The ordinary spectacle of public events can reduce thoughtful people to tears, but present exercise of hypocritical double standards may bring us closer to hysteria.
The propaganda barrage that has millions believing a Middle Eastern despot is threatening the entire world with weapons of mass destruction comes from the world's foremost producer and user of such weapons. The U.S. demands that Iraq open its weapons program to inspection, while it has a law forbidding such inspection of its own massive biological death industry. It professes to speak and act for the well being of the international community, while thumbing its nose at the United Nations.
The absurd rhetoric concerning Saddam Hussein and his alleged threat to humanity is indulged in by people who would be institutionalized in a healthy society. Attributing horrendous evil and power to this tin-horn dictator, rabid pundits find him guilty of everything but the murder of Christ and the origin of AIDS. The wildest rhetoric comes from supporters of Israel, which has nuclear weapons that threaten the entire Arab world, but are never mentioned.
Iraq was devastated by the Gulf War, more honestly a slaughter. This so-called military power couldn't correctly aim a missile in its own defense. It has been further savaged by an embargo that has killed thousands of innocent people, while crippling its civil society. This, while an inspection-and spying-program has found and destroyed more of its weapons, further reducing its already vastly overrated military power. Yet, a gaggle of murderous nitwits insist that Iraq still threatens its neighbors, the world, and perhaps outer space, as long as the demon Hussein exists. People incapable of solving a TV Guide crossword puzzle express their expert knowledge of Saddam's insanity, genocidal tendencies and danger
to life on earth.
The often murderous obsession with leaders who oppose Western domination is an old story, exemplified by the hateful treatment of Castro's Cuba, or Khadafi's Libya. But Iraq's handling sinks to a new dimension of brutality, lowering our already-warped standards of moral consistency and giving the lie to any pretense of civility.
Next, we have the simmering scandal of a president alleged to have sexually diddled with an intern, though vehemently denying it to the public. Most people have responded in a tolerant way that, unfortunately, has little to do with issues of honesty, sexism and corrupting power. Sexual consciousness is a bad dream in Puritan America, but this story is a nightmare of double standards.
The President's fondness for reducing his wife to the nation's First Cuckoldette has created an outburst of fanatic fundamentalism among true believers, both pro and con, none of it indicating any strength of character or morality.
Many once sensitive to the treatment of women by men in power have become defenders of the poor Chief Executive, helpless against the wiles of wanton young women. Patriarchy's nasty legend of Eve is acted out in modern style, accepted and adhered to by many who consider themselves opponents of male domination and advocates of change.
Nothing new here. The same people who were enraged when Clarence Thomas was alleged to have talked dirty to his secretary, and found it reasonable for her to wait 10 years before complaining, treated Paula Jones as trash for taking three years to charge Billy Liar with dropping his pants and waving his pre-presidential weenie in her face.
The unfortunate Hillary Clinton is reduced to crying conspiracy and defamation of character, while her own character is the subject of gossip among supporters, and slander among enemies. Feminism is critiqued, not by its own, as it should be, but by those dedicated to its demise.
Then we have Kenneth Starr, a money-wasting devil to the same folks who found his office an angelic adjunct to democracy, worth any expense when it was investigating the Reagan administration. If the demonized Starr, called the Grand Inquisitor by critics, had been involved with the historic Inquisition, the Catholic Church would be headquartered in a storefront in Palermo. Had he prosecuted the Nicole Simpson murder case, O.J. would now be Governor of California. Yet, this ineffectual, heavy handed bumbler has become a domestic Hussein, charged with threatening truth, justice and decency, and defended by hypocrites more distasteful than his opposition.
Supporters of abortion rights, sorely threatened by medieval forces of darkness, are moved to disregard an episode that seems to extol coercive sexual power exercised by older men over younger women. They remain silent, because Clinton supports choice-at least for abortion. But the double standard screams, and may well benefit those who wish to strengthen our patriarchal, sexist foundation.
So, boys will be boys, indeed, and what are a few thousand lives when testosterone, geopolitics and the Israeli Lobby are calling? Grab a little ass, get a BJ, blow up a few Arab innocents, then go to church, synagogue or temple and pray to whatever it is that enables rationalizing the moral sewer that is our political economic reality. Always profess high ethical values before indulging in corrupt or murderous behavior, and everything will be okay.
Aristotle may have rationalized dualism when he cited the excluded middle, after the genesis myth laid the groundwork for blaming evil on women. But present-day America exceeds the single-minded double standards of our dualistic origins, and it does so in a way that makes old philosophers and biblical mythologists look consistent and humane by comparison. They had a right to be ignorant, but we really have no excuse.