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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

American Sadists

Poet and essayist Charles Simic in the New York Review of Books:
In the past, even the most venal among our politicians would now and then show that they have hearts. No more. Now that money rules politics more than ever before and those for whom private gain outweighs public good every time fill the coffers of both political parties, any mention of the plight of the sick, the homeless, and the old borders on political suicide. Polls show that most Americans do not quite share the callousness of our political class to the suffering of the less fortunate members of our society. But some do. We all remember, I hope, the cheers that went up in the audience during the GOP’s presidential debate last spring in Tampa when Ron Paul, the libertarian candidate and former doctor, stated that he would let an uninsured man lying in a coma die without lifting a finger. “That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risk,” he said. “This whole idea that you have to compare and take care of everybody…” at which point, a few members of the audience shouted “Yeah,” cutting off the congressman in mid-sentence.

This is the new face of American sadism: the unconcealed burst of joy at the thought that pain is going to be inflicted on someone weak and helpless. Its viciousness, I believe, is symptomatic of the way our society is changing. Everything from the healthcare industry, payday loans, and for-profit prisons to the trading in so-called derivatives, privatization of public education, outsourcing of jobs, war profiteering, and hundreds of other ongoing rackets all have that same predatory quality. It’s as if this were not their own country, but some place they’ve invaded in order to loot its wealth and fleece its population without caring what happens to that population tomorrow. The only interest these profit-seekers have in us is as cheap labor, cannon fodder for wars, and suckers to be parted with our money. If we ever have a police state here, I’ve been thinking, it won’t be because we’ve become fascists overnight, but because rounding up people and locking them up will be seen as just another way to get rich. If the hell that Jonathan Edwards and other Puritan divines described in such gruesome and graphic detail is still up and running, I hope that’s where many of them are headed for.

See also the latest charts and current concerns at the Washington Post: "Obamacare's Five Biggest Challenges."


Nikolaos said...

Somewhere along the way, these ppl have lost their humanity.

Very good article. And our right-wing is right (as it were) behind yours, making the same reprehensible arguments against compassion and caring.

Russ Manley said...

Very sad, isn't it.

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