Le Monde Diplomatique – March 2012
Big Brother: Watching over you
By Antoine Champagn
New technology is allowing businesses as well as government to read the contents of our internet exchanges. Internet service providers stand to gain from this access until there is legal control over the export of surveillance equipment
by Antoine Champagne
When The Wall Street Journal reporter Margaret Coker visited the Libyan government’s surveillance centre in Tripoli after the city’s fall, she saw that the authorities had been monitoring everything: the internet, mobile phones, satellite phone and internet connections. Some files included emails and online conversations between Gaddafi’s opponents. Notices on the walls revealed that the company which had installed the equipment was Amesys, a subsidiary of French firm Bull (1). The French satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé later reported that France’s military intelligence directorate had been solicited to help train Libya’s internal spies (2).
In Syria, US equipment helps Bashar al-Assad’s regime censor the internet, and retrieve logins and passwords to access people’s emails or Facebook and Twitter pages. This tool is particularly useful for tracking the communications of opponents with internal or foreign connections.
The technology is innocuously named “deep packet inspection” (DPI). When someone sends an email, a series of servers relays it to its destination. Each server sends the message on to the next, looking only at the recipient’s address, and not at the contents. An expert on internet law, Jonathan Zittrain, explained: “It’s a bit like being at a party with polite friends. If you’re too far from the bar, or there are too many people in the way, you ask the person next to you to get you a beer. They ask the person next to them, who is a bit closer to the bar, and so on. Eventually your order reaches the bar and your beer arrives via the same route back. Since everyone is polite, no one will have drunk your beer along the way.”
But DPI is less polite. How would you feel if the person next to you analysed your order, and started lecturing you about it? Or if they tampered with your drink, adding water or something stronger? This is exactly what DPI technology can do: it allows people to read the content of internet traffic, modify it, and even send it to someone else.
Amesys is not alone in this market. US press agency Bloomberg recently reported that another French company, Qosmos, had provided DPI technology to a consortium equipping Syria to the same standard as Gaddafi’s Libya (3). DPI is also at the heart of China’s firewall, which allows the government to censor internet traffic and spy on its citizens.
’Secret new industry’
The recent Wikileaks publication of numerous internal documents from these companies shows that monitoring communication networks is “a secret new industry spanning 25 countries ... In traditional spy stories, intelligence agencies like MI5 bug the phone of one or two people of interest. In the last 10 years systems of indiscriminate, mass surveillance have become the norm” (4). A little earlier The Wall Street Journal had published more than 200 marketing documents from 36 companies offering the US anti-terrorist agency various surveillance and computer hacking tools (5).
DPI entered the spotlight in May 2006 when Mark Klein, a former technician with US internet provider AT&T, leaked the fact that the company had installed DPI technology at the heart of the county’s internet network, in cooperation with the US National Security Agency (which invented the Echelon system in the 1980s and 1990s). The technology was provided by internet surveillance company Narus (slogan “See Clearly, Act Swiftly”). Narus was set up in 1997, has 150 employees, earned $30m in 2006, and was bought up by Boeing in 2010. The Mubarak regime was reported to have installed Narus equipment in Egypt (6).
The flow of information over the internet includes the web, emails, synchronous exchanges (instant messaging) and asynchronous exchanges (blogs, discussion forums), phone conversations, video, raw data, etc. Most of this communication is not encrypted, so it is easy for both the casual hacker and state security services to monitor it.
Constraints or profits?
But some private companies are also seeing a financial advantage in this technology. Telecoms operators such as Free, SFR and Orange have started to complain that large amounts of information are being conveyed on their networks without the producer paying. Internet service providers (ISPs) are not happy about paying to transmit YouTube videos, which they are obliged to provide to their subscribers. So they came up with the idea of charging a supplement to the information’s producer or its final user, or slowing down some traffic in favour of others. But to do that they have to be able to measure precisely what is passing through their networks.
In the same way, mobile phone operators have tried to limit their infrastructure costs by restricting their customers’ access to the internet. So they prohibit smart phone users from peer-to-peer file sharing, or using vocal or video communication like Skype.
Here too, DPI allows them to monitor and manage the traffic, and allocate higher bandwidths to certain services, such as those they provide. This contradicts the notion of “network neutrality”, whereby service providers are meant to convey all requested information without discrimination.
When DPI is applied to web browsing, it can record every move a person makes online. Marketing professionals are desperate to exploit such information. Orange recently launched Orange Shots, which uses DPI technology to analyse the websites a subscriber uses (with their consent), in order to offer them ultra-targeted products. That could make ISPs as profitable as Facebook and Google, as long as these programmes attracted subscribers; it would be enough to claim that the data was anonymous to make it a perfectly marketable product.
The curious reader could check the Data Privacy page on the website of GFK, an international market research group and Qosmos shareholder: while it casually mentions web “cookies”, it fails to explain that it also tracks visitors to websites using a DPI technology which is supposedly anonymous because GFK alone knows the formula. GFK is present in more than 150 countries.
DPI is also attracting intellectual property rights and copyright holders who are trying to fight “illegal” file sharing on peer-to-peer networks (BitTorrent), or sites for uploading and downloading files directly, like Megaupload. Knowing exactly who is trying to download what film or music file, and blocking that person’s access, can only be done with “deep” surveillance infrastructure shared across all the data exchange points that the ISPs represent.
Another natural market for DPI technology is legal surveillance. In France police sometimes monitor a suspect’s communications as part of a judicial investigation, authorised by a judge and the National Committee for the Control of Security Interceptions. But this is a niche market, concerning a very small proportion of the population. Unless they were counting on another huge rise in the anti-terrorist budget, it would make sense for businesses in this sector to look for other commercial outlets.
That is where the governments of police states, which want to listen to their entire populations, come in. Surveillance software can be tested in these countries under real conditions. That is why Ben Ali’s Tunisia received a discount on systems that still had bugs. Libya provided Amesys with a real life experiment of what Eagle software could or could not do. Alcatel is doing the same in Burma. The information gathered by DPI inevitably leads to arrests. (Torture, using tried and tested methods, can do the rest.)
Puzzled, no doubt, by the high number of European companies in this sector, the European parliament has passed a resolution to ban the sale abroad of systems monitoring phone calls and text messages, or providing targeted internet surveillance, if this information is used to violate democratic principles, human rights or freedom of expression. On 1 December 2011 the EU Council tightened restrictions on Syria and banned “exports of equipment and software intended for use in the monitoring of internet and telephone communications by the Syrian regime”.
