You know, there are people who watch A Few Good Men and understand that Col. Jessup is the bad guy, and then there are people like LZ Granderson who write a whole big long opinion piece over at CNN.com about how sometimes we have to do illegal things to keep America America and we just shouldn't worry our pretty little heads over the Fast and Furious scandal, because we probably can't handle the truth.
You think I'm being snarky to make Granderson look bad, but no, that is a pretty accurate paraphrase. Seriously, he compares a desire for an open and accountable government to a prurient desire for celebrity gossip:
I know that's hard to digest in a society where pregnancies and marriages of D-list celebrities make the cover of People magazine, but there comes a point where the public's right to know needs to take a back seat to matters like national security and diplomacy.
Lord almighty, this is what passes for political analysis at CNN these days? You don't even have to write like you've passed a basic civics class?
Here's the thing. We're running a little experiment here. i guess if you haven't had a civics class or paid attention to U.S. history (though how you would then get a column at CNN baffles the mind), you may not have noticed. But for the first time in human history, a group of people — us — set up a country (sing along if you know the words) "by the people, for the people."
Shoot, let's just let Lincoln explain our little project: "[Our] fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure."
We're still having a huge fight — not Civil War scale, but still huge — about who constitutes a "man," about what equality looks like, about what Liberty looks like, about what it means for the people to be in charge. And we have not always been successful in meeting our own ideals. Honestly, we are often unsuccessful in meeting our own ideals, of rising to the challenge of governing ourselves. And we don't yet know whether we, as a country with these ideals can long endure.
That's the experiment that we're running.
It is true that most people don't vote and probably four times as many people could tell you who Kim Kardashian is than can tell you who Eric Holder is. Hell, I bet four times as many people could tell you the plot of Fast and Furious than could tell you the basic premise of the Fast and Furious program.
But that's not okay, really. In the short term, it's pretty sad. In the long term, it threatens our ability to run our nation how it's set up to be run — with us in charge. If we concede that we'd rather a small group of powerful people who are unaccountable to us — perhaps we should call them the nobility? — run things and elect or appoint one of their families to have the final say — perhaps we would call that leader of that family a monarch? — then we're conceding that the United States can't ever work as a democracy and we'd prefer something undemocratic instead.
That's not something to be flip about. That's not something about which you say, "And maybe it's better for us not to be so nosy, not to know everything because, to paraphrase the famous line from the movie A Few Good Men, many of us won't be able to handle the truth" — ha ha, how hilarious and wise. If Granderson is right and we are a nation of people who need secrets kept from us because we can't be trusted with the truth, then we need to have an agreement that we all go out to the closest national cemetery and kneel down on the graves of the people who died for our country and apologize for pissing on what they gave their lives for.
People, he actually says:
Much in the same way, Project Wide Receiver and Project Road Runner — the earlier versions of Fast and Furious under President Bush — were executed with the hope that they will do more good than harm. Hardly anyone in the public knows the finer points of these programs.
Were they legal?
Were they effective?
Were they done as a way to keep America safe?
So he acknowledges that crimes were committed, but we're supposed to take the words of the criminals that it was done for our own good?! Because people who lie to you about committing crimes would never lie to you about why they commit them?
Honestly, I keep reading Granderson's column, trying to see if I've missed some wink or nudge that would indicate that this is full-blown satire. I am begging you: If you see it in there, please, let me know.
Meanwhile, I just have to wonder, if we're not at least striving for a country where everyone is held equal under the law and where citizens cast informed votes based on good information on what our leaders have been doing and our potential leaders would do, then what the hell are we doing?
And my god, who would publicly admit to thinking that Col. Jessup was right?!