Grasshopper Soup: The moral high ground is a theory
April 28, 2009
There’s no confusing Capitol Hill with the moral high ground. Al Qaida and the Taliban must be salivating with lust and greed as they watch our elected officials like Patrick Leahy and Charlie Wrangle plotting to hang Bush administration officials for being so gosh darn mean to America’s declared deadly enemies.
Osama Bin Laden has to be dancing with glee as he watches us all fight among ourselves. His dream may not be too unrealistic of someday having his own Tahoe lake front, imposing Sharia law on those of us he decides not to behead, kicking back on the beach in the summertime and rafting the Truckee. Of course, he will not be wearing a swim suit, or allowing you or me to wear one. Showing skin is very naughty, and we all know Bin Laden is the world’s foremost authority on good taste and manners.
U.S. prisons are overcrowded. We handcuff people, shock them with tazers and take away their homes with the royal proclamation of Eminent Domain. Bailed out barons party hearty while we who subsidize them lose our homes and jobs. Our lifestyle, according to some, is destroying the planet. We object to “torture” and enhanced interrogation techniques, yet we daily subject ourselves to the master marketing voice of Billy Mays on TV advertising everything from coal powered finger nail clippers to home improvement kits the size of a sugar cube. Now that’s torture, no matter how self inflicted.
And we think we can claim the moral high ground by infighting and prosecuting our fellow countrymen for having the nerve to aggressively protect America, where anyone can buy a halo at their local haberdashery. Praise the Lord and pass the hangman’s noose.
If the moral high ground is something to be aspired to, why pit one political party against the other to determine how morals, or even laws, are interpreted? Why risk ruining all the work Obama just did in his travels to boost America’s image abroad? Who wants to see the Statue of Liberty portrayed with a whip in hand, besides the New York Times? Has transparency come to mean we now identify with the world’s bad image of us?
Of course, the crusade to prosecute Bush administration officials will never get off the ground. Even if a law was broken, the act of politicians having a truth commission bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. If my prediction proves wrong we could be in for the biggest waste of legislative and judicial time in the history of our country.
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The “moral high ground” is nothing but a vacant lot at the top of a slippery slope. In Washington, D.C., it is covered with the litter of shredded documents blown up there by all the hot air. Perez Hilton, the Paris wannabe who ruined the Miss America contest sure as heck isn’t on the theoretical moral high ground. There seems to be a curse preventing humans from getting anywhere near the top. There are just too many of them falling all over each other, trying to be the first. They just can’t seem to make it. The slopes are too deep with the bodies of those who have tried. The impossibility of such an undertaking, already so obvious, will eventually hit the rest of us over the head like a lead brick. Then we can get back to more urgent national business.
Before we can claim the moral high ground, we have to learn how to live together on common ground. Then maybe we can all realize sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. I learned when I was a kid that, when the line is drawn, all you ever get by being nice to your enemies is a black eye and a bloody nose. I can’t imagine a guy wearing a mask and a hood and carrying an AK-47 giving me a lesson on the buddy system.
One thing is very clear. The al-Qaida and Taliban execution of the Geneva Convention makes water boarding look like assisted living. What should we fight a real monster dragon with, bubble bath?
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, ski instructor and commercial driver. He’s lived at Lake Tahoe for 25 years.