Despite this, there is little legal control over the global export of surveillance equipment. Manufacturers find it easy to slip through the net (especially since there is such a diversity of legislation), governments do not publish their permits, and this type of software is not strictly considered a weapon.
OpEdNews - March 5, 2012
AIPAC Works for the 1 Percent
By Chris Hedges
AIPAC is one of an array of powerful and well-funded neoconservative institutions that worship force and drive our relations with the rest of the world. These neoconservatives choose an enemy and then our compliant class of journalists, specialists, military analysts, columnists and television commentators line up to serve as giddy cheerleaders for war.
(Chris Hedges gave this talk Saturday night in Washington, D.C., at the Occupy AIPAC protest, organized by CODEPINK Women for Peace and other peace, faith and solidarity groups.)
The battle for justice in the Middle East is our battle. It is part of the vast, global battle against the 1 percent. It is about living rather than dying. It is about communicating rather than killing. It is about love rather than hate. It is part of the great battle against the corporate forces of death that reign over us -- the fossil fuel industry, the weapons manufacturers, the security and surveillance state, the speculators on Wall Street, the oligarchic elites who assault our poor, our working men and women, our children, one in four of whom depend on food stamps to eat, the elites who are destroying our ecosystem with its trees, its air and its water and throwing into doubt our survival as a species.
What is being done in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison, is a pale reflection of what is slowly happening to the rest of us. It is a window into the rise of the global security state, our new governing system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls "inverted totalitarianism." It is a reflection of a world where the powerful are not bound by law, either on Wall Street or in the shattered remains of the countries we invade and occupy, including Iraq with its hundreds of thousands of dead. And one of the greatest purveyors of this demented ideology of violence for the sake of violence, this flagrant disregard for the rule of domestic and international law, is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC.
I spent seven years in the Middle East. I was the Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times. I lived for two of those seven years in Jerusalem. AIPAC does not speak for Jews or for Israel. It is a mouthpiece for right-wing ideologues, some of whom hold power in Israel and some of whom hold power in Washington, who believe that because they have the capacity to war wage they have a right to wage war, whose loyalty, in the end, is not to the citizens of Israel or Palestine or the United States but the corporate elites, the defense contractors, those who make war a business, those who have turned ordinary Palestinians, Israelis and Americans, along with hundreds of millions of the world's poor, into commodities to exploit, repress and control.
We have not brought freedom, democracy and the virtues of Western civilization to the Muslim world. We have brought state terrorism, massive destruction, war and death. There is no moral distinction between a drone strike and the explosion of the improvised explosive device, between a suicide bombing and a targeted assassination. We have used the iron fist of the American military to implant our oil companies in Iraq, occupy Afghanistan and ensure that the Muslim world remains submissive and compliant. We have supported a government in Israel that has carried out egregious war crimes in Lebanon and Gaza and is daily stealing larger and larger portions of Palestinian land. We have established a network of military bases, some the size of small cities, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait, and we have secured basing rights in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. We have expanded our military operations to Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Egypt, Algeria and Yemen. And no one believes, except perhaps us, that we have any intention of leaving.
And let us not forget that deep inside our secret world of offshore penal colonies, black sites, and torture and interrogation centers, we practice the cruelty and barbarity that always accompanies unchecked imperial power. There were scores of graphic pictures and videos from the prison in Abu Ghraib that were swiftly classified and hidden from public view. And in these videos, as Seymour Hersh reported, mothers who were arrested with their young sons, often children, watched in horror as their boys were repeatedly sodomized. This was filmed. And on the soundtrack you hear the boys shrieking. And the mothers were smuggling notes out to their families saying, "Come and kill us because of what is happening."
We are the biggest problem in the Middle East. It is we who legitimize the Mahmoud Ahmadinejads, suicide bombers and radical jihadists. The longer we drop iron fragmentation bombs and seize Muslim land, the longer we kill with impunity, the more these monsters, reflections of our own distorted image, will proliferate.
"If you gaze into the abyss," Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, "the abyss gazes into you."
I am no friend of the Iranian regime, which helped create and arm Hezbollah, is certainly meddling in Iraq, has persecuted human rights activists, gays, women and religious and ethnic minorities, embraces racism and intolerance, and uses its power to deny popular will. And yes, it is a regime that appears determined to build a nuclear weapon, although I would stress that no one has offered any proof this is occurring. I have spent time in Iranian jails. I was once deported from Tehran in handcuffs. But I do not remember Iran orchestrating a coup in the United States to replace an elected government with a brutal dictator who for decades persecuted, assassinated and imprisoned democracy activists. I do not remember Iran arming and funding a neighboring state to wage war against our country. Iran never shot down one of our passenger jets, as did the USS Vincennes -- nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels -- when in June 1988 it fired missiles at an Airbus filled with Iranian civilians, killing everyone on board. Iran is not sponsoring terrorist strikes within the United States, as our intelligence services and the Israeli intelligence services currently do in Iran. We have not seen five of our top nuclear scientists since 2007 murdered on American soil. The attacks in Iran include suicide bombings, kidnappings, beheadings, sabotage and "targeted assassinations" of government officials and other Iranian leaders. What would we do if the situation were reversed? How would we react if Iran carried out similar acts of terrorism against us?
We are, and have long been, the primary engine for radicalism in the Middle East. The greatest favor we can do for democracy activists in Iran, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Gulf and the states that dot North Africa, is to withdraw our troops from the region and begin to speak to Iranians and the rest of the Muslim world in the civilized language of diplomacy, respect and mutual interests. The longer we cling to the doomed doctrine of permanent war the more we give credibility to the extremists who need, indeed yearn for, an enemy that speaks in the same crude slogans of nationalist cant and violence that they do. The louder the Israelis and their idiot allies in Washington call for the bombing of Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions, the happier are the morally bankrupt clerics who are ordering the beating and murder of demonstrators. We may laugh when crowds supporting [President] Ahmadinejad call us "the Great Satan," but there is a very palpable reality that informs the terrible algebra of their hatred. And since even the most optimistic scenarios say that any strike on Iranian nuclear installations will at best set back Iran's alleged weapons program by [only] three or four years, we can be sure that violence will beget violence, just as fanaticism begets fanaticism.
The hypocrisy of this vaunted moral crusade is not lost on those in the Middle East. Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Pakistan, India and Israel did not and developed nuclear weapons programs in secret. Israel now has an estimated 400 to 600 nuclear weapons. The word "Dimona," the name of the city where the nuclear facilities are located in Israel, is shorthand in the Muslim world for the deadly Israeli threat to Muslims' existence.
What lessons did the Iranians learn from our Israeli, Pakistani and Indian allies?
