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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Are Americans Better?

A new investigation is being conducted based on allegations American troops in Afganistan have desecrated the bodies of slain taliban, in an attempt to encourage other hiding taliban in a nearby village to come out from hiding and fight (news article here).

A poster on Yahoo's forums asked, "Aren't Americans better than this?" To which I responded...


...No - Americans are not "better" than anyone else. In fact, we never claimed to be better than anyone else. We, as a people, are just as flawed and have just as much good potential as any other people - no less, no more.

What we do claim is superior is not we as people or our culture, but the system of democracy, human rights, and free economics that we happen to be a user of.

All nations will have those who break the law and misbehave and America is no different - what is different is that, in some countries the desecration of enemy bodies is the norm, in some countries torture by the military is the norm. With Americans, when it happens, there is a big hoopla (as there is here), the accused are put on trial, and punishments are carried out, and even the accused are afforded rights.

Even in this system, there are problems and flaws from time to time, but it is far superior to a situation where families are routinely slaughtered, where civilians are not just accidentally killed but targeted as a matter of policy, and where brutality is the norm, as is the case under these theocracies, dictatorships, and terrorist organizations.

This is why bringing democracy and freedom to other people is essential. Not because it will make them better people or dissolve cases of criminals among them, but because it is a more noble, humane, and decent system that all humans as dignified beings have an inalienable right to.

I might add to this that this impression that Americans are better, or that they claim to be superior, is harmful to both Americans and others. This is not at all the point in the first place, and whenever these inevitable acts of crime pop up it creates a huge stink, as if something has happened that Americans claim doesn't happen. It is democracy and freedom that is superior - not us.

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