My first reaction to their bloodying up an old man was "Damn, this is what we are now." Most of the articles I read had the common theme "they're all like that, United just got caught" running through them. Then somebody found this one.
Already, United is being demonized online, which is both satisfying and warranted. But let’s tell the deeper truth here—United made a dumb decision, but essentially they just got unlucky that the problem landed on their laps, and it was their dirty laundry that got aired. They are a cruel agent, without a doubt, but they are not some lone wolf—they are a product of an indifferent system that increasingly devalues individual life, and that system is called America.
We are the country where:
—The social safety net, once the strongest in the world, has been gradually dismantled by both major parties over three decades, leaving the poor and working classes vulnerable to increased poverty and immiseration.
—Labor unions, the only reliable form of protection for the American worker, have likewise been gutted as power amasses in the hands of corporations.
—There is virulent opposition from our elected representatives to the idea of universal health care; a system that is a reality in every other western country. Our current foray, Obamacare, is compromised to its core by the overbearing influence of the pharmaceutical industry, and even this very small step forward would have been dismantled if only the Republicans could have agreed on the same plan to deprive 24 million more people of health care.
—Our economy is designed to transfer wealth and income into the pockets of those who need it least, and any opposition to this structural inequality is treated as political radicalism.
—Our current president won, in large part, because he represented a philosophy of fear and hatred toward outsiders. We will start wars in foreign countries that destabilize whole regions for no gain, but we will not accept refugees who have suffered unspeakably—sometimes at our hands—in these same countries. We will, in fact, contravene our stated principals of accepting the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, and actually enact policies designed to remove aspiring citizens from our country, to break up families, and further marginalize those who have nothing.
—Our police are empowered to shoot and kill our own citizens for dubious reasons, and—especially if the victim happens to be a minority—escape all prosecution.
—Harmful free trade agreements have been passed to milk profit from globalism, with no thought given to the loss of jobs, money, and dignity for American workers, or the slave wages and environmental destruction unleashed abroad.
—The agency designed to protect the environment in our country is now controlled by climate change deniers, which mortgages the future for our children and grandchildren and puts us further behind in a race we were already losing.
—What the hell, let’s repeat that one, since it seems important: Our planet is dying, and far from solving the problem, we’re now one of the world leaders in making it worse.
The reality is plain: United Airlines is not the disease. United Airlines is a symptom of an infected country whose institutions of power no longer respect the dignity or the sanctity of the individual life. They don’t care about you. (While you’re here, read this excellent thread by Patrick Blanchfield about power and conformity.)