Defend the Constitution? Who, Me?


Oh, what fun it is to mock Putin and his attempts to present a civilized and modern face to the world.

In today’s Boston Globe, David Filipov who is manning the paper’s  “life on the street” beat in Sochi, explains with clear scorn and condescension how, in Putin’s Russia, those that want to protest against the government are relegated to doing so in “protest parks” far from the cameras and the crowds.

Funny how in 2004, at the Democratic National Convention in Filipov’s home town of Boston, neither he nor anyone at his famously  “liberal” paper made much fuss about the “free speech zones”–chain link cages with constant video surveillance—that were set up as the sole place where protestors against the political order could say their piece during that key political event.

Indeed, the “free speech zone”, a patently illegal absurdity in the context of the most elemental reading of the US constitution, has become a ubiquitous   part of our life in the US, justified, of course, in the name of “security”, or as the more suave disdainers of basic constitutional rights like Obama like to put it, in the name of the “necessary balance” between security and freedom in our society.

The fact that such a liberty for security trade-off has absolutely no presence in the founding legal documents of our Republic, and indeed would have been an anathema to the authors of the Constitution, does not stop Obama and the many human parrots in the media from acting as if it were the most natural and unassailable concept of our legal system.

Obama and the parrots figure, it seems correctly, that if you repeat something enough—like say the “existence” of Iraq’s completely non-existent nuclear arms program—it will soon take on a life of it own.

As a veteran of US newsrooms, Mr. Filipov knows what it takes to stay on the payroll. You need to do what the powerful people want:  fixate on the flaws of those the power establishment designates as official enemies and studiously ignore the very same transgressions when they occur in the US or its many zones of influence

Put another way, Filipov and the many others like him in our press have internalized the core presumption of the authoritarian mind: the idea that there is always a force majeure, real or imagined, that can and should trump both their individual rational faculties and our received notions of collective legality.

Where did our press learn to think this way?  The answer lies in our post-Reagan political establishment, you know, the group the mainstream press loves to say it holds to account, but whose perceived power and influence it, in fact, venerates. Lusting after this claque’s parcel of power, and learning to imitate their techniques of career advancement  for thirty years has finally hollowed out their souls.

Need an example of the authoritarian political mind in action?

At a speaking engagement last week in Hawaii, Antonin Scalia was asked about the Korematsu Case which resulted in the internment of thousands of Japanese citizens during World War II. He responded:

“Well of course Korematsu was wrong. And I think we have repudiated in a later case. But you are kidding yourself if you think the same thing will not happen again,” ….”In times of war, the laws fall silent.”….”That’s what was going on — the panic about the war and the invasion of the Pacific and whatnot. That’s what happens. It was wrong, but I would not be surprised to see it happen again, in time of war. It’s no justification, but it is the reality”

Could there be any clearer example of moral abandonment in the face of power?

Here we have the longest serving member of the US Supreme Court breezily talking–as if he were a mere spectator and not one of nine people with a sacred social writ before all of us to uphold the laws of the land–about how in times of war, however that is defined by the executive branch, we cannot expect any constitutional guarantees.

Imagine if I executed my appointed duties as parents, citizens and workers that way?

Sadly, perhaps we no longer need to imagine such a world. It now seems that almost everyone—including most members of the “Fourth Estate” whom the founders regarded as the final and most important bulwark against extreme concentrations of power—has learned to crouch, dissemble, placate and omit before prerogatives “the man”, or perhaps more accurately, dark and inchoate forces we perceive “him” as having unleashed in our lives.

Thomas S. Harrington teaches in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College.

Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released  Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey