The recent wikileaks fallout has had me thinking. Specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out where I’ve seen this kind of phenomenon before. And then it struck me. The recent media campaign and manhunt is the exact same approach this country takes to hostile nations, and more recently, terrorists.
When America faces opposition from a country or organization, it singles out the leader and positions any conflict as, "the U.S. vs. Evil-Man". Evil-Man has been a lot of men over the years: men like Kruschev, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong-il, Osama bin Laden, and now, Julian Assange. Every one of them is, or has been, Evil-Man.
But to be honest, who Evil-Man is, where he comes from, what his motives are, or whether or not he is, in fact, a straw man, is not important. What is important is the image of America united against this one man, whoever he may be. It is the image that we, the people, have set aside our differences and come together as a nation because we’re right, Evil-Man is wrong, and Evil-Man must be stopped. No matter the cost.
To be fair, America has gotten a little more sensitive over the years. We don’t just go off and kill Evil-Man through an invasion or extra-judicial execution simply because we want to. Oh no, that doesn’t make us feel good at all, and the government knows that. The U.S. government knows that simply killing threats to our hegemony– err, I mean, security– doesn’t win our hearts and minds. No, no the American government has to be sure to discredit and dehumanize Evil-Man before it pursues him.
The tactic of discrediting Evil-Man ignores nuance and complexity for simple, binary judgment. If Evil-Man was already a thief, a murderer, a rapist, a child molester, an alien, then Evil-Man isn’t human. Clearly, Evil-Man had it coming.
And so, by couching Evil-Man in simple black and white rhetoric, our government is able to commit unspeakable atrocities, kill countless people, and take the spoils of war, all with public support because Evil-Man had to be stopped. All the people we mow-down to get to Evil-Man– if we ever do get to him, we don’t always– should have known better than to have sided with Evil-Man. Clearly, they had it coming too, and they will go nameless and faceless into the hereafter as just another data point on an American spreadsheet.
But it’s not our fault. Evil-Man made us do it.