By N.S. Palmer, Ph.D.
Waaaay back in the 1960s — yes, during that tiresome decade of Woodstock and flower power and Vietnam — something remarkable happened in Czechoslovakia.
From the end of World War II in 1945 until 1989, Czechoslovakia was dominated by the Soviet Union, which was the 20th-century’s nom de voyage for the Russian Empire. Its official ideology was communism. Its official governing method was oppression.
In 1968, a reformer named Alexander Dubček became leader of the Czech Communist Party, which was the country’s ruling party. He wanted to keep the egalitarian goals of communism (such as equality and social welfare) but get rid of its oppressive aspects. His government allowed free speech, including open dissent from government policies. He reined in the secret police.
Dubček called his movement “communism with a human face.”
Naturally, the Russians couldn’t allow it. They invaded Czechoslovakia and put an end to that experiment.
How little things have changed. In 2009 under President Obama, the United States is now being treated to “Bush-ism with a human face.”
One must admit that it is a slight improvement. Instead of having to endure the smirking, murderous, simian countenance of Dubya Bush, we now hear very similar policies from the serious, calm, intelligent visage of President Obama. It cuts the nausea factor by quite a bit. It’s been months since I threw my shoes at the TV set.
But it’s still Bush-ism: Bail out the Wall Street sharks who wrecked the economy, but not the unemployed whose jobs and lives the Wall Streeters destroyed. Sell out health care reform to the in$urance companies, the drug companies, and their hired lackeys in Congress. Crank up the war against Afghanistan. Slow down the exit from Iraq. Beat the drums about largely imaginary terrorist threats. Provide legal defense for the Bush regime’s chief torture apologist, John Yoo. Leave in place the instruments of oppression established by the Bush regime, such as the Transportation Security Agency, no-fly lists, warrantless wiretapping, and the Department of Homeland Security: instruments that never stopped a real terrorist threat, but hyped plenty of fake ones and beat down the American people into cowed submission lest they be put on a “watch list.”
An article in today’s New York Times recalls the worst paranoia and propaganda of the Bush years, when hapless loudmouths and street thugs were framed as dangerous terrorists. The Times article, “Domestic Insecurity,” uses the same weasel-words that we saw over and over in propaganda from the Bush-Cheney regime: the supposed terrorists were “accused of being drawn into terrorist scheming,” “accused of helping plan the killing spree in Mumbai,” “accused of going to Pakistan for explosives training,” and they “allegedly participated in a rocket attack against U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”
Anyone can be accused of anything, and since the Bush-Cheney regime’s signature event of 9/11, they have been. Jose Padilla was accused of plotting to explode a “dirty bomb,” and was then tortured in an unsuccessful attempt to get any evidence at all that would implicate him in such a plot. The “Miami Seven,” who couldn’t have assembled a bomb even if they’d bought it “ready to assemble” at Wal-Mart, were led by an FBI agent provocateur to take an “oath of allegiance to Al Qaeda” before being framed for a virtually non-existent plot to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. There are many more such cases.
Are any of our current “accused people” actually guilty of anything? The Bush years taught us to doubt it. The Obama administration hasn’t given us good reasons not to doubt it.
I still believe that President Obama is trying to do the right things. The problem is that he’s not trying very hard. Instead, he’s “going with the flow.” Since 2001 (and even before that, to a lesser degree), the flow has been in the wrong direction.
Update, September 2011: I no longer believe that Obama is trying to do the right thing. As an educated and rational man, his culpability is greater than that of his ignorant and deranged adversaries. At least they can legitimately claim that they don’t know any better.
Copyright 2009 by N.S. Palmer. May be reproduced as long as byline, copyright notice, and URL (http://www.ashesblog.com) are included.