The most appalling thing to me about the release of the torture report is the fact that so many Americans — a majority, I have no doubt — who want to bury their heads in the sands. That’s why we see all that “America is awesome” bluster, because it covers up the uncomfortable truth of what the government did — does — in our name. David Simon nails this phenomenon:
That there are elements of the American government still arguing against this cold blast of truth, offering up the craven fear that the rest of the world might see us as we actually are, or that our enemies will perhaps use the evidence of our sadism to justify violent retribution or political maneuver — this further cowardice only adds to the national humiliation.
This is not one of the world’s great powers behaving as such, and it is certainly no force for good in the world. This might as well be the Spanish national amnesia following the death of Franco, or a post-war West Germany without the stomach for the necessary self-reflection. Shit, even the fragile, post-apartheid democracy of South Africa managed to openly conduct hearings and attempt some measure of apology and reconciliation in the wake of the previous regime’s brutalities. Not us. Not the United States. We’re too weak to endure any such moral reflection without the attempt itself descending into moronic partisan banter. That’s right. Here, in America, we are — today — actually torturing other human beings with exacting cruelty in secret and then arguing about whether we can dare discuss it in public.
He quite correctly argues that those who did this must go to jail, but that we are too cowardly to do that. “Who has the courage to begin? Is there a single American political leader? No. Not a one,” he says. He’s right. And how fucking pathetic is that? The home of the brave? Brave is the opposite of what we are. We are so terrified of even the smallest threat that we will gladly and immediately acquiesce in anything the government says they must do to protect us from it. And when we find out what they did and how morally bankrupt it is, we cower in fear at the thought of having it revealed. We are a nation of cowards.