Political Evil

Why is it we Americans are unwilling to honestly speak about political evil? Even the word ‘evil’ comes across as hyperbole. But what we know about recent US history bears the truth of its relevance.

The US became the self-proclaimed leader of the free world following WWII. Since then, the US has attacked, invaded, bombed, overthrown governments, supported brutal militant groups, actively participated in assassinations of leaders, created societal breakdown, allied with oppressive authoritarian regimes, put into place puppet dictators in at least dozens of countries. And the US has caused and contributed to the deaths, harm, orphaning, dislocation, impoverishment, and desperation of at least hundreds of millions of people.

A few thousand people die in a single attack on US soil and Americans go batshit crazy. But we kill more than a million innocent people in a single country such as Iraq. It was an illegal and unconstitutional war of aggression that was based on lies and propaganda. Americans barely blink an eye.

We imprison non-combatants on no evidence and then torture them in secret prisons. Or else we send them to other countries to be tortured. Because of the bipartisan drone program, we are now in the business of assassinating people and killing more innocent people in the process.

These crimes against humanity and many more like them have been repeatedly supported by both main political parties for as long as they’ve been going on. Yet detain a few people at an airport and Americans act like the world is ending. What about all those people whose lives we destroyed. And I use ‘we’ intentionally. It is our government that does this with our tax money and we do nothing to stop it, often throwing our support behind it.

It’s not even just foreigners. Our government treats much of the American population just as badly. There are more blacks in prison now than there were blacks in slavery at its height. And blacks aren’t even the majority of the prison population. The US government imprisons more of its citizens than any oppressive government in history. When you look at who these prisoners are, they come from desperate poverty and unemployment, communities with toxic dumps and high rates of heavy metal toxicity, and endless police brutality by police forces that treat these communities like a military occupation.

Trump is nothing new. He is the id of our collective psyche, showing Americans what we are, what we’ve always been. He is acting out in public what Americans are used to keeping hidden from themselves. It’s one thing to do horrific things, but it should never be spoken of in respectable company. If Trump keeps this up, Americans might start to gain a conscience, but probably not.

When does a nation finally look in the mirror and realize that the evil they always feared is looking back at them? That is a hard truth to face. Fully take that word in, ‘evil’. It’s not just a word. It has real meaning. Never forget that you are complicit. We all are, we who live our lives in the belly of the beast. Keep this in mind. One day, the beast will turn against you. And then suddenly you’ll understand why all those hundreds of millions lives destroyed mattered after all.

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28 thoughts on “Political Evil

  1. Complicit yes, but what can you do about it? It is the rare politician that can stand up to the DC political machine and not either get absorbed into a borg like existence or else get chew up and spit out. That’s a worst case scenario, most politicians that truly care never even get to the DC level, they top out locally and get no further due to their “extreme views”.

    I do agree with you, there is a reason many countries hate us, it is warranted. We earned their ire the hard way. Afghanistan, Iran, and numerous other countries where we meddled, broke, and destroyed their democratically elected governments so we could get our way. There is a lot of blood on our hands, but short of getting ourselves killed trying to protest or do something about it, how do we fix the issue when so many people either agree with what we did, or turn a totally a blind eye towards it.

    • I think about that all the time. There really is no good answer.

      I’d gladly protest in the streets every day for the rest of my life or even turn to violent direct action if I thought it would stop the madness and lead to a revolution of our society. But I don’t have such hope. As I see it, the situation is going to have to get far worse before enough people take the problem seriously.

      So, I guess we wait until that happens and, if we are lucky, our society won’t be entirely beyond redemption. Otherwise, our society will collapse and maybe something better will replace it.

      I wish there was another option. I’m open to hearing plans for overhaul of our society. It just seems unlikely at this point. And not for a lack of trying by generations of activists. The system of power is so self-enclosed that it apparently can’t be effected, until something undermines and weakens it.

      There is one possibility. Maybe Trump will create an division and conflict within the government. That might give some leverage to those of us on the outside. Usually when major changes happen, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War, it is because different factions of ruling elite turn against each other. It is at such moments that outside forces can have real impact.

      We’ll see.

    • Knowing Trump will be president for the next four years, Americans are so excited that they are dying from drug overdose. I’m only half kidding. Data does show that suicide and homicide rates go up when Republicans are elected president.

      Here is an interesting effect of racism. Because doctors give blacks less pain drugs, apparently on the racist assumption that blacks are prone to addiction, they instead give more pain drugs to whites and so white opioid addiction rates are growing at a fast rate. The fact of the matter is whites do more drugs, both legal and illegal. Whites are also more likely to carry illegal drugs and sell illegal drugs.

