by Carol Warner Christen
(Swans - March 26, 2007) The morning newspaper carried an interesting slip of the tongue by the President of the United States while visiting Colombia in South America. "I appreciate the president's (Alvero Uribe) determination to bring human rights violators to justice," Bush said. "He is strong in that determination. It's going to be very important for members of my United States -- our United States Congress to see that determination." In direct contradiction to that statement, Uribe has been accused of human rights violations by Human Rights Watch further in the article. (1)
I am always fascinated by the twists of mind and tongue of those who would be king, either "our" George or "their" Alvero. A human rights violator will bring human rights violators to justice. This is like a Möbius strip of two dimensions and one side with a twist to bring one back to the beginning again. There is no way out except over one edge or the other. Is it, as in the first paragraph, "his" United States Congress or "our" United States Congress?
On March 9, 2007, Doug Thompson wrote: "While Congress slept and the Supreme Court looked the other way, the Bush administration has gone its merry way seizing absolute control of the United States government. He ignores the laws of Congress, issuing 'signing statements' that give him the power to do whatever he wants. The President of the United States has declared himself a 'war time President' and granted himself dictatorial rights that no one in Congress or the Court appears able to successfully challenge him." (2)
That takes care of the Royal My; so, now, on to the Royal We. Overlooked by most all of the citizens of the United States is another article from February 9, 2003, by Wendell Berry, who writes, "The New National Security Strategy published by the White House in September 2002, if carried out, would amount to a radical revision of the political character of our nation. Its central and most significant statement is this:
While the United States will constantly strive to enlist the support of the international community, we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively against such terrorists.
"A democratic citizen must deal first of all with the question, Who is this 'we'? It is not the 'we' of the Declaration of Independence, which referred to a small group of signatories bound by the conviction that 'governments [derive] their just powers from the consent of the governed.' And it is not the 'we' of the Constitution, which refers to 'the people' of the United States."
"This 'we' of the new strategy can only refer to the president. It is a royal 'we'. A head of state, preparing to act alone in starting a preemptive war, will need to justify his intention by secret information and will need to plan in secret and execute his plan without forewarning. The idea of a government acting alone in a preemptive war is inherently undemocratic, for it does not require or even permit the president to obtain the consent of the governed. To the extent that a government is secret, it cannot be democratic or its people free. By this new doctrine, the president alone may start a war against any nation at any time."
"Why the events of September 11, 2001, horrifying as they were, should have called for a radical new investiture of power in the executive branch is not clear."
Further into the article, the Möbius strip occurs again. To wit, "the National Security Strategy defines terrorism a 'premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents. This is a truly distinct kind of violence, but to imply by the word 'terrorism' that this sort of terror is the work exclusively of 'terrorists' is misleading. The 'legitimate' warfare of technologically advanced nations likewise is premeditated, politically motivated violence against innocents. The distinction between the intention to perpetuate violence against innocents, as in 'terrorism,' and the willingness to do so, as in 'war,' is not a source of comfort." (3)
I suggest that those who are interested read the rest of Wendell Berry's article; it is thorough and complete.
Now we, the People, are faced with the royal self-appointed "we," the Executive Branch, in competition. No Möbius strip could equate the two because neither idea is the same. George the "We" has had his flunkies, the neoconservatives of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), write our future for us. We, the People, have already had our revolution and our Founders wrote from the Enlightenment words we all cherish. PNAC is a group of humans who wish to change our history to their benefit, not ours. What is happening today, beginning with a colossal neglect of infrastructure, is their handiwork.
The Congress was twisted into a corporate funnel for taxpayer funds by one specific political party with far too many years shaping it. Money is heady stuff: "the root of all evil." I doubt we can improve on the deliberate destruction of our country in perpetual war for one main resource: oil. The main reason is military usage of oil, which is greater than all but twenty countries in the entire world. Our vehicles need fuel and the military hides its use behind our use. We see one but not the other until we see the Möbius strip again.
