Reproduced from The Black Commentator (Issue No 26, 23 January 2003)
“The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seem generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind
‘Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
And now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told
Our cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can’t understand
We don’t know how to mind our own business
‘Cause the whole world’s got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner
We can’t pay the cost
‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into a noose
And it just sits there watching
America where are you now?
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters?
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster
Heed the threat and awesome power of the mighty Pentagon
Which is wasting precious millions on the toys of Washington
Just one time I’d like to be somewhere where
None of your clever lies fill the air
I’m tired of your frozen smile and your voice of tin”
Lyric Excerpts from “Monster Album” by Steppenwolf, 1970.
Up until November of 2000, an American citizen could have arguably maintained that the United States had become a more tolerable society having, in some respects, tamed much of its monstrous behavior and murderous history, and that there would be no return to the wretched mentality that allowed some of the greatest atrocities in American history.
And there’s no question about the human rights abuses that have become part and parcel of that history. President Thomas Jefferson made it the policy of the US to wipe out Native Americans leading to what would become America’s Final Solution by stating in 1807, “And if ever we are constrained to lift the hatchet against any tribe, we will never lay it down till that tribe is exterminated.”
Slavery and segregation of African Americans began in 1619 in the North American continent, Virginia to be precise, and lasted well into the 1970s in the USA. Open minded American’s like Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson would declare that “universal suffrage was the foundation of every evil in the US” and that African Americans were an “ignorant and inferior race.”
She was hanged upside down from a tree and while still alive, members of the crowd cut open her abdomen and the tiny infant fell to the ground. As hundreds of bullets were fired into her body, someone from the crowd stepped forward and crushed the infant’s head as the onlookers cheered.
As reported by John Gray in Straw Dogs, in 1899 thousands of other open minded Americans – men, women and children – in the US state of Georgia assembled in the town of Newman to watch the hanging of African American Sam Hose. When eight-months-pregnant African American Mary Turner learned that her husband met his end in similar circumstances, she protested to the authorities. Her reward? She was hanged upside down from a tree and while still alive, members of the crowd cut open her abdomen and the tiny infant fell to the ground. As hundreds of bullets were fired into her body, someone from the crowd stepped forward and crushed the infant’s head as the onlookers cheered.
Add to that chilling tale, the grotesque treatment of American women who suffered disenfranchised for 72 years until 1920; the deadly anti-union policies that would result in events like the Ludlow Massacre of mine workers in 1914; the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s; the debasement of Chinese Americans in the 1850s; the destruction of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos in the 1960s and 1970’s; US eugenics laws and practices of the 1920s and 1930s that Adolph Hitler would later use in his Final Solution; and the insidious US support of the former apartheid regime in South Africa that would mercifully end in 1994 with the election of Nelson Mandela.
These are but a few instances of America’s sordid past that don’t find their way into popular accounts of mythic America. And contrary to popular belief, globalization and wars to ensure US market dominance were set in motion as far back as 1898.
On the Senate floor in that year, Senator Albert Beveridge of Indiana would maintain that:
“Where shall we turn for consumers of our surplus? … It is elemental. It is racial. God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing but vain and idle self-contemplation and self-admiration. No! He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish a system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adept in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples. Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race, He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America, and it holds for us all the profit, all the glory, all the happiness possible to man. We are trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its righteous peace. The judgment of the Master is upon us: ‘Ye have been faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things.'”
In taming America’s most noxious actions, most US government and business leaders would proclaim that they alone were responsible for the bright light of reason and the courage to redress the wrongs perpetrated by the US government and its greedy counterparts in the corporate world, and their enforcement arm – the US military. But the reality is that in every one of these instances, the cure came as the result of individuals joining together – sometimes sacrificing life and reputation – and taking to the streets to stop the murderous and prejudicial behavior that plagues not just Americans, but the entire human species. The horrible treatment of fellow human beings is never the urgent motivator for most of America’s government and business leaders, and indeed world leaders. It always was and remains to this day the fear of losing power and prestige. And so again, as in every case above, it falls to the true progressives, the American people – those who, shall we say, have evolved far beyond protoplasmic entities that occupy the US government – and their counterparts everywhere, to take to the streets and stop a return to the hideous policies and practices of yesteryear.
Kings of Pain
On January 18, 2003, as 100,000 plus Americans rallied and marched in the “capitol of the free world,” Washington, DC, their weasely president-select and vice president-select and their 533 representatives and senators were nowhere to be found. Only Michigan’s John Conyers braved the elements to energize the crowd. And while anti-Iraq war sentiments received top billing, more was afoot than what was generally reported by media outlets around the globe.
All the speakers who took to the podium, and the 100,000 plus individuals that made up the crowd, were decrying the mentality and an environment that led to some of the most sinister acts ever undertaken by the US government. “Jobs Not War!” and “No Tax Cuts for the Rich!” was a constant refrain. The “No racism, Stop Hate!” theme could be found on thousands of posters and placards, as could “No Death Penalty” and “Money for the Poor, Not the Pentagon!” “No One Should Die for Bush.” Podium speakers and the crowd were fearful of a return to a US government and society that had, in its history, encouraged some of the worst aspects of humanity.
