FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Blanking Out Dissent

 

As the president races around the country, furiously pushing the twin lies that things are getting better in Iraq and that the economy is on the upswing, and ducking the reports that he hid from the draft in a National Guard unit and then went AWOL from even that cushy post, a huge, coordinated effort, largely unreported, is underway to insulate him and the media from any signs of dissent.

The latest evidence of this shameless and brazen trampling of the First Amendment to the Constitution is found in a lawsuit filed yesterday by the ACLU against the White House and the Secret Service on behalf of two West Virginia Republicans, Jeff Rank, 29, and Nicole, 30, who were arrested on July 4 at a Charleston, West Virginia, rally for President Bush, because they refused to remove two home-made T-shirts sporting the circle-and-slash “no” symbol superimposed over the word “Bush.”

According to the suit, filed by the ACLU in federal court, even though the Ranks had tickets to the event, which was held on the grounds of the state capital, and were not being disruptive, city police arrested and handcuffed them, charging them with trespassing, and held them for several hours, on instructions of the Secret Service, the federal police agency that is tasked with “protecting” the president.

Nicole, who works for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a notorious nest of right-wing loonies, was also temporarily suspended from her job following the arrests.

The charges were later thrown out, and the city council apologized to the Ranks for the incident, saying local police would never have bothered them had they not been ordered to act by the Secret Service. (Bush and the White House had no apologies to offer.)

As outrageous as this incident is, it is hardly isolated or unique. Back last year, I wrote an article in Salon Magazine, Keeping Dissent Invisible (Oct. 16, 2003), which documented how the removal of all signs of dissent from Bush and Cheney public events has been standard operating procedure, with instructions coming from the Secret Service and White House advance teams. Paul Wolf, a deputy police chief from Pittsburgh, PA, where police were instructed to fence off protesters in a remote baseball field during a 2002 visit there by President Bush, stated on the record that his department had been told what to do by Secret Service and White House staff. Around the country, protesters who have been similarly removed from presidential parade routes or rally sites, or arrested by police for simply carrying protest signs, have reported being told that it was “on instructions from the Secret Service.”

Americans need to become aware how deeply antagonistic towards, and dangerous for American civil liberties like the right of free speech and assembly this current administration is.

Our corporate media, whose highly paid and well-groomed reporters prefer to travel with the presidential motorcade and to broadcast promotional soundbites from the president, don’t even see, much less bother to track down and interview the many people who have the courage and principle to come and try to protest. As a result, the average American doesn’t even know that there is a vast sea of opposition to this president and his policies.

Protests, as we saw in the coverage of the Republican National Convention, basically get reported on in the mass media only when there is violence or arrests.

It is significant that the ACLU’s case brought on behalf of the Ranks, though announced in a press release that went out to all major media, was not even reported today in the New York Times, supposedly the nation’s paper of record, which instead devoted most of its campaign ink to covering Bush’s self-aggrandizing speech to a convention of the National Guard and to questions being raised about CBS’s story exposing the sordid story of his Guard “service.”

John Kerry reportedly had his campaign hire a Decatur, Alabama woman who was fired from her private sector job because her boss didn’t like her having a “Kerry for President” bumper sticker on her car. Maybe he should start hiring all the people who are being rounded up, herded into “free speech pens” or arrested at Bush/Cheney campaign events. Besides giving him a lot of local on-the-ground support across the country, it would do wonders for his own tarnished image on civil liberties (Kerry has had precious little to say about the USA PATRIOT Act, for which he himself voted, and its trampling of the Bill of Rights), and would go a long way towards making up for his failure to condemn the use of a “protest cage” by Boston Police during his own nominating convention.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
September 20, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Unipolar Governance of the Multipolar World
Rob Urie
Strike for the Environment, Strike for Social Justice, Strike!
Miguel Gutierrez
El Desmadre: The Colonial Roots of Anti-Mexican Violence
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Pompeo and Circumstance
Andrew Levine
Why Democrats Really Should Not All Get Along But Sometimes Must Anyway
Louis Proyect
A Rebellion for the Wild West
T.J. Coles
A Taste of Their Own Medicine: the Politicians Who Robbed Iranians and Libyans Fear the Same for Brexit Britain
H. Bruce Franklin
How We Launched Our Forever War in the Middle East
Lee Hall
Mayor Obedience Training, From the Pet Products Industry
Louis Yako
Working in America: Paychecks for Silence
Michael D. Yates
Radical Education
Jonathan Cook
Israelis Have Shown Netanyahu the Door. Can He Inflict More Damage Before He Exits?
Valerie Reynoso
The Rising Monopoly of Monsanto-Bayer
John Steppling
American Psychopathy
Ralph Nader
25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections
Ramzy Baroud
Apartheid Made Official: Deal of the Century is a Ploy and Annexation is the New Reality
Vincent Emanuele
Small Town Values
John Feffer
The Threat of Bolton Has Retreated, But Not the Threat of War
David Rosen
Evangelicals, Abstinence, Abortion and the Mainstreaming of Sex
Judy Rohrer
“Make ‘America’ White Again”: White Resentment Under the Obama & Trump Presidencies
John W. Whitehead
The Police State’s Language of Force
Kathleen Wallace
Noblesse the Sleaze
Farzana Versey
Why Should Kashmiris be Indian?
Nyla Ali Khan
Why Are Modi and His Cohort Paranoid About Diversity?
Shawn Fremstad
The Official U.S. Poverty Rate is Based on a Hopelessly Out-of-Date Metric
Mel Gurtov
No War for Saudi Oil!
Robert Koehler
‘I’m Afraid You Have Humans’
David Swanson
Every Peace Group and Activist Should Join Strike DC for the Earth’s Climate
Scott Owen
In Defense of Non-violent Actions in Revolutionary Times
Jesse Jackson
Can America Break Its Gun Addiction?
Priti Gulati Cox
Sidewalk Museum of Congress: Who Says Kansas is Flat?
Mohamad Shaaf
The Current Political Crisis: Its Roots in Concentrated Capital with the Resulting Concentrated Political Power
Max Moran
Revolving Door Project Probes Thiel’s White House Connection
Arshad Khan
Unhappy India
Nick Pemberton
Norman Fucking Rockwell! and 24 Other Favorite Albums
Nicky Reid
The Bigotry of ‘Hate Speech’ and Facebook Fascism
Paul Armentano
To Make Vaping Safer, Legalize Cannabis
Jill Richardson
Punching Through Bad Headlines
Jessicah Pierre
What the Felicity Huffman Scandal Says About America
John Kendall Hawkins
Draining the Swamp, From the Beginning of Time
Julian Rose
Four Funerals and a Wedding: A Brief History of the War on Humanity
Victor Grossman
Film, Music and Elections in Germany
Charles R. Larson
Review: Ahmet Altan’s “I Will Never See the World Again”
David Yearsley
Jazz is Activism
Elliot Sperber
Captains of Industry 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail