April 19, 2008

Moving on

A couple of emails I've received in the past few days have been so upsetting that I will be suspending this blog for the time being.

I don't recognize this country anymore.

The first email I got was about the descent of America into fascism under this president. The 14 Characteristics of Fascism outlined by Lawrence Britt in 2003 is illustrated in a short
video, but here this is his breakdown:
  • Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
    Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

  • Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
    Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

  • Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
    The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

  • Supremacy of the Military Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

  • Rampant Sexism The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.

  • Controlled Mass Media Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

  • Obsession with National Security
    Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

  • Religion and Government are Intertwined
    Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

  • Corporate Power is Protected
    The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

  • Labor Power is Suppressed
    Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed .

  • Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
    Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.

  • Obsession with Crime and Punishment
    Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

  • Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
    Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

  • Fraudulent Elections
    Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

  • Copyright © 2003 Free Inquiry magazine

    The second email alerted me to Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, an event sponsored by the Iraq Veterans against the War. It consists of testimony from vets and civilians about what's going on over there under our name. You can see bits of live testimony on their website and read some of the testimony in The Progressive and elsewhere. It's as chilling as it is humbling.

    The last email I got was about a new twist in the presidential campaign, and this I knew nothing about. CNN apparently mounted a Faith Forum this past Wednesday, where the candidates could elaborate their positions on religion. I heard on an Air American broadcast this afternoon that atheists, agnostics and seculars of all kinds were not permitted entry. So, not only is religion being used to vet candidates for a secular office in a country whose citizens are protected by the First Amendment, people who are not religious were barred from the event altogether. This article by Michael Hess outlines the essentials:

    CNN's "Faith Forum" an Outright Religious Test for Public Office

    Wednesday, April 16 2008

    Religious freedom organization objects to using religious faith as a litmus test for politicians seeking election

    Nearly a year ago, when CNN broadcast a presidential faith forum last June, the Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a statement condemning the imposition of a religious test for public office.

    CNN has jettisoned any pretense of objectivity and professionalism by continuing to make candidates genuflect before religious leaders, parrot piety, and pledge allegiance to religion.

    The founders of our nation felt so strongly that there should be no religious test for public office that they prohibited it (see U.S. Constitution, Art. VI). That constitutional bar is meaningless in today's political climate, if politicians, in order to be electable, must not only sing in the choir, but sing from the same hymnbook. When did "faith" become a qualification, much less a prerequisite, for public office?

    Sunday's so-called CNN Faith and Politicis Compassion Forum, bizarrely taking place at the obscure Messiah College in Grantham, Penn., involved such questions from CNN's hosts as:

    "You have actually felt the presence of the Holy Spirit on many occasions. Share some of those occasions with us."

    "Do you have a favorite bible story?"

    "So you believe God wants you to be president?"

    "Do you believe that God intervenes in hisory and rewards or punishes people or nations in real time for their behavior?"

    "Senator, if one of your daughters asked you--and maybe they already have--'Daddy, did God really create the world in six days?' What would you say?"

    "Can you tell us how he [your pastor] helped bring you closer to God?"

    This is a journalistic embarrassment, not bona fide campaign questions. CNN and hosts Campbell Brown and Jon Meacham of Newsweek should be ashamed. The event had no secular representative, but boasted as audience questioners a Catholic, a rabbi, the head of the Southern Baptists, a Muslim. Only one question (from the Muslim) mentioned nonbelievers in passing. Not all the questions were on religious topics (thankfully). But the ugly assumption of the compassion forum was that religion has a monopoly on virtue, and that nonreligious people cannot be part of a debate on compassion. CNN ought to show some compassion . . . to its thinking audience!

    While the GOP candidate, who has freely courted the religious right, felt free to skip this forum, the Democratic contenders have been so brainwashed that they fear above all being labeled irreligious if they boycott such "events." What a dismaying development. It's a no-win situation for the candidates, for (bored) viewers, and above all, for the Constitution.

    Who needs a religious-right lobby when we have the media taking over the religious agenda?

    It is no less true now than it was 5 years ago that the BoE of this great city is being run by an arrogant and venal chancellor. What he does no longer surprises me, because every decision he's made has been unsound and inexplicable. It will take a decade or more to undo the destruction — shades of Naomi Klein and her shock doctrine.

    Weingarten and Co. have disappointed and will no doubt continue to disappoint. Fortunately, there are plenty of other ed activists who will keep deconstructing her statements and strategies, and these people are very good at what they do.

    There's a lot of work to do in America, and it's time to roll up my sleeves.

    1 comment:

    1. My sleeves are rolled up too.

      Let's get to work.