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Wake Up America


I teach law and psychology, and also do a good deal of public speaking, mostly to lawyers, educators, and social workers. Since September 11, 2001, I have been watching closely what the Bush dictatorship is doing at home and abroad. I continue to be disgusted and dismayed by how little presumably well-education Americans know about what is going on at home in Bush’s “other war,” the war against you and me, and the American way of life.

For instance, many people do not know what I mean by the Patriot Act. They don’t question the airports’ resemblance to National Guard training weekends. A mother this week told me that she had to pour out or drink the breast milk she had pumped for her baby’s consumption on the trip (she drank it, to recycle it, so to speak). I asked this mother if that did not outrage her. Not particularly, she said. She figured “they” were doing it to protect her. From what, I asked? Did it make sense that her breast milk could be a weapon to be used to terrorize the passengers?

I have spoken to at least a dozen people this week who had no idea when I mentioned the FCC’s plans to hand over the airwaves to conservative conglomerate media sources. Granted, this has not gotten huge coverage in the press–of course not–that would be counterproductive to mainstream media’s efforts to control the access to information. But, it has been there–if you at least thumbed through the front section of a major daily paper (I live in the Washington, D.C. area, so poor as they are, there are two daily newspapers). I urged them to get online and send their emails to the FCC immediately, for time is running out.

I spoke to a friend last night about analogies between so many aspects of the most recent activities of the Bush administration (for instance, Rumsfeld insisting that he, and he alone, will have control over all Department of Defense employees, in addition to the military–that would be 700,000 people. That ought to scare everyone to death; given that Bush has control over another 300,000 employees of the Homeland Security (make that Insecurity) Department. One million government employees under the control of Bush and Rumsfeld. If you are not thinking Hitler, then you better start reading about how his rise to power consisted of actions like taking control of government departments (including the judiciary–which topic I will cover at another time).

Virtually everything I have been writing about is far from common knowledge to most Americans, regardless of their education level. But people in other parts of the world are watching. And thus, I share with you an email (with his permission) from a reader in Chile who responded to my Memorial Day post .

Read it and weep–and learn from the mistakes they made before it is too late. Time is really running out.

Dear Elaine.

Having read your article “Supreme Sacrifice,” I cannot but feel vertigo at the awesome power that has become unleashed in your country for the sake of the profits of a few and the suffering of the many.

Being from Chile, I may tell you about the 1000 days it took for the Chilean people to accept the loss of freedom, which has become one morning in your country. After 30 years we are still unable to recover and take offf from where we left, back in 1973.

Get ready for torture, denial, selfishness, bullies, assassinations, within and without your territory and mass ignorance, brought on with the connivance of the philistine media. I could go on and on. My sympathy to you and yours.


Javier Merrill

Pity that few Americans have Javier’s knowledge or insight. The Germans slept through Hitler’s rise to power, the Chileans through Pinochet. We through Bush. I hope that my articles, and those of my colleagues, are not someday historical records of the descent of American from democracy to dictatorship.

ELAINE CASSEL practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teaches law and psychology, and writes Civil Liberties Watch under the auspices of The City Pages. She can be reached at:


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