Our Long Slow Descent

Americans are increasingly a clueless and brutal lot. Latest case in point: a San Francisco woman is forced to shut down her art gallery, after Brown Shirt thugs beat her up over the display of a painting depicting the Abu Ghraib prison abuse story:

‘After displaying a painting of U.S. soldiers torturing Iraqi prisoners, a San Francisco gallery owner bears a painful reminder of the nations unresolved anguish over the incidents at Abu Ghraib—a black eye and bloodied brow delivered by an unknown assailant who apparently objected to the art work. The assault outside the Capobianco gallery in the citys North Beach district Thursday night was the worst, but only the latest in a string of verbal and physical attacks that have directed at owner Lori Haigh since the painting, titled “Abuse,” was installed there on May 16. Last Wednesday, concerned for the safety of her two children, ages 14 and 4, who often accompanied her to work, Haigh decided to close the gallery indefinitely.

Painted by Berkeley artist Guy Colwell, “Abuse,” the painting at the center of the controversy, depicts three U.S. soldiers leering at a group of naked men in hoods with wires connected to their bodies. The one in the foreground has a blood-spattered American flag patch on his uniform. In the background, a soldier in sunglasses guards a blindfolded woman.’

So that’s how it happens. Easily and quietly. Many times over the past 60 years, we’ve asked how could a country as advanced and religious and cultured as Germany descend from Beethoven to Auschwitz?

And now we must ask ourselves how America can descend from Jefferson to Abu Ghraib. It can (and obviously does) happen here.