Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies....

The fact is, the French don't want to give up what they have, and become more like us. I can't help but think, in this country, in the name of "individual responsibility," we have given up all responsibility to a "system" that doesn't exist, and to an idea that is devouring us alive even as we pursue our acquisition of larger and heavier vehicles, larger and more mesmerizing TV's (a wall screen that makes TV even more interesting by shining colored lights on the walls around it?), more and more pointless gossip about celebrities (who's getting married, who's getting divorced?).

Listen to the statistics in the report. This law was just passed, and 83% of the French public have lost confidence in the French Prime Minister. Large majorities oppose the law and the way it was passed (as an "emergency" measure). In this country we can't agree on whether or not the President should be free to break the law in the name of national security. Our ire is aroused by a stupid and unenforceable proposed immigration law (which I caught John Cornyn pitifully defending on C-Span at the Judiciary Committee hearing, claiming the gov't wouldn't be "going after" people who provide humanitarian assistance to illegal aliens), but we have been in a stupid, indefensible, and illegal war for which words like "utter debacle" and "complete clusterf*ck" no longer seem adequate. The French are upset, says Eleanor Beardsley, because they don't want to be like us.

And we are upset because? Certainly not because we are becoming more sane, more civilized, more humanitarian and compassionate in our government. Certainly not because we are threatened with becoming more "French."

"Individual responsibility" is going to the noose by which we hang American democracy, if we don't start to consider how we are going to stand together, and not just in response to the next outside threat. That is the model we took from World War II. It was Pearl Harbor that formed a nation out of a disparate set of states. It was World War II that convinced us we had to act as one, as a nation, not as people in California and Hawaii and Alabama and Maine. It has been used ever since, to manipulate us into supporting a military-industrial complex; to scare us through my childhood with the "Red Scare" and the "Cold War." And now it is being used, more and more ineffectually by increasingly stupid and incompetent men, to scare us into giving those men ever more power over our lives.

De Villepin's government was undoubtedly telling the French public happy lies about the wisdom and necessity of the new law. The French public wasn't buying. They regard their system of government far more highly than they regard any officeholder in that government. Their "socialism" leads them to take responsibility for how they govern themselves. Our government tells us happy lies about why we need to go to war, why the President needs to be a monarch, and why the press shouldn't ask questions but rather become a propaganda organ. Our "capitalism" (the very idea the French are rejecting) leads us to listen to the lies until reality finally rolls over them like a bulldozer.

And then what do we do?

When do we start to take responsibility for our government?

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