And it's not that the Democrats are flawless, not by a longshot. In fact, they're pretty pathetic. Their failure to impeach Bush and hand him and his cronies over to an international war crimes tribunal disgusts me. Actually, what I really want to see, just for the irony, is Bush and his cronies tried for terrorism under the Patriot Act, followed immediately after conviction with its repeal.
Hmm... 'The definition also encompasses activities that are "dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State" and are intended to "intimidate or coerce a civilian population," "influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion," or are undertaken "to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping" while in the jurisdiction of the United States.'
Lessee... Committing criminal fraud to start a war? That's a criminal activity dangerous to human life. And involves coercing the civilian population of the Unites States -- deception is a form of coercion. Not to mention the threat of being extraordinarily rendered, though it's arguable whether that's part of the same criminal act.
Seriously, though, there needs to be a law which punishes government officials who abuse their authority in a way that undermines the Constitution, with punishment greater the greater the abuse AND the higher up the official. Then again, I'm a firm believer in what you might call the inverse Hammurabi code, in which individuals of higher social class or greater authority are punished more severely for the same crimes, because they had more alternatives. (Not to mention that I consider authority and social class to both be innately evil, but I consider that to be an element of morality that properly lies outside the scope of law, which is more about social engineering than individual behavior.)
That's beside the point, though. The main point I want to make is this: I'm done. No more benefit of the doubt from me. I am fond of saying, "Opposing evil does not make one good." This is true. Look at the Democrats for an example. Hell, look at El Presidente: There's no doubt in my mind that terrorism is evil, that Hussein's actions against his own people were evil, or that George W. Bush and the majority of his administration are evil, despite that each of these opposes (or in the case of Hussein, opposed) the other two.
But the converse is not true. Failing to oppose a clear evil is, in itself, evil. Actively supporting evil is evil, period, even if you're not the one firing the bullets or drafting the signing statements.
And let there be no doubt: the Republicans are evil. Outright, pure, mustache-twirling, cartoon evil. It's absurd, I agree. Hard to believe that such people can exist in reality. But that's exactly how they've gotten this far: by exploiting the assumption that they can't really be as evil as they seem, there must be some misunderstanding. Well, that and exploiting the psychological need some people have to be led.
But the last straw was last night, when a Republican campaign consultant told CNN, without a trace of shame or even recognition that there might be reason to be ashamed, that the Republican party would never consider a black candidate for President.
Bigotry, of which racism is one (relatively) recently developed type*, is one of the purest forms of evil. There are individual acts that are more evil, but few things are more pointlessly destructive. Bigotry is counterfactual, hurts everyone involved including the bigot (though obviously it hurts the target of the racism far more), and produces absolutely no benefit whatsoever for anyone.
To have a major Republican campaigner freely say, "Yeah, we're racists," is unbelievably chilling. I mean, it's not a surprise. Republican politicians are rarely openly racist, but the most widespread Republican stances on immigration policy, war, terrorism, and English as a national language are racist in origin and intention for at least some Republicans, as the racist rhetoric around them shows. Their stances on those issues also show elements of linguistic, cultural, and religious bigotry. Not to mention the party's strong history of support for sexist and homophobic positions.
But let's just run down the line of Republican evil, shall we?
1) They want you to die so companies can profit.
2) They have a history of lying and obfuscation to invent controversies where none exist. See here, here, and here.
3) They support institutionalized bigotry against homosexual and related groups, women, minorities (especially blacks, Hispanics, and people of Middle Eastern and Central Asian descent)**, and non-Christians. (So do many Democrats, but not anywhere near as many or to such an extreme.)
4) They support corporate welfare and oppose the social safety net for individuals -- in short, comforting the comfortable and afflicting the afflicted.
5) They oppose nationalized medicine, which demonstrably provides more coverage to more people at a lower cost per person (in, among other places, Britain, Germany, Japan, and Canada).
6) They support spying on American citizens, jailing people for indefinite periods without warrant, preventing defendants and their attorneys from seeing the evidence against them, undermining the independent judiciary, expanding the power of the executive, using military resources for police and judicial functions, extensively employing mercenaries, reducing government accountability, and in general creating a police state.
7) Hypocrisy, the most glaring example of which being that they support increasing the influence of Christianity on politics when it gives an excuse to prevent people from being happy, but are strangely silent about the fact that the New Testament explicitly condemns wealth and the wealthy and specifically bars the mingling of church and state.
