Monday, December 06, 2004

A Tragic Generation

Tom Brokaw made a packet of money with a book calling us the Greatest Generation. Well, I volunteered for its great adventure, World War Two -- and, all things considered, I still think it was the right thing to do, but I’m not as confident as I was then.

I am deeply moved by the tale of that athlete who left a rich and brilliant career in baseball to heed what he thought was the call to defend his country. It was a lie, of course, but he believed. In no time at all he was rushed to Iraq, and brought back in a coffin. The military said he died in heroic combat. Today we learn that that was a lie, too. He was a victim of friendly fire.

So are we all -- but most Americans are not quite that believing. Their national religion is hypocrisy. Time and Newsweek today both publish studies showing that large majorities claim to believe every word in the Bible -- contradictions -- misprints, flat earth and all. They believe "Thou shalt not kill" but they’re enthusiastic about capital punishment. They re shelling out big bucks at the movies to watch it being inflicted on Jesus, slowly. They believe he’s come back and chats with our president every morning - no doubt telling him how a rich men can keep his money and still make his way through the gates of heaven. They believe we zapped Saddam Hussein for knocking down the World Trade Center but we need 12,000 more troops to speed up what Bush just called our scheduled departure from Iraq -- which our military say may take another decade or more.

People being polled say all those things. I don’t think many of them really mean it. The tragedy is that a majority plays along -- and people die.