Imagine a 2002 in an alternate universe. One where there wasn’t such a slavish devotion to symbols of belief — flags, crosses, and such — but there was more of a commitment to understanding the message of Christ, or to understanding how the world actually works. To understanding that violence begets violence, and to understanding as well that the simplest way to stop a serial gunfighter is to stop supplying him with bullets.
Of course, we don’t live in that world. We live in a world where schoolgirls are debased and sexualized, a process that is normalized by ritual. We live in a world that denies critical thinking and embraces tests standardized by those who own all the land, the guns, and the gold. We live in a world where bombing countries half a world away is seen, even by Ivy League liberals, as merely cynical politics when they should be considering it as the mass murder it is.
We live in a world where it is assumed that killing as part of a professional military is a morally justifiable act. It is taken as a given, by all parties, that governments can dictate the terms of moral legitimacy, even though there is occasional evidence that governments act in ways that are less than moral. Even the educated among us blithely accept that our so-called representatives can draw borders and pick the governments for countries on any continent. Even after all the diversity education forced down the gagging throats of the masses, there is precious little suggestion that the culture of 21st century America shouldn’t be forced upon the world. The underlying logic, of course, is that the world may not know how good we are just yet, but perhaps they’d like to study the topic at gunpoint. Revisiting this alternate universe, just for a moment, let us imagine that it wasn’t possible to find one’s self demonized for recognizing the realities of a situation, or for standing up and saying that perhaps there are better ways to establish the US as a beacon of liberty than by turning the Holy Land into a garrison state, whose leaders seem to equate toughness with forfeiture of conscience. Imagine a world where it wasn’t necessary to have to remove someone like Cynthia McKinney from her position for being too black — that is, for understanding that the US government is liable for its treatment of the Palestinians, and for understanding that that same US government has proven itself willing to silence or even exterminate marginalized groups in the past by way of building a blessed “bipartisan consensus”.
Other writers, such as Alexander Cockburn on this very site, have written at some length about the details of McKinney’s removal. Perhaps my favorite detail of the entire debacle — the making of Denise Majette, dizzy from the Keyes Presidential juggernaut of 2000, who undoubtedly will serve as a reliable vote for the Homeland Security Wing of the Democratic party — was when Cynthia McKinney’s father Billy was asked by Fox News if he bore a special antipathy for Jews. McKinney, a veteran of Georgia politics, replied that his quarrel wasn’t with Jews, per se, but with “Zionists.” Without allowing the reporter to interject, he asked her a question rarely heard amidst the din of the international Cable News Conspiracy: “Are you a Zionist?”
We can say with certainty that there was no attempt to answer that question, at least not one worthy of television time. The implication, of course, is that questions like that are somehow beyond the pale, as if it is somehow intolerant to wonder what a US client state is doing with the billions a year it “appropriates” from the mouths of starving children in Phoenix and Jacksonville and other catastrophes of sprawl and decay. Neither of the McKinneys, in the end, followed Ari Fleischer’s advice to “watch what you say”, and the result was something along the lines of a “high-tech lynching” courtesy of the expected lobbyists and their media whores. Ken Adelman remembers. Ken remembers when a shoeshine cost one dollar and a haircut five. Ken remembers when unelectable foreign policy whizzes didn’t have to go on Washington Journal and be upbraided by country black women, calling him out for sending their sons and grandsons to die for “regime change”, as he sits there concerned less with the future body count than with whether or not his US Flag necktie is on straight. It’s not for nothing that he worked for Don Rumsfeld back in the Ford Administration. Nor is it a mystery that his recent high profile means that he’s running point for the expected operators.
Mr. Adelman, whose author bio suggests that he has done nothing of note since the Reagan Administration, graced the 8/29 London Times with a splash of summer fun entitled “Desert Storm II Would Be A Walk in the Park.” As the title indicates, the piece is chockful of the kind of comic gems one might expect from a Richard Perle nightclub set.
Much of Adelman’s comic vision comes through in his artful descriptions. Devotees of the wry wit of Bob Newhart will chortle over such phrases as “the gifted Bush foreign policy team”, “liberating Iraq will be a cakewalk”, and “dancing in the streets of Baghdad will be even more joyous than that in Kabul after its liberation”. Adelman, who sought military service but was refused it due to a most unfortunate bout with Eczema, speaks likewise of militarily-enforced “no-drive zones” and of arming Saddam’s opponents “everywhere” by way of facilitating the promised cakewalk.
A cakewalk for the owners of the guns and not the fighters of the war. A cakewalk for the profiteers, who spin garbage to Americans about “liberation” and the “rule of law” even as these same profiteers devalue US currency beyond repair. This cakewalk is coming soon; bookies and Senators alike in Moscow peg 9/11 as the day “America strikes back.” Perhaps it shall come to pass on that day, the descendants of slaves and dirt farmers locked in “urban combat” with people defending their homes, families, and possessions. And their effort, five or ten years down the road, disowned by the politicians willing to cash their dead asses in for poll bounces, willing to impose untold horrors on boys from Alabama so that CNN can show a shot of some alleged Iraqi kids moonwalking in the streets while drinking popular soft drinks. There will be some among us who will call that, unaccountably, liberation, or heroism, or some such word bled of its meaning as so many words in this age have been.
Anthony Gancarski is the author of Unfortunate Incidents and currently a student at Gonzaga Law School in Spokane, Washington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org