Crackdown! Dissent May be First Casualty of War

Patriotism n. 1) The inability to distinguish between the government and one’s country; 2) A highly praiseworthy virtue characterized by the desire to dominate and kill; 3) A feeling of exultation experienced when contemplating heaps of charred “enemy” corpses; 4) The first, last and perennial refuge of scoundrels. Patriot n. A dangerous tool of the powers that be. A herd member who compensates for lack of self-respect by identifying with an abstraction. An enemy of individual freedom. A fancier of the rich, satisfying flavor of boot leather.

-The American Heretic’s Dictionary

In the past six months we have seen the deaths of anti-capitalists in Genoa, Papua New Guinea, and Brazil. As radicals, there is one thing that is important to understand when considering the tragedy of September 11: It was the US government’s hatred and fear of alternatives to capitalism (socialism) that motivated us to fund the Taliban in the first place. The operation to terrorize the Soviet Union is coming home to us twenty years later. The real danger is attacks on civil liberties and the likelihood of the government turning its focus to dissidents within its borders. Once that happens, we are all in grave danger.

Let us consider what the United States has done historically during crisis or times of “National Emergency”:

-During the Civil War:

  • Anti-war newspapers were banned from the mail.
  • The Reverend J.R. Stewart, of Alexandria, Virginia was arrested for failing to include a customary prayer for the president of the United Sates in his sermon.
  • Civilian courts were suspended in peaceful regions of the country-especially where Democrats held power-allowing trial in military courts.

-During World War I:

  • In 1918, Eugene Debs, was tried, convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for a speech in which he criticized the conviction of several World War I-era draft resisters and opponents of conscription. He served three years before being granted a pardon.
  • Upton Sinclair was arrested for reading the Bill of Rights at a rally.
  • Roger Baldwin of the ACLU was arrested for reading the Constitution. All of this was made possible by the Sedition act which permitted the government to target dissents in the U.S.

-During World War II:

We found it appropriate to put over 110,000 Japanese-Americans in “holding” camps (also known as concentration camps).

The only legal authority for the Vietnam War was the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which was found to have been based on a fabrication almost immediately after it was passed.

The First War Powers Act granted the President broad powers to censor mail, cable, radio, or other means of communication.

The Second War Powers Act allowed the government to exercise broad economic powers, including seizing private property (this can be done under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act if national emergency is declared).

The Middle East has been treated by the media much the same as the Soviet Union was during the Red Scare. Activists and critical civilians alike were rounded up in peacetime red scares for years. The “with us or against us” attitude will inevitably lead to a conflict between lovers of freedom and nationalists. The Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 has been passed by the Senate, greatly expanding the power of federal authorities to spy on online communication, and some are even talking about national identification cards.

“Operation Infinite Justice” has led to what is the most frightening attack on our liberty: the new cabinet position for “Homeland Security” which will enable increased communication between the police and the military and give law enforcement the “tools they need to track terror at home.” This, folks, means martial law, justified injuries, deaths, and imprisonment of protesters (terrorists). With all of this the American public will be too frightened and swayed by the mass media to act.

If the government was so concerned with security why would they allow airport security to be run in the private sector (minimum wage workers) and why would they oppose FBI background checks on the workers? We need to be aware and raise questions of the ulterior motives of our government. The National Security Agency is huge and has incredible resources and knowledge. The National Security Agency was responsible for creating a pretext for the invasion of Cuba (one idea was to shoot down a CIA plane designed to replicate a passenger flight and announce that Cuban forces shot it down) and has been listening to Osama’s telephone conversations for years. It is not plausible to believe that NSA didn’t have knowledge of a planned attack on the U.S.

Whether it is only to go forward with the militarization of space, or whether there are reasons beyond our wildest imagination, we must urge ourselves and the public to replace emotional immersion with logical analysis and education. It is crucial to be aware of the patriotism that September 11 spawned because this patriotism will blossom into hatred of dissidents and will justify a violent response by police and military to protesters in America. Today may be the day to read up on the counter intelligence program (cointelpro) used by the FBI on activists in the 60’s and 70’s (check out Ward Churchill) because the death in Genoa will not be the last and we may soon find ourselves in the spotlight-demonized by the media, stoned by our neighbors, and hunted down by “Homeland Security.”

“During times of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” George Orwell