Monday, October 25, 2004

A Sincere Exhortation to my Brothers and Sisters

Written not in cyncism, I pray

Admist a shocking and transparent effort to intimidate and supress votes in Ohio and Florida--keys to the election--by enlisting thousands of Republicans to challenge voter legality in poor and minority districts, Bush and the Republicans continue a sarcastic, cynical, fatalistic, school-yard bully campaign of fear. Bush has since the very beginning of the election cycle employed a core body of totem phrases that are designed to scare Americans and patronize their capacity to think critically. In another sarcastic, cynical, fatalistic stump speech yesterday, Bush rolled through another one of these totems: "Weakness attracts those who are waiting to do America harm," he said.

Who are "those?" The evil-doers. The freedom-haters. The forces of evil, and in many connotative expressions, the enemies of God. It's a simple tactic that Bush uses on hoodwinked Americans that make a simplistic but powerful connection between Bush's statement that freedom is a gift of God and that the enemy is a group of freedom-haters, thus enemies of God. In a compulsive Bush-supporters house earlier this month, I was engaged in a sarcastic, cynical, fatalistic conversation in which I was asked, "Do you want terrorists running all around your backyard everywhere? I don't!" I looked into the Bush-supporters backyard and saw no terrorists. What's funny is that people like the woman whose house I was a guest in already live in a culture of fear. Her subdivision is accessible only by a three-quarter mile long street that has 7' tall fences on either side of it. On the interior of the subdivision, people don't walk outside, they keep their children fenced-in, and they keep their cars off the street. By the way, on a side note, why is it okay to condone the killing of thousands of Americans and Iraqis in the Middle East for the greater good but it's not okay to overlook a candidate's position on abortion in favor of the greater good? And what about the millions around the world starving, dying in epidemics, and being oppressed by the unjust?

Two nights before the election, I admit openly to having a feeling of despair. I am so exhuasted from seeing apathy and indifference around me, and the notion that a nation of zombies will re-elect a president that wasn't elected popularly in the first place is depressing. It's because this administration has been one of unprecedented dillusion. It is a consummation of the 1990's build-out of the Republican party into a collective of naive, short-sighted, oblivious and manipulative individuals who see political issues as questions of personal gain. Somehow, the Republican party got mean. It decided that nationalism was the highest mantra, that dissent is treason, that the earth is a market, that the poor are expendable, and that the people--the PEOPLE--are not eligible for a government that provides and protects.

I have tried to keep track over the past three years of all of the startling blunders of the Bush administration. But it got to be so overwhelming, because every day I read the newspaper (it's amazing how many Republicans I meet that don't read the newspaper), there was more and more to be shocked about, to feel violated about, and to feel helpless and hopeless to negate. Almost nothing our president has done has been successful. And yet, Bush and the individuals who truly hold his power--Rove, Rummy, Cheney, etc.--are unwaivering in their insistance that these are the best of times without a doubt. They are immersed in a culture that allows reality to be semantic. They say the war is a "brilliant" maneuver and fully justified, but over the course of three years, the administration has presented reason after reason after reason after reason for justifying the effort. He has been a true flip-flopper, saying that Iraq and al Qaeda were bed buddies, and that Saddam had WMD (humiliating Colin Powell--the only insightful member of his cabinet--in front of the UN when he asserted that indisputible evidence was gathered that Iraq had weapons), and that Iraq harbord terrorists, that it was humanitarian, that it was to spread democracy. And yet they are contradictory--they say that they need to be reelected because we are not safe, because terrorism must be defeated, because the job isn't over, because any suggestion that we are not confident in our leader will bring more and more and more attacks. Yes, Americans--the only way to protect you and yours is to be afraid.

But you know what? I can type for hours and hours about why Bush's rationale is so glaringly dangerous but it wouldn't help, because if people don't see it now, they won't see it at all. I'm exhausted, friends, because it feels like I'm wrestling a hippo--dumb, defenseless, oblivious, and apathetic, but ultimately way, way more bigger than I am. And do you know who the hippo is? It's not just the administration. It's the whole culture of Bush, the whole passive trance that conservatism has placed on a substantial portion of the American people, and it's the people in my own community--those close to me--that throw up their hands or shrug and say "you know what? I don't want to talk about it." That's what makes it most exhausting--to see those whom you love and admire not give a shit. Not give a SHIT.

