Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beware the Ides of November

Beware the Ides of November

In act II of Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar,Brutus considers the preemptive strike of killing Caesar before he is crowned and compares the strike to smashing an egg:
And therefore think him as a serpent's egg 

Which, hatch'd,would, as his kind, grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell.
Brutus has never seen Caesar swayed, but still, if he is crowned, he could become a fearful thing, just as the egg of an adder would one day become an adder. This fear compels him, against his better logic and reason, to stab his best friend to death.
Shakespeare wrote of it when Elizabeth I was on the throne, and today, it still resonates with the Bush doctrine that initially described the United States right to justify attacking a country unprovoked because it could harbor terrorists or weapons of mass destruction. Smash the egg, an adder could come out of it later.
Governor Palin describes the doctrine as Bush’s attempt to irradiate Islamic extremists; and she said during her response to ABC’s Charlie Gibson, that the U.S. “should do whatever it takes…” to fight terrorism. Doing whatever it takes goes far beyond the reach of civilized governments. It is invasive, overreaching, and subversive to democracy. It reminds me of an Internet story I received in a mass emailing and then deleted. It goes something like this:

A woman decides to take her husband’s boat out to experience what he enjoys on the lake. She does everything right, but a Fish and Game boat comes up beside her and boards her boat. She is accused of fishing without a license. She says, “I do not intend to fish, why would I want a license?” The Game Warden explains, “You have a fishing rod; this is clear evidence that you intend to fish, and I am giving you a citation.”
She claims, “Look, I don’t even like fish. I am just out here on my husband’s boat enjoying the water.” The game warden explains that clearly, if the boat has a rod, she must be intent on fishing. The lady begins to scream. The screaming gets louder and she starts yelling “RAPE! RAPE…” The warden tries to shush her saying, “I have no intention of raping you. Why are you saying that?” The lady responds, “Well, I was on the boat alone, you boarded my boat uninvited, and you have the equipment to rape me. Clearly, if you have in your pants the equipment, your intention was to rape me and you must be prosecuted.” Needless to say, the man did not write the ticket.
Under this logic, all men are suspect and should wear ankle bracelets so their whereabouts can be monitored. They are equipped and stealth. We must do whatever it takes…. Perhaps castrate most, or drown them like puppies. Maybe we water board them and hold them indefinitely on foreign soil. Better yet, we can monitor all of their conversations or hunt them down like Polar Bears….. I jest.
Whatever it takes is the most dangerous doctrine of the new century. It defends extremism coming from our soil. It speaks to a gross misunderstanding of everything the Constitution stands for, and it allows any and all fanatics to run the entire country unchecked by logic, reason, humanity or respect for civilization itself.
If you wonder what happens to Brutus, he goes unchecked, stabs Caesar to death and kills himself later because of his deep moral understanding of what he has done wrong. Falling on a sword does not undo wrong. To avoid wrong, we must take up responsibility as a nation.

1 comment:

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