Listening to the Pam Fessler piece about Jack Bauer on NPRs Morning Edition (March 17) raised some disquieting remembrances from the book of Isaiah. Thus I am given to wonder if perhaps Jack Bauer is not so much a “quintessential hero for a … frustrated nation,” but rather a quintessential anti-hero of a “hypocritical nation” (Isaiah 10:6).
Are we hypocritical? Do we, seeing, see not, and hearing, hear not (Isa. 42:20) when evidence of our hypocrisy emerges? Consider these questions:
▪ Do we Americans, because of our good-guy self-image and motives, consider ourselves entitled and justified in using all the bad-guy tools of deception, propaganda, manipulation, kidnapping, torture, and even murder?
▪ Do we denounce extremism in others, yet embrace with enthusiasm the Goldwater maxim that “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice”?
▪ As self-proclaimed guardians and defenders of freedom and democracy, do we violate the fundamentals of both, both here and abroad, in the name of safety and security?
▪ Do we honor transparency and openness in government with our lips, but with our actions and laws disguise facts and figures, seal government and court documents, claim executive privilege, muzzle employees, presume powers, destroy documents, and manufacture consent?
▪ In this land of free speech, do we seek or countenance acts intended to marginalize, threaten, punish, and silence, as “enemies of the people” and as unpatriotic, those who raise dissenting or warning voices, or who expose deception, corruption, failure, and profiteering?
▪ Do we pretend that the invisible hand of the marketplace reigns free and supreme while billions of dollars of public funds and assets flow into corporate collectives by way of government policies, bounties, subsidies, favors, favoritism, non-competitive contracts, and the quiet absolution of criminal conduct?—sleights-of-hand that scarcely get a hand slap when exposed.
▪ Have the offices of Congress in our great Republic become primarily market stalls of access and influence for milling lobbyists?
▪ Have secrecy and dissembling become the norm so that public personas, agendas, and motives can be presented as pristine, like the proverbial Dorian Gray?
▪ Do we look the other way when governments sidestep public accountability by hiring private contractors in the name of free enterprise or efficiency?
▪ As the professed moral opponent of evil empires, are we not the top producers, consumers, and exporters of pornography and violent entertainment—channeling night and day into electronic coliseums worldwide?—from pocket-size to affluenza-size?
▪ Do we claim that violent and pornographic fictions have no real-world impact or consequence, all the while responding to marketers who spend billions on fictional ads boldly selling us behaviors, attitudes, and products?
▪ How often do we strain at gnats yet swallow camels in our political and legal proceedings?
A concluding question is this: If our America of the past 30 years looked into the mirror would she see the face of Eliot Spitzer? And would she, like him, have enough remaining integrity to confess her sins and resign herself to repentance and repair?
I believe that America is a great nation with a great destiny, but if we refuse to admit and correct our numerous hypocrisies, we will break under the weight of them and forfeit whatever other greatness might lie before us. Déjà vu history?
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