I'm not sure when it happened. I don't think there was one moment. More like watching someone trip and fall on their face in slow motion. "It" is America in decline.
It now looks as though a group of United States Marines massacred twenty-four Iraqi civilians-- including women and children--last November. This is on top of the more than 30,000 detainees, those held in Guantánamo without charge or access to the Courts, the humiliations of Abu Ghraib, "extraordinary rendition", the disappeared, et cetera, ad nauseam. I've been ashamed to be an American at least as far back as the first Gulf War. But never more so than now.
To quote Oprah quoting Maya Angelou, "When you know better, you do better." It's a cliché to talk about modern technology, rapid communications, near-instantaneous dissemination of information. We should know better.
Borrowing Tom Brokaw's phrase, we have had our Greatest Generation, and it has passed. America's best days are now behind it. Not that it was ever perfect. No country is blameless. But we are so vocal about our ideals, as if we are the first to have thought of them. Like the child-nation we are.
The promise of America has been broken, and with it, my heart. We do know better. That is our Tragic Flaw.