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What on earth have we become?

Legalized Torture?  State rule by religious fundamentalists?  No right to a trial, nor to see the evidence against you if you do manage to see the inside of a courtroom?  Constant surveillance and no privacy?    

What ever happened to human rights?  Does anyone remember those?  Do they teach it in school anymore?  You remember - the rights that every human being deserves just because they are a human being?  Those "inalienable" rights that are yours regardless of circumstance just because you are a person?  Not because you are an "American" or a "member of the allied forces", but rather because you are a "human."

I am horrified by the casual way in which we are abandoning what I thought were our most cherished principles.  The U.S. was supposed to be a splendid example of how people from all over the world could set aside their differences, cooperate with each other for the greater good, and live side-by-side in dignity and prosperity.  We were supposed to inspire other countries to free themselves from fascism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, theocracy, and militarism.  To be American meant to stand staunchly against all forms of government opression and human misery and suffering.  We were smart, kind, generous, innovative, and a little rebellious.

Now I am deeply saddened to have found that at least 30% of the people in the U.S. are none of those things.  I had assumed that we all wanted the same things, and just differed on how we should get there.  Now I see that their vision of the country we share isn't just a little different - it is morally and functionally opposed to mine.  Anyone who calls themselves an American or claims to believe in democracy should hate the very idea of torture, surveillance, religious rule, secret detainment, no rights to a fair and speedy trial, one-party rule, incessant militarism, and our insouciant abandonment of the idea of universal human rights and freedoms.  It is clear, however, that at least 30% of all Americans actually approve of those dreadful things, and another 20% don't care enough to stand against them.  They see no problem with betraying the positive ideals upon which our country was founded.  They don't care about the great thoughts and humanist ethics that made us special.  They seem to have no problem whatsoever abandoning our hard-won heritage of progressive government in favor of the right to wallow in their own fundamentalist bigotry, self-righteous intellectual laziness, greed, and bald self-interest.

The most terrifying thing of all, though, is the tone of our national discussions on the matter.  So bored and jaded - as though it were NORMAL or reasonable to argue over the degrees to which our actions can be called "torture", or whether human beings still have the right to a fair trial... as though it didn't really matter any more than the latest technology news or what crazy thing Tom Cruise has done lately.

Well, it does matter.  And I have no idea how we can stop it.  I'm racking my brain trying to recall any country that independently halted a major authoritarian onslaught from within without resorting to violent civil war.  Does McCarthyism count?  Perhaps not, since we are still fighting that one.  But how can we defeat them when they would not shrink from things like false witness, kidnapping, torture, political imprisonment, and even murder?  How can we defeat them when they have a huge army of pro-smiting supporters who think every horrible thing they do is wonderful old-Testament righeousness and justly-deserved opposition to "evildoers" (i.e., people who don't agree with them)?  How can we defeat them with ideas when they are actively opposed to even exploring any ideas that don't slither from their vituperative pulpits?

I hate the word "homeland" (it's so Nazi-sounding), and I hate that the idea of the "loyal opposition" has evaporated.  Most of all, I hate feeling like a crazy person and being treated like a pariah for wanting to hold on to the good things I always valued about America.  I hate knowing that everywhere I go - 30-50% of the people around me have no concept of what I always thought it meant to be an American, and no moral compass to tell them that what is happening here is wrong.  I hate that those same 50% of people don't seem to think I am human or American anymore... people who live next door to me or people who I pass on the street or at the supermarket have demonstrated that they wouldn't mind the idea of me being tortured at all if they knew I wasn't a conservative christian, and that the idea of a theocratic America based on old-testament violence doesn't bother them a bit.  This creeps me out, and I hate feeling paranoid.  Mostly, I hate this feeling of hate that keeps welling up in me when I think of what they have done to my sweet country.  I've never been so enraged.  I've never felt so helplessly filled with hate.  Am I no better than they?

And so today, with our Republican legislators in happy lockstep agreement about their fuzzy new definitions of torture, I can't help but despair of being able to fix this mess ourselves.  We are outnumbered (yes, like it or not) and surrounded by nincompoops and monsters.  We have been defined by the right as thoroughly and negatively as "heretics" were defined by the Inquisition, and we know they will not shrink from using Inquisition tactics to deal with their self-proclaimed enemies.  Our Democratic representatives have been rendered powerless and voiceless both in government and even in the media.  Can tolerance and fair-handedness win?  Not without help.

I am calling on Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zeland, and all the functioning democracies around the world to stand up and help us defeat American authoritarianism.  We need regime change.  We have work to do (Modernism and Civilization must hold the line against fundamentalism and violence if we hope to survive the next hundred years), and we cannot do it successfully with the current Republican machine in power.  Progressive and democratic Americans are outnumbered here by crazy people and cannot defeat our new overlords alone.  Our elections are being rigged and our media is controlled by the same group of authoritarian ideologues who are controlling the White House.  Our government is spying on us and threatening to kidnap and torture those who they proclaim "enemies".  in the presence of "secret courts" and "detainees" we can no longer rely on fair trials to redress our circumstances.  We desperately need your help.  Everyone has a stake in this.  As you can plainly see, in the wrong hands, America's military and corporate power endangers everyone.  We are losing the war for civilization in the Middle East because of incompetence and corruption here.  Our society's values have shifted from sane humanism to theocratic militarism.  Our deficit, failure to regulate our industries, and ever-increasing income inequality is threatening to obliterate our (and your) economy.  In the name of human rights, democracy, prosperity and every other great ideal we are losing - please help us.  

We need a voice, both in the media and in government - and only you can give it to us anymore.  
We need our leaders to be prosecuted for the human rights violations of which they are incontrovertably guilty.
We may even need sanctions against our industries that fail to observe international treaties and laws.

We are not enemies of America.  We love this country.  And we are in a pitched battle to hold the line against those who would replace it with a horror.

Originally posted to bibliophile on Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 07:04 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  We Need To Start Human Rights At Home First (0+ / 0-)

    For years I have worked on poverty issues here in my local area.  It was stunning to see how many "liberals" did not get it or were so idealized, they were thoroughly disallusioned to find that poverty creates cynics ~ even among children, who could be the greatest cynics of all because they saw things as they really are and do not shade it with a bunch of motives.  

    It was not until recently that we worked with a former Clinton administration woman who had grown up in DC poor and abused, but who became an activist and learned how to advocate, that changed much of it for me.  She read us the U.N. Statement On Human Rights, which makes it quite clear that the rules, laws, and policies of America are in direct violation of them.  

    But most people think the poor in America are "better off" than everyone else in the world, and many liberals as well as conservatives believe this is true. Not so!  There are third world conditions out there in almost every U.S. city.  Much of it is perpetuated in the very institutions like the Department of Social and Health Services, who contribute to them.  

    Now we have federally "faith-based" institutions and many of those are even worse ~ but, "Hand me my check please while I re-model the choir loft and give myself a nice fat raise ..." is what it is all about with them. After paying themselves and the remodel job, there is not much left over to render services, and worse, it is not being watched by anyone in most states.  

    So until we can take care of the heueueueuege job we have here, we won't be too compassionate anywhere else, IMO.  

    My 2 cents

    Cat In Seattle

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