This coming Monday, more than 50 Hollywood center-rightists and apologists for the Democratic Party will attend an ACLU Lincoln Center benefit to “expound on perceived threats to American freedom.” The almost completely lily-white list includes Paul Simon, Patti Smith, Richard Gere, Jessica Lange, and Robin Williams.
Sorry, Bicentennial Man, but the war on civil liberties has been going on long before resisting it became a chic Hollywood cause (engaged, of course, within Lincoln Center's safe confines). Thanks largely to this self-indulgent Hollywood circle's hero, Bill Clinton, poor black and Latino people have experienced incursions into their civil liberties for more than a decade before the star of “Pretty Woman” decided he'd speak out in front of a bourgeois Upper West Side audience that'll be able to afford tickets.
Take the proliferation of the prison-industrial complex, for example, which now incarcerates more black felons for non-violent crimes (percent-wise) than at the end of Reconstruction, and which grew exponentially under Bill Clinton, thanks to his 1994 Crime Bill, and his 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
Or take the rise of SWAT teams’ no-knock raids, when these police thugs slam into homes without a warrant, sometimes startling victims so much that they die of shock or heart attacks, to look for drugs that overwhelmingly never turn up. This is to say nothing of the property confiscation that occurs during these raids, and that remains in law enforcement hands even after no indictments are issued. Such practices occurred, well-documented, all throughout the 1990s. Where were you, Robin? HUH?!
And speaking of Horny Billy Jeff's reign, let's not forget that he was an early advocate of the Clipper Chip, a microchip device that would allow intelligence agencies to spy on your electronic activities. And then there's his signing of the Communications Decency Act, later ruled unconstitutional. Clinton mowed down civil liberties at a record pace, prompting Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff to remark that Clinton was the worst President on civil liberties in the history of the United States.
One can turn the clock even further back than Horny Billy Jeff to 1986, when Democrat Tip O'Neill pushed through a bill requiring that cocaine defendants possess 100 times as much cocaine -- drug of choice for the Hollywood set -- as crack (which the CIA introduced into poor black communities) in order to receive the same five-year mandatory sentencing minimum.
Or how about more recently, in 1999 and 2000, when riot police beat up, arrested, tear-gassed, and shot with rubber bullets peaceful protestors at the Seattle WTO demonstration or those at the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention in 2000? Guess Jessica Lange was too busy promoting her latest box-office poison to care.
The ACLU is dedicating their opportunistic event to the free-speech hero Lenny Bruce, a stand-up comedian convicted of obscenity charges in the 1960s, blacklisted and unable to find work as a result. The event is a disgusting use of a genuine free speech hero, one who stuck to his principles even as Hollywood abandoned and turned its back on him -- much as Hollywood contemporaries did to those who suffered most from the racist civil liberties policies of the Clinton Administration.
The Glorious Revolutionary Federation of Fortune 500 Killers is an anti-racist, anti-capitalist student insurgent group based at Columbia University. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit their website at: www.fortune500killers.org.
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