Monday, June 30, 2014

What Moral High Ground? The Hypocritical States of America

(appropriately for the below discussion, this comes up on the first page of google images for the word 'america')

Before you ask, yes. Yes, of course I'm angry about the gender equality implications of today's Supreme Court ruling. I am livid, because I have half a brain and I know what the word 'freedom' means, and I know that today was a gargantuan leap backward in the pursuit of it.

But plenty of reactions sharper and more insightful than any I could throw in the mix have already been entered into the cybersphere. I'm glad that my fellow women (and many men) are angry. I'm glad people are paying attention. What I'm more interested in, though, is what fewer people are talking about; what fewer people have noticed. I'm interested in the ideological implications of a national leadership that purports to be the greatest in the world, yet attempts to justify decisions like this.

It's probably the result of the particular juxtaposition of the radio station news broadcasts I listen to at work, but today I heard about two stories more than any others: the Hobby Lobby decision, and the current goings-on in Iraq where ISIS is gaining ground each hour (at least, to hear the mainstream news tell it, that's what is happening). As I sat there at my desk, silently fuming over what idiots the people who get to run the world sometimes are (a habit of mine, I'm afraid), I realized there was a kind of nauseating irony at play.

Precisely the same people who've spent the better part of the past few weeks shouting and mudslinging and criticizing the executive branch's handling of the deteriorating situation in Iraq are the people lauding the bold decision made by the Supreme Court today. That is to say, the exact people who feel we aren't doing enough to stop a group with a specific religious ideology from infringing on the liberty of their fellow citizens across the ocean are applauding different group's efforts to do the same thing right here within our borders.

Let that sink in for a second.

The time has come for the United States government, at least the very conservative and those who allow them to run amok, to admit that they envision a nation that is so oppressive and close-minded that they might as well rip the Constitution to shreds right now. You can have religious freedom, they're saying, as long as it's freedom to be Christian and Christian only. You can be a modern woman, as long as you do it in a way that conforms to a very specific 1950's-era set of criteria and never, ever allows you to hold more power than your male counterparts. You can even be gay, and hey, we'll let you get married, but we're still going to allow the sweeping majority of the country to belittle, victimize, shame, and even kill you while we stubbornly look the other way.

The members of ISIS belong to a religious sect in Iraq that, without getting too far into the details, holds a drastically different belief about who ought to lead their nation than their opponents. They are willing to lie, cheat, and endanger lives for that belief. Is there anyone out there who truly can't see how eerily this resembles our do-nothing Congress and its perpetual thirst for trying to impeach President Obama, casting him as an "other" and calling the very foundations of the system that allowed him to become our nation's leader into question?

People in positions of authority (mostly men) keep showing up on television, on the radio, and in print insisting that we need to do something about Iraq's descent into religious sectarianism. They insist until they're blue in the face that we brought American values to Iraq so that they could be just like us, democratic and free from oppression based on trifles like their individual beliefs, or which reproductive organs they do or do not possess.

I'm not claiming that the Supreme Court, or the collection of impotent bags of hot air that we call Congress, are on a level with terrorists, at least not in terms of method. They would never be so blunt and sloppy in their machinations. I'm saying there's a similarity behind both brands of madness that we need to wake up and acknowledge. There's a lack of open-mindedness, of basic compassion, that is appalling to see in any public servant, let alone the majority. If it doesn't worry you, you aren't paying close enough attention.

The men running this country are bigoted, and obsessed with the idea that everyone else should conform to, or at least fall under the jurisdiction of, their particular beliefs. I'm just saying, if that's not zealotry, I don't know what is.