I can’t help but laugh at their hypocrisy. Right wing bloggers and the White House alike are upset about the curtailment of human rights in China. According to these folks, there is no religious freedom in that country. Christians, who are over there proselytizing for their god and money are being denied the ability to do so–or so say the news reports on various Christian media. Those bloggers are moving there blogs to other providers because of Google’s decision to censor its Chinese search engines. Funny, I don’t remember any such uproar when right wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch (of Fox) accepted Chinese government censorship of his satellite networks for the Chinese markets.
Meanwhile, the White House continues its defense of that which is ultimately indefensible in the US of A–the violation of the the constitutional ban on unreasonable search and seizure. Admittedly, this attack has been underway for some time–at least since the 1960s, anyway–but never before in my memory has the attack been so brazen and unashamed. Bush, Gonzales, Cheney and the rest of these folks in power have no intention of stopping their surveillance or expanding it if they feel the need. The only way it will be halted is if the people doing it are removed from office and a genuine oversight framework is put back in place. Even then, it is up to the people of the United States to insist that that committee does its job and is not swayed by fantasies of fear and briberies of secrecy.
Speaking of illegal search and seizure, news items are beginning to appear in the mainstream US media (as opposed to the alternative and international media) relating instances where US troops kidnapped the spouses of Iraqis they suspected of supporting the insurgency in Iraq. After seizing these women at gunpoint, they were held as ransom in an attempt to get the wanted men to surrender and provide information. Now, I’m not going to feign surprise here that this tactic is in use by the US military. After all, it is an internationally known fact that this same military is using torture, murder, and pretty much any thing else that they can get away with in their wars. Nor am I going to pretend that this is the first war that the US military has used these tactics. Simply because it isn’t. However, that does not make it tight, nor does it make it very likely that Washington’s goals for the countries that they have invaded and occupied will succeed.
If I thought like the Pentagon, and since I don’t want Washington’s goals to succeed, it would be here where I should encourage the Pentagon and the forces that it serves to not only continue their ill-advised destruction of civil society in Iraq and Afghanistan, but to intensify their operations. After all, doing so would almost certainly guarantee the victory of the more radical elements of the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan and send Washington to a crushing defeat. However, the belief that every human deserves a decent life free of violence and the knowledge that before any defeat of US forces took place overseas there would be an enormous increase in the amount of blood shed prevents me from such encouragement. After all, that’s what happened in Vietnam. This time around, the possibility of US nuclear attacks makes such a bloodletting even more ominous. Of course, Washington seems intent on just such a course anyhow, no matter what anyone says.
Speaking of nuclear, why is it that France’s leader Jacques Chirac can threaten the use of nuclear weapons and hear no rebuke from Washington or London while the government in Tehran is currently running the risk of military attack for merely stating its intention to continue its nuclear energy program? Let’s think about this for a minute. France has nuclear weapons. Iran doesn’t. France has threatened to use those weapons. Iran is incapable of using them since it doesn’t have any. The United States also has these weapons. It, too, has threatened to use them. Yet, George Bush and his administration are accusing Teheran’s government of blackmailing the world by holding the nuclear possibility over the Middle East. It’s nothing new for Washington to blackmail the world, yet its poorly-played pretense that it is somehow different when it does so is more obvious than ever. And more dangerous.
Hypocrisy. That is the key operating word for Washington. The White House talks about freedom and continues to restrict it. The so-called opposition party raises its voice in dismay and votes for another judge who clearly states that he believes that the president has the final say in all matters of policy. Furthermore, instead of removing the authoritarian PATRIOT Act from the law books entirely, that same legislature extends the law while working out ways to keep it mostly intact–ignoring the fact that fine-tuning authoritarian government is still invoking authoritarian government. The White House and Pentagon decry the tactics of those it is fighting while simultaneously utilizing and enhancing tactics very similar to those they accuse their opposition of using. The Congress and White House extol the virtues of democracy yet ignore it when the results are opposed to Washington’s interests–the vote in Palestine being but the most recent example. The harassment of Christian missionaries in China, Russia and elsewhere is decried by Congresspeople and the President alike while mosques in the US are bugged and spied upon as part of a general policy of surveillance and harassment. Not since the days of slavery in this country have the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the dictums of the Bill of Rights been so far from the realities of the rulers. It took a radical and persistent movement to end that inhuman stain on the nation. What’s it going to take to end this one?
RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: email@example.com