"An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation." ~ John Marshall
Exclusive to STR
October 11, 2007
There is much talk spinning around of the General Petraeus ad by moveon.org, but that isn't what this article is about. It is about the betrayal of the American people by those in power. It has to do with feelings of betrayal within myself, but to a larger extent, to everyone around me, even though most have no idea that they have been betrayed. Betrayal is quite a cut, literally. In fact, even defining betrayal becomes quite an interesting stunt of its own accord. According to Merriam Websters New Collegiate dictionary, the word betray is defined thusly: 1: to lead astray; esp; SEDUCE 2: to deliver to an enemy by treachery 3: to fail or desert, especially in time of need 4: a: to reveal unintentionally b: SHOW, INDICATE c: to disclose violation of confidence ~ vi : to prove false syn see reveal ' betray-al betray-er. This somehow sounds quite inadequate, although some of the spirit of what this word means to me does shine through. In psychology, practitioners describe betrayal as the breaking of a social contract; however, critics of this approach claim that the term social contract does not accurately reflect the conditions and motivations for, and effects of, betrayal. Even defining of the word betrayal by Wikipedia takes on several poignant paragraphs, still falling short of the term's enormous emotional weight. I was raised being taught that I was an American, and that by having such a title, I was also entitled to certain rights, as was every American. These rights were expounded upon in the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which were the "law of our land" at the time. I was taught that these laws were supreme, immutable, and for all intents and purposes, carved in rock by a higher power. As long as I was "American," I was entitled each one of these rights, and if I felt I was being wronged, I would find swift retaliation within these rights for those who would attempt to oppress me. But now, you see, being an American is less prestigious, less honorable, than it used to be. I of course still believe I was exceedingly fortunate for having been born here, and raised here. But America isn't what it used to be. That is simply fact. It is a mere shadow of its once true greatness, and that helps a bit more explain the betrayal I feel. The America that I grew up in would never have allowed American troops to torture, no matter what the fancy name for it. Torture was something only evil countries could do. We weren't evil. The drilling of a fresh new tooth to find a better pain source in "The Running Man," starring Dustin Hoffman, along with its eerily un-sympathetic inhuman doctor stating that "a little oil of clove cures everything" sent shivers down my spine and made me abhor those so "un-American" as to stoop to such tactics. But today, very sadly, we have a suspension of Habeus Corpus, and "extraordinary rendition" flights to eastern European countries where heinous activities too brutal to mention, but psychologically much worse than drilling a newer tooth for a more sensitive nerve! The America I grew up in held freedom of speech in very high regard, and even unruly persons who shouted obscenities had the right to do so. Today, if you ask the wrong question, or are saying things in the wrong place, or at the wrong time, you can get tasered (to death) and/or sent to jail for an indeterminate time. The America I grew up in would never have imagined the passage of laws so draconian as the Patriot Act I & II, nor would have allowed "eavesdropping," snooping, electronic surveillance, wire tapping, or any other covert spy activities now commonplace within our society. It was simply "unconstitutional," and that was that. I find it unconscionable that the Congress did not find these things unconstitutional, although recently a federal circuit court judge did.
While I was asleep at the wheel (and you were, too), the America I used to know vanished, seemingly never to return. In its place is an America that places emphasis on "Zero Tolerance" in its schools and public places, rather than actually instilling patience, tolerance, kindliness, and unconditional love. In its place is an America that quite aggressively suppresses free speech, creates "free speech zones" far away from their intended audiences, reducing the ability to redress government in any meaningful way. In this America, there is no redress of government that matters. Even against a very unpopular war, with landslide voting victory over the warmonger neocon-laced GOP, the majority party Democrats (neolibs) still allow the abhorrent to occur, regardless of the reason they were actually elected, or election promises. More treason, less Bill of Rights, less civil liberties, more intrusive and inhumane laws passed on a daily basis.
Not only that, but the truth has no meaning in the news agencies. Mainstream media news sources can lie at will, with no repercussion whatsoever, and they do, and regularly. We are misinformed. Since all the conglomerate media moguls are partially owned by profiteers of the military-industrial complex, it is easier for them to remain on message.
