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Posts Tagged ‘tyranny’

Sometimes, as I read some new and unsurprisingly depressing political story, I can feel my own tendencies plunging ever further toward the anti-authoritarian left even as the words scroll slowly past my eyes.

I can be minding my own business, catching up on recent events in the worlds of politics and pop culture in my news feed, or watching the latest iteration of the ongoing gender politics nightmare explode across the atheoskeptosphere.

And then a North Carolina Senate Committee chairman perfectly encapsulates the inevitable feeling of superiority that festers in the ones with privilege and power, as well as the accompanying contempt for those lesser wretches who simply exist on a level of society barely worthy of recognition or respect. And he does so in a few neat, elegant phrases:

I AM THE SENATOR.

YOU ARE THE CITIZEN.

YOU NEED TO BE QUIET.

…aaaaaaaand anarchist.

But don’t blame this guy. His only crime is believing the hype.

Everything about the US political system which elevates people to these positions of authority reinforces the idea that members of elected office are better, more important, more powerful, more consequential, more right, than the unwashed masses from which they ostensibly arose.

And this system, frankly, is unacceptable.

It’s not worthy of us, because it gives us characters like Tommy Tucker, quoted above, who completely lose sight of any desire to serve the public good – charitably assuming that was something which once motivated him – in favour of telling the plebs to pipe down whenever a hint of representative democracy gets in the way of his career.

And it’s not worthy of Tommy Tucker, because he’s a human being like the rest of us, and he deserves better than to have his worst tendencies nurtured at the expense of his humanity, and to be turned into even more of a selfish, despotic, bureaucratic thug than he would have managed on his own.

Individuals like him are not the root problem. We’ve had centuries to find ways to populate our representative democracy with good people who won’t cock it up. If it was going to happen under a system remotely resembling what we have now, we’d have got there ages ago. We should be seriously looking for an alternative to this “if only the right party would win” thinking. Otherwise we’re just going to carry on repeating the same action and expecting different results. (Someone had a word for that, though I suspect it may not actually have been Einstein).

The system is not good enough. We can do better.

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United States lawmakers are trying to push through legislation of such a disheartening nature that I don’t even know how to finish this sentence about it.

Glenn Greenwald is far more articulately concerned about this than I have the capacity to be. In essence, the proposed bill will give some people even more power than they already have to attack, kidnap, and imprison anyone they want from anywhere in the world.

They justify this by the abstract rhetorical trick of insisting that the former individuals be labelled as “US government agents”, and the latter as “Terrorists”.

Senator Lindsey Graham in particular spoke of the importance of allowing the US military to target and indefinitely detain “these guys” – referring to, among others, American citizens who’ve not had any formal charges made against them. He said:

If you’re an American citizen and you betray your country, you’re not going to be given a lawyer.

The implication to these words is that, even if being thrown in Gitmo and forgotten about were a suitable fate for those accursed terrorists who wish America ill, it would somehow be less important, not more, that we pay attention to due process, and lines of evidence, and all the things that the people who created the USA put in place to make damn sure that we only lock up the right people.

Apparently, when it comes to that most heinous crime of offering “substantial support” to forces “associated” with Al Qaeda or the Taliban, the very fact that suspicion has entered the mind of US military officials should be all the proof of guilt that it’s reasonable to require.

Maybe this doesn’t sound so bad to you. Maybe you’re willing to trust the upper echelons of government, when they say that for reasons of national security they can’t tell you how they know that somebody has terrorist connections, and must be held captive indefinitely with no access to any legal recourse for your own safety. Maybe this sounds like a reasonable way to treat those who hate America, and the idea that these laws might ever be abused against those who don’t deserve it is entirely academic.

If that’s the case, then please imagine the next couple of paragraphs slowly fading out as I back carefully away from you.

Incidentally, lest you suspect this is just those warmongering Republicans doing their usual schtick, note that the Obama administration’s main objection to the bill seems to be that they want “to remove the language in the original bill which exempted American citizens and lawful residents from the detention power”. As it initially stood, it didn’t give enough tyrannical privilege for the liking of the Democrats in charge.

I think democracy may have officially jumped the shark. Or perhaps I’ve just finally got around to noticing.

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