How does a president morph into a monarch, a king, a dictator? Does he believe that it is his birthright to change the meaning of our government by endless Executive Orders, by hiding his secret CIA army and its machinations on the planet, by insisting that citizens be reduced to ID tags and monitored, by dumbing down our children with specious "All Children Left Behind" laws? Is anyone from the People out there? Or has it worked because we allowed him to begin and to continue on his path of torture, murder, imprisonment -- by his definition -- of anyone anywhere as a terrorist? We have been had, People.
Do we vote him president for life? Will the 2008 elections actually occur or are all the hopefuls staging a play for us? Who is determining our lives, our loss of jobs, and our lack of decent wages? Who decided to privatize government, depriving us of scientists to test the offerings of the corporate world against our living selves as they harm and use us for profit?
If the answer is the Congress of the United States, then our representatives and senators did not come close to doing their duty to us. We elected a different party to represent us in Congress and that party is waffling on the ideas we asked from them, such as an end to the war in Iraq. If this Congress is also our Congress, then why did the president say it was his when he was in South America?
We are living in a sound bite world so unreal that many think it is actually real. No one needed to send troops to Iraq over 9/11. The entire scenario was made up and played out with real and young lives. More than twenty thousand of them are seriously injured and over three thousand are dead. The new use of the word "surge" for more troops into Iraq is another Möbius strip event. The royal "We" have lost the war but they have no shame and intend to send more of our young to die to prove "we" can win what "we" have lost. Death is not an investment in life. I await the sage who can explain that it is.
Of course, the "we" have shoved under a sound-bite pile of dung the Iraqi dead and displaced. The number of dead -- up to seven hundred thousand -- is denied by the "we," who have shot about one thousand reporters to keep "we" secrets. Even more amazing is the "we" concept that the Iraqis are so childlike that "we" have to give them "democracy" somewhat like the one they are deforming here for their benefit, not mine. The egotism in the "we" is so totalitarian it boggles the mind. We, the real People of the United States, do not harbor much more than fairness and equality and rights amongst us. We did believe in that United States. Do we still?
Maybe this is just an aberration, a play -- theater, that We, the People, want to see before We declare it null and void. We want to see the final ending of our leaders' hubristic arrogance. In other words, how far can "we" go before We have another Revolution or "we" win the jackpot by owning the whole world, making slaves of all the conquered by wallowing in and squandering their resources until the Earth itself stands depleted? Is it possible to hate the Other that much and misunderstand human life?
Of course, it may be that there are no citizens left in the United States and "we" are all gaming the system in our utter boredom that is modern life. Maybe torture and imprisonment and rape are so exciting to some that everyone wants to play.
Speculation aside, We, the People, have to come to grips or terms with this outrage against life as fostered by corporate fascists masquerading as a pseudo-monarchy. We have passed the point where an all-knowing group of rulers knows what is best for nearly seven billion people. It is absurd even with up to one thousand military bases around the world. Humanity is not here to be denigrated, to be ordered about, and to be determined by some egotistical parts of it unless the endless two dimensional strip says all we want to say to each other in a pointless loop of meaninglessness.
Allowing one man or one woman to be the decider or the dictator to nearly seven billion humans is utterly stupid. Actually, it just might prove that the average mind has reached its peak intelligence and the pendulum is swinging backwards instead of increasing with better health, education, and welfare. Why do I say it is decreasing? Because the "we" have downgraded real education, cut health care across the board, and blame the poor for their plight when they have no means to escape the trap; the poor make wonderful scapegoats since we rarely raise goats anymore. All children lose if that's the case. We, the People, have no liberty to leave our progeny if the royal "we" succeed in this coup d'état of a thousand cuts, slurs, defamations, firings, changes We do not need. Maybe it's already over.
Does anyone out there want to dunk a few traitors in Boston Harbor and ship them to The Hague in chains for trial charging them with crimes against humanity? Samuel Adams would smile on us from his grave. We, the People, could start spring cleaning with happy hearts.
3. Wendell Berry. "A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America." Originally published in The New York Times, 02/09/2003. Reprinted at http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/view03/0209-11.htm, pp 5, 6. (back)
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