06 June 2013

Establishment Priorities and the Public Interest

In the wake of the September 2001 attacks the Patriot Act was passed and in a hurry. Bush was riding on the wave of the attacks, capitalizing on the fears of the public. A subservient congress largely acquiesced and though I believe the US Constitution has long been essentially dead... the passage of this act was the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Key components of the Bill of Rights were essentially eliminated. Bush administration memos don't hide the fact they considered the 4th Amendment to be essentially dead in the domestic sphere. Other provisions within the Patriot Act more or less eliminated key structural components of the 5th and 6th Amendments as well.

Basically the citizen's right to privacy, unreasonable search and seizure and due process have been taken away. The government insists they will only remove these civil rights in time of crisis and/or your association with threats to national security.

But as the country devolves into a police state...something very poignant in the recent Boston episode wherein the military took over entire suburbs... who is a threat to national security?

I realize there was a manhunt going on but I didn't like watching that. I don't like the precedent and the willingness on the part of the public to embrace military occupation.

Was it necessary? I'm not so sure. The media has failed to ask the right questions and there are some interesting gaps and anomalies in the way the story unfolded.

Of course you can't even have reasonable discussions about these things when the public's memory cannot seem to extend beyond a year or two. Already the Right and especially the Christian Right have expressed outrage at the recent revelation of NSA wiretapping.

But why? These are the very same things Bush was doing not even a decade ago. And when it was revealed, those who broadcast it were called traitors by the same people who are now so outraged. I remember conservatives vigorously defending the administration and dismissing anyone who raised Constitutional issues.

"If you're not doing anything then you don't have to worry," was a constant refrain.

"National Security," was declared repeatedly.

Are any of these people aware of how many countries have suspended constitutional law and live in a permanent state of emergency?

Ironically I'm not that worried about Obama attempting this. This would be a Republican move. It will take a Bush or a McCain. I always laugh when the Right tries to find pictures of Obama looking dictatorial and threatening. He's too much like Jimmy Carter. They just don't have that kind of presence. For some reason the Christian view of manhood is the cowboy, the John Wayne, the Douglas MacArthur types. This is another byproduct of Sacralist thinking...the celebration and sanctification of power.

I am not pleased with the Obama administration and the continuation of these practices. But this is rank hypocrisy to condemn his administration for so many things Bush was also guilty of. This is also true with the harassment of the media and using the IRS to generate grief for political enemies. These things are nothing new.

I'm happy to listen to the criticism but not from FOX News and Christian media.

For the most part (and with but a few exceptions) our leaders are evil megalomaniacal people that care nothing about the laws of the land. This is about power and nothing else. Those criticizing Obama are no different. The only difference is they have something with which to make some political hay. Their outrage is a marketing ploy to gain a few political points.

I expect lost people to be backbiting and scheming, deceitful and manipulative. But why are the Christians no different? Could it be they've embraced another worldview that has a different set of commitments and ethics incompatible with Biblical Christianity?

When Bush was kidnapping people off the streets, wiretapping, building secret prisons, waging secret war and assassination, manipulating intelligence and the news media, leaking information, betraying non-conformist intelligence agents and starting wars.... where were these people?

Cheering him on.

What more could he have done before they would have turned against him?

I don't want to see the country attacked but the answer isn't to increase police powers and the military state. Why would anyone want to attack America? That's the question no one is allowed to ask. They're evil and they hate our freedom. That's what we're told and yet that's simply not the case at all.

In fact the increase of the military footprint is playing no small part in generating new enemies. America's economic policies are wed to military might and with it come powerful weapons to wage covert war and to spread propaganda. America has spread war and death in many lands and installs and backs corrupt and violent rulers as proxies to support its policies. This is why America is hated. America is hated for its bombs, its violent and intolerable pride, and its hypocrisy. As I said in a comment the other day you can only beat a dog for so long, eventually it will strike at you.

And yet despite all this the number of genuine attacks has been few. We are barraged with reports of arrests and foiled terrorist plots. But upon further investigation the vast majority of them are set-ups, agent provocateurs entrapping poor fools in cyberspace. Egging them on, they essentially are catching thought-crime...only after encouraging it. They get a press conference, the public is kept on edge....and the police state seems to grow.

Our airports have turned into virtual totalitarian zones. I remember while growing up I thought the people in the Eastern bloc slaved in factories, went home and sat shivering in dark rooms. I remember scratching my head as I read about Black Sea vacations, coffee shops and was even more surprised when the Iron Curtain came down and I ventured into what was Yugoslavia and Hungary. Far from perfect societies they weren't what I had imagined. People went about their lives. They vacationed, they ate out, and they lived. They sometimes lacked consumer goods. Freedoms ebbed and flowed and obviously party members did much better. But there was always fear. The surveillance state, secret police and informers were a part of life.

Today our airports represent something of what it was like to live behind the Iron Curtain. Sure you can sit in a bar and have a beer, watch television, talk with your friends. But you had better watch what you say, what you do and the words you use. You're being watched and if for a second you even begin to question the authorities they come down very hard on you and you'll find yourself detained with no civil rights whatsoever. The party members (as it were) can walk carefree and cannot hide the disdain they have for all those outside their circles. Members of the security forces (the police state) are granted special privileges. They can expedite travel and are spared all the petty humiliations which make no one safe...but do teach a forced conformity and give the illusion of threat and the responsible due diligence in response. "It's to make you safe."

That's right. Just keep saying it over and over again.