Given that we are actively engaged in an effort to destabilize the Iranian regime, given that we use apocalyptic rhetoric to describe what must be done to the Iranian regime, and given that Israel could obliterate Iran many times over, what do we expect from the Iranians? On top of this, the Iranian regime grasps that the doctrine of permanent war entails making "pre-emptive" and unprovoked strikes. And they know that if Iraq, like North Korea, had had a bomb they would have never suffered American invasion and occupation.
Those in Washington who advocate attacking Iran, knowing as little about the limitations and chaos of war as they do about the Middle East, believe they can cripple nuclear production and neutralize the 850,000-man Iranian army. They should look closely at the 2006 Israeli air campaign in southern Lebanon, which saw Hezbollah victorious and united most Lebanese behind the militant Islamic group. If the massive Israeli bombing of Lebanon failed to pacify 4 million Lebanese, how can we expect to pacify a country of 70 million people? But reality never seems to impinge on the neoconservative universe or the efficacy of its doctrine of permanent war.
I have watched over the years as these neoconservatives have meddled disastrously in the Middle East. The support by neoconservatives of the Israeli right wing -- and I covered Yitzhak Rabin's 1992 campaign for prime minister when prominent AIPAC donors poured money and resources into Likud to defeat Rabin -- is not about Israel. It is about advancing this perverted ideology. Rabin detested these neoconservatives. When he made his first visit to Washington after being elected prime minister he dismissed requests from the lobby for a meeting by telling aides: "I don't speak to scumbags."
These neoconservatives, who like our own neoconservatives hide behind the rhetoric of patriotism, national security and religious piety, are not wedded to any discernable doctrine other than force. They, like all rabid nationalists, are stunted and deformed individuals, only able to communicate in the language of self-exaltation and violence.
"The nationalist is by definition an ignoramus," the Yugoslav writer Danilo Kiš wrote. "Nationalism is the line of least resistance, the easy way. The nationalist is untroubled, he knows or thinks he knows what his values are, his, that's to say national, that's to say the values of the nation he belongs to, ethical and political; he is not interested in others, they are no concern of his, hell--it's other people (other nations, another tribe). They don't even need investigating. The nationalist sees other people in his own images--as nationalists."
AIPAC does not drive Middle Eastern policy in the United States. I am afraid it is worse than that. AIPAC is one of an array of powerful and well-funded neoconservative institutions that worship force and drive our relations with the rest of the world. These neoconservatives choose an enemy and then our compliant class of journalists, specialists, military analysts, columnists and television commentators line up to serve as giddy cheerleaders for war. Moments like these always make me embarrassed to be a reporter. Our political elite, Republican and Democrat, finds in this ideology a simple, childish allure. This ideology does not require cultural, historical or linguistic literacy. It reduces the world to black and white, good and evil. The drumbeat for war with Iran sounded by AIPAC is part of this broad, sick, binary vision of a world that can be subjugated by force, a world where all will be made to kneel before these corporate and neoconservative elites, where none, including finally us, will be permitted to whisper dissent.
Pre-emptive war, under post-Nuremberg law, is defined as a criminal act of aggression. George W. Bush, whose disregard for the rule of law was legend, went to the U.N. for a resolution to attack Iraq, although his interpretation of the U.N. resolution as justifying the invasion of Iraq had dubious legal merit. But in this current debate over war with Iran, that pretense of legality is ignored. Where is Israel's U.N. resolution authorizing it to strike Iran? Why isn't anyone demanding that Israel seek one? Why does the only discussion in the media and among political elites center around the questions of "Will Israel attack Iran?" "Can it successfully carry out an attack?" "What will happen if there is an attack?" The essential question is left unasked. Does Israel have the right to attack Iran? And here the answer is very, very clear. It does not.
These neoconservatives were too blind and too enamored of their own power to see what invading Afghanistan and Iraq would trigger; so too are they unable to comprehend the regional conflagration that would be unleashed by attacking Iran, what it would mean for us, for Israel, for our allies and for tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocents.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish," the Bible warns.
And since our elites have no vision it is up to us. The uprisings from Tunisia to Egypt to Greece to Occupy Wall Street to our gathering outside AIPAC's doors in Washington are the same primal struggle for sanity, peace and justice, for a world wrenched free from the grip of those who would destroy it. And the abject fawning of our political elite, including Barack Obama, before AIPAC and its bank account is yet another window into the moral bankruptcy of our political class, another sign that the formal mechanisms of power are useless and broken.
Civil disobedience is all we have left. It is our patriotic duty. We are called to make the cries of mothers, fathers and children in the squalid refugee camps in Gaza, in the suburbs of Tehran and in the bleak industrial wastelands in Ohio heard. We are called to stand up before these forces of death, the purveyors of violence, those whose hearts have grown cold with hatred. We are called to embrace and defend life with intensity and passion if we are to survive as a species, if we are to save our planet from the ravages of corporate greed and the specter of endless and futile war.
The Israeli poet Aharon Shabtai, in his poem "Rypin," translated by Peter Cole, examined what power, force and self-worship do to compassion, justice and human decency. Rypin was the Polish town his father escaped from during the pogroms.
These creatures in helmets and khakis,
I say to myself, aren't Jews,
In the truest sense of the word. A Jew
Doesn't dress himself up with weapons like jewelry,
Doesn't believe in the barrel of a gun aimed at a target,
But in the thumb of the child who was shot at --
In the house through which he comes and goes,
Not in the charge that blows it apart.
The coarse soul and iron first
He scorns by nature.
He lifts his eyes not to the officer, or the soldier
With his finger on the trigger -- but to justice,
And he cries out for compassion.
Therefore, he won't steal land from its people
And will not starve them in camps.
The voice calling for expulsion
Is heard from the hoarse throat of the oppressor --
A sure sign that the Jew has entered a foreign country
And, like Umberto Saba, gone into hiding within his own city.
Because of voices like these, father
At age sixteen, with your family, you fled Rypin;
Now here Rypin is your son.
Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is "Death of the Liberal Class" (2010)
OpEdNews - March 6, 2012
The War on Terror:
How it is affecting our politics and society today
By Steven Forrest
Retrospect is an amazing thing. Decisions rendered in the past can many times be looked at with this tool of reason in order to protect against future mistakes. It also gives one the opportunity to recognize the motives for decisions made by others in situations which seemed at the time, confusing or conflicted. Given the religiously charged, national security centered, political frenzy of late in the race to reclaim the Presidency, the War on Terror and the rhetoric accompanying it, now more than ever, makes poignant sense.
