It’s always been an article of faith on the “loony” right that the black helicopters of the Jewish-United Nations fascist government would arrive to take over America and turn it into a hellish police state through the machinations of the liberal Democrats. Who would have thought that it would be the conservative Republicans who would be waving the landing lights to guide the troop planes in?
But there it is.
In four short years, following the 9/11 attacks, we have moved a long way down a very dark and dead-end alley.
First we had the Patriot Act, the handiwork of John Ashcroft (now out to pasture nursing his wet dreams of a restoration of slavery and the Confederacy) and his able assistant Michael Chertoff, now Sith overlord of the Department of Homeland Security. This obscene 362-page pile of totalitarian legislation has dangerously undermined the First and Fourth Amendments of the Bill of Rights.
Then we had the assertion of a Justice Department and Presidential right to revoke one’s citizenship (as witness the cases of Mssrs. Hamdi and Padilla, the latter of whom, a native-born American citizen, remains in jail in a military lock-up now for two years, with no access to family or even an attorney, with no charge against him and no right to challenge his arrest).
Couple that with the Bush/Cheney-sanctioned policies of rendition, where people are kidnapped by government agents and whisked away on unmarked planes to other nations like Syria and Egypt where torture and extra-judicial killings are routine, and torture (see Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, etc.), and you have the very real threat of American citizens being disappeared, just they way they did it for years (under American instruction and direction) in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Argentina and Chile).
In communities across this land where believers in Islam dwell, both immigrants and native-born citizens, there is these days a permanent state of terror, as FBI, ATF, Secret Service and other nefarious federal agents slink around grabbing people from their homes, interrogating others, hauling off computers and files, leveling trumped-up charges, and threatening people into becoming unwilling informants on their neighbors– all in the name of fighting “terror”.
Thousands of decent, hard-working immigrants have been snatched from their families (many of whom are American citizens, and often young children) and shipped off to home countries to face arrest and torture and, in some documented cases, death, with no access to hearings. We never learn about most of them. The government doesn’t have to tell us they’ve been taken. Even their own families are often left in the dark.
Citizens who try to exercise their First Amendment right to protest the actions of this president and vice president are herded into fenced in “free-speech zone” holding pens, or arrested and jailed, often after first being beaten or maced, on orders of the Secret Service. Others have been blacklisted and barred from events because they had the temerity to wear an anti-Bush T-shirt or to paste an anti-war bumper sticker on their car.
Now the Republican leadership in Congress has quietly pushed through a law establishing a national identity card which Wired magazine says will be enable the government to set up a computerized data bank on every citizen, telling authorities where we’ve been, where we are, who we’ve meet, what we buy, what our political affiliations are, and a whole lot of other stuff.
And they’re pushing ahead, at urging from the White House, with a new and improved Patriot Act that continues to define terror as anything that threatens the state (including a simple act of protest), and that in the name of fighting that loosely defined evil, will essentially eliminate the Fourth Amendment protection against illegal search and seizure, giving the administration the power to spy and obtain records on virtually anyone without even going to a judge for a “probable cause” warrant.
Not content with that, the right is also stuffing the courts with judges who don’t give a damn about any of those old rights and freedoms-who think state power is just dandy. That’s what this fight over the filibuster is all about-getting rid of judges who take the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution with its hoary concerns about separation of powers seriously-and of course paving the way for “Justice” Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas to assume the post of Chief Justice.
Sadly, while they are leading the parade, the Republicans are not alone in this march to fascism and a 21st Century police-state tyranny. They’ve been doing it with the willing connivance of a number of conservative Democrats, including the likes of Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Diane Feinstein (this is hardly a complete list). And the way was paved, of course, by anti-Democratic police-state measures introduced earlier by the Clinton administration. They’ve also had the help of a somnolent corporate media and a blissfully ignorant public caught up in “American Idol” and the Jackson trial or whatever the latest entertainment diversion might be.
I used to think that right-wing warnings about jackbooted agents of the federal government landing in black Cobra gunships and storming our homes in dead of night were the fevered ravings of lunatics, but no more.
With this push to stack the courts, create a computerized national ID card, equate protest with support for terrorism, and make citizenship a revocable privilege, comes official government promotion of an intolerant, medieval Christian fundamentalism which provides the whole thing with an ideological gloss that makes any outrage not just permissible, but “God’s will.”
Still, it’s surprising to see the right turning off the lights of liberty, after all those years of warnings about liberal Democrats and the “nanny” state.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org