But amidst all the hardcore politics, grisly details and hugely cinematic spectacle, one vital detail swung by almost without notice like a thief in night-vision goggles; it was a potent flash of insight so devastating and telling I re-read the passage a few extra times to really let it soak in, to induce a deeply felt shudder and sigh.
It was this: We do this sort of thing all the time.
The truth remains: To the mainstream, America is all flag waving patriotism and God-sanctioned moral righteousness, and any blood or misery or harrowing "Hurt Locker"-like suffering is reserved for some faraway place most can't locate on a map. Americans remain, along with a few almost equally well-pampered allies, perhaps the most coddled, blindfolded, happily ignorant populace on earth.
And then comes the kicker: This is how we like it.
Yes, send our kids to die for nothing and borrow all the money you need to enrich the M-I-C and tell us how safe it's making us. Other than that, we don't want to know. Or care.
I should have read the next before I said that:
For the most part, it's an ignorance most of us gleefully accept, encourage, even happily pay for, both in taxpayer cash and in wary, informed understanding. "Here," we seem to say, "take all this money, use our billions to pay for the most advanced, bloated military in the world; just promise to never, ever tell me the full details or (especially) the moral ambiguity of what we're doing. Deal?"
We know, but we do not want to know. [...]
So it goes and same as it ever was. But what happens when people start denying facts en masse? What happens when larger and larger numbers of Americans band together in their willful ignorance, going beyond mere foreign policy and the military to start championing a lack of education, demonizing books and learning and science? What happens, in other words, when collective ignorance gets institutionalized and becomes a dangerous cultural force?
Why, you get fundamentalist Christianity. You get the Bush administration. You get the Tea Party. You get Palin and Bachmann and Rick Perry. And lo, the nation shudders and fractures even more painfully.
Put it this way: For anyone who values peace and moral progress, who resists using our military as pre-emptive attack force, who cares about fostering humane sensibility in the national dialogue, with Obama, this is about as good as it gets.
The sad news is, it's still not very good at all.
One wonders how "good" it would all be under President