Tuesday, July 8, 2008

July Farce

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.” -- Major General Antonio Taguba (Ret.)

In the wake of Fourth of July celebrations, I’d like to ask a nettlesome question of those who have been festooning themselves and their surroundings with red, white and blue, flying Old Glory from their pickup trucks and lawns, and proudly singing about living in the “home of the brave:” WHY BOTHER?

What liberties that July 4th is supposed to represent have all too few Americans stood up to defend over the last nearly eight years?

Which freedoms have not been undermined or outright eliminated with nary a fuss in this “land of the free?” What bravery in this “home of the brave” have all too few Americans demonstrated to date?

The conditions that spawned the American Revolution are worse today than they were back in 1776.

We have, after all, a president and vice-president who declare that they stand above the law, whose loyal and fawning retinue of law professors, lawyers, advisers and Supreme Court Justices tell them that they can do absolutely anything if it’s wrapped in the foil of the “national interest,” including overriding and ignoring Congressional law, Constitutional provisions, the ongoing torture of even – gasp - youngsters, endless detention without charges even being brought, and spying on hundreds of millions of Americans.

We have, after all, a White House that committed the gravest war crime of all by launching wars on countries that did not threaten us and had not attacked us, doing so on the basis of literally hundreds of lies that they were caught red-handed purveying, resulting in the unjust and immoral deaths of well over a million people to date.

We have, after all, a White House that daily conceals its ill intentions and ill deeds from the American people and has turned governance into nothing more than sheer deception, exercised with unprecedented and unalloyed cynicism.

We have, after all, a White House that readily commits treason to punish its political opponents, then turns around and has the nerve to accuse its critics of treason, while its apologists in the media and think tanks scream betrayal and sedition hourly of anyone who retains a shred of sense and humanity.

We have, after all, a White House and Congress that has abrogated the Fourth Amendment and habeas corpus, items specifically cited in the American Revolution’s grievances against King George.

We have, after all, a White House that is preparing to launch another illegal and unjust war, using the same playbook they used on Iraq, and a Congress and major presidential candidates that have green-lighted this newest crime.

We have, after all, a White House that criminally and recklessly left New York City and New Orleans open to disasters, despite repeated, explicit, and credible warnings for years preceding, failing further to come to victims’ aid in a timely fashion, the equivalent of abandoning wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

We have, after all, a government whose enablers and apologists in the Democratic Party and the mass media mock the First Amendment, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the “home of the free” by their failure to stand up to - and their collusion with - these moral monsters and anti-rationalists in the White House.

We have, after all, two candidates for president who both refuse to hold these war criminals and tyrants accountable through impeachment and who promise us “change” while having done nothing substantive to change the government that they themselves have been important members of all of these years.

We find, after all, ourselves, and this country, at an historic crossroads.

Yet nearly every single one of our august political leaders and sage opinion-leaders continue to claim, against all sense, legal precedent, and propriety, that holding our own homegrown, world-class criminals accountable for their perverse crimes is unthinkable.

* * *

What is unthinkable is that we should allow these daily outrages and atrocities to continue in our names as Americans.

Anyone paying even partial attention to what has been going on should feel deep shame over what our country has done - and is doing - in the world and real anger about what we, and our fellow citizens, have been and are allowing.

Those who say that they want change and are content at this point to support Obama’s candidacy should ask themselves this question: how can righting the terrible wrongs of this White House and this Congress be so easy and so simple as going into a voting booth for a few minutes once every few years and pushing a few buttons?

How can infamous and grave injustices such as these (thirty seconds of looking at the pictures from Abu Ghraib is enough for anyone who still has a conscience), which grow like Topsy every minute, be rectified by so little done and measures taken so late as voting?

What have Americans, who say they prize being Americans, been doing to protect dissenters’ right to dissent, scientists’ right and need to tell inconvenient truth to power, women’s and homosexuals’ right to choice, the planet’s very ability to survive, Muslims and undocumented workers’ right to equal protection under the law, Afghani, Iraqi and Iranian women, children, boys and men’s right to live and right not to be killed and/or tortured by American military forces, crushed under the heel of Pax Americana?

Why aren’t there more Americans engaging in the necessary and valorous acts of civil resistance in the face of barbarities being committed every single day?

Why have too many Americans been willing to listen so far to the hypnotic and Houdini-like promises of “change” from the very individuals who have been co-conspirators in these unspeakable acts and predatory policies?

Why has “going along” with the status quo been so powerful a pull upon people who know in their hearts that others are being killed and tortured in our names?

* * *

1930s and 1940s Germany forewarned us of this. In the Germans’ case, at least, nothing like the rise of fascism had ever happened before in a country such as that.

This lack of knowledge and warning, unfortunately, cannot be said of Americans, circa 2008.

There are those who acutely realize these things. The problem they and we face is that the forces arrayed against us have extraordinary resources and hold the levers of power, even though they are small in number and supremely unpopular - Bush and Cheney are only able to venture out before hand-picked crowds because an unfiltered gathering would like to tar and feather them. But the fact remains that Bush and Cheney are in power and the party of “opposition,” well, isn’t the party of opposition. Wishing them to be what they aren’t won’t do.

We also confront the fact that the broad masses of people of this country, as much as they in their large majority dislike or even despise Bush and Cheney, and are disgusted by the Democrats’ craven complicity, have not yet done much more than tell pollsters this fact and voted against the GOP in recent elections. They continue to be held in thrall to business as usual, while terrible deeds are being carried out in the shadows at home and in plain sight abroad.

Many gnash their teeth at the preceding. Many blame the masses for their quiescence.

But social change has never been accomplished through the masses of people rising as one to do the right thing. Social change has never really been secured merely or mainly through the ballot box. Social change has always started with small, determined numbers who then succeed in mobilizing a fraction of the population whose actions and stand come to represent the sentiment of the majority or near majority.

The question then is how can such a minority - as I’ve written, the 1% - be mobilized?

We don’t need to move the entire population to act. The inaction of the majority is nothing new. Their inaction isn’t the principle reason why things continue to go so atrociously.

We do need to – and must - move a fraction of the populace to act and thereby through their stepping forward provide the necessary leadership to represent the sentiments of the majority and move on behalf of that majority to drastically alter the direction of this country.

The 1% of the people is our proverbial Archimedes fulcrum.

Parading before us, as in a July Farce parade, is our naked emperor. Following him are the pretenders to the throne, who are still clothed, but as they march along, they are visibly shedding their clothes, one by one. Speech before AIPAC, threatening to attack Iran, there goes the jacket. Support for the telecom amnesty bill, off goes the pants. Opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision overturning execution of convictions of child rape, the shirt’s fluttering to the ground.

We the people have to break the spell and turn the stands and the street into a festival of the oppressed. Some – you - have to start it. And others will be emboldened by the actions of the truly brave.

Here is something that everyone can and should do: don orange, the color of resistance. Wear it everyday – a ribbon, an armband, a button. Spread it to others. Support and/or join those planning to demonstrate at the DNC in August in Denver. Help to get war criminal John Yoo fired as a law professor and tried as a war criminal. Stop the recruiters from fueling the war machine with fresh young bodies. Stand up and be counted!

No comments: