Collective National Manure

All the drama of the Sochi Winter Olympic Games has wound down. Along with the closing of the games I imagine many media pundits and self-identifying patriots will have to find another pastime apart from the constant Russia-bashing. Between Pussy Riot being locked up for playing a set of punk rock in front of a church, and the oppressive and dangerously ambiguous Russian laws regarding homosexuality, red-blooded Americans have been having a field day criticizing the perceived lack of freedom taking place across the Bering Strait from Sarah Palin’s house.

But wait just a minute; you want to talk oppression? First and foremost, the good old U.S. of A. locks up more of its citizens—and keeps them behind bars for longer periods of time—than any other country in the world. In fact, our little nation of three hundred million folks houses a solid quarter of the entire world’s prisoners. This doesn’t even include non-citizens being held for us overseas by foreign governments, or rotting away in black-op facilities. We have a multi-billion dollar prison-industrial complex, and it’s only getting larger and more powerful as the machine rumbles on.

Secondly, our current military bases, engagements, and occupations make Russia’s present-day military campaigns look like summer camp by comparison. We are still launching missiles, from drones, into wedding parties in Yemen. We consider any fighting age male with a gun in that country to be a legal target—a potential “non-lawful combatant.” We’ve got military bases on every continent, so who is really doing the oppressing around the world?

Frankly, I can’t say for sure whether it would be worse to be gay in Russia, or Kansas. Russia has their Pussy Riot, we’ve got Edward Snowden in exile and Chelsea Manning rotting behind bars. Does anyone else ever wonder how the only person who got sent up for that leak was a private in the army? That is the lowest rank in an organization based on hierarchy. A private basically shouldn’t be able to wipe her butt without getting authorization from someone higher-up, and yet Manning takes all the blame? I guess accountability is just a nice buzz-word.

I had another thought along the lines of accountability, or lack thereof. I was ogling Martha Stewart in a recent publication we get from the ASPCA when it struck me that, after all the insanity happening on Wall Street collapsed the economy, the domestic diva has served more jail time than all the crooked traders, brokers, and CEO’s combined.

I love what America stands for— the preamble to the Declaration of Independence makes my nads tingle—but this country is insane. We’ve got good words, but any system is only as good as the people who run it; and good words have a way of being twisted by shady lawyers and corrupt power-players.

Anyway, I’ll get down off the high-horse here, but let’s take a long and serious look in the mirror before we start acting like our collective national manure doesn’t reek something fierce.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.