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by Frank Pitz Tuesday, May. 18, 2004 at 4:34 AM

We do in large part bear much responsibility for the events that are transpiring, in Iraq as well as here at home ... We have sold our souls on the marketplace in exchange for the Wal-Martization of America.


Just when was it that we abandoned our collective -- and individual -- responsibility? The Christian Bible tells us that when God asked Adam why he ate of the apple, he blamed "the woman whom you gave to be with me." God asked Eve and she said, "the serpent deceived her." To come into the modern era most of us can remember the Flip Wilson routine about "the devil made me do it." Segue into the "hooray for me and screw you" era of Ronald Reagan and the eighties with its junk bond and savings and loan scandals in which the miscreants most always mounted a defense in which blame (guilt) invariably rested with someone -- or something -- else. And culpability most often was conveniently shifted away from the guilty party with a sustaining ‘wink and a nod' from our national leaders in Washington.

Ronald Reagan regaled the nation with anecdotal tales of "welfare queens in Cadillacs" and condoned, by way of many speeches on the subject of welfare, a tacit approval of bias and even violence against blacks. It was Ronald Reagan who succeeded in turning "welfare" into a political code word for black. As well, conservative Republicans regularly used such code words and anecdotal stories to push the myth of the promiscuous black teenage mother bringing forth children in order to secure more welfare dollars. Very few -- if any -- politicians made mention of the fact that African-Americans are not the majority of welfare recipients.

Reagan's tenure saw huge tax cuts for the rich, just as we now see coming from the Bush administration. Regan's tenure saw depressed economic conditions, just as now. And now, just as then, the political answer for this type of national uneasiness is to create a scapegoat that can take the heat off the corrupt political practices of the governmental whores and their corporate pimps. Reagan had a couple little wars that helped him out; Bush has a very large war that is blowing up in his smirking cowboy face. The war on Iraq and by association on Islam has become a disaster for George W. Bush and those sycophants who surround him. And that brings us now to torture, and responsibility.

The Bush administration is trying desperately to contain the fast spreading firestorm of the disclosure -- with graphic evidence -- of brutal human rights abuses in Iraq and elsewhere. Most Americans are horrified at what they are seeing in released photographs of these abuses. But the Bush administration is spinning, and spinning, while at the same time disavowing any command responsibility for these barbarous events. We are being told that "a few" lower echelon personnel took it upon themselves to coldly, and calculatingly administer these abuses upon other human beings. While it may be true that a few enlisted people took delight -- while recording digital scrapbooks -- in executing this defilement, the command structure knew they could manipulate the entire scenario. And that command structure goes all the way up to the cowboy Commander-in-Chief.

We are looking at kids here; youngsters raised in a climate of violence from Reagan, Bush I, and Clinton's "little wars," through the WWF "Smackdown" climate of "fuck you, I'm tough." Its all about "prosecuting with vigor," "staying the course," "with us or agin us," and big cojones strutting around in a flight suit. Rush Limbaugh says, "it's just some kids letting off steam." Certain members of the House and Senate are in an uproar, not because these events happened but rather because the media is "creating an turmoil" by making the events public. Wow, that's the right attitude from our elected representatives, isn't it?

And, what of our attitude you and I, as parents, teachers, religious leaders, mentors and writers? What is our collective culpability in all of this? Perhaps by slipping into a more permissive home and school environment rather than the structured family units of the past, we have lost something valuable? In our rush to "keep up with the Jones's" have we sacrificed our young on the altar of expediency? It would take much more of a social scientist than I could ever be to answer questions of this nature, but as an opinion writer I can -- and will -- offer my view.

We do in large part bear much responsibility for the events that are transpiring, in Iraq as well as here at home. We have relinquished -- for the most part -- our individual responsibility both in the raising of our children as well as answerability for our fellow human beings. We have sold our souls on the marketplace in exchange for the Wal-Martization of America. Many liberals among us feel they are doing their "fair share" by dint of email activism; all the while the right wing nut cases run about attacking women, minorities, immigrants and "them fucking rag-heads" as being responsible for their social and economic distress. We accept the status quo, we cede our responsibility to the thieves and panderers in Washington by not voting for political and social change. We disavow our responsibility towards our children when we allow them to blossom and grow without a moral or spiritual roadmap. As long as we accept, without question or in your face dissent, the corrupt policies of corporations and their political bedfellows, we are responsible, we are the enemy.

That old cliche, "you are what you eat," is so true. We have supped at the table of complacency for so long now, that acceptance of the mediocre is ingrained in our collective psyche. We are responsible.



Frank Pitz is a 66 year old iconoclast, writer, poet, cynic -- and on top of all that a Buddhist as well. He lives year-round in Pompano Beach, Florida, is an alumnus of the glorious "cut and paste" newspaper days -- Lancaster Independent Press, has also worked for a living from bricklayer, to truckdriver to Housing and Urban Development Professional. He's a grant writer, and has been known to run a political campaign on occasion.

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