26 November 11
Reader Supported News | Perspective
George Orwell's "1984" wasn't meant to be an instruction manual.
One word that emerged from the novel was the word "doublespeak," where truth is deliberately obfuscated through clever wording. In some cases, the meaning of a word is reversed entirely. Oceania, the totalitarian regime in Orwell's book, used doublespeak as a matter of course. The Ministry of Truth specialized in propaganda. The Ministry of Love was a secretive torture complex.
In the early years of public school, or in public addresses by politicians, America is touted as the Land of the Free, or the Land of Opportunity, or the Greatest Country on Earth. We're taught from near-infancy that this country was founded on the right to say what you want, whenever, wherever, to whomever. We're told we have the freedom to assemble peacefully, to petition our leaders for a redress of grievances. We're taught that if you're apprehended by the law, you have the right to a fair trial and legal representation.
Yet, today we live in a country where government aids the corporate takeover of elections. Here, banks who fraudulently took Americans' homes for profit can get bailed out by the taxpayers, and use the money to pay themselves 12-figure bonuses. This is a country where even US citizens can be detainedwithout due process, tortured, and even assassinated overseas.
Today, in the Land of the Free, nonviolent political protesters using their First Amendment rights to speak out against all of the above can be beaten, tasered, and maced by heavily-militarized police forces, using military-grade equipment, without any provocation.
- Students sitting down in the quad at UC Davis were covered with military-grade pepper spray, before cops in riot gear knelt on them and sprayed indiscriminately down student's throats according to Professor Nathan Brown of UC Davis.
- At UC Berkeley, Robert Hass, a former poet laureate, was clubbed by police while nonviolently protesting with students.
- In Seattle, cops clad in riot gear pepper-sprayed an 84-year-old woman and an expectant mother.
- In Oakland, veterans who served overseas to allegedly protect the rights we hold dear come home and get aggressively beaten without warning, and shot in the face with tear-gas canisters. Oakland police even threw a flash-bang grenade at people rushing to give medical attention to the wounded vet.
The recent Black Friday mobs of consumers pitching tents in parking lots and rioting over $2 waffle irons were met with silence from the police. Yet, 10 people speaking out in a Wal-Mart about the company's CEO making $19,000 per hour while his employees are forced to work on a holiday for less than poverty-level wages apparently provokes police to tackle and arrest the citizens nonviolently encouraging shoppers to buy local. In today's America we can Occupy for Capitalism, but not for Democracy.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has openly admitted that the recent police crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street solidarity encampments were the result of careful coordination between mayors on a series of conference calls. There are also reports that the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI gave adviceon the crackdowns, encouraging municipalities to deploy large numbers of police, equip them with riot gear, and break up encampments when the media were least likely to be present. Reports from New York allege that reporters were asked to raise their hand if they had press credentials, before being penned in an area far from the protests. Those trying to get through were arrested, and told that it was illegal to "take pictures on the sidewalk."
It is no longer extreme to say we now live in a fascist police state. Thanks to the Patriot Act, the SCOTUS' Citizens United decision, and a complacent electorate, our First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly now only exist on paper. In Tienanmen Square, the Chinese government also censored the press and violently cracked down on peaceful protesters. All that's missing here are the tanks.
Mussolini said, "Fascism should be more accurately called corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power." It is Orwellian doublespeak to call this country "free" while freedom is actively suppressed with aid from a corporate-owned government. The people are not free if their leaders are actively making war with them.
Carl Gibson, 24, of Lexington, Kentucky, is a spokesman and organizer for US Uncut, a nonviolent, creative direct-action movement to stop budget cuts by getting corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. He graduated from Morehead State University in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism before starting the first US Uncut group in Jackson, Mississippi, in February of 2011. Since then, over 20,000 US Uncut activists have carried out more than 300 actions in over 100 cities nationwide. You may contact Carl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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26 November 11
hile nearly all Americans head to family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield - even people in the United States itself.
Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a "battlefield" and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president - and every future president -the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night's Republican debate. The power is so broad that even US citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
The worldwide indefinite detention without charge or trial provision is in S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act bill, which will be on the Senate floor on Monday. The bill was drafted in secret by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) and passed in a closed-door committee meeting, without even a single hearing.
I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn't anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?
The answer on why now is nothing more than election season politics. The White House, the Secretary of Defense, and the Attorney General have all said that the indefinite detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act are harmful and counterproductive. The White House has even threatened a veto. But Senate politics has propelled this bad legislation to the Senate floor.
But there is a way to stop this dangerous legislation. Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) is offering the Udall Amendment that will delete the harmful provisions and replace them with a requirement for an orderly Congressional review of detention power. The Udall Amendment will make sure that the bill matches up with American values.
In support of this harmful bill, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explained that the bill will "basically say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield" and people can be imprisoned without charge or trial "American citizen or not." Another supporter, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) also declared that the bill is needed because "America is part of the battlefield."
The solution is the Udall Amendment; a way for the Senate to say no to indefinite detention without charge or trial anywhere in the world where any president decides to use the military. Instead of simply going along with a bill that was drafted in secret and is being jammed through the Senate, the Udall Amendmentdeletes the provisions and sets up an orderly review of detention power. It tries to take the politics out and put American values back in.
In response to proponents of the indefinite detention legislation who contend that the bill "applies to American citizens and designates the world as the battlefield," and that the "heart of the issue is whether or not the United States is part of the battlefield," Sen. Udall disagrees, and says that we can win this fightwithout worldwide war and worldwide indefinite detention.
The senators pushing the indefinite detention proposal have made their goals very clear that they want an okay for a worldwide military battlefield, that even extends to your hometown. That is an extreme position that will forever change our country.
Now is the time to stop this bad idea. Please urge your senators to vote YES on the Udall Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.