19 May 2005

Aren't we supposed to be, well, better than the terrorists?

I keep reading comments from people saying, in essence, "well, so what if we tortured/raped/murdered/flushed the Koran down a toilet? You think they don't flush Bibles down toilets? And what about all of the people murdered by terrorists? Huh? Huh?"

I think that argument is entirely wrong. Yes, terrorists are murdering non-combatants. Yes, religious fundamentalists are desecrating symbols of other religions. But aren't these actions the reasons why the perpetrators are hateworthy? And if we do those things, aren't we hateworthy, too?

One great virtue of the US was always that we were able to maintain some illusion of at least trying to do the right thing. And despite the bombings of Southeast Asia, the CIA black ops, and the undermining of democratically elected governments, we were, until recently, still at least a little credible when we claimed to be the good guys.

Now we've thrown all that away. Instead of regarding our sins as aberrations, and trying to avoid repeating them, self-proclaimed patriotic Americans are claiming that we're justified in doing anything that the "bad guys" do.

Problem is, it makes us into bad guys. And no amount of flag-waving is going to change that.