It's amazing that this election isn't decided already. But fear is powerful, and it is without question that Bush and his administration has a determined agenda to keep Americans afraid. That's exactly why decent Americans who have everything to lose under political conservatism say things like "I live in a 9-10/9-12 world. Everything changed after 9-11." That's why people like the Bush supporter from Illinois who told me that terrorists were running around her backyard can't snap out of it and look at what they're holding and say "hold on a minute--what are we doing with ourselves?" Fear is the greatest control mechanism in human history. It was alarming and deeply violating for me to see the latest Bush campaign add that shows a pack of wolves ready to strike in the forest. It was literally propoganda, designed to make suburban mothers and rural elderly shudder at the image of a wolf coming at their children and lifestyle and in fear, submit a vote for Dubya. It's the same tactic that abusive husbands use on their wives, and parents on their children--and dictators on their people. It's the lie that Bush is the antidote to evil, to tragedy, vulnerability and weakness.

Our president uses these tactics because he knows there is every reason to hold his administration accountable for a bogus war, tax cuts for the very wealthy, cut aid for housing subsidies for public housing, a banner education policy that cuts aid to struggling schools and rewards those that are already wealthy and rich in supplemental resources, an environmental policy that has been give-away after give-away to logging companies, mineral companies, oil companies and energy companies, and that has reversed the most successful gains in clean air and clean water regulations in the history of country, his ties to mega-corporations and the commencement of a recent FBI investigation into whether his administration illegally gave favor to Halliburton and it's subsidiaries, a health care policy that leaves the poor further stranded, a drug policy that gives greater profits to pharmaceutical giants, a social services policy that cuts programs for children and the poor, the biggest deficit in American history following its biggest surplus, a growing divide between the very rich and the very poor, the monthly expense in the BILLIONS of dollars of maintaining an occupation with no objective, no end in sight, and no international accountability, no justification, no benefit (except to Halliburton), no spread of democracy, no humanitarian bliss, and fought by disillusioned solidiers questions what the fuck they're doing in the desert, the obvious under the table talk of a draft, the rhetoric of arrogance and bullishness, a lack of humility, a refusal to rely on friends and allies, a refusal to intervene in the places in the world that deeply need true intervention like Sudan, where genocide--GENOCIDE--persist, a weapons program that nullified the Test Ban Treaty and is working to develop a 'missle shield' a la the trippy Cold War days of the Big Red Button and Doctor Strangelove, a business perspective that allowing the exportation of jobs to exploited third-world countries with incapacitated human rights accountability, the cultural bigotry of jingoism and pseudo-spiritualism that has wrongly equated true Christian faith and support for Bush, his glaring stupidity and dim-wittedness, and not to be forgotten--the Republican body at large, which just two weeks ago engineered an unprecented $137 billion tax break to corporations and special interests, and which in its demented fashion continues to insist that Bush is ordained, that steadfast arrogance is really just resolve, that resolve is strength, that strength is righteousness, that righteousness is the destiny of America, that America is the light to the world and the hope of the masses.

But everything that I've written above is uncompelling and only supplemental to the most relevant questions we must ask ourselves as a collective humanity.
The biggest questions of our present government are the same that apply universally:
Has this administration provided for the powerless, the oppressed, the poor, the needy, the wronged, the manipulated, those taken advantage of, the vulnerable, the succeptbile, the weak, the slaughtered, the hungry, and the sick? Has he fostered protection of creation? Has he been a global citizen? Accepted accountability? Fought for justice and forgiveness, love, compassion, empathy, sympathy, understanding, humility, social dignity, equality, and hope? Does our president and his leadership of our country represent Christ responsibly? Is our president advancing these things?

Can you really answer 'yes' to these things?

>>> -- Sojourners: Christians for Peace and Justice <<<

Chanson d'installation: Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changing