When Foxes Guard the Chicken Coop

When trust is gone, a society is truly bankrupt. And it looks to me as if Americans can no longer trust the guardians of their society. In one glaring example, we have the horrifying accusation that a trusted sports coach sodomized his charges. In the same case, we have a judge who is closely associated with the coach’s charitable foundation lowering his bail.

The alleged betrayal of trust by former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky and his special treatment by a judicial crony are symptoms of a society where abuse of power has become commonplace.

You see it everywhere … from the halls of Congress, where a 60 Minutes program recently spotlighted the way in which politicians use their privileged information to make money in the stock market, to the Supreme Court, where two of the justices who will rule in the Obama health care case sat next to the lawyer representing the plaintif while attending a fund raising banquet.

Click here to read about it.

I wonder how Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas will rule in the case; don’t you?

Special treatment for special people – and special interests – has become rampant in America.

In Jamaica we call it “taking advantage.” And we do not mean seizing an opportunity (the normal meaning); we mean exploiting a position of privilege.

Growing up in Jamaica, I learned that privilege implies responsibility. I was taught that if you were fortunate enough to be in a position of authority you should never use that position for personal gain or to advance the fortunes of your friends. To do so exposed you to contempt and opprobrium.

I am not so naive as to imagine that the privileged few did not “take advantage” in Jamaica. Many did. And ensuing events have made them pay.

My point is that “taking advantage” was universally regarded as shameful.

Here in America, it seems to be considered smart.

I wish I knew what caused the rot that I see attacking the core of American society.

From what I’ve read, abuse of power was once anathema in America. Society used to honor those who refused to “take advantage” and scorned those who yielded to temptation.

Is cynicism to blame? Have Americans been disappointed so often that they have given up any expectation of fairness and decency? Has the relentless propaganda of a far-right elite drowned out the voice of hope?

When the majority of the Republican presidential candidates proclaim their love of “water boarding,” their disdain for the poor and sick, their lust for war and their subservience to the almighty corporations, are we witnessing the defeat of our “better angels” and the rise of the Dark Side in America?

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com

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