Post 9-11, America experienced a wave of legislative acts to combat terrorism. With these acts, political propaganda and media manipulation began to promote a wave of nationalism not seen since World War II. The cries for a Christian rebirth to battle the "evil empire" both domestically and abroad had surfaced and with it, a new form of control over the people's opinions and actions which we still today, are having to battle. In retrospect, these events were the beginning of not only our National march toward an offense-oriented military policy abroad and a police state at home but the surge of Christian Reconstructionism as well, introducing a Constitution-crushing march toward the militaristic and theocratic blindness we are experiencing now.
The Beginning of the End
Energized by the attack on New York's Twin Towers, the fevered cry to protect our national security became more prophetic than the "shot heard round the world" which heralded our American Revolution. In the case of the War on Terror though, the barrage of missiles and anti-Islam air raids against Iraq were the shots that heralded our current march toward a new National agenda; operating in direct conflict with Constitutional freedoms America had once stood proudly to represent. It is reasonable that a certain amount of security enhancements were necessary after these attacks, but when the Christian revivalists and War mongers embraced the moment as an opportunity to promote their agenda and reclaim America as a Christian Nation, a proverbial line in the sand, had been crossed.
Rather than accounting for the actions that predicated 9/11, the radicals inside the Christian Reconstruction movement, fervently backed by political hopefuls and angry, misinformed Americans, began to lead our nation not only to the brink of financial destruction, but defined what we as a nation were to become over the next, ten-plus years. The Pied-piper-like hypnotism employed was not condemned as it should have been by the People, but rather was fueled by corporate ambition and propagated apathy for the long term affectations of these actions. In addition, President Bush embraced the fear he and his cohorts had conjured as a weapon to not only advance an underlying agenda but as a fanatical tool to win a second term in office. If it hadn't been for the reawakening of We the People to the religious fervor which would follow, the future would have been very different.
Riding this wave of spiritual renewal and expounding upon their unique brand of judgment against the Nation of Islam and any who do not believe what they do, the "Christian Right" embraced a new cross with which to march when 9/11 occurred. Taking our political conundrum to the next level, many candidates jumped onto the band wagon of "Patriotism" with condemning anything and everything that did not agree with their movement's agenda. They also brought to bear, the rhetoric of American reclamation, backed by media power and the politics of distraction.
Promises to restore family values, our Founding Father's intentions and impassioned speeches of "Social Conservatism" to lead us from the dregs of the economic mire we were in sinking into, facilitated this rise to power but the reality of the matter pointed to one intrinsic truth: The lessons learned through the history of support by the Christian Right equated to victory in voting lines. This powerful tactic which was utilized by President George W. Bush to win a second term, had not been forgotten. Many of the contenders realized that never has there been and never will there be a more powerful aphrodisiac than the wicked web of "Faith" to convince an unsuspecting flock to follow without question.
2010 saw the affectations of this when the Republican faithful turned out in droves to elect their brand into State and Federal level positions in record numbers. Believing that somehow faith and vitriol against any who opposed them would save us from economic destruction, they gained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and Governance in several, independent States. The candidates, with the support of a strengthened base, managed to engineer this resurgence in a very straight forward manner, utilizing the fears Americans had about another attack from "terrorists" and promises of bettering the state of the American economy which had imperiled so many of us.
As stated by Max Blumenthal, "Had Bush not cultivated the Christian right as his power base or courted its leadership as his informal advisors, re-election would have been impossible." Bush clung to and exacerbated this movement in order to rally the vote the best way he could. Any who stood in opposition to this movement though, were immediately castigated as non-Christians or un-Patriotic and therefore, un-American. The vitriol created surrounding the so called, evil of Islam and the unceasing opinion making from mainstream media serving the whims of those who supported this movement convinced many of "We the People" to back the movement, inevitably driving our nation toward a series of war efforts and ushering in, our present day, all too real, financial anemia.
Case in point: When Barrack Obama rose to the forefront of the political race in 2007, he was immediately castigated as a non-Christian premised on the fact that he was born into a Muslim family. Even when news broke of his conversion to Christianity at 18 years old, his ex-pastor Jeremiah Wright; the reverend to which Obama had listened for twenty years, was labeled as radical for having asserted that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own form of "terrorism". He was condemned and Obama with him, for speaking the intrinsic truths preceding 9/11 and for pointing out America's own brand of global terrorism. But truth has never mattered much to those who have profit to make and people to control. Truth is the antibody of ignorance; a disease which was spread unconscionably by these zealots of control hiding in the shadows of Biblical Law and contrived Patriotic rhetoric.
As time marched on and Barack Obama won the title of President of the United States of America (despite the vehement objections from the Right Wing and Christian Reconstructionists), the next battles were already being planned. In the continued fight against any non-Christian Right affiliated, Obama was labeled as a Muslim, a non-citizen, a Marxist and on and on. The right had made it a mandate across its political spectra, to attack President Obama instead of working with him to help our nation out of the present crisis. Anything he did was across the board blocked by the supporters of the movement.
When traveling overseas to try to ease the tensions of a growing war and to ebb the rising affectations of the ecclesiastical hatred against Islam, he was accused of "bowing" to foreign leaders and apologizing for American actions. In retrospect, most agreed that what he was apologizing for were actions our nation had taken which threatened our own financial health and represented a national policy against global solidarity. Despite his efforts, the War on Terror continued to feed national isolation and "exceptionalism" while dividing this Nation's people without prejudice.
The Monster behind the Curtain
Anti-Islam vitriol is still being thrown around by candidates to energize their base and further the agenda of the Christian Right. Instead of the real issues facing this nation which are supposed to be centered upon by these aspiring "Representatives", we are again hearing that Obama is supporting America and in fact, " a threat to our security " because of his proposed cuts to "Defense". There are claims of his " phony theology " from opposing candidates and ambitious political pundits who have concentrated their efforts to accuse him of being a big government, socialist spender.
The fallacy of this argument lies in the anti-Christian tenet surrounding it. The Christian Right faithful in Washington demand a balanced Budget but will not give any less on War. What they have proposed instead of reducing the very financial black hole which has caused so much financial strife in America, is reductions in education, workers rights, women's heath and social assistance to the unemployed and poverty stricken. These measures are justified by these self-proclaimed Christians to promote their fiscal conservatism but in reality, they stand in direct conflict with the faith for which they march.
What is more dangerous than Biblical governing proposed by some candidates, is the blind race to oust President Obama and how those against him have become so willing to compromise their own Liberty. With the fervent desire to win, many who would not normally follow these would be Theocrats have shut their eyes to the outcome of a rise to power. Even the Tea Party, who has so vehemently spoken of Constitutional Rights, are willing to ignore the trampling of it to gain power. The idea of questioning faith of any candidate and forcing them to somehow pass a test of their level of Christianity, directly assaults the very thing they have said to support: The United States Constitution. Article VI, paragraph 3 - No Religious Test Clause states the following:
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
Unfortunately, the War on Terror and the fervent quest toward a Christian reclamation of this Nation have given license to attacks against our Constitution. The truth of the matter is; most people who are listening to these proclamations and accepting them as necessary procedure, aren't really looking for a religious reclamation; they just want Obama out of office, no matter the cost. They are consciously allowing the altering of our Nation to do only that. What a Santorum would do to this nation's freedom is so horrifically worse than what Obama or Bush have ever done. Retrospect will not help us when Theocracy or worse, Theonomy; is allowed to control our Nation.
The Means Justify the End?
The continued push to demonize ANY person deemed to be among the "unfaithful" who were and currently are, the targets of this movement, is why we stand here today facing the worst challenge to our Nation's future since McCartyism or for that matter, Hitler's Germany. It is not the Muslims who will destroy this Nation; it is those who would follow so blindly the teachings of Theocrat propelling the rule of a God-State. All this was made possible and continues to be energized by the religious battle against Islam courtesy of the War on Terror. Through this means, the ignorant acceptance of Theonomy in our government has taken root. Only by understanding it will We the People prevent it from dominating our political landscape and by proxy, our social one to our united detriment.
In speaking of the Christian Right, one must be sure to understand who they are. It is not simply those people who are Christian in Government or Republican voters who attend Church but rather, a movement with the desire to turn this country toward a single Political Party of rule The Christian Right is;
"chiefly an American movement spelled out by Armenian-American R. J. Rushdoony (1916-2001) in the 1960's and 1970's and calls for a nation's laws and society to be based on the Ten Commandments as applied through the interpretations of a religious elite to everyday situations; necessarily, it rejects democracy and any form of secular political philosophy as an ideal foundation for government. Christian Reconstructionism's ideal society would include the elimination of public schools, the denial of full citizenship to non-Christians, and the death penalty for adultery, performing or having an abortion, blasphemy, homosexuality, heresy, and even persistent rebelliousness against ones parents, with the definitions of these terms and offenses being crafted by the religious elite."
In terms of Theonomy, a splinter movement of the Christian Right, Jay Rogers from The Forerunner, gives a list "intended for the defense against the misunderstandings and apprehensions regarding some of the goals of Christian Reconstruction." Reading this list will give one a better understanding of what the movement is about as opposed to listening to the opinions of those who oppose it. Reading this piece is essential to fully grasp the concept of Reconstruction and the drive toward it. This is no conspiracy theory or an attempt to derail or chasten any one particular political party; this movement is real and quite dangerous. If not checked, it will transform our nation into the antithesis of the freedom and justice.
Christian Reconstructionism is not a new movement but when the War on Terror began, it has gained incredible momentum. We are seeing it daily in the Presidential race and other political elections across the nation. From Bachmann to Santorum, the speeches surrounding America as a Christian nation have littered the airwaves. Even Mitt Romney has been attacked as "not Christian enough" because of his Mormon faith and President Obama has been labeled as "a son of Islam". This rhetoric is accepted readily due largely to the War and right wing media's incessant desire to propel the idea that "all Muslims are terrorists".
We see the affects of the War on Terror on our social structures as well. When Occupy Wall Street began to gain momentum, restrictions from the Patriot Act and National Security Act began to rear their ugly heads. "Free Speech Zones" were enforced and police officers, who once were charged to serve and protect We the People, were given free license to "harass and collect" a role which many embraced with fervor. Airports became homes for molestation and our roads, open to unwarranted search and seizures. This was the new America to come and far many people came to accept it.
In an analysis of the War on Terror and its affectations of social interaction with government rule as well as the self-destructive affectations within that society, Human Rights Defense has outlined the following as to what the War has done to our Liberties:
"The freedoms of a democracy can be and are abused, but this, it seems, has frightened democratic governments to such an extent that they have decided to limit these freedoms up to the point that they are in danger of abandoning their values, and hence doing the work of the terrorists for them. It can be acceptable to limit certain rights for the protection of other rights (see also this post), but the right to security has taken on an absolute priority, at the expense of all other rights. There is no reasonable balance anymore. Some have called the war on terror a "war on freedom" (source).
1. Civil liberties
Governments try to defend their countries against terrorist attacks by limiting civil liberties in their territories.
The right to privacy has been limited: CCTV has become ubiquitous, DNA databases have been created, eavesdropping and wiretapping have been legalized etc.
"No-fly-lists" have come into force, limiting the freedom of movement of even those who have written critically of the government or attended peace-protests.
Hate speech laws have been voted to silence jihadist hate preachers, silencing others at the same time.
"Racial profiling" by the police has turned innocent people into possible suspects, often inversing the burden of proof.
Habeas corpus has been limited, periods of detention without charge extended, sometimes indefinitely (for "enemy combatants").
However, in spite of all this, the constraints on a government's actions within its territory are sometimes still considered to be inhibiting.
"Extraordinary rendition" has been covertly practiced, allowing suspects to be tortured outside of the territory by professional torturers in other countries.
Extra-territorial prisons have been created, in Guantanamo, but probably elsewhere as well, where suspects can be tortured or held indefinitely and where the Geneva Conventions supposedly don't apply.
The war on terror has also changed people's minds and attitudes.
The media have started to censor themselves. Solidarity with the government at war and the commander-in-chief, or the fear of being perceived as unpatriotic, appeasers, "useful idiots" or even open allies of the enemy has turned them into uncritical supporters of the war.
Citizens have turned on Islam and Muslims. Xenophobia and more specifically Islamophobia have undermined the ideals of tolerance and multiculturalism, and have in certain cases even led to hate crimes against Muslims.
A "culture of fear" has been created by the terrorist but also nurtured by irresponsible western politicians. This fear has damaged democracy. Not only have the media relinquished their traditional role as watchdogs. Politicians as well, and especially incumbents, have abused the fear of terrorism to harness support. Alert levels seem to go up just before elections.
3. Preemptive war
The US government has elaborated and implemented the strategy of preemptive war, a war waged in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived inevitable offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (allegedly unavoidable) war.
We have seen all of these things come to fruition within our American society and abroad, through our militaristic policies. Recently, as if to test the resolve of us "patriots" in the path of these "national security" initiatives, the U.S. Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, or the "NDAA". This Bill allowed indefinite detention of those people "suspected" of terrorism or associations with those who would propagate it. Even the man who promised to veto this Law, President Obama, as if to cow down to the special interests controlling our government, signed it with only the words of "", as if that makes it all better.
Censoring the Internet, outlawing "assembly", creating laws to arrest dissidents and continuing to denounce any who would stand up in protest of this system on anti-American governance continues, unchecked. What We the People must do is strengthen our War on America's Terror: That force which caused 9/11 and continues to propel an Offensive Military Regime globally. Everyday, Americans are inundated with the false rhetoric of "patriotism", "national security interests" and Christian Morals and in their wake, the Laws pile up and our Congress continues to abandon their responsibilities in a greed driven, flurry of service to their campaign contributors. They spin tales woven with half-truths and lead us down roads paved with false intentions only to convince us all that somehow the America way of life is still alive.
Those of us who are aware and know differently, the truth is something unspoken by these quasi-representatives. We recognize that America is an endangered species and truth telling, a lost art. Martin Luther King, Jr. had once proclaimed, "The Truth shall set you free!" Apparently, that is not what the religious factions and war supporting masses propelling the discussions within modern, political circles are quoting, though. To We the People who are paying attention, the non-truths being uttered by this new wave of zealots will only serve to further our ideological imprisonment and ultimately, precipitate the loss of our National person-hood. In retrospect, especially considering the lack of self-evident truths proclaimed in the sermons from the proponents of this military minded, religious renewal, I can ironically, only manage to utter, "May God Help us all!"
Steven Forrest is a Project Architect living in St. Petersburg, Florida. Currently, he is working to implement Green Building initiatives in several communities across Florida. Author’s website: http://www.spaulforrest.com/
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) - January 2012
Islamophobia Still Rising—With the Right’s Help
The mainstreaming of anti-Muslim conspiracy theories
By Steve Rendall
When the Center for American Progress (CAP) released the report Fear, Inc. in September (8/26/11), alleging that U.S. anti-Muslim propaganda is largely driven by a well-funded network of groups and individuals, confirmation of its claims came quickly. Just four days after publication, the Fox Business Network aired a wildly inaccurate two-part feature on Follow the Money (8/30/11) smearing the report, its authors and Muslim Americans. Rupert Murdoch–owned media outlets like FBN are among the country’s leading Islamophobic media organizations, according to Fear, Inc.
The first segment featured self-styled terrorism expert Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism—named by CAP as one of the anti-Muslim network’s five key formulators of propaganda, or “misinformation experts”—telling FBN host Eric Bolling that “most of the Islamic organizations in the United States...are run by the Muslim Brotherhood or created in the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that believes in imposing Islam and Sharia around the world.” The suggestion that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose connections to U.S. Muslim groups range from historical to tenuous to nonexistent, is secretly connecting and controlling “most of the Islamic organizations in the United States” is a classic conspiratorial trope.
Emerson also told Bolling that Fear, Inc., “reminds me of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” referring to the historic hoax alleging Jews were plotting world domination—missing the irony that the report debunks conspiracy theories about Muslims that bear a remarkable resemblance to classic anti-Semitism.
But the suggestion that Fear, Inc. was itself anti-Semitic was key to Fox’s attack. In the next segment, Bolling gave what he presented as a quotation from the report:
I need to point this out—I’m reading directly from this report: “The Obama-allied Center for American Progress has released a report that blames Islamophobia in America on a small group of Jews and Israel supporters in America, whose views are being backed by millions of dollars.”
As should have been obvious, the quote was not from Fear, Inc., but rather from an article smearing CAP, from the far-right American Thinker website (8/27/11). That didn’t stop the rest of the segment—Bolling’s questions and his guests’ answers—from focusing on CAP’s supposed anti-Semitic conspiracy-theorizing. “For the Center of American Progress to say there is a grand conspiracy undermines their credibility and is laughable,” said lobbyist David Rehr, who likened CAP to a “left John Birch Society” (not to be confused with the regular John Birch Society--the ultra-right, conspiracy-mongering group prominently featured on Glenn Beck’s now defunct Fox News show).
Though Bolling later corrected his misattribution (9/2/11), it was a good night for Muslim-bashing: There were no corrections issued for the the oft-repeated charges that Muslim American institutions are extremist or that Islamic law threatens the U.S.
Islamophobia is on the rise in the United States. Yearly polls taken by ABC News show a 10-point increase in unfavorable views of Muslims since 2001, and a doubling of those who say Islam “encourages violence” since 2002. As the horrors of the September 11 attacks recede into history, anti-Muslim sentiment continues to increase.
Meanwhile, American Muslims and their institutions are under assault from many official quarters. The FBI has been accused by the American Civil Liberties Union of “industrial scale” ethnic and religious profiling (Christian Science Monitor, 10/21/11). The New York City police department has reportedly partnered with the CIA in a massive spying campaign, ethnically profiling mosques and Muslims in cities far from New York (AP, 8/25/11), and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has held three congressional hearings on terrorism focusing solely on American Muslims, despite the fact that a tiny percent of “homegrown” terrorist acts involve Muslim suspects—three of 83 between 9/11 and the end of 2009, according to a recent RAND report (Extra!, 5/11).
Anti-Muslim bigotry has been around in the U.S. for decades, but why the rise now? In addition to Fear, Inc., several recent reports suggest at least part of the answer resides in the emergence of a more highly organized national Islamophobic propaganda network (Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report, Summer/11; Political Research Associates, Manufacturing the Muslim Menace, 2011; People for the American Way, The Right-Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism, 2011; UC Berkeley’s Center for Race & Gender/Council on American-Islamic Relations, Same Hate, New Target, 2011). FAIR’s 2008 report, Smearcasting: How Islamophobes Spread Fear, Bigotry and Misinformation (10/8/08), documented the prevalence of Islamophobia in right-wing and centrist U.S. corporate media.
“A small group of conservative foundations and wealthy donors are the lifeblood of the Islamophobia network in America,” reports Fear, Inc., which identifies five key organizations and chief spokespersons, or “misinformation experts”: Along with Emerson, they are Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, David Yerushalmi of the Society of Americans for National Existence, Daniel Pipes of Middle East Forum and Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch.
These groups and their representatives are the “central nervous system” of the network, supported and amplified by friendly media assets, grassroots and Web-based groups, as well as political figures at local and national levels. Together they fuel Islamophobia in the U.S. through campaigns that attempt to demonize Islamic-American institutions as extremist and portray Muslims as secretly plotting to impose Islamic law on the U.S.
