I'd seen this bill mentioned over at my pal Labry's place - she was spitting fire about it, good woman that she is - and it occurred to me that what I feel is just a sort of tired, sad, inevitability.
How many times in history have we watched this play out?
The frightful, desperate "enemy" that must be "defeated" at any, and ALL costs. The populace tittilated and terrified by tales of that enemy's desperate frightfulness. The group (or groups) that insist that "the old rules don't apply". The rush to "do something" that results in granting power upon power without a moment''s reflection of whether that power can ever be taken away.
I know I use this quote a lot, and, yes, I understand the irony of making that rigid old tartar Tom More into a petty saint of restraint and good government (the man who delighted in the aroma of crackling heretic, honestly...) but the words spoken here are NOT the words of Thomas More but of Robert Bolt, his playwright:
ROPER Then you set man's law above God's!And yet we are so fucking terrified of a bunch of raggedy ass Allah-pesterers that we won't give THEM the benefit of law for OUR safety's sake.
MORE No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact-I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of the law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God . . .
(He says this last to himself)
ALICE (Exasperated, pointing after RICH) While you talk, he's gone!
MORE And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!
ROPER So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!
MORE Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
ROPER I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
MORE (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on ROPER) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you-where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? (He leaves him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast-man's laws, not God's-and if you cut them down-and you're just the man to do it-d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
I'm so tired. Just tired.
And I haven't really even been all het up about this nonsensical "War on Terror" and the way it's got us hitting ourselves on the head, the way my pals Jim and Lisa have, say, over at Ranger Against War, ringing the changes of our eagerness to put down our legal trousers and hand the rod to our "leaders" and policemen and soldiers like a firebell in the night.
Or the way Greenwald has.
Or the way a hundred better writers, better bloggers, better citizens that I am have decried this silliness, this mouse blown up by shadows and smoke to the size of an elephant.
Because, really, I mean, people?
The fucking "War on Terror"? How stupid are we, collectively, to buy into this? We're supposed to be the adults here, the "We, the People" that those guys in the wigs supposedly put in charge to sort things out. We're supposed to remember things like that in wars, or lovemaking, capabilities count, not intentions. We're supposed to be able to see that these ridiculous villains are no more capable of actually "warring" on us any more than a sneak thief can "war" on your television set, or a Newberg high school freshman of making love to Angelina Jolie.
And that for all that he may masturbate frantically over her picture and describe the business as a "love affair" that it is not, and will never, be in HER best interests to describe it as such or act as if it were in fact.
And that a pack of reasonable adults should be able to sort this out about this idiotic "War" on some-forms-of-terror-perpitrated-by-some-groups-we-don't-like-but-not-others-that-we-sorta-do before their coffee get cold.
But we don't, we aren't, and we haven't.
And what the fuck more can I do?
I elected the goddam Democrat three years ago, worked for all my local sane guys, people like my Senator Merkeley, wrote letters to the paper, talked to anyone who would listen...
...and for what?
We're stuck right where we were about five years ago. A third of the U.S. public recognizes the insanity of this idiot's tale. But - and despite that more than three-quarters of the same public is more than ready to end the misadventures that the active pursuit of the "war" brought in train - the Third Gulf War and the God-Knows-How-Manyth-Afghan-War - the other third is still all about killin' us some ragheads.
And the final third is just too fucking stupid, lazy, poorly-informed...or something. To care.
So...what the hell will it take to make the point to the ignorant third and the radical-conservative-wingnut third that Sun Tzu sussed out, like, two thousand years ago - that fighting long wars is NEVER good for the combatant...even if it "wins"? That war makes people and nations do incredibly stupid things to themselves because those things seem "right" at the time?
I have no idea.
But just thinking about makes me tired.
I guess I always thought that if my country was to go to hell it'd be in some dramatic fashion. We'd hand ourselves over to the devils of authority and oligarchy in the midst of some titanic struggle with the Great Foe; the Soviet Union bristling with nukes or the Chinese hordes of Asia. We'd go down in a monumental crash of great rhetoric and epic protests, with the last defenders of the old outmoded liberties herded into the cattle trucks for the journey to the Utah camps. I never pictured my countrymen lying about on our dead asses while we drift along in a state of perpetual "war" with a bunch of sorry ass Islamic fantasists...I mean, can you THINK of a stupider way to give away the gift?
MORE I have one question to ask the witness. (RICH stops) That's a chain of office you are wearing. (Reluctantly RICH faces him) May I see it? (NORFOLK motions him to approach. MORE examines the medallion) The red dragon. (To CROMWELL) What's this?
CROMWELL Sir Richard is appointed Attorney-General for Wales.
MORE (Looking into RICH'S face, with pain and amusement) For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world. But for Wales..!