In short, this was arguably more anti-Bush II than anti-Iraq war sentiment. Participants were mindful of the type of environment that breeds violence and suffering, and impoverishes thought and debate. They know very well that if Bush II and his government, and the US Congress, remain unchecked, an environment of greed and corruption and racism and fear will flourish.
And there’s plenty to fear from this King of Pain who represents the most callous elements of America. Few have commented on the fact that every single business venture that Bush II has meddled with – from failed oil companies to the now suffering State of Texas – has ended up as either a public and commercial embarrassment or in shambles for taxpayers, with wealthy cronies and political appointees having to spring for bail and create spin for the alphabet-challenged President. Texas is now billions of dollars in debt and battles horrid air pollution. The residents of Arlington, Texas, are still paying for Bush’s stint as owner of the Rangers. The Texas Air National Guard shamelessly puts the best face on Bush’s service debacle – actions for which any other reservist would have been swiftly sent to Vietnam.
Attempting to criminalize affirmative action by challenging the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program on the eve of Martin Luther King’s birthday and turning a blind eye to those great 20th century racists Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond says much about Bush’s and Beveridge’s God.
So now, it’s the United States’ turn to suffer a similar fate. If ever there was a practitioner for ruthlessness, it’s Bush and crew. Ruining people’s lives seems to be something in which this regime prides itself. Eliminating billions of dollars for birth control programs, food disbursements, benefits for the unemployed (8 percent and climbing unemployed in the US), environmental protections, and promoting what amounts to $2 trillion in tax cuts primarily for the rich is hardly the way to maintain a somewhat egalitarian society. Standing idly by while knowing California’s energy crisis was caused primarily by Enron, and while many states approach bankruptcy is to court further disaster. Giving the wacky Pentagon and the Homeland Security Department budgets which approach $500 billion while holding spending on infrastructure, education and health care to a ludicrous $350 billion is close to criminal. Inserting church into state through untidy faith-based programs and inserting state into the home through the efforts of convicted criminals like Admiral John Poindexter seems the work of madmen.
Attempting to criminalize affirmative action by challenging the University of Michigan’s affirmative action program on the eve of Martin Luther King’s birthday and turning a blind eye to those great 20th century racists Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond says much about Bush’s and Beveridge’s God. Now American Muslims must suffer while their kin in the US and the world over are fingerprinted and registered as if they are cows to be branded. There are watch lists for American citizens who are Greens or antiwar protestors. High school students are suspended for criticizing Bush and his government. First Amendment zones are created for anti-Bush demonstrators and while in them, police cameras record the process.
Donnie Rumsfeld’s extraordinary statement that draftees lend little to the US military must have come as a surprise to many veterans. On that note, it’s interesting to listen to Rumsfeld and other active duty military-types who are fond of pointing out that without the protections they provide the demonstrations in the USA on January 18 would have been impossible. Yet, on that day in Russia, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Brazil, Japan, Jordan, England, Australia, France, Syria, India and elsewhere, tens of thousands exercised the same freedom displaying many of the same banners as their brethren in the USA.
United States of Anarchia
From the jungles of Colombia and Indonesia to the streets of Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon, America is now at war with the world and itself.
What it all adds up to is that Bush II has led the way in tearing the fabric of America apart. He has eased the ability of 15 percent of the US population to accumulate further wealth, while leaving to the remaining 85 percent to fight over what amounts to a pittance. He has mindlessly opened the doors to racism and greed while at the same time he has closed and locked the doors of accountability, openness and peace. Millions of people are out of work in the US and his government has no solution but war and tax cuts. From the jungles of Colombia and Indonesia to the streets of Washington, DC, and Portland, Oregon, America is now at war with the world and itself. It seems that it hasn’t come all that far since 1970 when other ruthless human beings – Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger – were doing all that they could to destroy America and Southeast Asia. But, perhaps, this time around there may be a difference.
He has mindlessly opened the doors to racism and greed while at the same time he has closed and locked the doors of accountability, openness and peace.
In 1688, German Quaker settlers in Germantown, Pennsylvania – led by Daniel Pastorius – were the first to publicly protest US slavery by challenging Pennsylvania’s Quakers. Their efforts at the time were unsuccessful, but many in the community of Quakers were moved to change and their actions would ultimately contribute to Pennsylvania becoming the first state to pass anti-slavery legislation in 1780, and in the 1800s their statements contributed to the argument against slavery.
Like the German immigrants to America who had the foresight to see that injustice, the millions who protested around the world on January 18, 2003 will be remembered for raising the consciousness of people everywhere to the great danger that George Bush II and the current US government pose to America and the world. The greatest threat to American society besides Iraq Oil Wars, is an unaccountable White House occupant, Congress, Supreme Court and military, the latter being the now well-established fourth branch of the US government.
Americans and the world can only hope that there will be more rallies and marches as occurred on January 18. If not, the US government, as it stands now, will destroy or imprison its people and those of any other nation who dare challenge the Bush and Beveridge God-given right to rule the world.
The Monster is, indeed, on the loose and no single individual can fight against him.