Monday, July 11, 2011

Now, that’s American outrage

Having seen what I did of the Casey Anthony trial, I must agree with the general public consensus.

Having seen, that is, zero seconds of the gripping proceedings, zero seconds of the breathless analysis pre- and post-verdict, and having read zero words about the result save for headlines.

Life is short. If everyone says the lady is guilty, well, that settles it. And isn't that what American justice is about?

At this juncture I am reminded of another televised event to which I was considerably closer. I wrote for the Waco, Texas, newspaper when the "Waco" incident unfolded in 1993.

An oddly familiar condition reigned back then, the venting of a nation of experts.

In the case of "Waco," no Casey Anthony consensus existed, but the expertise came flowing our way like floodwaters. On one side it was about jackbooted feds incinerating innocent worshippers. On the other, it was support for inerrant law enforcers who faced a deadly cult. In the swell of reactions, it seemed none could harbor any shades of gray. But, then, none were necessary.

Why the certainty? Why so many experts from near and far? Why? Because they'd seen it on TV.

The purpose here is not to dismiss the swell of emotion in the Anthony case. Obviously people have a good reason. I just missed it (every second of it). Actually, the purpose here is to applaud the reaction. Outrage? The record will show that Americans had lost that capacity.

We are told that in fact Americans can summon outrage. If not, what's a tea party for? You know, assailing government waste and escalating debt. That would be more convincing if said outrage had swelled amid all the escalating debt and government overreach before a dark-skinned Democrat became president.

After? That's phony outrage.

Prove me wrong, but Americans have shown almost no propensity for real outrage for years. Maybe 9/11 took it out of them, or before that, O.J.

How possible for the saga of football-hero-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a friendly fire victim on unforgiving Afghan hills, to come and go without Caylee Anthony-style anger?

Used as a military prop in life and death, what our government did at his family's expense with the facts about Tillman's death is the very thing he and others went to fight over there. Evil.

Outrage? It seems I recall some in recent years, but most had to do with games. How dare the New England Patriots tape someone's practice? Can you believe Ohio State coach Jim Tressel would cover up incriminating NCAA matters?

And yet, when it became clear that American forces had been and were being shipped to Iraq on a raft of lies: no outrage.

When it was becoming increasingly clear that the justifications for that war were bogus, I recall the irony of someone getting called on the carpet for not telling the truth.

Curiously, at the time it was Denver Bronco coach Mike Shanahan, and he faced a barrage of criticism. And what had he done? He had fudged facts on the pregame condition of his quarterback, Jake Plummer.

Meanwhile, about the same time, President Bush was acknowledging (1) no WMDs had been found in Iraq; (2) any connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 was nonexistent. The man most responsible for weaving the latter fairy tale, Dick Cheney, was saying, "So?" And, by review, he — they — were re-elected.

So, you say the the Casey Anthony verdict was outrageous. Good for you for caring, and saying so. I'm just wondering where you were for other outrages that affected so many lives and continue to cost us in ways beyond imagining.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe they were televised as well.

Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

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