Moral Dilemma

I have gone on at length here about the damage done by concealing crucial information, in pubic and private life both.   It is impossible to make sense of a situation when the underlying events are secretly redacted, classified, above your need-to-know pay grade.    This obfuscation of what actually happened, what used to be quaintly called “the facts”, can be found in virtually every situation where somebody is brutally, or even gently, fucking somebody else over.   Withholding key information is necessary for the proper functioning of every abusive situation,  every betrayal and scandal, personal, political, environmental, what have you.

Removal of transparency has been institutionalized by the powerful corporate players who sponsor candidates for the legislature, it is now also the rule in the government unlimited free speech money has largely purchased.   It would not do, for example, to have the facts known about the effects of the toxic waste being produced by a fabulous company employing thousands and making billions.   Public relations firms are employed to humanistically spin the work the friendly corporation does, to direct people’s fleeting attention away from the murderous externalities the corporation seeks to conceal. 

An energetic public relations firm has been at work for Koch Industries in recent years, showing actors playing women, black people, minorities of every kind, happily employed in important jobs by beneficent, forward looking Koch Industries– making a better tomorrow today and shit.   

There is obviously no hint in these feel good Koch pieces that the toxic sludge they are piping from the Alberta tar sands they own, across the entire width of the U.S., to refineries in Houston, is the most toxic form of fossil fuel left on earth.  Or that it’s flowing sluggishly (with at least one massive spill so far) across more than a thousand miles of the American watershed.   Forget, for a moment, the raped wasteland the ‘harvesting’ of this toxic prehistoric sludge leaves behind on the Canadian lands owned by the Kochs.  The Americans who are protesting the pipeline are beaten up by privately hired goons, set upon by dogs, by Trump, strip searched and imprisoned for carrying signs stating their case about protecting the water supply.  Nothing to see here.  Koch, making the future bright, for winners.  Whatever else you can say about piping this toxic sludge, the profits it will generate for the two Koch boys will double their already incalculable fortune.

Or as you will immediately learn by googling Keystone XL: 

The Keystone XL oil pipeline will be the safest and most advanced pipeline in North America, providing U.S. jobs, energy security and economic benefits.

Wealthy criminals who are actually prosecuted can avoid admissions of guilt by signing lawyerly agreements where they pay a sum of money without an admission of guilt.  Trump and his dad did that, thanks to the rabid genius of the unscrupulous Roy Cohn, who countersued the government for defamation when the government prosecuted the Trumps under The Fair Housing Act.   Trump Inc. who had been systematically violating the Fair Housing Act long before it became law, admitted no wrong-doing and agreed to have its rental policies and practices monitored to ensure no future violations, but the government blinked.  Trump never had to admit their policy and longtime practice of not renting to brown skinned low-life motherfuckers, no matter how respectable they appeared to be.  Nothing to see here, bitches.  You didn’t prove shit and we didn’t admit jack.  Fuck you!

Political and business obfuscation is ubiquitous, too common to even talk about.   Rule one: never admit shit.  Rule two: when accused of violence, punch the accusers as hard as you can in the face, repeatedly, while kicking them in the balls.   Rule three: no disclosure.  Make me.  I know you are, but what am I?

“Yeah, we violated all 371 treaties we made with Native Americans, so?  They were fucking Stone Age savages who thought the earth itself was a god.  Fucking losers, they didn’t even know how to smelt metal.  Plus, a handful of the survivors became very, very rich, filthy rich, with those tax free casinos.  What are they bitching about?   You can’t bring back the dead.  Fucking losers….”

The moral dilemma I referred to above is in the personal arena.  It is an almost daily torment to me.   Hitler did a nice job trimming my family tree back in 1942 and 1943.  Of what would have been dozens of relatives today, from a once large family, I am left with a tiny handful, most of whom I haven’t seen in years.   The work that Hitler wasn’t able to complete, well, there are other ways to do it, yo.

“There you go again with the hyperbole, Elie,” said the skeleton of my father, popping up randomly, as he often does.  “You’re going to lose a lot of readers with this Hitler shit.  Hitler, yeah, not a nice man.  Mass murderer, twisted fuck, fine, most people know Hitler was no goddamned good.   You’re not shedding any light here by dragging his hideous face into this conversation.  My suggestion: leave fucking Hitler out of it.”

After a long pause, that included a shower, lunch and checking on the progress of Aaron Judge’s recovery from shoulder surgery, I agreed with my father’s skeleton that the best way to explore this moral dilemma was with a piece of fiction.  A lie, as Picasso put it, that reveals the truth.  And remember, total darkness is the best cover for abuse and shame.

The first time Jim met the man, the man said that Jim was a pussy, a man who lacked the balls to “confront” his girlfriend’s father.  “Confront the bastard!” he told Jim militantly as Jim’s girlfriend smiled and slightly cringed.  Jim felt no need to confront the girl’s father. He’d had dinner at his table, the man didn’t particularly like Jim, and as the father of a young woman who had middle class expectations, Jim thought the man was well within his rights to be wary of him.   Jim was idiosyncratic, disconnected from the general ambitions of the world, though smart.   Jim and his girlfriend’s father got along as well as they needed to, and the romance between his daughter and Jim was going along very amicably, in Jim’s opinion.  Jim told the man he always kept his word to the girl’s father, had her home by the hour he promised, and that preserved the peace and made everything much easier.

The guy who was lecturing Jim about having no balls was trying to convince Jim’s sister, who he’d met weeks earlier, to quit her excellent job, pack her things and run away with him to Arizona.   He was fleeing a failed marriage, it was complicated, he was deeply, deeply in love and he had no intention of meeting the parents of the pretty young woman he was trying to abscond with.

“Phew… that’s some ripe, eh, fiction,” said the skeleton.   

You can’t make this shit up, dad.   From that twisted exchange, an unneeded moral lecture to Jim about something he himself was incapable of doing, the rest followed in a straight line.   A long con game.  Soon he’d lost his job, asked Jim with a smile if he could borrow some money, just for a short time, a couple of months.  Jim was generous, Jim was foolish.   The man took advantage.  Jim became the subject of mounting anger on visits to his sister.  He was cursed as the “fucking Jew” who, years later, still came every month, driving a six hour round trip, just to collect the monthly payment they never mailed to Jim.  

The man was always more comfortable blaming others than taking responsibility for his frequent mistakes.  It is only human to make mistakes, it is inhuman not to forgive, preached the man who did many bad things without ever once apologizing to anyone.

The skeleton of my father nodded from his grave, very satisfied. 

“Nicely turned, Elie,” he said.  “I love that you didn’t even mention the many old friends he ‘borrowed’ money from who eventually abandoned the lying fuck, the several times, that we know of, that he embezzled from a boss who loved and trusted him, the year or more that he pretended to go to work every day while he was fraudulently drawing his ‘pay’ from his dead father’s credit cards.  The $10,000 he borrowed from mom and me towards the downpayment on a home he was pretending they were going to buy, two or three days before he declared bankruptcy.  Particularly heroic, on your part, not to mention the time he threatened to murder his children, his wife, me and mom, and then himself.  Like all desperate, murder and suicide threatening cowards, he could have saved everyone a lot of grief by just snuffing himself first.  So I salute you for not going there.”

Why would I go there, dad?  You know I always take the fucking high road. 

“Just one more reason you sometimes feel so fucking alone, Elie,” said the skeleton, wanly.  “I’m just sayin’… Try not to brood on lost nieces and nephews, eh?”

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