When I was a child, this was one of my favorite songs. America had just saved Europe and the world from the Nazi scourge. Every week at school we made up Red Cross boxes, stuffed with toothbrushes, wash clothes and other necessities for the war refugees. I felt very lucky to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, with a roof over my head and plenty to eat. America seemed truly blessed.
During the 50's, our freedom was threatened by the Red scare and McCarthyism. But wrongs were righted and the would-be tyrant was overthrown.
The 60's saw an outpouring of grace on America: A large peace movement. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s prophetic dream of racial justice, partially fulfilled by thousands of young people of all colors, who put their bodies on the line to bring equal citizenship to the descendants of slaves. Rainbow gatherings that started to integrate the values of the other Americans, Native Americans, with their ecological wisdom and sense of harmony and balance. Swamis and monks from the East, who taught us to meditate and to attain higher states of consciousness.
But in the early 70's, The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations under Senator Frank Church exposed these abuses of our civil liberties. Its findings were summed up in the following statement:
"In its consideration of covert action, the Committee was struck by the basic tension--if not incompatibility--of covert operations and the demands of a constitutional system. Secrecy is essential to covert operations; secrecy can, however, become a source of power, a barrier to serious policy debate within the government, and a means of circumventing the established checks and procedures of government. The Committee found that secrecy and compartmentation contributed to a temptation on the part of the Executive to resort to covert operations in order to avoid bureaucratic, congressional, and public debate."
New legislation was passed to strengthen the Bill of Rights and to protect citizens from the abuses of Cointelpro.
Over the past 5 years, the Bush regime has undone the work of the Church committee, and is seeking to impose tyranny upon America, suspending the most fundamental rights- to habeas corpus, trial by jury, limitations on search and seizure- etc.
The American public has, for the most part, passively tolerated the shredding of the Constitution, terrorized by the brazen boldness of the 9-11 conspiracy and coverup, cowed by the shrill threats of terrorist activity, shocked and awed by the never ending assaults on our budget, our rights, our environment, our sense of decency and morality. We have been bamboozled by the claims of piety and "God"-bestowed authority. It feels as if God is cursing America, not blessing us. Perhaps He is giving the American people what we deserve, for our greed and stupidity.
But the pendulum is swinging back, once again. This time the leaders are blacks and women, and lots of black women. The Black Caucus in the House has consistently led the battle to rid the executive branch of the usurpers of liberty. John Conyers, (D-MI), ranking, and very experienced, member of the House Judiciary Committee, has issued a call for censure of Bush and Cheney, and an investigation into whether they have committed impeachable offenses. John Lewis, another black Congressman, has called for impeachment. Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney, and Maxine Waters all are fighting to lay the groundwork for impeachment. Surely, America is blessed to have such brave and powerful people working to restore the dream of the land of liberty.
Also right now, the Bigfoot Riders, led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, are making their annual trek through the Dakota winter, to commemorate the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. This slaughter of 300 Lakota, mostly women and children, epitomizes the genocide upon which this nation was founded. Indians have been in the way, the only good one a dead one.
We are blessed that our Constitution is based on such a rich heritage, a blend of Christian, Anglo-Saxon and Native American principles. Our freedom, imperfect though it may be, has been a beacon, an inspiration, for humanity. It has been repeatedly threatened, and then salvaged. Will God bless us this time, and enable us to save our liberty and restore justice to our land?
Perhaps it is time to repent of our theft of land and culture from Native Americans. Perhaps it is time to acknowledge our debt to their prophets, such as Deganawidah and Hiawatha. Perhaps it is time to work with Native American leaders, including Leonard Peltier, whose shameful imprisonment is a blot on the nation, to restore some balance and harmony to our land. Perhaps it is time to recognize that Wakan Tanka and Yahweh are the same, and that we are all children of the Great Spirit.