Is National Outrage About to Finally Occur?
an op-ed piece by John Renesch
2004 © John Renesch
Suppose a young man enters the police academy where he befriends several fellow cadets who share his firmly-held ideology for how the world should be. One of the ideas that binds them together is a vendetta around one particular guy they consider a real hood, a bully within the ghettos. We’ll call him “Bad Guy.” The cadets frequently talk about what they’d do to Bad Guy if they were ever to catch him doing anything wrong when they’re on duty. They itch for any opportunity to “nail” him.
The cadets graduate and start on the local police force. They speculate about what excuses they can muster and how they’ll be real heroes if they could activate their plan and get Bad Guy off the streets.
One day, after hearing the dispatcher report an incident in Bad Guy’s part of town, the young rookie officer invites a couple of his rookie pals to meet him there. They find Bad Guy and bullets start to fly. Bad Guy is seriously wounded and some of his friends are killed. The officers call headquarters and report that they were merely going to question “a nasty looking man” when he went for a gun and they opened fire.
But eyewitnesses come forward and testify that Bad Guy never went for a gun! In fact, they say, he wasn’t carrying a weapon of any kind. Sure enough, no weapon is found. As the media focuses on the story, a former fellow cadet from their academy days informs the media that the young officer and his pals had plotted to put Bad Guy out of commission long before they were ever sworn in!
Now the community gets really pissed! Public outcries are heard on the six o’clock news. The community is outraged and boiling mad. The investigators of the incident feel huge pressures to get to the facts as soon as possible and prevent the public’s rage from turning into frustrated rioting. The offending officers are suspended until the investigation is completed.
An inquest is held and the Grand Jury decides that the men must be tried for murder. The indicted officers post bail awaiting the trial date and the community temporarily cools down, waiting to see if justice will be served.
Public outrage like this is completely understandable for citizens of a nation that claims to be a true democracy and advocates worldwide human rights and democratic principles. This demand for justice is appropriate for people living in a country where “all men are created equal” and our anthem cries for “liberty and justice for all.”
Americans have long served as a model for freedom and democracy for the rest of the world. So why are we mystified when people all around the world are perplexed by our endorsement of an invasion of another country, an entirely new precedent for the U.S.? Why does public legitimacy for this drastic departure of U.S. policy continue, even after discovering that all the justifications for a preemptive attack were false?\
Where is the national outrage about this? How can we get so incensed about policemen who use vigilante tactics in our neighborhoods but remain so complacent about our national leaders doing the equivalent on a global scale? How can we remain so silent and polite as we learn of lie after lie in justifying an invasion, a plan which had been part of an overthrow doctrine hatched long before the War on Terror?
Why do we get so worked up over one President who lies about getting blow jobs from an intern (an incident between consenting adults) yet remain so passive when another one lies to justify invading another nation (costing thousands of lives, injuring tens of thousands and costing billions)? Where is our sense of proportion here?
The policemen are supposed to be the Good Guys. The public relies on them for protection, to operate within “just cause” and truth-telling. After all, that’s what the “good guys” are supposed to do in a democracy! Why don’t we demand the same of all our public servants, whether they serve in on the local police force or in the White House?
If we allow our public servants to lie, bully, employ vigilante tactics and dictate new doctrines and policy without our expressed permission, then we are no better than the “bad guys” we claim to abhor. If we don’t express our outrage and stop condoning their actions though our silence, we get what we deserve.
In a democracy, that’s the deal!
John Renesch is a U.S. writer, futurist and former businessman.