Secrets And Lies
This administration is the most secretive in history, and as I’ve pointed out before, even if they aren’t covering up bad, illegal and abusive behavior (as I’m sure they are) by shutting out any light of scrutiny, they inspire suspicion. This is true of the election process and how radically it has changed during Bush’s tenure. We now vote (and have our votes counted) on machines that run on proprietary software that cannot be verified. It is also true of the war. Phase II of the Congressional investigation into pre-war intelligence continues to be shut down. It is true of 9/11. Because so much information has been kept secret and the official account of what happened that day raises more questions than it answers, there is distrust and speculation that there’s something even more sinister to the story. And now we have secret surveillance being conducted by the NSA on US citizens. Is it any wonder that we don’t trust that what they are doing is “necessary” to fight terrorism?
There is a level of anxiety out here amongst the population as we try to figure out exactly why all of these invasions into our privacy are necessary. It wasn’t long ago that fear of the “other” was used by a leader to justify a clamping down on the society at large, complete with a wall to keep them in and “papers” to track their movements. Of course those measures were sold to the people as a way to keep them safe, much like the justifications given by our own government officials for things like high tech fences (walls) on our border, national ID cards (papers), tracking our phone and Internet habits and clamping down on the press, all in an effort to catch illegal immigrants and terrorists (the “invading other” and the “elusive other”). For those who think that it can’t happen here, it’s time to take a good look around.
Things are changing, and although they have changed dramatically over the last five years, it has happened in such a way as to paralyze the population. It has been incremental, but it has also been exponential with each new step more outrageous than the last. I have heard people talk about scandal fatigue as an explanation why more people aren’t upset about the abuses of power exhibited by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress, but we are also suffering from outrage fatigue, a much more dangerous affliction. When we lose the ability to be outraged by radical changes to the way our government is run, changes that disrespect our constitutionally guaranteed rights and consolidate power in a way our forefathers tried to protect us from, we simply lack the will and resolve to act to stop it. The American people are more resigned than I ever could have imagined possible.
So what is the answer? I wish I knew. I do think that we need to remind each other where we came from, what we’re made of and what our responsibilities as citizens are. Paul Revere, a commenter on this site, suggested that we show our stuff on July 4th and pass out the Declaration of Independence at parades and gatherings. I think that’s a great idea, we must re-educate our fellow citizens of what it means to be an American. It doesn’t mean adopting an identity that involves passive acts of patriotism like slapping a magnetic yellow ribbon on our car, hanging the flag in front of our house and co-operating with the government by giving up our rights. It means being independent, informed and active in protecting our rights and our country. We are a country founded on sound principles. If we abandon those principles, we are no longer the country we were meant to be and we become something altogether different.
If we love our country, truly love it, then we must act like we are the America we want to be. We are all in this together, whether we like it or not, and that means it is up to those of us who understand the gravity of the situation, to convince the rest that we must do better than blindly follow our leader toward destruction (remember the contempt that we had for societies that did just that when we were learning history in school?). Perhaps if we start by reminding them what we once were, they will be able to see how far we have fallen and maybe, just maybe, they’ll be willing to fight alongside us. We should at least give it a shot.