Is America Becoming Eric Cartman?
There’s a South Park episode where Eric Cartman takes credit for a joke. The episode is particularly funny and shows the degree to which people can be clueless about certain nuances in life. Eric Cartman engages in extreme “mental gymnastics” when denouncing facts or even pure reason. The show constantly emphasizes that Eric Cartman is a psychopath. He acts in a manner we can only interpret as evil, but throughout the series he remains unaware of his insanity.
The Moral Degeneracy of Eric Cartman
Through extremely simplified and crudely illustrated cartoons, audiences can understand moral degeneracy. The example of Eric Cartman is so over the top that the character has attained near legendary status in unlikability. In the real world, actual human beings are generally not so superficially pigheaded. And in this particular episode we see how Eric blends an orgy of narcissism, self-deception and cognitive dissonance together in a fine mush of psychopathy.
The last few weeks we have learned the United States torture innocent people. People working for the United States “are engaging in waterboarding.” That is essentially forcing people to experience simulated drowning. But it doesn’t stop there – there are now admissions of “rectal rehydration,” “rectal feeding with hummus,” “rectally raping minors,” and worse. All this is pretty bad. But it is nowhere near as bad as the response of American people. I best summarize this response as the response of a Reddit user who knowingly states:
…“I Don’t Care…”
That’s right. A significant number of people don’t care.
America is an extremely powerful nation. That may change one day, but for now America remains mostly unchallenged in all matters economic, technological, demographic and military. America is a swollen obese behemoth in terms of the ability to project force. But cracks are showing in the veneer of US global dominance. The US assumes it is able to achieve energy independence, yet as we have seen the now infamous shale oil bubble comes apart at the seams, The US is stronger than ever, more over-extended than ever, and as a result more vulnerable than ever. The vulnerability of the US is widely realized by the leadership of the United States, the strategical allies of the United States, its competitors and its alleged enemies. It is too soon to conclude the US might collapse, but the uncertainty does not stop a range of erudite people from speculating about a sharp and catastrophic downturn of America.
Empires die, and as empires die they increasingly dabble in pathologies of self-deception. I am afraid that not only the US wholesale in massive media self-deception, but the vast majority of its people engage in denial of fact-based politics and assume implausible positions based on denial of reality.
I discern a striking resemblance between the behavior of Eric Cartman and what the United States do as a society, a nation state, a world empire.
The US now torture and most Americans “do not care.” Americans sure did care about torture at the time of the Nuremberg trials but, when you put the likes of Eric Cartman in charge of your collective national moral compass, that’s what you get. This isn’t just about “enhanced interrogation” for reasons of national security – torture appears to be big business.
As a European, I can only say loud and clear that I find this unacceptable. It’s even more unacceptable that many of the people who were tortured were declared innocent of any terrorism or criminal activity before torture commenced. I regard torture as unacceptable, no matter what the excuse. I am aware that many states engaged in torture, but personally I have lived all my life expecting better than that.
As an interesting side observation, I live in the Hague, in the Netherlands, and I advocate summoning anyone who has engaged in state torture to the International Court of Justice. Torture is a particularly awful criminal activity, and we should not accept it from anyone, not even in a war against ISIS, Al Qaeda, Specter or what-e-ver. I am unambiguously stating the United States went too far, and those who are found guilty should be punished.
Images from Wikimedia Commons.