When a sitting president declares that the constitution is just “A God damned
piece of paper,” it reveals much about his inner character; or lack thereof.
It reveals dangerous illusions of omnipotence, contempt for the law, and scorn
for the people. It was George Bush who uttered those tortured words to Whitehouse
aides last week. Easily misled by false idols intoxicated with power and driven
by insatiable greed, we are witnessing nothing less astonishing than the demise
of the American experiment. Dreams of democracy, justice, peace and hope are receding
into the dim recesses of ever more distant memory. We see them morphing into an
Orwellian nightmare of monstrous proportions that promises to pursue us to our
graves. If we continue on this course of ethical decline, in another decade we
will not even be able to recall the forms and texture of those dreams that once
held so much promise.
The American people have allowed the theft of the past two presidential
elections with hardly so much as a whimper of protest. Most are not even aware
that they occurred. Moreover, we have allowed indicted Congressman Tom Delay
to redraw congressional districts in a way that gives conservatives a substantial
advantage over democrats and totally precludes progressives from competing.
While the morality of such actions may not be in question—their legality
is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.
As a result of decades of complacency created in part by the fog of
television, and the ongoing corporatization of the government, the American
people find themselves the victims of creeping fascism. Like the proverbial
frog placed in a pot of warm water upon a lighted stove, we hardly notice the
gradual loss of our freedoms. By the time we awaken to reality—if we ever
awaken—we will find ourselves parboiled. By then it will be too late to
One by one our basic freedoms are being stolen from us by those who purport
to represent our interests. These are freedoms for which millions of our own
fought and died. Were their sacrifices in vain? It appears so. In the aftermath
of the toppling of the World Trade towers by clandestine operatives inside the
government, the massive Patriot Act was enacted into law. Incredibly, this immense
document, sold to the people as protecting the sanctity of American lives, was
not even read by the law makers who voted it into law. The Patriot Act was nothing
more than a piece of creeping fascism that quietly, unobtrusively, stripped
us of our hard won freedoms without so much as a skirmish.
Emboldened by the ease with which the Patriot Act passed, Patriot Act Two,
an even more onerous version of the original, is being debated in the bowels
of Congress. If passed, it will further erode many more of our civil liberties.
Once lost, those liberties will never be regained without bloodshed. That is
why they must never be given away. Nor should we allow anyone to snooker us
into their theft. They are the most precious essence of the American experiment
and we must handle them with the utmost care.
As the debate in Congress continues, it was revealed this week that the Pentagon
has been engaged in spying on American citizens who participate in the anti-war
movement. Whenever a state has the military spying upon citizens who are peacefully
engaged in lawful protests against the systematic killing, imprisonment, and
torture of millions of fellow human beings, you are witnessing not only the
ugly reality of creeping fascism—you are bearing witness to the emergence
of a bonified police state. In this instance we are witnessing the criminalization
of dissent. The thought police are moving among us. They are watching our every
move. They are monitoring all of our electronic communications. They are preparing
a place for us in the hinterland of America.
War is profitable for those who wage it. Trillions are to be made. And those
who wage war are never the ones who have to fight them. The Pentagon and its
priests of death and misery in the defense industry cannot exist without enemies—even
if they have to invent them. Take away their phantoms of terror and they are
left naked and vulnerable as a Deer in the headlights.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, of course, has a long history of abusing
the civil liberties of American citizens. The F.B.I. continues to collect dossiers
on law abiding citizens, as it did against the leaders of the civil rights marches,
anti-war movement, organized labor and, most recently, environmental groups
operating in the public interest. Both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. regularly engage
in smear campaigns against both individuals and citizens groups working for
social justice. This reveals an important fact about who these agencies are
really working for. Their sole purpose is to protect the rich and the powerful
from the rest of us. They intend to have the whole enchilada for themselves.
In a time when our tax dollars go to huge public relations groups to place
bogus stories favorable to U.S. empire in foreign newspapers and television,
we will soon find ourselves with virtually no civil rights. The corporate media
in America is such a purveyor of propaganda it is for all practical intents
and purposes a State owned media. As such it acts as a mouthpiece for the Pentagon
and for Corporate America. Long ago it abrogated its responsibility to serve
the interests of democracy and the working people.
Are the American people totally vulnerable and exposed to the corruption of
creeping fascism that, Amoeba-like, is devouring our hopes and dreams for a
better life, a better world? We are, unless we refuse to drink the Kool-aide.
That is the first step toward emancipating ourselves from the all pervasive
corporate dominance that dulls our senses and dims our wits. Our fate is sealed
if we do not awaken from the stupor of apathy that envelops us and prevents
us from acting to save ourselves. We must use the tools we have. We must organize
in our own communities and on a global scale. We must act out of a sense of
urgency. The hour is late. The sun is setting. Darkness gathers at our door
steps. All we have is each other and that just might be all we need. Otherwise,
we might have occasion to find out who all of those FEMA camps scattered throughout
the country are intended for.
Charles Sullivan is a furniture maker, photographer, and
free lance writer residing in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. He welcomes
your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.