Popular expression of this bigotry underpins campaigns against mosque construction (Extra!, 10/10) as well as against the imagined threat of Islamic law, known as Shariah. Anti-Shariah laws have passed in four states and are under consideration in more than 20 others (New York Times, 7/30/11; Forward, 7/22/11). The main force behind these campaigns is Yerushalmi, an attorney who has said Muslims “are our enemies” Anchorage class="media_outlet">Daily News4/1/11), calls for “war against Islam and all Muslim faithful” (American Muslim, 10/28/09) and, according to Mother Jones (3/1/11), has “tried to criminalize adherence to the Muslim faith.” (Not limiting his bigotry to Islamophobia, Yerushalmi has referred to blacks as “the most murderous of peoples,” called unauthorized immigrants “undeserving of rights” and applauded the decision of America’s founders to deny women and blacks the right to vote—McAdam Report, 5/12/06.)
According to a New York Times profile (7/30/11), Yerushalmi writes reports, files lawsuits and drafts model legislation, “all with the effect of casting Shariah as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the cold war.”
While the First Amendment prevents U.S. law from being based on any religious tradition, Shariah does occasionally emerge in U.S. domestic law proceedings, typically when a will specifies that an estate is to be divided in accordance with Muslim tradition (just as a will may stipulate dispositions in accordance with other religious traditions). Putting today’s anti-Shariah campaign in historical context, Eliyahu Stern, a professor of religious studies and history at Yale wrote in a New York Times op-ed (9/2/11), “The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious.”
The anti-Muslim network’s echo chamber was demonstrated in June, by the publication of “Shariah and Violence in American Mosques” in the Middle East Quarterly (Summer/11), the journal of Islamophobe Daniel Pipes. The study, coauthored by Yerushalmi, portrayed American mosques as teachers of violence and Islamic supremacy. As Spencer reported on the study for his site Jihad Watch (6/7/11), 51 percent of mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shariah-based political order or advocated violent jihad as a duty that should be of paramount importance to a Muslim; 30 percent had only texts that were moderately supportive of violence like the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and Fiqh as-Sunna; 19 percent had no violent texts at all.
The study also stated that in 85 percent of American mosques, the imam recommended studying “violence-positive texts,” a vague charge that prompted SPLC’s Robert Steinback to ask (Intelligence Report, 6/13/11), “If a priest or rabbi had a Bible on hand and ‘recommended’ the reading of the Book of Leviticus, would that establish that he favors killing adulterers, idolaters and incorrigible children?”
Spencer’s piece ran in Human Events (6/14/11), and Jihad Watch’s sister publication FrontPageMag.com (6/10/11) ran an interview with Yerushalmi on the study. Fox & Friends (6/13/11) hosted discussion of it with the Center for Security Policy’s Gaffney, who thanked the hosts for taking on this “mortal threat.” In a Washington Times column (6/7/11), Gaffney said the study “describes an ominous jihadist footprint being put into place across the nation,” adding, “most mosques in the United States are actually engaged in—or at least supportive of—a totalitarian, seditious agenda they call Shariah.”
The study was reported in many other Islamophobic outlets, including National Review Online (6/7/11), Atlas Shrugs(6/7/11) and Gates of Vienna (6/3/11).
The claim that more than 80 percent of mosques teach violence and Islamic supremacy, and another dramatic but unsupported figure from years earlier alleging that 80 percent of American mosques are run by radical imams, are regularly parroted by national media figures and politicians.
Appearing on Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated radio show (1/13/11) in advance of his hearings on domestic terrorism, Rep. King repeated a number of Islamophobic smears, calling Muslims “an enemy living among us.” According to the Center for American Progress blog Think Progress (1/25/11), when King was asked by substitute host Raymond Arroyo how many mosques he thought were “infected” by “radical jihad sentiment,” King said that “over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams.”
Actually, a 2004 study of Detroit-area mosques by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding found that “the vast majority of American-Muslims eschew extremist views.” A joint study of Muslims and mosques carried out by scholars at the University of North Carolina and Duke, The Anti-Terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans (1/6/10), found that American mosques encourage political participation and reduce social alienation and thus “contemporary mosques are actually a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam and terrorism,” as a New York Times (8/7/10) summary of the study put it.
“Rarely has the United States seen a more reckless and bare-knuckled campaign,” wrote the SPLC’s Steinback wrote (Intelligence Report, Summer, 2011), “to vilify a distinct class of people and compromise their fundamental civil and human rights than the recent rhetoric against Muslims.” As noted, the New York Times, among other outlets, has done occasional reports debunking anti-Muslim smears. But such a large-scale campaign of hatred and scapegoating requires a forceful and sustained effort by journalists to challenge and refute the bigotry.
Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City).
Washington Post - March 13, 2012
Giving Dennis Kucinich his due
By Katrina vanden Heuvel
Dennis Kucinich was never afraid to take the positions that should have been at the core of the Democratic party. He opposed the Patriot Act when few brave Democrats would join him. He was opposed to the Iraq war from the outset, whipping his colleagues against it, with the result that three-fifths of House Democrats voted against that immoral, illegal invasion. Once it began, he called on Congress to defund it, when few in his party were willing to go along. Despite almost no political support, he introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Cheney, accusing him (rightly, I believe) of lying to the American people to get us into the war in Iraq.
He railed against the expansion and abuse of executive authority, during both Bush’s and Obama’s terms. He called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in America, modeled after those in South Africa, to shed light on the politicization of 9/11. He called forcefully for an end to hostilities in Gaza, deploring the killing of innocent civilians by Israeli soldiers. He warned, as he still warns, of fear-mongering that would lead to another war of choice, this one with Iran.
Kucinich is the co-author, with Rep. John Conyers, of the single-payer health care for all bill. He served as the third chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, an organization now headed by Rep. Raul Grijalva and Rep. Keith Ellison, which serves as progressives’ first point of leverage inside the D.C. Beltway. And he stood unwaveringly for economic justice, on the side of labor unions, on the side of fair trade, on the side of all who believed that a battle against economic inequality was the war worth waging.
Even before redistricting, taking such positions put him at great political risk. As progressive political strategist Steve Cobble noted in The Nation in 2008, “No one else who shares most of Kucinich’s positions — even those who are much less outspoken than he is — also has a district like his. He’s not from Berkeley or Madison. He doesn’t have a huge, liberal base constituency. Dennis Kucinich is consistently braver than his district would suggest he should be.”
Kucinich was a frequent contributor to The Nation, and his political courage was often written about in its pages by people like Studs Terkel, Gore Vidal and our political correspondent John Nichols. I wrote about him many times myself, once in particular to defend him against a classic example of inside-the-beltway policing of the debate, when he was ridiculed by The Post’s Dana Milbank for supporting Cheney’s impeachment.
