When Seared Consciences Lust for Power
The president caused a stir the other day when he told Bill O’Reilly that there are lots of killers out there, and that America is “not so innocent.” This was in response to a question about how Trump could work with Putin, in that, as O’Reilly objected, “he’s a killer.” This is quite true. He is a killer, thug, and kleptocrat. Defenders of Putin have a moral compass that, instead of pointing true north, has a needle sticking out the side in order to point to Sheol.
That answer from Trump was taken by some as mightily offensive, as though he were flattening all differences between Russia and the United States, making the two morally equivalent. This is something liberals used to do all the time in the Cold War, where they would say things like “well, sure, the Soviets have the Gulag but we must never forget that the all-you-can-eat buffet at Ruby Tuesday is out of the reach of our working poor.” Stuff like that.
But the offense that was taken to Trump’s remark had a curious religiously indignant feel to it, as though the president had just heaved a dead polecat at the high altar. How dare he compare us in any way to the lousy Russians?
There are just a couple of points to make here, and it shouldn’t take long.
We are talking about killing, and downstream from Roe, we have the blood of 50 million American citizens on our hands. Not only so, but unlike the totalitarian Soviets, or the autocratic Russians, we did this in the broad light of day and with the connivance (or at least acquiescence) of all our state governments, at every level. In other words, the Russian people were kept in place by means of fear, while the American people were kept in place through promises of continued convenience and prosperity.
But if you maintain that this is not what we are talking about—meaning that you don’t want to compare killing with killing, or numbers with numbers, but rather the kind of skullduggery-killing that Putin does with the fact that we don’t do that kind of thing to political opponents—saying, in other words, that you don’t think that the genocide we perpetrate should count, then it is just special pleading. Say, by the way, did you know that approximately 52K black children are going to be legally offed during the course of this February, this Black History Month? Mark it on your calendar. When March arrives, they will all be dead. Some of what we are willing to overlook in good old Amurica could make a cat laugh.
But even limiting it to “political” deaths, let me bring up something a little bit awkward. However, in order to bring it up, let me pretend that it happened in Russia. Let us pretend that there was a judge who was an obstacle to Putin’s plans and designs, and that he died suddenly at a hunting lodge. Let us suppose further that the cause of death was then determined by a local coroner over the phone. No autopsy, nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Let me ask a fair question. What would we say if Putin did anything so lame? Or perhaps not lame . . . perhaps highhanded? Some of what we are willing to overlook in good old Amurica could make a cat laugh.
Consider the stakes involved in American political struggles. Consider how much power is available, and how much certain people with seared consciences want that power. If murder were somehow magically not involved in it, it would be the first time in history that anything like that had happened.