8) They support maintaining the highest incarceration rate in the world (5% of the population and 25% of the imprisoned -- and we call this a free country?), most of whom are not in jail for violent crimes or theft, but as a consequence of the disastrous "war on drugs".
9) They favor abandoning rather than reforming the public school system.
10) They favor economic and educational policies that reinforce societal stratification.
There's no reason it has to be this way. Liberalism is not good and conservatism evil; life is more complex than that. It is perfectly possible to have both a centrist party and a conservative party (much as I'd like one, there is no major American liberal party, there hasn't been one since the Progressive Party collapsed, and there is unlikely to be one anytime soon) which have the best interests of the nation, its people, and the world in mind, study history, the sciences, and the world around them to determine what policies are workable, and yet still disagree on a whole heck of a lot.
But voting for the current version of the Republican party is voting for immense evil. If you really oppose the Democrats' policies that strongly, fine, vote for a third party or not at all. But not for the Republicans. If you find you agree with them and support their goals? Congratulations, you're a minion. I strongly recommend re-evaluating your life, your morals, and your beliefs, but until then, I shall regard you with pity and continue to oppose your leaders.
*Historical ignorance is so much fun! The notion that humanity is separable into distinct groups on biological lines really only appears in the Middle Ages and didn't strongly catch on until the 17th century. Prior to that in Europe, and in most other cultures right up until the last 150 years, bigotry was primarily along familial (such as India's caste system), cultural/linguistic (ancient Greece's "barbarians", which just meant "people who don't speak Greek"), and economic (India's caste system again, Rome's patricians and plebians) lines. The reason was simple: dividing people up on appearance just doesn't make sense when most people spend their entire lives within a hundred miles of their birthplace, and therefore never see anyone who looks significantly different.
There were exceptions, of course. Pretty much anywhere you had significantly different-looking ethnic groups living near each other, particularly if one had power and the other didn't, you got something like modern racism. In some periods of ancient Egyptian history, for example, the light-skinned ruling class referred to the darker-skinned people in and near Egypt as "the demon race of Ish". The Japanese have a centuries-long history of systematically marginalizing and killing the densely bearded, crinkly-haired Ainu (also commonly called Utari, Ezo, or Emishi).
However, racism in the modern sense (based on skin color and tied roughly to continent of origin) can really be traced to the systematizing of biology in the 18th century. Linnaeus, for example, who is known for inventing the system of binomial nomenclature used (in modified form) by biologists to this day, identified four subspecies of humanity. He even ranked them from "superior" to "inferior," as: Homo sapiens europaeus (whites), Homo sapiens asiaticus (asians), Homo sapiens americanus (Native Americans), and Homo sapiens afer (blacks). (Hispanics did not yet exist at the time as a distinct ethnicity, and he either overlooked Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Polynesian, and Australian Aboriginal populations or considered them members of the groups he established.)
**The final straw in losing my respect for one Republican of my acquaintance was their incredibly bigoted attitude toward Muslims and Arabs, which they regard as being interchangeable terms. The point, however, at which I realized that this person was actually insane was when they argued that the draconian immigration policies they were describing were justified because, I kid you not, "Border patrols won't be able to tell Hispanics and Muslims [by which she presumably meant Arabs] apart."
How do you answer that kind of complete nutjobbery? I mean, even ignoring the spectacular racism of the suggestion that Arabs are more likely to commit terrorist acts on American soil (the likeliest group is, of course, American-born Caucasian males, such as Ted Kaczynski, Eric Rudolph, and Timothy McVeigh. Note also that, in the last 30 years or so, terrorist acts in the U.S. have been overwhelmingly more likely to be committed by social conservatives such as McVeigh, Kaczynski (arguably), Rudolph, and the Sept. 11 hijackers. I'm just sayin'.)
Anyway, even assuming that the racial profiling was justified, how on Earth can somebody actually divorce themselves from reality enough to say that it would be hard for a trained agent of whatever-the-INS-is-called-this-week to tell whether they're talking to a Nicaraguan or a Pakistani? And if it *is* that hard to tell, doesn't that kind of undermine the whole idea that there are racial features you can use to identify who's more likely to be a terrorist?
Then again, this person also believes that Asians can't drive and Obama is Muslim, so clearly they're not members of the reality-based community.