by Paul Dean
March 11, 2003
Face it: The man who said he was a uniter, and not a divider, has split us into splinters. The compassionate conservative, and heir to a kinder, gentler America, intends to ‘shock and awe’ his enemies into submission, and gently steal their resources. He has asked for, and received, virtually unchecked authority to spy on his own people. He has all but destroyed a durable system of international political alliances. Today, nations that were, until very recently, his closest allies, are in open revolt against him. Yes folks, there is a New World Odor in the air: It smells like naked imperialism.
I have read thousands of pages of well researched and well argued papers about the policies and aspirations of our current non-elected leaders. This reading has also extended into numerous examinations of the strategies employed by rapacious corporate thieves, and the complicity and open support of such strategies provided by Democrats, and our corporate media. This reading has been broad in scope. In addition to progressive web sources such as Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, Michael Moore, etc. I have also kept up, more or less, with corporate mouthpieces such as the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, and ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, etc. I take particular pride in the latter, because this endeavor induces in me no small amount of gastrointestinal distress. In this respect, it is like drinking extremely hot pepper sauce, which is the only other expression of machismo that I allow myself to indulge in.
Why do I do it? Because I want to play the role of the well informed citizen. It is not enough, although it might be argued that it should be, to utter Rodney King’s famous phrase: “Why can’t we all just get along?” in the face of a transparent attempt by right wing fanatics to dominate the world. It is not enough to repeat the hook line from an old Elvis Costello pop tune, “What’s so funny about peace love and understanding?” No, we must do more.
If we are not informed, how can we possibly respond to the brilliant logical constructions of our leaders? For example, during the last election, when Bush said “My opponent thinks social security is some kind of federal program,” those of us who had done our homework, and were really in the know, knew that Mr. Bush was right. But without the kind of grounding that a solid foundation in fact can provide, Bush’s focus-group-tested tactics might knock us off balance.
For example, if we did not know the meaning of the phrase “flagrant conflict of interest,” we might be tempted to accept the Bush administration’s stated reason for why it was acceptable to formulate public energy policy in secret meetings with self interested corporate players. They said that the meetings had to be held in secret, because the president had to be free to get “unvarnished advice.” But again, the well informed among us knew right away that the administration’s method of obtaining unvarnished advice was actually a textbook example of how to obtain varnished advice. And as we heard their explanations, we also knew that the varnish was still being applied, and in multiple, very thick, very oily, coats.
And of course, there is Iraq. Most of us have long suspected that there is much more than a little funny business going on, and yet very few of us are laughing. As the anti-war focus group balloons to encompass 70-80% of the world’s population, it would appear that there are actually many more informed citizens, both at home and abroad, than Mr. Bush and Co. would like us to contemplate.
Some of our informed citizens are saying that, as far as they can recall, neither Bush nor Cheney campaigned on a platform of world domination. Nor did either man mention that they would attempt to achieve uncontestable global military and political dominance by threatening the world with nuclear weapons.
Others are saying that it would not have mattered much even if the Bush people had stated their policy intentions, since they felt comfortable in assuming power without stopping to consider the fact that they hadn’t actually been elected. But to be fair, it is probable that they really did consider the fact that they had not been elected. Perhaps Bush couldn't let the electorate decide such an important issue. For such a decision, he was compelled to use his infallible moral judgment, because polls and votes and things of that nature are of no consequence if they conflict with a higher authority, which can only be described as ‘What Bush Knows Is Right.’ The electorate, after all, is, in many respects, just another focus group.
And that brings us to the main point. America needs focus now, more than ever. Bush is aiming to close out his most recent fraudulent campaign with a bang. Many more innocent people will die. It will not be good, nor will it be funny. The only real question now, is what is the focus group going to do about it?
The America that has been splintered and divided by the “Uniter”, has to unify, and right now. We can no longer afford to be divided by race, gender, sexual orientation, political party, nationality or any other artificial boundary which separates us from our humanity. Americans must assert our right to self government, and our government must change course. This is a fundamentally different process from rallying around the flag, and supporting the troops, no matter who sent them, why they were sent, and no matter what they are actually doing. We must show compassion for our troops if they are traumatized by exposure to extreme violence. But we must make clear that we will not support, in any way shape or form, an unjust war of aggression. I respect those for whom the flag is a powerful symbol. But informed Americans understand that our flag is exactly that -- a symbol. It has no will or volition on its own. As a symbol, the extent to which it represents truth, justice, and freedom, is the extent to which these values are embodied by the actions of the people.
We are in the closing days of a critical campaign. Do not assume that nothing can be done, until we have all done everything we can do. It may yet be possible to prevent more senseless violence. All any of us can do is everything possible, to focus this enormous group of citizens, and forge an alliance that will demand that our leaders must always be held accountable to the people for every action they undertake on our behalf. And the inverse is also true. If we understand and accept responsibility for the actions of our leaders, we will feel compelled to insure that they work for us.
The International Answer Coalition may have ties to the old Workers World Party. The Republican businessmen who took out a full page ad against the war in a New York paper obviously have ties to the Republican party. But war veterans can march next to pacifists. Radical lesbian feminists can march next to men. Democrats, Republicans Greens, Libertarians, firefighters, police, factory workers and stock brokers all have much more to gain, than to lose, by joining together.
Ultimately, what we must create and demand is a government that does everything possible to deliver goods and services, and some reasonable hope of physical and emotional security to all of our people. National health care, energy independence using renewable resources, restoration of true democracy, and moving to create equitable economic conditions and full, meaningful employment are minimum requirements that we must demand. And we must acknowledge that our security is tied to the security of all nations. It is delusional to think that massive bombing of poverty stricken people suffering from both political and material oppression will have any long term positive effect whatsoever. Let us stop pretending that our current leaders are serving anything other than the whims of an extremely small minority of fanatical millionaires and billionaires. Let all of us realize that the overwhelming majority of us will not be served by allowing our leaders to commit atrocities in the pursuit of empire. Whether your God is Jehovah or Allah, whether you prefer rationalism to mysticism, whether your skin is black, white, brown or yellow or red, whether you advocate capitalism or socialism, the name and form that your ideal takes is far less important than its substance.
To paraphrase a statement once attributed to Beavis and Butthead, it seems that we all like stuff that’s cool, and none of us like stuff that sucks. From where I sit, imperialism sucks. I refuse to sit quietly and sniff the pungent New World Odor. And to borrow a bit from comedian Lenny Bruce, it seems apparent that if all of us niggers, spics, jews, fags, dikes, bikers, low lifes, highbrows, bag ladies, homeless people, financial elites, atheists, infidels, true believers, holy rollers and degenerates can come to some basic agreement about what is cool, we could have a world that almost everyone could agree is cooler than the one we presently inhabit.