In 2004, Seymour Hersh did what Seymour Hersh does. He published an article revealing horrible misbehavior on the part of American soldiers, in this case the disgusting torture of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Serious-minded observers in and out of government instantly knew that the moral case for the U.S. invasion of that nation had been horribly, perhaps irrevocably, damaged.
The military police officers who took photos of themselves torturing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners had so destroyed American credibility in the nation, in the region, among all Muslims and throughout the world that they became known as, “the seven soldiers who lost the war.”
Today, if there is any justice in the world, America may have seen the four cops who lost the election. And, with luck and wise action, finally destroyed the modern Republican Party.
The officers in question, of course, are, together, the one who murdered George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis on Memorial Day and the three others who stood passively by while it happened.
They had arrested the 46-year-old black man on suspicion of his having passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a local convenience store. One officer crushed Floyd’s neck with his knee.
All have since been fired and one charged with murder.
Unlike the soldiers at Abu Ghraib, the officers in Minneapolis were not so proud of their accomplishment as to have photographed it themselves. But they appeared not to be worried that random passers-by were seeing, and recording, what was happening.
Clearly, these particular cops had every reason to believe that what they were doing was OK. That there would be no public or internal repercussions. Which can only lead to the very justified fear that at least these particular officers might have done things like this, or worse, before, when nobody was looking.
Now, of course, people are looking. And taking cellphone videos. And posting them online. Placing, in an odd way, Steve Jobs in the pantheon of American Civil Rights crusaders.
In recent days, cities across the nation have exploded in we’re-as-mad-as-hell-and-we’re-not-going-to-take-it-anymore rage. Every sign, every clenched fist, every letter of graffiti fully justified. And every broken window and torched police car completely understandable.
People of all colors and ideologies have noted, accurately, that acts of violence in response to acts of violence are not the most efficient means of petitioning for a redress of grievances. That smashing and burning and looting just ticks people off, people who might have been sympathetic to your cause otherwise.
But what else is there to do?
Black, Hispanic, Arab, Asian and other humans have been peaceably assembling, petitioning, writing letters to the editor, running for office, for generations in this country, and still black men are being killed on the street, and black women are being shot in their homes, by white folks who either are police officers or pretend to be.
One thing that should be horribly clear is that the actions of murderous police officers and vigilantes — killing minorities, shutting down lawful meetings of legislative bodies, sickening and endangering many of their fellow officers across the country — have been given aid and comfort by the fascist who now sits in the White House.
His response to the chaos of recent days has been to sow more chaos, to call for demonstrators to be fired on, to let slip the hounds, to demand that governors crack down on demonstrators because to do otherwise shows weakness.
Any Republican who continues to stand by this abomination, who still supports his re-election, should never see the inside of a government office again. The party as a whole deserves to come to an end. It should be replaced by another party of the true center-right, made up of people who like small government, free enterprise and free trade but do not expect the wealth and position they enjoy to be protected by a systemically racist and evil system of justice.
What else is there to do?
There is nothing more peaceful, more effective, more American, more exhilarating, than settling this at the ballot box. Or, now, at the mail box.
George Pyle is the editorial page editor of The Salt Lake Tribune.