To the Editor
This is the age of entertainment. Hollywood is the de facto capital of the United States, and television is the opium of the people. The raucous laughter of television sitcoms is the national anthem. The powers-that-be provide bread and circuses, and rather than object we feel a thrilling surge of power when we grip the remote in our hands.
Meanwhile, war continues and the military prospers. The nation has troops scattered across the globe in over a hundred nations, but the enduring memento of our epoch of power will doubtless be Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. We are not at all genteel. Thomas Jefferson wanted us to be a nation of gentleman farmers. George Washington said, "Stay out of foreign entanglements." Watching television for one evening will reveal how far we have come from this. What we have now is the sword and the silver screen.
I suppose the troops who humiliated Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraeb were partly hoping to entertain themselves, since entertainment (often of the most savage kind) is what they were reared on. This entertainment world (as described above) is an illusion, but the suffering we inflict is quite real.