Coward's Deserts

The Coward’s Deserts 122811

Fringe Editor Recrimination


The House and Senate have passed, and Obama is likely to sign, the National Defense Authorizations Act.  This act declares the United States to be a battleground, declares the internet to be a domain of war, allows the military to arrest civilians and detain them indefinitely without trial or recourse to defense and broadens the power of the president to declare undeclared war on U.S. soil.  This act closes the noose of federal power around U.S. citizens and prepares the legal groundwork for the death of liberty in our country, but this piece is not going to blame the senators and congressmen who supported this act.  Both parties moved us to this moment, neither the "party of small government" nor the "party of the common person" moved to prevent the passing of the act.  The death of America is not sudden, but is the quiet completion of decades of preparatory work.  It is the logical outcome of three pernicious lies not critically challenged by citizens, and preys on the basic ignorance and cowardice of the population.


Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

H. L. Mencken



The three lies which prepared us to accept the new martial law are very familiar.  They are: 1. that people, and by people we include soulless corporations, are equal, and that because we have equal chances it lies with the individual to rise or fall in the economy; 2. that we are the government and the government is us and so freedom is guaranteed; 3. that the purpose of government is to keep the people safe.  These are the tenants, the principles, of totalitarian democracy. 

To suggest we are all equal, that the very wealthy and the corporations which serve them are no different from the rest of us requires us to deny the evidence of our senses.  The intention of the statement “all men are created equal” is that people be treated equally under the law.  It is a principle, one that even the Founders failed, but one which should continue to power us.  Instead, the U.S. today suffers a chasm between the very wealthy and the rest of us that was unimaginable when the nation was founded.  That difference dictates the course of our lives.  It is what Occupy is trying to draw our attention to.

To believe the government is us, or that our freedoms are guaranteed by government requires us to ignore human behavior, to be willingly blind to the effect of people working in a bureaucracy.  Government is the natural enemy of freedom, it’s been said often, but not often enough.  Even Jefferson, who saw so keenly the dangers of paying some of us to manage the rest of us, Jefferson himself fell prey to the power of the bureaucracy.  Even your Fringe editor has.  The primary goal of any bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself, increase its purview, broaden its control.  In the United States today the form and shape of government mimics the form and shape of powerful corporations, and the ends are the same. No wonder there is little difference from George W. Bush to Obama; the parties service the same masters; one is quite right, the other white right, but neither can imagine an America without neocapitalism. 

The most modern and most dangerous of the lies is that the primary role of government is to protect us; it has provided justification for government intrusion into the most private places of our lives.  The primary role of the shepherd is to protect the sheep, and like sheep we have little say over where the flock goes.  As sheep, our primary role is to eat grass, grow wool, make mutton for the shepherd’s table.  That is the nature of government protection.

The closing of the loop follows four decades of retribution for the public uprisings which brought about the end of the Vietnam War and the inception of the modern civil rights movements.   Citizens have been easily distracted.  “Communism” provided a bogeyman, even though the average U.S. citizen was in no danger from Bolsheviks or Mao.  The cold war provided what all wars provide: opportunity for capitalists, purview for bureaucrats.  When the Soviet Union fell, a new enemy was needed.

New enemies were found.  Welfare queens, undocumented workers, drug users.  Always the government makes domestic war on the poor and powerless, constantly the eyes of the population are directed downward: there is the source of your misery: poor Black mothers; Mexicans risking their lives in the desert looking for minimum wage jobs; neighborhood gun owners; potheads.  The war on domestic drug users prepared us for the war on domestic terror, a war that has no end because it constantly shifts its goal, and because the war itself perpetually manufactures new enemies.  It’s a proposition that can’t fail, and it brings money to corporations and power to bureaucrats, like all wars.  Just as the power and control of the police have spread under the war on drug users, it will continue to spread in battlefield America.  What has Homeland Security given our local cops?  To use against whom?

A population which accepts these domestic wars is uncritical, uninformed, ill prepared to be citizens, patriots who take responsibility for their government.  Such an ill-informed population confuses nationalism with patriotism.   It confuses data with information, “news” with significant events.  A two headed baby or a vomit coated entertainer finally dead of drink and drugs captures the glassy gaze of the slack-jawed public for days, but the death of liberty scarcely makes the news in brief.  The press, including broadcast media today, was intended to inform and educate people.  What passes as news today confuses the population with circus, it creates spectacles to draw the eyes and inundate the brain.  Our people have become hungry for distraction, swilling the koolaid to wash it down. We want talking heads with a running banner of “news” on the bottom and a sidebar of “facts”.  All the noise not only distracts us, it unnerves us.  We are fearful of boys on dope, frightened by strange Brown men, and most of all we are terrified by terrorism.  Feel up my children and grandmother when we get on a plane, read my email, follow me where I go on line, censor my information.  Take my liberties, I give them to you gladly, for I am a coward. 

The new battlefield, with its internet domain of war will make it easier than ever to monitor, track, and incarcerate citizens.  How easy?  So easy that innocent people are going to jail because of computer glitches (link).  Battlefield America will have many such “bugs”.

The purpose of this reproach is not to call you to arms; the Second Amendment is suspended under martial law, or will be if necessary.  It is to encourage you to load your brain. Arm yourself with critical thought.  Don’t let your eyes be directed downward to those less fortunate, less powerful than you, look upward to where policy is made, to who benefits from society.  Distinguish yourself and your kin from those who actually make policy, the duopoly of “elephants and asses screwing the masses”.  Take courage, speak out, not only on your own behalf, but on the behalf of others, be an advocate for the least of society, not the most wealthy. 

The NDAA signals the beginning of the end for free journalism.  An author’s words, particularly on the internet, can be used against him, no court is necessary.  Just as the war on drugs has created a class of person, the convicted drug offender, who has no rights, can’t get money to go to school, can’t get benefits, can’t even sleep in a national park, a new class of person that anything can be done to, a “new nigger”, a “new Jew,”  so the war in battlefield America will create a new class of person, the “invisible ones”, the disappeared ones.  Call an editor a terrorist and take him away, and editors everywhere will mind their tongue. 

Tell me, Free and Brave, will it silence you?


They Dance Alone; © Sting

Why are there women here dancing on their own?
Why is there this sadness in their eyes?
Why are the soldiers here
Their faces fixed like stone?
I can't see what it is that they despise
They're dancing with the missing
They're dancing with the dead
They dance with the invisible ones
Their anguish is unsaid
They're dancing with their fathers
They're dancing with their sons
They're dancing with their husbands
They dance alone They dance alone
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