Friday, August 30, 2013

slow learning curve

When protests erupted in Istanbul at the end of May and police forces reacted with a sledgehammer response that was both brutal and unnecessary, my husband asked, "Don't they ever learn?"  We had left the Taksim neighborhood only days before, so we could picture exactly where it was happening and -- because everyone in the city seemed to be selling something or building something -- why.  But the "they" were the government, which responded as governments and others in power do when they think they're loosing control: they try for more control.

It doesn't work, at least not in the long run and not usually in the short run either. You can't keep the lid on when it has already blown off and by now you'd think someone would have learned that out-of-proportion responses only make things worse.

The mess in Turkey has been followed in quick succession by the crackdown in Libya, the coup and resulting slaughter in Egypt, the rigged trial of Bradley Manning (which would have been much worse had the military been able to keep the public in the dark, as it no doubt was counting on), and just yesterday, the 9-hour detention and interrogation at London's Heathrow Airport of David Miranda, the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has pissed off a lot of people by aiding Edward Snowden's in publicizing the U.S. government's spying on its citizens.

I don't believe that power necessarily makes people stupid, but I don't get why people in power are so blinkered when it comes to responding to challenges to their power.  I don't get why they don't ever learn.

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