Guest Column: How morally convenient and historically negligent
By Gregory John Campbell
How easily Americans forget, and they’d better; because if they didn’t, they couldn’t look themselves in the eye. For if they saw what their “nation of nations” was really doing, they wouldn’t like it, because it’s a moral, historical and human reality far different from their own hallowed (isolated) geo-political historical notions.
In the ongoing tragedy of Syria, we hear things like, “Syria, one of the world’s great tragedies,” yet Americans fail to remember what their nation’s done to produce human tragedies far greater than Syria’s.
During the “American war against Vietnam,” our troops dumped 76,000,000 liters of Agent Orange on Vietnam from 1962 to 1971, destroying crops and livestock, defoliating 20 percent of the countryside, killing or maiming 400,000 Vietnamese, producing 500,000 severe infant birth defects and disabling 1,000,000 more. This makes the United States the worst violator of chemical weapons use after Nazi Germany (Zyklon B), a war criminal, and what’s happened in Syria pale in moral and historical comparison.
During the Iraq War, America illegally invaded, immorally occupied and criminally destroyed a nation that’d done nothing to it, hadn’t caused Sept. 11 or possessed “weapons of mass destruction.” Yet, based on outright fabrications and ad hominem impulse, our troops murdered 1,000,000 Iraqis, displacing 4,000,000 more. Such is an international war crime far greater than Syria’s, and not “freedom and democracy,” but mayhem and hypocrisy.
Such tragedies occur when nations foolishly believe themselves “exceptional.” Nothing could be further from the truth, because no nation is. Yet, Americans continue to see themselves “above” the moral law of cause and effect and immune from historical error and consequence; as if America can act with impunity because it’s “indispensable.” This immoral attitude is the real reason “why they hate us,” because any nation behaving in such a manner is not a friend, ally or republic, but a bully, enemy and empire.
But if the “rules” don’t apply to us, why should we care? Why shouldn’t we go on as if “nothing has changed” because “we can do no wrong”? What’s a few hundred thousand birth defects, a million lives and the total destruction of a country if we’re “chosen” and have a sacred historical “mission”? Nothing, until those acts return to plague us in some form, which they will. This is what Sept. 11 really meant, but Americans will never see this, because they can’t see anything but themselves. So, of course, whatever they do is “right” and whoever opposes them is “wrong.” This is called solipsism, in which the only reality that exists is one’s self; others don’t, so we can do whatever we damn please.
How morally convenient, politically expedient and historically negligent, because such a hypocritical attitude enables us to situationally justify (rationalize) whatever we want, because there are no firm standards of moral truth to prevent us. We just selfishly do whatever we want, kicking the “can” of moral and historical accountability down the road, as if it’d never come back to “kick” us. This is just covert sociopathy portrayed (disguised) as “political realism.”
But once a nation begins this slippery slope, where first one error and then another is “plausibly denied” (excused), then they all are; enabling it “to get away with murder,” which is what the United States has been doing for 60-plus years now — getting away with moral, historical and human “murder” with its solipsistic foreign policies and hegemonic conduct. But this moral “free ride” will end, and when it does, in some form of reprisal, Americans will cry, “How can this be happening?” If they hadn’t been so “exceptional,” they would’ve known. America, choose what you want to be. Thank you.
 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange. Originally, the U.S. tallied Vietnamese deaths at 300,000, when the actual figure was between 2.2 to 3 million; upwards of 10 times greater.
 If one kills without due cause or factual justification, the deaths resulting must be called murder. U.S. conduct in Iraq was murder, then, for what could we call it, “fun and games”? As far as total Iraqi deaths, current state figures are probably no more reliable than in Vietnam.
 This is the structural and functional reality of moral relativism.
Gregory John Campbell is a Rockford resident.
From the Oct. 23-29, 2013, issue