As rightwing distemper feeds the frenzied run-up to the midterms, refudiating today's mounting degrees of American injustice isn't likely. Not that all injustice accrues to GOP reactionaries, only most, and certainly the most extreme wedge issues: Islamophobia, racism, nativism, especially towards Latin guest workers, threats to amend Constitutional mandates, militarized religious crusades, and the successful defamation of our Christian, American, pro-corporate president as "foreign other."
What we need, beyond the pathetic "Homeland Security Advisory System" (colorized terrorist threat levels)is a national Justice-Injustice Meter, pointing us towards a more just society or the opposite. What kind of instrument would otherwise unify the cacophony of chaos that plagues radio and TV? "All Americans" are literally instructed by our Homeland Security website to 1) "stay informed about what to do during an emergency" and "continue to be vigilant, take notice of their surroundings, and report suspicious items or activities to local authorities immediately."
Isn't that what we of the contested "professional left" perform with ardor stay informed and vigilant, declare (Constitutional) emergencies, notice surroundings and reporting suspicious (subversive, anti-American) activities to local authorities? Are we to blame when White House "authorities" consider us "insane," or crazed, drug addicts?
Politicized Injustices Rule
One can ferret out conditions that still favor an arguably just, at least orderly society: our electricity works almost all the time, dying from disease or starvation is uncommon, Medicare and Social Security function, we pay taxes and elections confirm officials. Despite two years into a scary Great Recession, there aren't reports of major or violent disturbances. Certainly, there's more bluff than battle on secession or bullying insurgencies against minorities or authorities. Okay, we need more variety of political street protests, but that's another topic. There's some justice in having no more serious crime than during good times.
Notably, gay rights are inexorably slogging ahead, making significant legal gains, fighting off prejudiced opponents, and benefiting from demographic shifts (as oldsters depart).That "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" still penalizes loyal soldiers yes, that undermines progress, but orientation dismissals are doomed, we hope,before 2012.
On the injustice side: our Constitution, hardly restored from eight years of Bush-Cheney's depth charges, absorbs body blows, and with insufficient defense from Democrats. GOP propaganda undercuts the Bill of Rights, seeking to redefine citizenship while misrepresenting intact protections on speech and religion. Both racist profiling and presumption of guilt driving Arizona's immigration law affront long-held traditions of fairness and due process rightly challenged by the Obama administration. Likewise, polarized attacks targeting the misnamed "Ground Zero mosque" reverse our basic commitment to worship, plus impugn law-abiding Americans who honor all local zoning rules while separating themselves clearly from 9/11 betrayers of Islam.
Cynical rightwingers who invoke "hallowed ground" condemn their own intolerance, for they contaminate a sacred national trust by demagoging our first, most hallowed right to worship divinity without censure. That unjust ambushes dominate the media shames our history and broadcasts to the world our latest hypocrisy. Equating law-abiding Muslim citizens with terrorist murderers besmirches our nation's moral standing, a low point even for ruthless Gingrich-Palin-FOX reactionaries.
Faux First Amendment Claims
Likewise, it's outrageous (and egregious law) for Dr. Laura to cast herself as a First Amendment victim: she was unloaded by sponsors, not slapped by government. Ditto Palin's idiotic defense, telling her don't "retreat, reload." What, reload hate speech against mortified public opinion? You'd think by now the unhinged hussy from Wasilla would learn this Amendment protects speech from government control, not open public rejection of bigotry too easy with racial slurs.
Further injustices: most Americans challenge the unwise, disruptive Supreme Court decision that opened corporate floodgates to commandeer our elections (the Citizens United decision). If the richest entities can openly procure unlimited influence, government will become less open and far more limited. Especially onerous is News Corporation's million-dollar campaign donation to Republicans, which undermines the press' special role as educator and investigator of private and public concerns. Muckraking reporters are awarded special legalisms to protect sources so everyone has independent checks on organizational power, secrecy, and/or duplicity. Freedom of the press withers when media owners own politicians or, if the Sharon Angles of the world reign, foster a press only for fundraising and softball questions.
Equally permanent blots on the American injustice meter are two, seemingly endless, forever misguided, preemptive Mid-east invasions. We can casually rename Iraqi "combat troops" as "military advisers" (echoing Vietnam) but it still feels like changing chairs on the Titanic. That the Iraq War was launched in deception defines an unjust war, and no one has yet justified what national security was ever at stake. That Afghan militarism means predatory drones that kill non-combatants, especially women and children, doubles the injustice and brutality. That a bloated, industrial monolith called "counterterrorism," bequeathed of late a perpetual life-span, speaks to more (and every expensive) injustices carried over from Bush-Cheney.
That makes Obama no innocent when totaling injustices, adding his own collusion with BP to cover up oil spill liability and the indictment by his Justice Dept. of courageous whistleblowers. Add in the White House assassination program for unindicted American citizens, plus extending permanent incarceration, rendition (virtual torture) and secret prisons. The injustice of abruptly firing Shirley Sherrod was only partly redeemed by quick reversal.
Justice, the requisite of civilization
Finally, cracks widen in our criminal justice system, as Rod Blagojevich walks on 23 counts of what he trivialized as mere "political horse-trading." Don't Blago's own taped admissions confirm him the poster child for corruption, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, and corrosive slime? If Blago walks because corruption is considered common practice, per one key juror, that indicts our entire system of government as unjust, a lurid hothouse of extortion and conspiracies. Of course, we can't invoke blameless retirees like Dick Cheney because Speaker Pelosi took impeachment "off the table" for Congress and President Obama, denying full investigations, took crimes "off the table" for all of history. Justice deferred, or buried, is no justice at all.
Appalling court outcomes, whether reflecting celebrity, big bucks, or power, blast away at John Adams' noble sentiment, "we are a nation of laws, not of men." If we can't make examples of the stupidest, most narcissistic, criminals like Blago, we have no chance against the Cheneys, whose masterful connivances match greater savvy about rigging the system and walking away scot-free.
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