Americans have been simply believing for some time now. Weve been believing the fairy tale of America as a shining star of salvation for the rest of the world. Weve been indulging in the childish fantasy that we, the chosen few, live in a democratic society governed by and dedicated to the rule of law. Weve long since surrendered our reason, embracing instead a blind faith in the myth of our inalienable liberties and freedoms, as well as our governments protection thereof.
Like children who, desperately wanting to believe in magical benevolence, deliberately overlook the telltale signs that Santa does not exist boxes in the garage that disappear as mysteriously as they appear, unsatisfactory explanations for the multitude of Santas camping out in shopping malls, the striking similarity between the handwriting of Santa and mom Americans avert their eyes from the innumerable indications that America is merely a comforting yarn, told out of habit. Preferring fantasy to reality, Americans place their faith in the America described by politicians, on television, and in their civics classes. So unquestioning are they in the fairytale of America that they ignore the uncomfortable facts staring them in the face.
Just one of the many myth-exploding facts delicately ignored by Americans who prefer to wave flags and parrot simplistic slogans of national loyalty, is the fact that their government, their democratic representatives, spy on them unfettered by such niceties as a warrant or probable cause. Our dear President, apparently confusing his limited Constitutional powers with the divine right of kings, once again exploited the tragedy of 9/11 to eliminate those damnable obstructions to power democracies pose. Not content with the governments virtually unfettered ability to tap the phone, search the home, or read the email of any suspected terrorist with the rubber-stamped approval of the secret and unappealable Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court President Bush vested himself with the power to monitor the phone calls of anyone sufficiently threatening to be classified as a terrorist or activist, civil libertarian or public librarian.
Americans, of course, will ignore the news of their vanishing liberties. Too engrossed by the latest reality show or shouting pundit, theyll overlook the growing similarities between their society and those envisioned by Orwell and Zamyatin. To them, America much like Santa Claus, Jesus, or the Tooth Fairy is a simple matter of faith. Impervious to reason, true faith survives all assaults of fact and truth.
How else to explain the utter silence which followed our governments admission earlier this month that it does in fact torture prisoners around the world? Speaking in Ukraine, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed that U.S. personnel would no longer be permitted to torture individuals detained in foreign prisons. While it may be reassuring if one is inclined to believe Ms. Rice that the U.S. promises to stop practicing torture outside of its borders, the tacit admission within that promise is most distressing. When Ms. Rice pledged that the U.S. would stop torturing prisoners the world over, she conceded what many long suspected: that the Bush administration has authorized torture for years and has lied about it for just as long.
We Americans are children after all, and children need fantasies and fairy tales. So, who cares if Santas breath smells of cheap bourbon? As long as we keep getting things we want but dont need or deserve, nothing else matters.