I have not always agreed with Kucinich’s views or his tactics. But I have great respect for the courage he has displayed, and how hard he tried to move the conversation in Washington back toward the left. We lose something big and meaningful when outspoken progressives like Kucinich or Russ Feingold or Barney Frank no longer hold public office. We lose the counterbalance that we need against the powerful forces that have gathered on behalf of the 1 percent.
The truth is, members of Congress like Kucinich cannot just be replaced by those who quietly vote the same way. It’s not just the numbers, but the principled, outspoken debate that stakes out the progressive positions, and thus helps define the true national center. Dennis Kucinich believes in the power of progressive ideas and ideals, and did his best to force the media to pay attention to them. That’s what made him important to us. That’s what made him matter more than the average congressman. Indeed, more than most.
OpEdNews - March 14, 2012
Right Wing religious fundamentalists raise
the specter of an American theocracy
By Michael Payne
Religion certainly has its place in America but not in this American government. Yet what we are seeing on a daily basis is a concentrated effort by the Republican presidential candidates and various party leaders to inject religious fundamentalism into this country's political process. This movement represents a clear and present danger to this nation's democracy and it must be stopped in its tracks.
Theocracy is "a form of government whose officials believe that they guided by a divine authority." America is a democracy, a government of the people and rule of the majority. It would be great if America had a government in which policies and actions were guided by ethics, integrity and principles of morality. While we're currently not that fortunate, the last thing we need is one in which right wing religious fundamentalists, guided by their own chosen brand of divine guidance, are in control.
I can't help but hear the twisted messages emanating from the various Republican presidential candidates. You would think that these politicians would use their debates to present specific solutions to this nation's most critical problems. But they have no solutions, they are quite ignorant of American history, and they continuously distort the facts. Their primary objective seems to be to inject their own religious views into the American political process.
Yes, I've heard the arguments from those who say that a theocracy could never become a reality in this country, that the people would never allow it. Well, think about this; corporations now wield enormous power, influence and control over Congress and our entire political system. Who saw this coming, who organized people to stop it? And now how are we going to repair the damage it is doing?
After America entered the 21st century, this country has fallen under the domination and power of the military-industrial complex that has created a massive, terribly expensive war machine. It was done right before our eyes and no one did anything to stop it. So I completely dismiss the argument that the development of a theocratic-based government in America is an impossibility.
So where is the evidence that would support the premise that such a theocratic movement actually exists? Here are a few of the many examples:
Rick Santorum, criticizing President Obama's agenda as he spoke to Tea Party conservatives in Columbus, Ohio recently, was reported to have said that "it's not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology."
The statements that Santorum has made are incredulous. In a 2008 interview with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life he was asked if Obama was "a secular, liberal, Christian." He said, "I don't think there is such a thing," To take what is plainly written and say that 'I don't agree with that, therefore I don't have to pay attention to it,' means you're not what you say you are. You're a liberal something, but you're not a Christian."
Why is it that this ultra-conservative breed of people has chosen to attach itself to the Christian faith when what they stand for is almost diametrically opposed to what the New Testament is all about? Ask them if they believe in and follow the message found in the Sermon on the Mount that is largely concerned with helping others in need? Their actions and behavior clearly indicate a distinctly opposite belief.
Mitt Romney said that President Barack Obama's administration has "fought against religion and sought to substitute a secular agenda for one grounded in faith." Romney also said, "Unfortunately, possibly because of the people the president hangs around with, and their agenda, their secular agenda -- they have fought against religion." That's yet another example of how these fundamentalists choose to interpret the meaning of someone else's beliefs.
Here's another quote from someone of that same mindset. On the "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC, Franklin Graham, son of the respected evangelist Billy Graham, was asked by the panelists why he was willing to say that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was a Christian but expressed doubt that President Obama is. Graham said: "All I know is that under Obama " the Muslims of the world, he seems to be more concerned about them than the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim world."
In America today we are seeing a close association between those who would like to impose their own particular religious beliefs on others and those who want to control and restrict women's individual rights. In most cases these two very rigid ideologies blend together perfectly in the same settings. The views of these ideologues relative to religion and women's rights both seem to be a throwback to times long past. While their message doesn't resonate with the majority of Americans they continue to trumpet it endlessly.
The unstated but obvious platform and agenda of the sociopathic Republican Party, in addition to its warped political positions, includes: eliminating a woman's right to an abortion even if it threatens her life or if she is the victim of rape or incest; they ignore the fact that such a decision should be made between her doctor and herself, not based on any political mandate. This party reserves the right to ban all forms of contraception; it decides who is and who is not a Christian. I had no idea that these individuals have been appointed as the spokespersons of God. Quite obviously they're not, but in their own minds they are; that's what makes their agenda so very dangerous to our democracy.
This endless verbal attack on their rights should be a loud wake up call for the women of America as we approach the 2012 elections. In the 2008 national elections 56% of women voted for Barack Obama but, unfortunately, in the 2010 election their vote contributed greatly to the GOP takeover of the House and the huge gains it made in the Senate. But this time around I think that Republicans have made a terrible mistake in demeaning women and they will pay a huge price for their misogynistic agenda.
Under a theocratic-guided government t his is what life in America might be like:
*No abortions under any circumstances, including rape and incest
*A total ban on any form of contraceptives
*Women's rights would basically become a thing of the past
*Public schools would be transformed into private and church affiliated systems
*Teaching of evolution would be eliminated
*Gays would be ostracized, same sex marriages banned
*Democracy and Constitutional rights would become secondary to theological dictates
Those who are advocates of such a theocracy are no longer waiting in the shadows for their opportunity to take control; they are overtly trumpeting their message across America as their main platform for governing this country. This rapidly growing power of the radical fundamentalist movement cannot be ignored. The GOP could easily retain control of the House and also become the majority in the Senate in 2012; and who says that Barack Obama is assured of winning reelection?
Can we imagine what this country and this society would be like if these right wing religious zealots took total control of this government and established their own version of theocracy? It would be America's worst nightmare, a living hell on earth in which people would find the oppression and suppression of their views and actions to be intolerable. That must never be allowed to happen for it would tear this nation apart.
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His articles concentrate on social, economic and political matters as well as American foreign policy. He is a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois. His primary objective is to convince Americans that this nation's agenda of perpetual war, which is leading to financial ruin, must be ended. Secondly that we must find the ways to expel Corporate America from our political system before it destroys our democracy.