One of the toxins corrupting our political discourse is the complete abandonment of objectivity and fairness in our public debates. It seems that both sides are in a perpetual state of highly selective indignation over some outrage perpetrated by the other side, but which elicits little more than a shrug when one's own side does much the same thing.
Consider a few examples of this tendency to treat similar events differently depending upon where the responsibility for them lies:
First, recall the international outcry over prisoner abuse by a few soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq back in 2004 and 2005. The media was daily reminding us how America had lost its way, how George Bush should be impeached, and demanding that at the least Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld should resign or be fired. Compare that reaction to the near silence in the media about the so-called "kill team" comprised of three or four soldiers who were deliberately murdering Afghan civilians and cutting off fingers and taking photos of their "trophies".
It's hard to imagine that what happened at Abu Ghraib was actually worse than the Afghanistan atrocities, but no one seems to be too very upset about the murders of Afghan civilians. Why not? What's the essential difference that would justify media indifference to the murders of civilians but sustained outrage over the humiliation of captured Iraqi troops and terrorists? The only difference I can think of is the party in the White House which stands to suffer embarrassment from the revelations of this conduct.
The second example is the complete dissimilarity between the reaction to the war in Iraq and the war in Libya. Where are the human shields racing to Libya to protect Libyans from American bombs? Where is the pacifist Left demanding a cessation of hostilities and impeachment of a President who has involved us in a war where we had no national interest? Where are the people who were screaming that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11 and was no threat to us? Why are they not screaming that Qaddafi is no threat to us? Why did Iraq provoke such rage on the Left but our actions toward Libya have generated little more than grumblings? Could the difference be that Iraq was initiated by George Bush and Libya by Barack Obama?
And if Libya is a justified conflict why does not the same justification exist for bombing the Syrians who are slaughtering their people by the hundreds in the streets? Qaddafi must be wondering why him and not Assad. Why is the media not demanding an explanation for the disparity in our responses to these two situations?
The only answer I can think of that makes any sense is that policy which generates anger and indignation when carried out by a Republican administration elicits little more than a furrowed brow when carried out by a Democratic administration.
Here's the final example. The other day there was a horrible beating of a white female by two black girls in a MacDonald's. You've probably seen the video, which has gone viral, but if not you can find it here. I will warn you, though, that I was sickened for hours after watching it so please be advised. The awful behavior of the male onlookers was almost as ugly as that of the brutish thugs who administered the beating.
It turns out that the police are reluctant to call the attack a hate crime. Would they be similarly reluctant if the victim were black and the thugs were white? In the unlikely and unusual event that the races were reversed how long would it take for the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world to be demanding reparations and indicting the wickedness lurking in the white soul? How long would it be before Eric Holder would be declaiming on the virulence of white racism in this country, and President Obama would be calling for more beer summits? Every editorial page in the nation's newspapers would be gazing into the heart of white America trying to shine a light into that dark pit.
As it is there was scarcely a tisk anywhere over this horrific episode, except on the internet, until it was discovered that the victim was transgendered. Once that completely irrelevant fact was revealed the you-know-what hit the fan. Now people were incensed. As long as it was just an ordinary white girl that was beaten and kicked and had her hair pulled out until she suffered a seizure, well, no one in the media seemed too upset, but once it was discovered that this girl was actually a member of the GLBT community people in the media were suddenly horrified by the savagery of the attack.
Why does race or gender (or transgender) have anything to do with it? Why are crimes more horrific if the victim is black or transgendered than if the victim is white or female (or male)? When are we going to grow up and get past all of the PC idiocy that has been inflicted upon us by those who think of everything in terms of race, class, and gender? When will we start simply looking at all people as human beings?