      Along with more likely dying from drug overdoses, whites are also more likely to commit suicide, the two probably being related. This contributes to why certain white demographics are the only demographics to see worsening mortality rates.

  2. “The main point–that the perception of rapid change rather than the actual level of diversity–is spot on: we humans are sensitive to patterns. Add that to the perception of change caused by automation in how things are made, and that says a lot about the fears of white voters in the upper Midwest states. Unlike the South, racism is not at the root of their fears. The rate of change is.

    https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/upshot/strife-over-immigrants-can-california-foretell-nations-future.html?_r=1&referer=https://m.facebook.com/

    • “Sociological studies suggest that increasing contact between groups can yield familiarity and tolerance. But it can also unnerve, especially in communities where that rapid change is most visible — and when politicians stand to gain by exploiting it.”

      Conservative politics often wins in the short term. People don’t like change. But humans are so adaptable that often within a single lifetime, even the most dramatic changes can be accepted and come to be considered as normal. Conservative use of fear and paranoia can’t be maintained for very long because people grow tired of it.

  3. I also do not think CA is the future because of vast income disparity. Look at San Francisco which has become the playground for the well off.

    If anything, CA is a harbinger of a coming economic future where there are too many people for the few jobs available.

    • I’d be careful about extrapolating too much from California as an example. It is a highly unusual place. Most of the country will never even mildly resemble California.

      A place like California has had high income disparity going back at least to the 1800s. It has long been a place poor laborers working for wealthy ranchers and farmers, poor working class communities along with wealthier university towns. As part of the Spanish Empire, there was institutionalized inequality. When it became a part of the US, wealthy New Englanders and poor Southerners exacerbated this divide.

      There is an unusual dynamic there that isn’t found in places like the Midwest. Iowa has also been around since the 1800s and in that time it has never known high income disparity. Culture determines politics and culture tends to change slowly, unless some disruptive force intervenes like war, genocide, societal collapse, refugee crises, etc.

  4. Does anti catholic sentiment still exist?

    Fwiw latimos tend to be catholic LOL

    “One thing to keep in mind: Trump has very shallow roots in the US for a President. Only JFK and Obama’s ancestry via his father are comparable. He himself is from the excessive family size, the illiteracy of the Scottish Hebrides via his mother.

    The sex equality under the law has always been dramatically better in the Anglo-US regimes and the nonCatholic north of Mason-Dixon than in Catholic regimes.

    As recently as 1970, every man/woman in Mexico was having nearly 7 children on average, while in the US it did not exceed 3 for the ENTIRE 20the Century (except for the Baby Boom, almost entirely a Catholic phenomenon, that has now overburdened our welfare state generosity).

    The SCOTUS is already 100% Catholic/Jewish when the Constitution was written to disestablish the Abrahamic/Catholic legal fictions, including those that disenfranchise and disinherit women. The SCOTUS is also 7/8 second-generation immigrants, many of whom claim to magically be able to “divine” the “original meaning” of the US Constitution. Trump has added yet another Catholic ideologue, who has an English name but whose mother was a second-generation Catholic immigrant nearly impeached at the EPA.

    • As long as Muslims are the new scapegoat, the Protestant bigots will ignore the Catholics. They are only capable of focusing on one scapegoat at a time. That is why even when attacking the secular left they have to try to tie it into their attack on Muslims, such as stating that Obama is a secret Muslim or a Muslim sympathizer.

  5. The biggest issue we face, even bigger than climate change, is that of whether we can diversify to the levels predicted for us without tribalizing.

    Every day’s news is filled with conflicts seemingly everywhere between people who live side by side but don’t have any sense of belonging to a single nation.

    In America we use the word nation as a synonym for country, but a country (from the Latin contrata) is a place, and a nation (from the Latin nasci) is a people, one who share a heritage and an identity, who feel linked to each other, and that is NOT what we see in diverse countries, including THIS diverse country.

    What we see is people competing for unequally divided resources, and using people who look and worship the way they do themselves as allies against those who look or worship differently.

    Many of us fear that will be OUR future, too, or rather that that’s already our reality, but that up till now we’ve been part of the group that’s had all the advantages, and that in the future that won’t necessarily be true.

    So how do we change without splintering? And IS California making progress down that road, as this article suggests it is?

