Monday, January 31, 2005

Farhenheit 911

Last weekend, the wife rented Farhenheit 911, Michael Moore's documentary of the involvement of the Bush family with the Saudi royal family and the effects of the entanglement on American foreign relations. He goes on to document the war in Iraq in the beginning and the web of half-truths and deceit surrounding that. She rented it because my soon to be sixteen year old son is very interested in this, and as an American kid approaching draft age, that's a healthy interest.

He made the astute comment that this was a one-sided presentation. True, I said, but if even a fourth of it is true, it is scary nonetheless.

Post-election, most have settled down into the typical American cynicism about our government's actions, and given yesterday's Iraqi-election-under-the-umbrella, one can begin to forget that this is a country that did nothing to justify being invaded by a foreign army. Iraq is now as Secretary Powell said, something we broke so we own the problem. I don't see a quick exit strategy and my judgement is that before this is over, there will be theocratic rule in Iraq, or we will be occupying that country for the next two decades.

What is bothering me is the blase attitude toward this the hard right is creating in America. Fear is still squelching any honest appraisal of the decisions of the neocons driven by their brownshirt standins, the Christian Coalition of the Willing to Be Fooled. With initiatives to force school systems to teach the barely masked religious dreck "intelligent design" in American science classes, a full press on getting rid of abortion rights, and resolute refusal to look at the growing surveillance systems as anything more than a necessary surrender of personal liberties, these take-no-prisoners forces of darkness are fast putting out the light of freedom and democratic thought just as their leader stands at his bully pulpit proclaiming the right and necessity of the Americans to do anything to anyone anywhere anytime to advance American interests.

The exception to this media blitz designed to keep us frightened and quiescent is black radio. If you listen to the black college stations, among the cool grooves you will hear commentary from black leaders and they are vocal about their opposition to these policies. When you count the numbers of poor white and black soldiers and look at the numbers of affluent Americans who are notable by their absence in the US military forces at this time, you understand their opposition. The price for opposition is the administration has sent the IRS attack dogs to get rid of the NAACP's non-profit tax status. That ought to make them heel, yeah? Not bloody likely.

This is VietNam again; a war fought by the poorest of the American economic classes. The difference is that during VietNam, the American middle class and upper class kids in college took to the streets to oppose the war. Talking to some over the weekend, they have that same dumb attitude that Britney Spears expressed so glowingly in Moore's film. It scares the hell out of me. Unfortunately, the war will have to take out more of their classmates, they will have to go to more funerals, and then maybe they will get it. The kids of the rich in America don't fight this kind of war, but here in the American South, their classmates do. Willingly. For now. Some returning from duty are coming back with changed attitudes about that decision. Now they know.

The world is still watching and America is becoming ever more isolated. The world hoped the American electorate would do the right thing in the last election and when they failed to do that, their admiration and affection for the American people diminished. Perhaps a few more of us should rent Michael Moore's film and watch it, if not for the first time, then with a few of those who stand on the sidelines. I'm not sure if it does more than make us mad, but at least we don't sleep as soundly, and frankly, we shouldn't. Bad things are happening, and even if Moore is one sided, everything I read and hear and see says he isn't completely wrong.

Those of you who think Bush will be a lame duck, think again. He has the lack of will of the American public in his back pocket, and supreme command of the American military in his front. He has both houses of Congress. In two years, you get a chance to change that. You might want to.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post Len -- it must be terrifying having a son approaching draft age right now, when the U.S. armed forces are already stretched so thin and there's talk of invading Iran.

I'm not sure, though, that you should be blaming the hard right. I'm a Canadian, so I might have this wrong, but as I recall a lot of the U.S. social conservatives, including many fundamentalist Christian groups, were as opposed to the war in Iraq as the social liberals -- I think it was the socially moderate Republicans, the so-called neo-Cons, who pushed it (including, unfortunately, my fellow Canadian David Frum). In the election, it was not the Iraq war that got the social conservatives to the polls so much as opposition to gay marriage, I think.

len said...

It is an alliance of kind of like minds. Fear unites them and greed makes them strong. There are likely some true believers in there, but really, it is about money and media.

The gays wittingly or unwittingly, likely both, gave the election to Bush and the neocons. Listening is everything in politics and timing is everything else. Putting those gay marriage laws in the voting booths was enough to push the election to Bush and Rove knew it. The bad karma for the gay community is that the likelihood of many states now enacting such legislation is very high particularly in the southern Red states.

It is not enough to be right. You have to be smart too. The ultra-liberal left loves to bathe in their martyrdom thinking history will prove them superior. It might, but it won't save a single victim.

However this goes forward, the middle has to organize better, speak louder, and get rid of the fear that silences dissent. The difference in the loser and the victim and the warrior is smart intent and a well-executed campaign.

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