TWO GRAVEST DANGERS FACING AMERICA
HOW TO TAKE BACK OUR LIBERTIES
By: Kevin Tuma
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism.”
“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
As the Twenty-First century plods on, so does the War on Terror, or—as it might be more accurately called, the “Reign of Terror”. There seem to be no intrusive spy powers that are too much for our federal government to reach for—without any expressed permission from the electorate, or special exemptions from the Bill of Rights, Habeas Corpus, or judicial review. Some hopeful wisps of media and Congressional dissent have breezed about lately, although it’s unknown how long these fragile noises of oversight will last. We will know soon enough, if and when the Patriot Act is finally renewed by Congress. (Any ‘patriot’ worthy of the word, of course, would spit on that voluminous set of documents, and toss their unconstitutional pages onto a fire.)
Contemporary critics of the Bush administration often quote Patrick Henry and Ben Franklin, who both warned against trading liberty for security. The inference is made that modern-day GOP loyalists are fearful to the point of willingness to trade anything for promises of security against terrorism. These points might have been true in the winter of 2001, but are not too accurate in our current situation. More relevant quotations for today would be those warning against political parties, found in George Washington’s Farewell Address.
Washington stated that the revenge-driven rhetoric of political parties leads to Despotism. He characterized political parties as a grave threat to our nation. His statements are now being vindicated by history—especially considering our two-party system, with its idiotic tit-for-tat nonsense that blots out any effective participation from those of a more independent mindset.
Republican spokesmen these days are essentially playing a game of political football with terror—not cowering at the likes of Osama Bin Laden. The loudmouths of talk radio who support this president do not sound very afraid, or in any way worried about their own future. They know better than to believe their own anti-terror hogwash. They know terrorism is a premeditated crime that cannot be stopped by preemptive military action.
Nevertheless, the neo-cons are at war—with Muslims (whom they apparently consider sub-human chattel), and with liberal progressives in the Democratic Party (whom they despise in general). More often than not, the latter. The Bushies are, for want of a more flowery sociological term, partisan political fanatics.
Like the Clintonistas of the Nineties—who would defend any misdeed by their president, no matter how egregious—the neo-cons of the modern Republican Party will staunchly defend abuses by the current administration that go far beyond the pale—-both legally and morally. No violation of international law, civilized principles, or human rights will shame or deter them. This tends, in turn, to embolden those who hold executive power. It is hardly a constraint upon big government to have party loyalists who will excuse any abuse—no matter how outlandish. Perhaps for this reason, constitutionally speaking, the Bush regime crossed the Rubicon long ago.
Of course, not many Americans learned of Bush spying abuses and Draconian terror policies until recently…and the reason for that is because the mainstream US news media has not been doing its job. Which constitutes a secondary grave threat facing our nation, in addition to party driven politics—-an incompetent, childish, and pusillanimous Press.
For four years after 9-11-01, the so-called “liberal media” was whistling past the graveyard, ignoring loud hints of Bush administration abuses, and generally supportive of the war in Iraq—despite mounting evidence that the war was founded on lies and served no legitimate national purpose. It took the carnage of Hurricane Katrina, with its massive failures on the part of FEMA and the Bush administration, to jar the Press out of its vaguely pro-government stupor. It took a congressional debate on the four-year expiration date of the Patriot Act to nudge the media into discussing any potential constitutional abuses of the anti-terror laws. And it apparently took Bush threatening to veto an anti-torture bill, of all things, before the Press would report revelations of a clandestine CIA torture prison network. (Evidently, Abu Ghraib wasn’t an obvious enough torture prison to capture journalists’ imaginations, or make their investigative brain cells function.)
This isn’t your grandfather’s news media…unfortunately. Long gone are the days when reporters were cynical, smart-aleck, chain-smoking amateur detectives with a Philip Marlowe complex. Today’s mealy-mouthed Hairstyle Journalists rarely investigate people in official authority. They report what they are told to report. They almost never show photos of war dead or casualties, as reporters did in the Vietnam era. They photograph what they are told to photograph and say what they are told to say. And they do not, by any stretch of the imagination, function as ‘government watchdogs’.
The people of the US are a freedom-loving people—but they are also a grossly ignorant and misinformed people. If the American public continues to derive most of its information from the effete, unfocused, politically correct milksops of the mainstream Press, the US faces a dark future indeed. The United States cannot survive, in a post-nuclear age with nanochip technology, under a budding police state that throws its weight around and silences the media with a sidelong glance. America must have a Free Press..and “free”, in this definition, does not mean “free to do fluff stories about Hollywood celebrities, fast food, and computer toys—while government officials plot war crimes and obstructions of justice”. With freedom comes responsibility—and by all signs, our mainstream media has none.
Richard Nixon is often referenced by political critics as if he was dangerous compared to our modern breed of presidential scofflaws. Yet Nixon resigned. It is arguable that Nixon did so because he was a sincere, intelligent man—despite his many foibles. It is also arguable that in Nixon’s day, we did not have crazed party partisans—the sort of people who would excuse the President raping a nun on the Capitol Hill steps—in positions of media influence. And it is further arguable that in Nixon’s day, the Press at least marginally did its job. Compare modern reports on Iraq to the coverage of the Vietnam war that led LBJ to announce he would not seek re-election. Compare the amount of press coverage given the My Lai massacre with the amount relegated to Abu Ghraib…or the coverage given the Valerie Plame affair versus the Watergate scandal. The differential is shockingly clear.
But the problem facing us goes well beyond the administration of George W. Bush. In truth, Bush is filling a void created by the way our modern system works. The imperial throne of the modern presidency will still be standing in the Executive Branch, waiting to utilized again, after Bush and his cronies have fallen from grace. The next tyrant to occupy the throne may be much worse. Perhaps the next president-elect will be a power mad fascist who decides to strike down the Second Amendment by Presidential Executive Order on his first week in office. Perhaps the next tyrant will invoke martial law, rolling tanks down the streets of America, or start World War Three. If this happens, only one thing will be absolutely certain: The tyrant will receive near-unanimous applause from party loyalists—and will not be questioned by an obsequious news media that seems perfectly happy with the concept of our Constitution being used as toilet paper.
If any two factors extinguish liberty forever in this country, they will be the obeisance of the Press and the dominance of the two-party system. If we want to be free, we must strike at these two poisoned roots. They are strangling what is left of our culture and its system of government.
If we don’t wish to live under Orwellianism, we have two imperatives:
I. We must have an effective, challenging Third Party that breaks the hegemony of the Republicans and the Democrats. Good ideas are not good enough. We need one that has good ideas AND wins elections.
II. We must have a strong, aggressive Alternative Media—on the Internet and via satellite electronics—-to fill the role of government watchdog that the mainstream Press has abandoned.
Neither of these two things require a great deal of money. They require committed people with common sense who can be counted upon to act.
There is a window of opportunity for these things, via the Internet and the rise of the personal computer. The Internet represents the greatest advancement in communications technology since the invention of the Printing Press. It is a technology that can be used for dissemination of freedom, liberty, and truth.
Americans who wish to live free must take back their country now, at the Ballot Box and in the Press. We must have vigorous public dissent against government abuse of power, and we must have a truly independent media to oversee and help reinforce our increasingly sagging system of checks and balances.
Otherwise, the throne of the imperial presidency will continue to be filled by those who control the two-party system, and who win the favor of the childish mainstream media. And as the potential for high-tech tyranny leaps forward, that won’t be a pretty thing to behold, or to contemplate.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”
Published in the January 6, 2005 issue of Ether Zone.
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