    Maybe. But it only takes a brief tour of the most and least advantaged neighborhoods of LA and the Bay Area to see that the division of resources by ethnicity hasn’t really changed, which means the potential for tribal resentments hasn’t either.

    We have liberté. We won’t have fraternité until we have at least a little more égalité.

    • Tribalism isn’t coming back. Identity politics such as white supremacy and the religious right is not tribalism in any meaningful sense. It is simply manipulative rhetoric based on a narrative.

      If our society falls into conflict, those larger identity politics will splinter apart as the fragile social constructs that they are. In the American Revolution, most people on both sides of the fight shared the same basic culture, language, religion, political traditions, economy, etc. It was similar with the American Civil War. It’s often those we are the most similar to that we turn against when times get rough. Whites are not a monolithic group and their is little solidarity among them across the country.

      Even if tribalism did come back, it would be more likely to happen along the lines of communities and regions, not races or ethnicities. I’d fight and die as an Iowan or a Midwesterner before I’d do so as a white person. Most people are like that with their own local identities.

    • Next. Trump will abolish democracy, because it is so messy and inconvenient. After that, he’ll simply abolish the US as a functioning government. We’ll call it streamlining.

      Former US citizens will from then on report directly to their new feudal corportatist lords. It’s true jobs will be brought back to America. On the downside, they’ll involve indentured servitude.

      America will be great again… for the oligarchy. It will be like the 1600s all over again.

    • Yep. Just as everyone knew Obama would. That is all politics is about, wealth and power. But it’s strange that politicians are always looking for more money. Obama was already a millionaire before he became president. The Obama family will have enough wealth that, if it isn’t wasted, they wouldn’t have to work for generations into the future. They could live like aristocracy.

      • You always wonder what can be so sketchy, so necessary to hide from civilians, as to make politicians always sell their souls once they’re in

    • Some good insights. But it is also further evidence of why our system has failed. The article is weak. It poses a worldview of fear, but offers no action. We are at the point when protest that doesn’t threaten revolution is part of the problem. Constant outrage that is impotent and cowardly will just feed into Trump’s power. The kind of people writing articles like this have never felt personally and viscerally threatened in their lives. They have no sense of real risk. Their is no moral force behind their words. Their insights, while true, are also empty of any deeper significance, meaning, and purpose.

    • We have to hope to see resistance and fighting within the government and within the entire ruling elite. I’ve argued that there are those in the deep state who know how to destroy Trump, as they know how to destroy anyone. But what then? With Trump eliminated, we’d have a maybe even scarier Pence presidency.

    • I’m always a fan of maps. I’ve seen many of that kind of mapped data before. The patterns in such maps tend to be fairly consistent over time. What I’d like to see is data, mapped or otherwise, that shows the opinions and voting preferences of those who don’t vote.

      That is because in our system people who think their state inevitably will go to a candidate they don’t support for that reason tend to not vote. If we had a system based on the popular vote and instant runoff voting many of the maps might look far different. There are plenty of states where the majority doesn’t vote because they think their vote doesn’t matter or that they think they have no good choice.

      But what if we gave voters a real choice? If the media and political elites in both parties hadn’t plotted against reform candidates and third parties, if there hadn’t been generations of voter disenfranchisement and suppression, how different might those maps now look?

  6. Finished Colin Woodards book recently https://abagond.wordpress.com/2012/09/17/the-eleven-nations/

    I wonder how racial diversity will influence these regions culture. As more latinos move to traditionally non-Latino rural areas. I’ll give you an example. On the surface my home region is a white rural mid Atlantic region with a mix of hills mountains and farmland. But if you actually go inside the farms it’s mostly (undocumented even) immigrant latinos workijg the farms, milking the cows, etc. And if you visit a restaurant in the area, the front counter people servers and boss will be white but the people in the kitchen are undocumented latinos. Even in the most white bread places you find Latino workers largely doing the back-room lay-low type of work. I lived in milk white northern new York and new England this summer and even there the local joints had Latino immigrant workers making the food.

    Hometown in rural mid Atlantic place never felt very “yankee” at all even though technically northern. I suppose the Appalachian/midlands cross makes sense.

    Also Quebec is liberal but I wonder how much of it is a reaction to its history of being well, held down by the Catholic Church. Quebec was in some ways a soft theocracy. “New France” also extends into parts of Maine and northern New Hampshire. While I don’t think it does go northern New York or Vermont as much, those places have bilingual signs to cater to Quebecers since they seem to love coming down to the areas.

    Also, rural America is depopulating in general and urban areas are growing.

