Wednesday, January 18, 2012

God bless the USA---God curse the USA.

You keep hearing it over and over, "God bless the USA. God bless the USA. God bless the USA."

But I've tended to cringe each time I've heard it for the past eight or more years. Not because I didn't wish for it to be so or want it to happen. In fact, I cringed for quite awhile with only a vague understanding of exactly why I did. Then I read CHEATING JUSTICE, by Elizabeth Holtzman with Cynthia L. Cooper. Now I know why I cringe. Because President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, and others actually did deceive Congress and the citizens to go to war in Iraq. Furthermore, they set free the appalling policies of brutal and inhuman torture in violation of law and basic human compassion. And they haven't faced the consequences for having done so.

So let me stand now and applaud these courageous women, Elizabeth Holzman and Cynthia L. Cooper, who are capable, very experienced and knowledgeable attorneys and writers, who refuse to let American justice be cheated without raising the roof, setting forth an exacting case for action. Their book presents the facts and the case for how and why we, as a society, should proceed against those responsible for various atrocities, including torture.

Often, the "God bless the USA" refrain is heard in a political context. Frequently, for me at least, it's the President of the United States of America I hear saying it, seeking to sanctify his speech as he closes: "God bless the USA." But now, as I've said, I cringe when that happens and find myself wondering: is such a petition blasphemy? Will the USA be cursed? Must we, as a nation, not repent, acknowledging wrongdoing in not holding the rich and powerful people responsible and accountable? Shouldn't we, with Elizabeth Holzman and Cynthia Cooper, stand tall for justice and not allow the swindle of righteousness to continue?

Remember back to March 20, 2003 to the attack on Baghdad? I watched on television: the bombing, the explosions, the gunfire, the rising smoke and the bleeding bodies, the innocent killing and destruction that went on and on and on. The war continued for days and weeks, for months and years, ever onward. Remember the news reports night after night? Remember the cost in lives, in injuries, in time and money, not just of Americans, but Iraqis and others involved in the mess. Remember the loved ones lost or maimed, the financial disasters it has wrought at home and abroad?  Remember, in the midst of it, all those wretched pictures at Abu Ghraib? Men --- guilty or not --- tortured, laid bare and brutalized, subjected to gross humiliations, absolute terror in their faces, maimed and killed? Remember? US soldiers standing over them, mocking and torturing them, and getting off in doing so? Torture, plain and simple. Savage, sadistic and callous. Plus the continuing stories, not only of Abu Graib and Iraq, but also of arrests and renderings, at home and abroad, of the perhaps guilty and the innocent in the "war on terror"? The miscarriages of justice.

Remember the pretexts for starting the war in Iraq: the alleged weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi's connections to the 9/11 attacks.  It was a pack of lies and untruths. Pretexts, laid bare in this deliberate, take-you-all-through-it, step-by-step, book.

Will God curse the USA? Despite repeated, ad infinitum, incantations of "God bless the USA" by Americans of all walks of life, can we as citizens truly expect God --- or, for that matter, any secular philosophy --- so petitioned, to bless the USA?

I worked as an appeals officer for the IRS. (When I used to mention that I worked for the IRS, people would cringe. I'd say that at least it was appealing work). What does an appeals officer for the IRS do? Where warranted, they make compromises on tax cases appealed by disgruntled taxpayers --- individuals, corporations, partnerships, etc. Appeals officers weigh the state of the existing pertinent laws and all of the relevant facts and circumstances of a case. Then they assess the risks to the parties in litigating. They try to make compromises, accordingly, if warranted. The reason I mention this is because that is precisely what these authors do with CHEATING JUSTICE.

You should read it. I hope you do. Eventually people need to say and hear "God bless the USA" without cringing and worrying as a nation we've shirked our responsibility in justice. Can God bless the USA?