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- Feature - Lloyd Kaufman: The Kotori Interview
- Feature - Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Road to the Mountaintop
- Feature - Losing LeBron
- Feature - The Crazy Legend of Slowhand Jack
- Feature - The Giving Lens Gets Focused
- Notes From A Polite New Yorker
- Tommy Digital's Pussy Cocktails
- The Octopus Files
- Wasims Rants
- The Guys You'll Meet on Earth, But Not in Heaven
- Slippery Id
- The Shameful Truth
- Writing for the Sake of It
- Void Creation
- Frankly Speaking
- Pulling At The Fringes
- These Altered States - America Trying to Become Itself
- The Worthless
The Shameful Truth: A Nation's Dysentery
It is not Bush and Cheney anymore. It is US.
"...if they use violence and intimidation to further their views, they are terrorists." - Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals
The banks have crippled the economy, unemployment is almost ten percent, and our debt has reached its ceiling.
Our public schools are in shambles. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, ranks the U.S. public schools 14th among developed nations.
"The U.S. health system spends a higher portion of its gross domestic product than any other country, but ranks 37 out of 191 countries according to its performance," and we can't get a decent health care bill passed.
Global warming (which some people still deny exists) is causing more tornadoes, flooding and drought than ever before.
We are in the midst of three wars making lots of money not only for the war-profiteers, but also for campaign contributions to the government that the war-profiteers support. All of these wars terrorize the civilians of these nations and breed more enemies for us...daily.
Yet we have been convinced that the biggest threat to our country is the other "terrorists."
For the first time in months my mind squanders its own resilience, and I do not know what to write. There is so much to write about, but I have written about most of it before. Over the past ten years, the loss of liberty, the (ruinous) security of our republic, the Patriot-less Patriot Act, Guantanamo and torture, the environmental hazards of apathy, our wars-for-profit system... We are destroying our land, our country, our liberties, our legacy, and our water.
We will soon be dehydrated.
So where do I begin...again?
Then, I'm having dinner with some people – enlightened people. The conversation is invigorating, if depressing. Surveillance in the U.S. The renewal of the broader "Patriot" act. The war on terror and the question – what defines terrorism, and who are the terrorists? We also discuss films and books and even Yoko Ono. We are not one-dimensional; we have broad interests.
But we comfort each other with shared fears.
Hours later the conversation routes to Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier who leaked a video of U.S. soldiers aggressively, senselessly, and without provocation, gunning down innocent civilians, including children.
One of our guests, an extremely intelligent and well-read man says, "when you see this video, you just can't believe it. You ask, what on earth are we doing there?"
I hold my tongue but barely.
"People have known," I say. "There were reported rapes and murders by soldiers very early on in the war. There was Abu Ghraib. There were murders committed by Blackwater contractors – people hired by the military. There was outsourcing of torture and inquisitions so the government would not be held accountable."
If these were not reasons to ask, 'what on earth are we doing there,' what ever would be?
What is clear when watching the videos is that the preemptive killing is given credence from the top.
Just like the memo from Rumsfeld, the then Secretary of Defense during Abu Ghraib, found during the brief inquiry into where the idea of torturing even innocent men and women came from. There are also countless memos on why our government does not include members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the Geneva Conventions Treaty or The War Crimes Act.
This is a dangerous business; the claim by the leaders of the U.S. is that Al Qaeda is not a territory or nation, and so not privy to the laws between nations. BUT the people of Al Qaeda are certainly members of nations.
What if a U.S. citizen was arrested as part of, say, a socialist (or some other) movement in another country, by that country's government. Would we not EXPECT the prisoner, the U.S. citizen, to be treated with regard to the Geneva conventions and War Crimes Act?
And if we are witnessing torture – are we not responsible to try to stop it?
From Mr. Obama, the man of change, on down – WE are culpable as a Nation.
With our silence behind Guantanamo's still open doors, we condone it.
The policies merge into our own state of disgrace.
It is not Bush and Cheney anymore.
It is the US. It is WE.
In the name of the people, the torture continues.
Because we have not tried hard enough to stop it.
As we delicately absorb our own conscience.
And that's the Shameful Truth.