We live in a sad time when only satire can convey some realities. Watch Stephen Colbert:
Why aren't protesters screaming from the rooftops about this administration's adoption of pre-emptive permanent detention, about a verbal renunciation of torture that leads to no prosecutions of proud war criminals like Dick Cheney, and an assertion of a right to kill individuals anywhere in the world without any adversarial process? Certainly, these retreats from the rule of law and historically evolved norms of human social decency are as grievous as those of the previous regime. Where's the outrage?
Well, of course, there is outrage. There are a faithful few among the relatively respectable, like the National Religious Campaign against Torture and the ACLU. There are also protesters -- Code Pink dogs the appearances of the last set of rulers and reminds us to watch out for opportunities to carry our message to the next set. That's faithful.
But mostly, most of us are pragmatists. When the Bushites were in power, it was possible to believe the other sort were better. Now that we know that about wars, torture, and the rule of law this set are not better, -- though perhaps they are a little verbally smoother -- we turn our attention to other struggles. The current rulers are better than the previous lot in some respects: by and large they know the earth revolves around the sun and that women are human. This is not so clear among the Republicans. We do have to try to re-elect Barack Obama and as many Democrats as possible.
But there is no way to enter into that 2012 campaign with hope of change. We are holding onto a frayed civilization and a tired democracy, sinking rapidly into kleptocracy, wondering if our institutions can evolve enough to keep our heads above water (often literally.) And we chip away at barbarism where we can.
And we laugh at Stephen Colbert. Things are not as different from 2006 as we had hoped. But we've got no other planet to escape to, so we have to keep trying to make a better place of this one. Guess that's being human ...