Reprinted from www.truthdig.com
Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government. The crisis we face is the result of a four-decade-long, slow-motion corporate coup that has rendered the citizen impotent, left us without any authentic democratic institutions and allowed corporate and military power to become omnipotent. This crisis has spawned a corrupt electoral system of legalized bribery and empowered those public figures that master the arts of entertainment and artifice. And if we do not overthrow the neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy we will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the disease.
Our descent into despotism began with the pardoning of Richard Nixon, all of whose impeachable crimes are now legal, and the extrajudicial assault, including targeted assassinations and imprisonment, carried out on dissidents and radicals, especially black radicals. It began with the creation of corporate-funded foundations and organizations that took control of the press, the courts, the universities, scientific research and the two major political parties. It began with empowering militarized police to kill unarmed citizens and the spread of our horrendous system of mass incarceration and the death penalty. It began with the stripping away of our most basic constitutional rights--privacy, due process, habeas corpus, fair elections and dissent. It began when big money was employed by political operatives such as Roger Stone, a close Trump adviser, to create negative political advertisements and false narratives to deceive the public, turning political debate into burlesque. On all these fronts we have lost. We are trapped like rats in a cage. A narcissist and imbecile may be turning the electric shocks on and off, but the problem is the corporate state, and unless we dismantle that, we are doomed.
"What's necessary for the state is the illusion of normality, of regularity," America's best-known political prisoner, Mumia Abu-Jamal, told me last week by phone from the prison where he is incarcerated in Frackville, Pa. "" In Rome, what the emperors needed was bread and circuses. In America, what we need is 'Housewives of Atlanta.' We need sports. The moral stories of good cops and evil people. Because you have that ". there is no critical thinking in America during this period. You have emotion [only]. When I look at someone who is demonized, I can do anything [to him or her]. I can do anything. That's how the state works, by demonizing people and putting them in places where they're virtually invisible."
"Here's the reality," he went on. "America has never come to grips with what a lot of scholars and thinkers call the Original Sin. That's because it never stopped happening. This country brags about being founded on freedom. It was founded on slavery. It was founded on holocaust. It was founded on genocide. After slavery ended, after the Constitution was rewritten and amended, we have the Reconstruction amendments, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. But what did the South do? They ignored it for a century.""It isn't until the '60s that you see this deep, rich emergence of people fighting for rights that were enshrined in the Constitution a century before [between 1865 and 1870]," he said. "That's because every state in the South and many states in the North were allowed to make exceptions to the Constitution when it came to black people. We learned that's not just a Southern reality. You can't talk about AEDPA, the so-called Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty [Act of 1996] unless you have the same mindset that makes the Constitution an exceptional document."
Racist, violent and despotic forces have always been part of the American landscape and have often been tolerated and empowered by the state to persecute poor people of color and dissidents. These forces are denied absolute power as long as a majority of citizens have a say in their own governance. The corporate elites, however, frightened by what the political scientist Samuel Huntington called an "excess of democracy" that originated in the 1960s, methodically destroyed the democratic edifice. They locked the citizens out of government. And by doing so they made sure that power shifted into the hands of the enemies of the open society. When democratic institutions cease to function, when the consent of the governed becomes a joke, despots, cranks, conspiracy theorists, con artists, generals, billionaires and proto-fascists fill the political void. They give vent to popular anger and frustration while arming the state to do to the majority what it has long done to the minority. This tale is as old as civilization. It was played out in ancient Greece and Rome, the Soviet Union, fascist Germany, fascist Italy and the former Yugoslavia.
Trump, an acute embarrassment to the corporate state and the organs of internal security, may be removed from the presidency, but such a palace coup would only further consolidate the power of the deep state and intensify internal measures of repression. Millions of people, including the undocumented, those who have felony convictions, those locked in cages and poor people of color, have already been stripped of their rights, and some have been indiscriminately murdered by police. These minorities' reality of daily state terror, unless this process of corporate pillage is halted, will spread and become normal with or without Trump.
In Abu-Jamal's book "Live From Death Row," he recounts his protest at a 1968 rally in Philadelphia held by the segregationist George Wallace during one of the Alabama governor's runs for the Democratic presidential nomination. It is a reminder that Trump's racism and lust for violence have long been part of the American character.
Abu-Jamal writes of attending the rally with three other black teenagers:
We must've been insane. We strolled into the stadium, four lanky dark string beans in a pot of white, steaming limas. The bank played "Dixie." We shouted, "Black Power, Ungowa, black power!" They shouted, "Wallace for president! White power!" and "Send those niggers back to Africa! We shouted, "Black power, Ungowa!" (Don't ask what "Ungowa" means. We didn't know. All we knew was that it had a helluva ring to it.) "Black power!" They hissed and booed. We stood up in our seats and proudly gave the black power salute. In answer, we received dubious gifts of spittle from those seated above. Patriots tore American flags from their standards and hurled the bare sticks at us. Wallace, wrapped in roars of approval, waxed eloquent. "When I become president, these dirty, unwashed radicals will have to move to the Sov-ee-yet Union! You know, all throughout this campaign these radicals have been demonstrating against George Corley Wallace. Well, I hope they have the guts to lay down in front of my car. I'll drive right over 'em!" The crowd went wild.
"Some police and other security came," Abu-Jamal told me about the incident. "They escorted us out. We thought hey, we had a little fun. Our voices were heard. We went to the bus stop. And two or three of us were on the bus. A young guy named Alvin and a young guy named Eddie. I was usually the slowest, so I was behind them. A guy walked up and hit me with a blackjack. Knocked me down. Pulled Eddie and Alvin off the bus. We were getting our asses kicked. It never dawned on us these were cops. They can't just walk up to us and beat us up [I thought]."
"I remember seeing a cop's leg walk by," he said. "I shouted help! Help, police! The guy looked at me. Looked down at me. He walked over and kicked me right in the face. Then it dawned on me all of these guys were cops. That was a little taste of [what would happen later in] Philadelphia. An introduction to trauma. We see it today. I can hear Trump saying, 'Beat the hell out of them.' It's like the old days. Those weren't good days. Those were ugly days. And the ugly day is today."
"I have been thankful to that faceless cop ever since," Abu-Jamal writes of the assault, "for he kicked me straight into the Black Panther Party."