Why Higher Standards for the U.S.?

When the United States military is caught breaking the rules (Abu Ghraib) or is even wrongly accused of breaking the rules (Koran flushing), we hear a lot about how America needs to be held to a “higher standard”. Baloney. A high standard? Absolutely. The highest standard? Okay. But why higher? Higher than whom?

The implication is, because we are a free and strong and wealthy and generally decent power, our misdeeds are somehow worse than the misdeeds of chronic louts. It’s as if a serial killer should be treated more gently than a first-time embezzler who had tried to be honest most his life.

Even if the story produced by Newsweek’s Fiction Department were true, why would it be a worse offense than the mindless rioting and destruction and murder that followed? Oh, of course. We must to be held to that higher standard, while others apparently need not be held to any standard at all.

When the United Nations expresses outrage at U.S. actions, it might carry a bit more weight if there were a few peeps out of them over the almost daily horrors emanating from brutal dictatorships throughout the world. Apparently the regularity of their occurrence makes them somehow less objectionable. The United States is treated like a scratch golfer in a world of 20 handicaps.

Most major media outlets have been so busy circling the wagons they have missed the point about people’s anger. It is not so much about censorship as it is about context. Call me crazy, but I would rate the hiring of some kid to blow himself and dozens of others to smithereens in a crowded shopping area to be at least as reprehensible as siccing a dog on a prisoner. Neither is right. Neither should be excused. And both should be condemned and investigated. But guess which one is bigger news to the folks at Newsweek? Guess which one gets the U.N.’s dander up?

The world is a scary and violent place, and much seems to be hanging in the balance. It’s impossible to say how all of this will turn out, but the planet will be better off if our standards prevail. The high ones.


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