Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Avoiding the Abyss

The most infuriating thing about being an American - if you still have a working conscience - is the fact that our government is getting away with murder ... and torture ... and blatant lying ... and tyranny not seen since the Brits were in charge of the colonies. (Indeed, the situation is much worse today than the situation that provoked the American Revolution!) Worse than Bush and Cheney doing all of these things is the fact that the Democrats and the mass media are letting them do it!

That's worth saying again. What's worse than the monstrous things that this White House gang of war criminals are doing is the fact that the rest of the government and the Fourth Estate are permitting it and colluding in it.

Not only is this worse because it means that there are no "checks and balances" at work and any tyrant could get away with anything.

It is also worse because it means that there is a rupture underway in the whole political system. It isn't just Bush and Cheney. It's the whole system.

It's not going to be resolved and made right, therefore, by a new administration taking office. The same forces that have allowed Bush and Cheney to do all that they have done are at work to ensure that the next president will carry out the fundamental tenets and precedents that Bush and Cheney have spearheaded.

Granted, some members of the press have raised complaints. The New York Times has editorialized in as strong language as I've ever seen them use against some of the more egregious acts of the Bush White House, roaring to the heavens, but concluding like a lamb: a wish and a hope that the next president will do better, rather than calling for the only logical thing: impeachment.

As I've written elsewhere, the pretenders to the throne, the candidates still in the race for the presidency, are also refusing to call for impeachment and refusing to hold the Bush regime accountable for, good god, now admitting that they're choreographing in detail TORTURE.

The fact that Bush was shamelessly lying for years, claiming that "We do not torture," doesn't even merit comment by nearly the entire august media.

The problem we face is dire and extreme.

It's as if a political thermonuclear bomb went off, the percussive impact felt in our ears across the country, and the entire political establishment and mass media act as if nothing has happened.

What is the heart of the problem?

The shortest way to answer this question is this: so long as the fundamental lie that provides this criminal government a rationale to continue on its vicious mission is not challenged directly, they will continue to get their way. They will continue to get anything and everything they want from the rest of the government and from a supine media.

What is that fundamental lie? "American lives are more valuable and more precious than other people's lives."

Forget the fact that Bush and Cheney's war on terror IS a fraud and that they want Osama Bin Laden around as their foil as much as OBL wants and needs Bush and Cheney for his own jihad.

Forget the fact that because it's a fraudulent war that Bush and Cheney's actual measures aren't designed to and aren't going to protect us against another attack.

Even if the war on terror wasn't a fraud and even if Bush and Cheney really did want to prevent another 9/11, the notion that anything can and should be done to protect American lives, including torturing others and committing mass murder, is the fundamental lie. It would inevitably, regardless of anyone's intentions, lead us to commit monstrous acts against humanity.

Consider this from Michael Ignatieff, Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard, writing in the New York Times Magazine on May 2, 2004 in a piece entitled: "Could We Lose the War on Terror? Lesser Evils:"

"[A] liberal law professor at Yale [Bruce Ackerman] has recently proposed a wholesale revision of the president's current power to declare a national emergency, suggesting that if terrorists strike again, the president should be given the authority to act unilaterally for a week and to arrest anyone he sees fit."

Note here that even a liberal such as Ackerman, in making this proposal in an attempt to stem the tyranny of the Bush White House, is accepting the logic that a terrorist attack on the U.S. justifies tyranny. All that Bush and Cheney (and any future presidents) have to do, then, to get what they want - unrestricted and unreviewable powers - is allow terrorists to attack us. And even less than that, they can arrest a bunch of people, claim that they were about to launch an attack, and use that as a pretext to impose emergency power measures.

Some game when all you have to do to win is lose.

Ignatieff, a Human Rights advocate and presumably a liberal, says further in this essay that:

"To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil."

What is this greater evil? Another 9/11. Who are the victims of these so-called lesser evils of torture, pre-emptive war and assassinations? Iraqis and Afghanis who had nothing to do with 9/11. According to Ignatieff's logic, it is moral to kill and torture people who had nothing to do with 9/11 because somehow this will protect us against another 9/11. The only way that he can get away with such an otherwise transparently false and immoral argument is to claim implicitly that American lives are worth more than other people's lives, even those who had nothing to do with the deaths of the victims of 9/11.

This logic will allow any outrage to be committed. It is a sliding slope to hell.

Every one with a functioning conscience needs to be saying everyday in every way that they can: Americans' lives are no more valuable and no more precious than anyone else's lives.

Bush and Cheney and the actions of this government are more unpopular than any in at least polling history. The closest equivalent is Richard Nixon's unpopularity months before he was forced to resign. Bush is even more unpopular today than Nixon was then. In the 1960s, mass sentiment against the war, for civil rights and equal rights for women, and so on, were expressed in people's everyday lives through the way they wore their hair, the clothes they wore, the music they listened to and wrote, and through their actions and statements, including the ubiquitous use of the peace sign. What is called for today, more than ever, is a society-wide repudiation of what Bush and Cheney are doing and stand for.

Daily proudly wearing orange (the color our government forces prisoners to wear) - a ribbon, an armband, and so on - is one way to do this. It can become our era's equivalent of the peace symbol and long hair. Can you imagine the 1960s without long hair, peace symbols everywhere and the other expressions in the day to day lives of people showing off their feelings about what was supposed to have been the "American Century?" Spreading orange till it's being worn and displayed by millions everyday and thereby turns mass sentiment against this rotten band of criminals and this complicit government into a visible, potent force, must be done.

Anything else, any illusions that voting in someone else to office - in six months - while Bush and Cheney continue to do their horrid deeds everyday for the next eight months, are unacceptable.

Does it make sense, if you're an Iraqi, to think: oh well, Bush and Cheney will be gone in eight months. We don't have to worry then. No one's going to die or get tortured in the meantime.

It's time that more Americans wake up and start to think beyond the bubble of narrow nationalism. Iraqis are our brothers and sisters. Afghanis and Pakistanis are our brothers and sisters. Iranians are our brothers and sisters. We have more in common with them than we do with the vampires occupying the White House.

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