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Commentary Last Updated: Aug 22nd, 2006 - 00:24:18

A nation with an anesthetized conscience
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Aug 22, 2006, 00:21

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Athletes� performances today are outshining those of yesterday in just about every sport. Not in a gradual evolutionary way that could be logically explained, but in major leaps that make a mockery of past records, or statistical comparisons. Half of those people breaking records, or achieving prodigious results, are found to have done so thanks to performance enhancing �supplements� or drugs . . . while the other half simply managed not to get caught. Sport heroes and sport goats all sucking from the same illicit udder to achieve wealth and/or stardom.

And why are athletes caught �cheating� so adamant in declaring their innocence? Could it be that they resent being penalized for something �most everyone� is guilty of? It�s not far-fetched to say their conscience is not telling them they�re doing something wrong, so when they defend themselves they appear to do it with true conviction; which tells us they either lack a conscience . . . or their conscience is inoperative.

Somewhere between having a clear conscience and no conscience at all there seems to be a status that places morality in limbo, one that either freezes or anesthetizes our conscience. And, unfortunately, this status is not just one peculiar to fame seekers but the population at large; one that�s prevalent in much of the materialistic and wasteful world -- otherwise known as the �developed world� -- one which particularly afflicts the United States. The Bush administration has apparently done a creditable job in anesthetizing the American conscience in preparation for surgical procedures that permit unchallenged expansion of the empire, internationally; and major socio-economic restructuring, nationally.

Nine-eleven gave Bush the anesthetics to put the nation to sleep, to get the population ready to go under the knife. And while the protracted botched-surgery seems to keep going on with no end in sight, the anesthesia seems as effective today as it was five years ago, without any indication that it�s loosing any strength. How can we tell?

All we need to do is evaluate what has happened during the last five weeks as the infra-structural mutilation of Lebanon was taking place, and innocent Lebanese were either becoming direct Israeli targets, or the now acceptable �collateral damage� in human terms. It was obvious from the start that most Americans were just as defensive of any criticism of Israel as the Israelis themselves. Of course, it was also obvious that the electronic media assumed much responsibility for that. For all the talked about recent improvement in walking away from being a self-censored media, when it comes to the Star of David, it shines equally as bright as the 50 stars over the field of blue in our flag. It made little difference whether one was listening to hate-spewers at Fox, or was tuned-in to Wolf Blitzer and his comical �situation room� at CNN, or �progressive radio� with one of its principal commentators, Al Franken, stating on Air America that he is pro-Israel. Al, please . . . shouldn�t neutrality render a far more progressive stand?

Americans have been told that Israel�s actions were planned and executed with the unequivocal consent of the Bush administration . . . perhaps even a step beyond consent.

Yet, Americans could care less. It seemed okay to most that Lebanon would have to pay a price for not having neutralized Hezbollah and its stockpiles of Katyusha rockets. This from people whose knowledge of the region and its problems is in most cases nil, or that could even identify the geographical location of the player-nations.

Lebanon has been devastated . . . but not Hezbollah, or its self-confidence. Israel will no longer be the feared adversary it once was. Not to Hamas, not to Hezbollah, not to all the Arab nations in the region, friend or foe, including Syria. And, definitely, not to Nasrallah . . . for the Wizard of Middle East Oz has been found out to have little more than a megaphone, notwithstanding the smart bombs and state-of-the-art weaponry provided by the United States. (Comment reserved as to Israel�s nuclear arsenal.)

Lebanon was definitely a loser; as were Olmert and his war chief Halutz for not achieving their prewar objectives, and by default the Kadima Party in Israel. But perhaps the biggest loser of all was the United States . . . through Bush and his motley crew; and an American Congress that has proven to be a collection of dolts.

There is another loser here: the Republican Party. The majority of Lebanese Americans I have known, the entrepreneurial type, have been for the most part conservative and, politically, Republican. Those that I have contacted during the past month would not vote for a GOP candidate today -- even for dogcatcher. That�s how embittered they are.

But rest assured that things haven�t changed at all. America remains a nation with an anesthetized conscience. And the next botched surgery that Bush is likely to perform on us is a shock-and-awe spectacle on another sovereign nation: Iran.

� 2006 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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