I decided to have some fun with a matching quiz to start my 2012 essays.
Your mission, should you choose it, is to match the blamers with the blamees.
Time Magazine, rightly, I think, chose the protester as the person of the year for 2011. The biggest story of the year was the worldwide movement of individuals against the corruption and injustices perpetrated by their governments and the governments’ and their supporters’ attempts to discredit their critics. So let’s see how many readers can match the governments and their supporters with the people they try to discredit:
a) Vladamir Putin
b) the Egyptian military
c) Paul Jenkins
d) the official Syrian news agency
e) Moammar Gadhafi
1) uninformed leftist brown-shirted hooligans behind on repaying college loans for unmarketable degrees
2) women of questionable morals who "brought violence on themselves"
3) the Americans
4) al Qaida
5. "stormed dens of armed terrorist groups"
Those of who get a perfect score can go to the head of the class.
Am I the only one to notice a pattern here? The folks in Column A apparently want us to believe there’s nothing wrong with their governments and those who claim otherwise are evil people who are entirely responsible for all the bad stuff that goes on in their countries.
Implicit in such ad hominem attacks seems to be the assumption that whatever powerful government officials and those who own them do are mere mistakes or imperfections, the underlings who carry out their orders by arresting, beating and shooting people with rubber or real bullets and pepper spray are just a “few bad apples” and their victims just brought the violence on themselves by standing up to the governments. In this mind-set, violence against people demanding freedom is justified because people are doing what the governments don’t want them to do. On page 4 of Monday’s paper, the Associated Press reports the Russian government jailed Sergei Udaltsov for “staging an unsanctioned rally” and “resisting police.” The message here seems to be: Sure you can protest as long as you conform to the government rules on what, when, how and where you can protest. Reminds me of that old Yakov Smirnov joke during the Cold War—Russia’s like the US; in the US you can call President Reagan an idiot and in Russia you can also call President Reagan an idiot.” Here in Anchorage, a small group sang Christmas carols to protest the “war on Christmas” and none were arrested. The official word was that the cops hadn’t completed their paperwork to conduct the arrest process. Yeah, right. That was about a month after a couple of folks got arrested for a demonstration outside the Wells Fargo bank branch in the Fifth Avenue Mall.
Let’s have a show of hands out there. How many believe Messrs. Jenkins, Putin and Gadhafi and the Syrian and Egyptian government officials are fooling anybody but themselves? How many believe the Russian, American, Libyan, Syrian and Egyptian people are worse criminals than the government officials they’re protesting against? So, the government criminals and their supporters don’t approve of the way people are opposing them. Pardon me, but I don’t have a lot of compassion for those who try to cover up the outrageous crimes by focusing on the relatively minor infractions allegedly committing by those who oppose the government criminals.
I hold all sane adults responsible for their behaviors. That includes not only individual citizens but also government officials. I do not subscribe to the doctrine that the more power a guy has the less accountable for his behavior he should be. If corporations are people, why aren’t we deporting illegal immigrant corporations like BP and jailing corporate criminals like Massey Energy? Or do we really believe some college kid in Occupy Wall Street commits a far more heinous crime by taking a leak on a sidewalk than by killing miners and oil workers through criminal negligence?
The comedian Shelley Berman once joked about running across a street to tell a cop about a murder taking place and being arrested for jaywalking.
Maybe Mr. Jenkins and his fellow blamees believe Berman’s fictional cop did exactly the right thing. But I don’t.
How about you?