Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Shame, Tears, and Sailboats

Or, How I Feel About Losing the Bill of Rights

What makes me ashamed these days?
Did you hear that click, like the turning of a dial, auguring a new America?

It happened on Sept. 29 at 2:47 p.m. That was the seismic minute that Congress passed the Military Commissions Act and formally granted President Bush royal powers he had been unilaterally arrogating. The historic action may one day be remembered as the moment the great American experiment in liberty ended. It was a good run.

You see, it is one thing for a renegade executive to crown himself like Charlemagne and declare that his (cough) wisdom is exceptional enough to designate Americans and foreigners as enemies to be detained indefinitely. It is quite another for 315 members of Congress to go along. When the people's representatives collude to collapse the separation of powers into one omnipotent executive, our nation becomes defined by that act. We are a nation of laws, even when it's a really bad one.

That was ROBYN E. BLUMNER, Times Perspective Columnist, writing about the War Criminals Protection Act: We Americans Really Ought to Be Ashamed. A tad more:
The law is a true abomination. It is our fault. We let this happen. We allowed them to draw the false dichotomy between security and freedom. We accepted Bush's Torture Nation and his untouchable island prison.

Judge Learned Hand said "Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; if it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it." Americans no longer understand what liberty means. They think it has something to do with tax-free shopping and their right never to be offended by others' opinions.

Bush has made me mad, I can't begin to count the number of times, and he's caused me "grave concern", and he's made me "sick to my stomach", but on September 2th, I covered my eyes with my open palms and like a little girl, I cried.

Last night, Keith Olbermann, Journalist for America, articulated in clear, direct terms what had brought me to such a place:

Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald, from Unclaimed territory, exposed the ugly underbelly of what happens we legalize, institutionalize, and embrace torture. If you want to know what barbaric torture and the unraveling of civilization looks like, follow the link. Having reviewed the painful story of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who was held without charge, and tortured, for three and a half long years, Greenwald reasons:
The case of Jose Padilla is one of the most despicable and outright un-American travesties the U.S. Government has perpetrated for a long time. It is impossible to defend that behavior, let alone engage in it, and claim with any legitimacy that one believes in the principles that have defined and guided this country since its founding.
Where is my sailboat back to Democracy, and why are so few of my leaders building boats? And if I decide to try to swim back, will I find myself washed up on the shores of an island detention camp designed for people who oppose the New American Fascism? Can we take this broken State and together build a raft?

No comments: