So Far, So Good

Go ahead. Be shocked.

Be appalled. Be afraid. Be all the things you should be now that this is out n the open.

You’ll pardon me if I’m not the same. If I’m pessimistic, bitter, mad as hell, but generally unimpressed with your newfound rage.

We told you so. Over and over and over and over again, America. We told you so.

But no, it was okay, because they weren’t listening to your phone calls. Or they were, but you thought it was a small price to pay to protect you from Muslims. Or they were, but you were too much of a puss to speak up about it. Or they were, but you were fine with it, because you weren’t doing anything wrong.

It was okay to listen in on the phone conversations of people living somewhere in Kansas who’ve never met an Arab or Muslim much less spoken Arabic or Farsi or, I don’t know, studied any culture higher than those fancy new salads they have down at the McDonald’s now. It was okay, because even though they’d never met Arabs or Muslims, even though their only connection to this “war on terror” was their spectacularly jackassified senator’s blovations on the news every night and a TV movie they saw about some firefighters once, they knew there was an enemy out there, and if the government had to X-ray their colons to keep them safe, they bent over and spread ’em.

We told you so. But you kept saying, it’s okay. After all, we’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, except that we do have to fight them here, otherwise we wouldn’t be listening in on the party line. And we’re at war, not that it curtails the cocktail parties or rations the butter and flour. This is a moment of national crisis, but not so profound we should buy the cheap caviar in Washington. Speed past the grieving mother in your limousine, Mr. President. The private jet is waiting for you, Congressman. Don’t worry about those protesters. They’re just whackjobs. It’s okay.

It makes sense, on a very shallow and fucked-up level, it does. For the majority of its supporters, this “war” we’re in has never required sacrifice, never required effort, never required anything more than a few badly-written screeds on somebody’s blog. It makes sense that it’s okay for the government to gather our records, tap our phones, listen to our conversations. After all, it’s not like they’re making us do anything. It’s not like we have to go without. It’s not like it shuts off the cable in the middle of the CSI marathon. It’s not like it does anything but cost us a little more to fill up the Hummer, so why not let the government tap our phones?

We might even be okay with quartering soldiers, too. Let’s tax some stamps. I’d say we should tax tea again, to pay for this foreign adventure that gives joy to so many chickenhawks, but chickenhawks don’t drink tea. Tax Mountain Dew and Red Bull, I don’t see any danger of people throwing it into the harbor. Sing a song and wave the flag and tell me all about the land of the free. Better yet, don’t get up. I’ll bring you the flag. All you have to do is flap it in time to the pretty music.

A former boss of mine used to say about a particularly dim-witted acquaintance, “You could hit him in the face with a bag of nickels and he’d just look at you.” They’ve been smacking this country in the face with bags of nickels for years and we just keep looking at them. I spent a year and a half screaming about this to anybody who’d listen, but you couldn’t pay the New York Times or the Washington Post to give a shit, you couldn’t pay CNN to pick the story up. It was about all the stuff this NSA scandal is about: the president declaring himself above the law. But it was okay, because our underhanded tactics and our violent tendencies and our viciously casual disregard for the rights people have fucking died to ensure we retain only really hurt the guilty. It was okay, because even if the people we arrested and tortured and deported and rendered weren’t guilty per se (oh, that the name Dilawar could be on everybody’s lips), they didn’t really count. We’ve carved out chunks of ourselves year after year after year and said fuck it, it doesn’t matter, it’s okay, because this, because that, war on terror, the enemy all around us, striking them before they strike us, forever and ever, amen. It’s okay. It would be a joke, if only it was funny. We’ve jumped off the building and at every floor we fall past, we say, “So far, so good.”

It’s okay to spy. So far, so good. It’s okay to lie about the war. So far, so good. The Democrats want to ban the bible. So far, so good. There is nothing we cannot stand. Smack us in the face with another bag of nickels, sir. So far, so good. It’s okay to say a war hero shot himself, and you might even get a book deal out of it afterward. So far, so good. You want to balance your lunacy against my reality? So far, so good. Hey, that awning looks like it’s coming up mighty fast. Michael Moore is fat. So far, so good. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. Don’t get up.

Well, the ground is roaring up at us now, and suddenly people are asking how we got here, hurtling toward the concrete and the biggest crash in history at 200 miles an hour, and those of us with parachutes and those of us not stupid enough to jump in the first place and those of us who said why are we even on the roof, for fuck’s sake, let’s go have coffee and figure out how to fight terrorism with actual skill and intelligence are wondeirng how it could have escaped everybody’s notice for so long. It hasn’t been okay in a while.

And we fucking told you so. We told you, we told you, we told you.

Be shocked if you want, be outraged. It’s just one more bag of nickels to the face, and it hurts like all the other times they hit you, but I’m sure you can get past it, America. Just keep telling yourself it’s okay.