Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The New Communism

Last night I watched Good Night and Good Luck -- a wonderful bit of propaganda about Edward R. Murrow and his battle with McCarthy in the 50s. It helped me articulate some of the malaise that I've been fighting for the last few weeks.

For those who weren't around - or aren't aware - in the early 50's, Senator Joseph McCarthy whipped the nation into a frenzy over the Red Menace. People found themselves blacklisted, and even prosecuted, for holding ideas that were outside the narrow range of what McCarthy and his cronies considered to be patriotism. It was not uncommon for children to be blacklisted for their parent's beliefs and for others to be persecuted on hearsay without recourse to any kind of due process beyond the kangaroo court called the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

During this time, the majority of the press sat silent. The Fourth Estate failed the American public by refusing -- under pressure from the administration and fear of retaliation -- to publish the stories of the abrogation of civil rights and the egregious erosion of liberty. Anybody who questioned the methods or legitimacy was, de facto, un-American and became a target for the Committee. It took Edward R. Murrow and CBS News to break the back of McCarthy's power by shining light on the abuses of the committee until Congress was forced to act by censuring him fo abuse of power.

Today Terrorism is the new Communism. The parallels are staggering.

The president and his cronies have created an environment where people can - and are - being prosecuted for where their parents come from. Legitimate American citizens are having bank assets frozen, are being banned from re-entering the county, and are subject to rendition. Thousands of American citizens find themselves on "no-fly" lists and individuals with similar names are being swept up in the net, prevented from making legitimate and legal travel within the borders of the country. The Congress has passed legislation to require that all Americans obtain and carry identity papers within the country. They are proposing to erect America's Iron Curtain across the southern border of the US. All in the name of keeping the country secure. The government is out of control and the witch-hunts are under way. Just like they were in the 50s.

And the Fourth Estate has let down its public obligation again. Mainstream media has been dumbed down, news budgets reduced, and newspapers are being turned into tabloids. The general concensus is that the American public doesn't want to read -- and wouldn't understand -- about the complex issues that face the nation. And it serves the administration well to keep the public uninformed.

So the parallels with the McCarthy era are uncanny. But unlike the 50's, we have no Murrow, and it gets worse.

Now, evidence is surfacing to support what many of us suspected all along. The 2004 election appears to have been stolen by the Republican party. The evidence is largely circumstantial, there are no photographs of hands in stuffing ballot boxes, no video of shadowy figures tampering with voting machines. But the statistical analysis of the voting patterns, the reports from election observers on the ground, and the unlocked doors represented by voting machines that were less secure than the average PC have created a "smoking gun." If the cookie jar is empty, the obvious suspect will be the 7 year old found unsupervised in the room. God's Own Party sure looks guilty because the 2004 election's cookie jar was very, very empty.

Therein lies one important source of my personal discomfort. I feel powerless. I know that the world is a dangerous place, and I recognize the need for a government to provide for the citizens collectively what they cannot provide for themselves. But my government is out of control. Most rational Americans appear to agree with me, but I appear to have awakened to the danger too late. When the election process can be subverted so easily, the winner will not be the candidate who gets the most votes, but the one with the best black ops team. As a citizen, my voice has already been silenced in the polls. By writing this I have violated the USA PATRIOT Act by criticizing the government. Secret Service would appear at my door and take me into custody. If I were to be declared an "enemy combatant" I could be held without charges and with recourse to due process. I 'd go to jail, directly to jail, and I wouldn't collect $200. I wouldn't even get a phone call for the NSA to tap.

This is not America, but I don't know how to stop it. And it's making me -- quite literally -- sick.

1 comment:

Nancy McKeand said...

I know it isn't much consolation, but you are not alone in your concerns. I have no answers. Heck, I'm not even sure know all the questions!