Saturday, March 13, 2010

The moral challenge of normalized violence

David Brooks refers to

"the greatest moral challenge of our day: the $9.7 trillion in new debt being created this decade."

For Brooks, a massive debt is "the greatest moral challenge of our day." Not two wars/military occupations (that Brooks supported and supports) that have led to thousands of deaths and continue to lead to violent deaths for innocent civilians. Not government officials that tortured with impunity and continue to prance around the media bragging about and defending torture with no punishment. Not even climate change. Not even millions of Americans without health insurance. And of course not the gap between the richest and the poorest.

A giant debt is a serious policy problem, one that must be dealt with. But in a nation with a gigantic military budget and hundreds of military bases around the world and military occupations of two nations, a nation that continues military efforts that violently kill innocent people, a nation that has tortured people and because the torturers have not been punished, a nation that will torture again, it is obscene to call debt our "greatest moral challenge." To do so normalizes violence: such violence is so acceptable, so "necessary," so taken-for-granted-that-it-need-not-be-considered, that it is policy on debt that is our greatest "moral" issue.

And that is our true greatest moral challenge: the normalization of violence that allows people like Brooks to consider the problem of debt a more pressing ethical concern.

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