The ‘Wright problem’ belongs to America
The mainstream media has been nearly unrelenting in its condemnation of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, forcing Senator Barack Obama to distance himself from someone he considered a mentor. But Obama’s “Wright problem” reveals a largely ignored national problem: the narrowing of public debate to exclude the possibility of speaking truthfully about the US role in the world. [complete article]
Editor’s Comment — Obama has said, “I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.”
It’s a good line, but I don’t imagine he has any intention – at least not before getting elected – of digging too deeply into what that mindset really is.
Because that would require looking into what remains in many respects a taboo subject in American public discourse: the humiliation of 9/11.
The September 11 attacks are spoken of as an act of war, a day of infamy, an outrage, a tragedy, an attack on America, but not as a humiliation.
Yet the lust for revenge, the ubiquity of the “Power of Pride” bumper stickers, Bush’s declaration, “I don’t care what the international lawyers say, we are going to kick some ass” – all of these are expressions of wounded pride and humiliation.
The dust and rubble in which 3,000 people had met their hideous deaths was soon — and perhaps through some unwitting compulsion — to be likened to a place in which 60,000 Japanese civilians were killed by an American bomb 56 years earlier. No one said, this is our Hiroshima, but neither was there the suggestion that there might be something vaguely obscene about appropriating the name Ground Zero.
What was missing and through its absence enabled the formation of the mindset of war, was an open, honest and heartfelt acknowledgment of failure – failure of leadership, failure of understanding, failure of intelligence, failure of security, failure of engineering, failure of government.
When 9/11 called America to examine itself, it refused and that refusal set in motion everything that has followed.
And, Al Quaida hasn’t had to another thing in order to bring us down. Saddam Hussein predicted that invading Iraq would be a catastrophe for us. We are so stupid!
“We need urgently to redraw the boundaries of respectable public debate,” write Derber and Magrass.
Now, in the middle of a campaign in which many Americans are, once again, reverting to the lowest common denominator?
America is many election cycles away from being ready to face the hard truths about its foreign policy. To attempt them to force them to would be political suicide.