(Thank you for destroying our collective myths, George.)
Yet as I read and think more, I'm less saddened; I increasingly feel impelled to use interpretation to describe the nature of this American "thing" that has overtaken our country. What is it? Political discord, "partisanship," a simple refusal to deal with reality? How about a simple answer: violence and dehumanization, and the concomitant mass denial. After all, it's hard to come to terms with, "My country tortures and detains citizens and foreigners alike indefinitely," and, "My country sends more and more young soldiers to die merely in order to honor those who have died before them." These are the realities of our time. Thus spake America.
Along these lines, I read the following, from On Killing, an essential book by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
The Israeli research mentioned earlier indicates that the risk of death for kidnap victim is much greater if the victim is hooded [emphasis addded]. Cultural distance is a form of emotional hooding that can work just as effectively. Shalit notes that "the nearer or more similar the victim of aggression is, the more we can identify with him." And the harder it is to kill him.(Woe is America.)
This process also works the other way around. It is so much easiser to kill someone if they look distinctly different from you. If your propaganda machine can convince your soldiers that their opponents are not really human but are "inferior forms of life," then their natural resistance to killing their own species will be reduced.
(Perhaps, perhaps, Saddam's methods were worse. Then again, I really doubt it.)
So, keep in mind, friends, that war hates you.