And that draws ire to another item, that being the press in general. The press is supposed to find things in the news that affect the local, city, state, or general population and factually report it with no bias. We report, you decide. But Rupert Murdoch has another idea, and therefore we have Faux (Fox) news. The other news agencies are playing neolibconball in order to maintain ratings on par with Faux. I mean, where is any sanity anywhere within the system today? Where are the level-minded thinkers in our system? I guess the level of betrayal I am feeling is in lockstep with the feelings of a lover jilted. I loved the idea of what being American used to stand for, although I admit freely we haven't been great for quite a while. I loved our country for the freedoms we had--"had" being a key part of that particular sentence. Law enforcement once meant that a reasonable human being was going to study all relevant facts of an event, and come to an action on the merits of the information he was faced with. Now it means getting jacked the hell up, being told shut the hell up, and (not atypically) getting your ass beat if you try to ask about your "rights." Arrest everyone, and sort 'em out later seems to be the way it is if you try to "redress government" today. Tase 'em. Jack 'em up. Kidney punch the bastid. I have experienced exactly that, and all I did was civilly request my basic, God-given, American rights--"Uh, Officer, just what is the charge?" I got them, alright, and nearly got a beating out of it too, and a night in jail. Newer developments such as the taser, the militarization of police forces, and even the newest technologies like pain rays and sonic cannons are being applied to all domestic policies of policing us. Torture will soon follow, especially with the new pain rays--they leave no marks. Great! Police Tech to the rescue! Being American around the world meant that people in other countries were jealous of us, and secretly revered us, our way of life, and were genuinely jealous of our freedoms. But now, we are reviled for being brutal, aggressive, thugs who torture their political prisoners, steal a country's resources, and kill and plunder at will. A country that locks up more of its (poor, unrepresented) population in order to boost the prison industry's profit margin. A country that debates human rights in the United Nations, but violates every human right imaginable if you live in the wrong place at the wrong time (like Iraq or Iran). Excuse me, but this "ugly American" routine isn't what I was raised to expect during foreign excursions. We certainly aren't viewed as liberators, but we are being judged on the world stage for our policies, our actions abroad (as we should). But when every honorable aspect of being an "American" is stripped of its essential essence (liberty, freedom, honor, justice, humanity) as it now stands, being American abroad is almost an embarrassment, should you actually get abroad, considering the no-fly lists that are uneditable from any government office. Of course, I could jump upon the more comfortable bandwagon of "hail the chief," "exporting democracy," "we don't torture," and "9/11 changed everything." That could easily soothe the burn of betrayal I am feeling, but I am too damn honest with myself to allow such shallow conformance to the billowing clouds of reality we are wallowing in. It seems the popular stance to take, since most people do just that. The truth is, we torture our political prisoners, both physically and mentally. This is un-American. Period! Another truth is that we have lost eight of our top ten rights listed in the Bill of Rights, and nobody even blinked! No free speech is evident that I can see. I see much suppression, arrests, tasers, EMF weaponry, police and military brutality, SWAT squads, and militarization of civil police forces. I see money spent by the wheelbarrow go to the uncontested government contract bidders raking in fortunes in this war. It doesn't matter what political system you try to use to change things, the odds have been worked out long ago, and Orwell's 1984 is staring us in the mug. We don't blink, or even recognize it. We clamor for more safety from terrst attack. Then . . . fewer rights still. I see people suffering under the auspices of fewer rights even more than during the tumultuous '60s, the Kent State massacre, and the Chicago riots. More people in jail, like there aren't enough already. A prison population of over 2 million here in the USA? You betcha. So yes, I am feeling betrayed. I simply cannot fathom that this has happened in my lifetime, but here we are. Betrayed. It is complete, and apparently, there ain't one dang thing I can do about it. Just ask the monks in Myanmar about their successes. They were betrayed, too. I see the same in store for us someday really, really soon.