I often work in small rural towns and at times have to visit local municipal offices....city hall. I venture into the building and zoning departments and might even have to visit the parking authority to obtain a permit. These are now totalitarian zones as well. Everyone is behind glass and seems to enjoy watching you strain to shout under the two inch gap in the partition. Oh, how they enjoy their petty torments. You can't wander the building. Someone might attack the tax office or go on a rampage because they were overcharged for their water bill. As a visitor I'm supposed to be escorted to the bathroom door and to the exits of the building but the guys in the building department know me and are a bit embarrassed about it all, so it's not enforced. Again this is a small town, a county seat in the middle of nowhere.

Even the bureaucracy is subjected to propaganda from the higher echelons. Even the agents of the state are taught to fear it. Anyone who has been in the military should know this.

After Boston and then after the next incident this will only increase. It's obvious our officials aren't willing to do anything about it and frankly I think most of the public supports it. Large telecoms and other corporations happily hand over information to the state. Why do they bother sending me copies of their privacy policy?

In the end it doesn't matter what party holds the presidency. It will be just more of the same. I highly recommend the Frontline documentary called Top Secret America.

While I know PBS is reckoned liberal it may surprise some conservatives to learn many of these 'liberals' are actually quite patriotic. Their concerns are just a bit different. Regardless of their persuasion the findings in this documentary cannot be dismissed.

And if patriotism is the line of demarcation, where does that leave someone like me who rejects the very concept as incompatible with Christian profession? If they're on the left then I'm completely outside the circle.

If you take anything away from the video I hope you will see how this mechanism which they call Top Secret America has taken on a life of its own. Pardon the clich├ęs, but follow the money and connect the dots. That's the Establishment power of the United States. It's a relationship between Corporate America, the Military and the industries tied to it and political power. And yet money backs it all...which all leads back to the financial sector. Should we be surprised? I seem to recall something about the love of money being the root of all kinds of evil.

Is it conspiracy? I've addressed this before. Yes and no. It's an open conspiracy. It's not backroom scheming though there is plenty of that. It's simply a system that's right in front of our faces but it's complicated and dynamic and hard to pin down. The powers that be won't discuss their objectives. Why would they? Besides they all stab each other in the back too. It's a dance but they're going to make sure they stay on the top and that not only will you not get there, you won't even understand what's happening. Everything is couched in ways palatable and marketable to the public.

On the one hand it sometimes seems as simple as profits but it's more than that. What they're after is the integrity of the system. They don't want to destroy America. They love America....that is to say, the love the system that is America, the system that empowers and enriches them. What they're afraid of are the people who live in it. Should they ever figure it all out, then these power-elements would fear.

These people, by which I mean those atop the military world, banking and finance, the insurance industry, the energy and petro-chemical titans, and their political front men....are not interested in freedom, civil rights, privacy or the integrity of the judiciary. They're interested in their own agendas and a compliant public.

The 1990's taught them something. You need an enemy. You need a certain level of angst and fear. This isn't going to change anytime soon.

This ever growing ramped up security state will continue to lead to civil unrest. I don't think this upsets them. It's hardly controversial to say a politically polarized society cannot and will not unify. The administrations can come and go...the permanent players can keep right on with their agenda.

Nixon capitalized on the unrest to help get elected in 1968. Chaos breeds fear and before long the public is demanding a police state.

It's something to keep in mind as we watch protestors on the television. While some were energized by the 'Occupy' movement, many were put off by it and had the situation grown more violent the average citizen would not have protested jack boots and armoured vehicles coming down the street. When that becomes a regular sight, then our civil society has collapsed.

What should the Church do? Right now the Church can't do anything. Huge numbers of professing Christians are directly participating in this expansion of state powers. They celebrate it and are happy enough to be on the front lines implementing the policies that strip our freedoms and empower the entities who seek their own goals. They will probably even ask the Lord's blessing as they do it.

1 comment:

Cal said...

Wow, I'm going to watch the documentary when I get a chance, but good post.

I'll be frank that I've yet to fully have the blinders taken off. When I saw what was happening in Boston, I didn't think much of it. It took time to process that it was literally a military occupation to find one guy. What if he wasn't in the boathouse, what if they didn't find him in those couple of days? How many doors would they've kicked down? How far do they push?

I think Bush overplayed his hand on 9/11, though ultimately the cornerstones of the enterprise remain settled.

I was watching a movie about the McCain/Palin ticket yesterday. One scene shows Palin upset over the media's field-day with her daughter's unwed pregnancy. Her aid tells her, "Don't worry. People don't remember beyond two news cycles. It's just entertainment." How true is that.

I've also watched a couple episodes of a HBO show called Veep. It's pretty crass, but it shows the day to day political operations of the vice president. I watched it out of a sort of sick interest: this is an unmasking of how politics works. It's like Seinfeld for the White House, it's all the dirty, shady and down right petty things occurring that everyone knows but won't admit. The whole thing is battling to be made the chief puppet, posturing for ambition. All the men in politics are those with vain ambitions, they don't want the real power, only to appear to have it.

We're all just numbers in polls, cogs in the machine. Sadly much of the so-called Church has done nothing but made itself chaplain to this American Caesar. It's like a form of Positive Christianity. More clever though, we don't need crude state-owned theologians to excise swathes of the Bible, it's already been done subtly. Jesus just becomes an icon for fire-insurance, a name to attach to whatever program.

One aspect of the atonement that needs some highlighting is perhaps Christus Victor. Jesus has triumphed over all the powers, especially the ones behind the empire. I know Stringfellow did a lot of work on thinking this sort of idea through, might invest in some of his books.

As an extra: that doesn't mean I don't think penal substitution is true, I just think the atonement is a large picture. There are many ways in talking about the victory of Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection.

Food for thought,