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Freedom Without Justice

 

[Summary: As the president took his act on the road to Eastern Europe, where some may still believe he is the leader of the free world, we at home were left to ponder his legacy in action and in words: The dubious wisdom of George W. Bush.]

There are times when rhetoric must yield to logic and fundamental truth. There are times when the emptiness of words becomes so clear it cheapens the very concept of language as the foundation of human interaction.

For the last several weeks, in every community with a Clear Channel radio station, replete with a patriotic sound track, our president has delivered a simple message that his sponsors clearly wish to imbed into the minds of the public as emblematic of the Bush presidency. Ironically, in the mind of this observer, it has worked.

“In the long run, there can be no freedom without justice and there can be no justice without liberty.”

One expects the president to emit occasional nonsense in place of meaningful words but these words were carefully chosen by the political machine that rules our nation in consultation with the most brilliant public relations minds money can buy. They are delivered with passion and a sense of profundity, as if the president has taken them to heart, and yet, when all is said, the high-sounding words are completely devoid of meaning and are therefore a perfect symbol of the most dubious presidency since the Civil War.

Consider the proposition: There can be no freedom without justice.

Perhaps the president, after a quiet evening of reading, was contemplating Henry David Thoreau’s assertion of freedom in a prison yard. Thoreau was jailed for refusing to pay a poll tax that supported the war against Mexico.

Perhaps he was considering the case of Kevin Benderman, who faces court martial and imprisonment for refusing to return to an immoral and unjust war, a war of naked aggression initiated by this president.

Perhaps he was pondering a pardon for Lakota leader, Leonard Peltier, falsely imprisoned since 1976 for the alleged murder of two FBI agents. Not since the Gulf of Tonkin or Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, has there been a more blatant case of falsified evidence.

All of these cases involve the revocation of freedom by injustice but they do not support the reverse proposition. Clearly, our legal system is founded on the principle that freedom can and should be denied in the application of justice. Clearly, the president’s words are hollow and designed for effect without contemplation of meaning.

Consider the president’s second assertion: There can be no justice without liberty.

Here is a proposition so absurd it disallows application as intellectual fodder. If, indeed, it held a grain of truth, the gates of all prisons, bursting at the seems and feeding a booming private incarceration industry, would swing open at once and allow all to walk free.

The people of Latvia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere should be forewarned: This president’s lofty words are only sound and syllables signifying nothing.

By contrast, Russian President Vladimir Putin, taking the stage in Moscow’s Red Square, chose his words carefully and employed them to double meaning:

“History teaches us that [we] must do everything possible to prevent [our] eyes closing to the emergence of new lethal doctrines, to anything that can become fertile soil for new threats. The lessons of the war send us the warning that indifference, temporizing and playing accomplice to violence inevitably lead to terrible tragedies on a planetary scale.”

His words reached out to his target audience while floating safely over our president’s head.

“In the long run, there can be no freedom without justice and there can be no justice without liberty.”

Listen to the words and wonder how they could be conceived, written and delivered with such seeming sincerity. They may in fact be the most revealing words the president has ever uttered.

In the long run, Mr. President, words matter. They inform us that there is a vast divide between your testament and your ideology, between your ideology and your policies, between your stated purpose and the underlying intent. They inform us that you are not the author of your own mission and that you are nothing more than a mouthpiece for the powers you serve.

JACK RANDOM is the author of the Jazzman Chronicles, the War Chronicles (Crow Dog Press) and Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press). He can be reached through his website: www.jackrandom.com.