    I don’t mind urban Areas if they’re walkable and people friendly. Problem is American urban planning is shit. That’s why you end up with Los Angeles.

    There was an article of a planner dreaming of an America with rural areas and dense walkable urban islands sprinkled in. Basically anti suburban sprawl. I suppose that describes me.

    • That is one of my favorite books about the US. It has a lot of explanatory power.

      I’m not sure racial/ethnic diversity will likely change much of anything, unless there is mass shifts of population between regions or coming in from other countries. More likely the new populations will assimilate over the generations. Hispanics in Yankeedom will later in the century likely have more in common with other Yankees than with Hispanics from other regions.

      I live in a town of Czech-Americans, German-Americans, and Anglo-Americans. Earlier last century each population used their own languages and had their own neighborhoods, churches, schools, and newspapers. Today, all ethnic distinction is gone. There was some forced assimilation involved, of course. Without it being forced, it would have taken slightly longer.

      Urban planning will change. Car culture as we know it will be dying out. Many cities have already embraced walkability and people friendliness. I live in that kind of town. Such things as walkability does relate to regional culture. Part of it is infrastructure.

      Iowa was intentionally designed from the beginning to be a tight gridlock of county roads which is why it is one of the most popular biking states in the country. Iowa was built on a clear vision of urban planning at a state level and it has the most developed land in the country. If anything, Iowa has too much planned infrastructure. It was a bureaucratic dream of a farm state.

    • I noticed the website for walkable cities has a map. Looking at the most top ranked walkable cities (within the green range), three fifths of them are found in the Midlands and Yankeedom. But that is only the cities they ranked and have on the map. And so it might not be a fair representation. Towns like this one, Iowa City, aren’t on the map.

      They do have a ranking for Iowa City, though. It only does moderately well on walkability, according to how they measure it. It makes me wonder what they are ranking. I live at the edge of downtown. Within a short walk from my house, there is:

      Most of the local government buildings, a senior center with senior housing, a homeless shelter and services, public mental health center, offices for doctors and dentists, two hospitals, a youth center, a city recreation center, a university recreation center, a public library, multiple university libraries, new and used bookstores, several theaters for movies and plays, a university auditorium for large stage performances…

      A farmers market, dozens of restaurants and bars, four grocery stores, lots of random stores including several used stores, a pedestrian mall, an indoor mall, a drug store, several convenience stores, university campus, a walkway and green area by the river, some small parks and two larger parks, multi-use trails leading to other parks, three neighborhood public schools along with two private schools, multiple daycare centers, four churches, some banks and a credit union, etc.

      There are two hotels and a Greyhound bus station. There is also public transit that goes everywhere in the city and the neighboring city. The buses have bike racks and, along with the multi-use trails, there are bike lanes.

      Most of the population lives in or around the downtown area. It is a growing town, but more of the housing is being built downtown with highrises. If you wanted to, you could live your entire life without leaving a square mile area.

      Yet the website only gives Iowa City a 44 walk score, stating that “Iowa City is a Car-Dependent city” because “Most errands require a car.” I’m not sure what errands they are talking about. I’ve lived here for two decades without a car and I pretty much walk everywhere I go. If I wanted to go to Walmart or to one of the really big malls, I’d need a car or bus to get there. But I don’t consider Walmart and big malls to be a necessity of life.

      What is also odd is that the website gives it a 77 bike score. What is different between biking and walking? There is no where you can go in Iowa City by bike that you can’t also get to by walking. I can walk from my house to the furthest reaches of the city in an hour. How many people can claim to get anywhere in their town in an hour’s walk? Probably not many. How much more walkable can a city get?

      I will admit that it used to be even a nicer walkable city. When I was a kid, there were small corner grocery stores all over the place and some of them had old school butchers and deli counters. And when I came back as an adult, I could still do all my Christmas shopping downtown. I will admit that the downtown isn’t as nice as it once was, at least for the average resident, ever since it became gentrified. It’s harder to find cheap fast food downtown, besides the Subway. On the other hand, the city government’s intentional promotion of concentrated residential building downtown has brought back some of the feeling of an old downtown, including a grocery story in the center of the downtown.

      What I really miss are the movie theaters. There used to be more movie theaters, three of them when I was a kid and I’ve been told there was seven at mid century. The closest to a normal movie theater left downtown is one that shows independent movies. But there are other venues downtown that do show movies as well, such as the university.

      https://www.walkscore.com/cities-and-neighborhoods/

      https://www.walkscore.com/methodology.shtml

      https://www.walkscore.com/IA/Iowa_City

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