloodshed, even in the most Christian of lands.
When I look at today’s tribalism in America – where the president is incessantly accused of being a socialist crpyto-Muslim who wants to sentence grandma to a death panel and end America as we know it, despite repeatedly proving himself as a status-quo worshiping, pro-business, pro-defense industry, pro-Israel politics-as-usual All American politician – I often wonder what it would take for the U.S. to fall into the type of murderous political chaos that has afflicted places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or anywhere else that has been blessed with liberation.
Deep down inside and even on the surface, we ain’t so different.
Suffice it to say that it has been interesting to witness the different reactions to the recent leaks that the NSA is acting in conjunction with private companies to monitor our private conversations. These reactions have been more than predictable. Besides the obvious game of mirrors where Democrats (including Obama himself) who used to loath Bush and were tearing their hair out over the Patriot Act are now blindly defending the Obama administration’s expansion of the Surveillance State, you also have the mainstream, establishment media in a love affair with government secrecy, their arguments being that:
- when we weigh the risk of a terrorist attack with our privacy rights, our privacy rights should lose,
- the journalists who leaked the story (and are not real journalists) don’t know what they are talking about
- we shouldn’t have any expectation of privacy in our online interactions
- if we have done nothing wrong then we should have nothing to worry about, and
- there is no proof that the government has actually bee abusive (ie, no harm, no foul).
It all makes you wonder which side of the fence the David Brooks, David Frum, Tom Friedman, Andrew Sullivan and others like them would have been on back between 1776 and 1791 when the American people were fighting for, amongst other freedoms, the freedom against government intrusion into their homes and personal lives. Their full defense of surveillance and secrecy is tantamount to siding with both King George and Big Government. Why is it that the guys who most hate our values are not the terrorists but the chicken hawks who are willing and eager to sacrifice our values as soon as a buffoon plants a faulty bomb in his underpants.
Now, I know that I repeatedly promise to steer clear from these American political issues and focus more on life in Europe, but I think that as an American living abroad, I am particularly affected by the Surveillance. So here are my two cents: Continue reading