Strip Your Rights

by LINH DINH

Whatever crimes, violations or discretions anyone admits to, he or she likely has done, is doing and will do worse. This is also true of governments. Washington can now snoop on your international emails and phone calls, without warrants, but do you seriously think they’d spare your domestic communications? Of course, not. When our Beltway Masters were caught illegally wiretapping before 2008, they simply drafted a new law to legalize it. What’s more, this decree was retroactively applied to private communication firms such as Verizon, ATT, Sprint and T Mobile, to prevent them from being sued. In a Fascist state, the government always defends and bails out the fattest corporations.

Ooooh, we’re being spied on! How glamorous! Each of us is a Lady Di now, but without the foreign junkets, castles, yachts and fat bank accounts, and instead of being hounded by paparazzi, we’re acting as our own informants and spies. It has never been so easy to track anyone. Narcissism, never in short supply in a materialist culture, is again being used against us. With our compulsive use of Facebook, Twitter, blogging and the email, plus our cellphone, laptop and credit card, our masters know exactly where we are, who our friends are, as well as what we’re buying and thinking.

Eager to bare all, many of us have even uploaded our natural or surgically puffed endowments, whether sad or cheerful. If even Target can tell if some women are pregnant before they themselves know, perhaps US spy agencies have churned through enough numbers and facts to anticipate if you, yes, you, personally, will have sex within the next 24 hours, and what he, she or it will look like, as far as height, weight, age and hair color, not to mention brands of deodorant and toothpaste, and if your partner flosses regularly, sports patriotic, religious or rebellious tattoos. They will have a video of you having sex even before you had sex.

Nineteen cave-dwelling drunks armed with Dollar Store box cutters have supposedly triggered this suffocating web of surveillance, not to mention an endless war that’s bankrupting the country, but of course many Americans already know who the real terrorists are.

With so much tax money and manpower devoted to peering into your brain, mouth and, literally, pants, the state allows its corporate sponsors to make tons of money, since security is a huge business, but another key aim is intimidation. With an all-seeing eye, Washington has become a browbeating cyclops, here to cow if not bomb everyone into submission.

The totalitarian state must instill fear and paranoia into each citizen, so that he remains isolated and cannot discuss shared problems with his neighbors, much less organize resistance, but the American archetype is already a loner, and often a lone gunman fighting against overwhelming odds, so will the American rebel become a solo terrorist? Rambo vs. State!

Under or unemployed, threatened with foreclosures and hopelessly in debt, many Americans are frustrated and angry, with some even contemplating turning off their babbling TV long enough to join or organize a sustained protest or rebellion, so the state is preempting that by warning that it knows what you’re thinking, and if you step out of line, it can legally arrest, strip search, disappear or even kill you, without anyone knowing.

How’s that for invasion of privacy? Sounds like terrorism. With laws like that, who needs friggin’ laws? But that’s exactly the message. Not only can the state make laws to serve its evil purposes, and apply them retroactively even, it can also disregard its own laws. Though you must obey an increasingly labyrinthine set of laws that dictate all aspects of your life, the American state is beyond all legal or moral jurisdictions.

With a vast surveillance network, you can never escape the reach of the state, and if this state is an empire, with a global reach, then it can zap you even if you’re hiding under a café table in Curriedgoatistan. Yummm! But this is assuming you can even get out. Consistent with the totalitarian transformation of the United States, steps are being implemented to control your travel. Without freedom of mobility, you are effectively arrested or detained, even if the jail is vast. Citizens of Communist dictatorships often compared their countries to enormous prisons, simply because they were not allowed to leave, but had to risk their lives to escape. In those societies, it was difficult to simply move to the next block, because you needed a permit to sleep anywhere, even for a night. Even in a more relaxed Communist country such as present-day Vietnam, the same control apparatus remains. If you got drunk, say, and wanted to crash at a friend’s apartment, he had to register you with the local police before you could do so, because that’s the law, although it’s not always adhered to anymore.

American military might is predicated on air power, above all, so it’s appropriate that this compulsively bombing empire can now ban you, with no due process or appeal, from peacefully entering their drone-abuzz sky. Squeak too loudly and you may be condemned to that dreaded no-fly list, so that you can only leave the country by sneaking across the Rio Grande, like countless Mexicans or Mexican-Americans when chased by US authorities. Heavily guarded, the Canadian border is not an option. The no-fly list contains mostly foreigners, supposedly, but this leaked “fact” is only meant to reassure docile, gullible or xenophobic Americans into believing this totalitarian measure has nothing to do with them. In any case, it’s certainly not about stopping terrorists but you, white bread person, from possibly flying, because if anyone can be proven a terrorist, he needn’t be grounded but simply arrested, then put on trial.

Though our government would have us believe we’re surrounded by thousands if not millions of terrorists, the conviction of over 300 since 9/11 has been routinely corrupted with procedural misconduct, if not prolonged torture, with most of these trials conducted in secret, without adequate legal defense. With so many laws on their books, and so many crooked judges and prosecutors, they can’t even pin suspected terrorists without getting medieval on their detainees’ helpless person. My, what a cute word. It’s so much easier on the ear than waterboarded, strung up, stripped naked, smeared with shit, beaten or raped prisoners. Say, can I detain you for as long as I wish while stripping you of all rights? It’s not a question, foolish voter! It should be our only question.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a  novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union. 

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