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Victims of Creeping Fascism

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Message Charles Sullivan
When a sitting president declares that the constitution is just "A Goddamned piece of paper," it reveals much about his inner character; or lack thereof. It reveals dangerous illusions of omnipotence, contempt for the law, and scorn for the people. It was George Bush who uttered those tortured words to Whitehouse aides last week. Easily misled by false idols intoxicated with power and driven by insatiable greed, we are witnessing nothing less astonishing than the demise of the American experiment. Dreams of democracy, justice, peace and hope are receding into the dim recesses of ever more distant memory. We see them morphing into an Orwellian nightmare of monstrous proportions that promises to pursue us to our graves. If we continue on this course of ethical decline, in another decade we will not even be able to recall the forms and texture of those dreams that once held so much promise.

The American people have allowed the theft of the past two presidential elections with hardly so much as a whimper of protest. Most are not even aware that they occurred. Moreover, we have allowed indicted Congressman Tom Delay to redraw congressional districts in a way that gives conservatives a substantial advantage over democrats and totally precludes progressives from competing. While the morality of such actions may not be in question""their legality is currently under investigation by federal prosecutors.

As a result of decades of complacency created in part by the fog of television, and the ongoing corporatization of the government, the American people find themselves the victims of creeping fascism. Like the proverbial frog placed in a pot of warm water upon a lighted stove, we hardly notice the gradual loss of our freedoms. By the time we awaken to reality""if we ever awaken""we will find ourselves parboiled. By then it will be too late to extricate ourselves.

One by one our basic freedoms are being stolen from us by those who purport to represent our interests. These are freedoms for which millions of our own fought and died. Were their sacrifices in vain? It appears so. In the aftermath of the toppling of the World Trade towers by clandestine operatives inside the government, the massive Patriot Act was enacted into law. Incredibly, this immense document, sold to the people as protecting the sanctity of American lives, was not even read by the law makers who voted it into law. The Patriot Act was nothing more than a piece of creeping fascism that quietly, unobtrusively, stripped us of our hard won freedoms without so much as a skirmish.

Emboldened by the ease with which the Patriot Act passed, Patriot Act Two, an even more onerous version of the original, is being debated in the bowels of Congress. If passed, it will further erode many more of our civil liberties. Once lost, those liberties will never be regained without bloodshed. That is why they must never be given away. Nor should we allow anyone to snooker us into their theft. They are the most precious essence of the American experiment and we must handle them with the utmost care.

As the debate in Congress continues, it was revealed this week that the Pentagon has been engaged in spying on American citizens who participate in the anti-war movement. Whenever a state has the military spying upon citizens who are peacefully engaged in lawful protests against the systematic killing, imprisonment, and torture of millions of fellow human beings, you are witnessing not only the ugly reality of creeping fascism""you are bearing witness to the emergence of a bonified police state. In this instance we are witnessing the criminalization of dissent. The thought police are moving among us. They are watching our every move. They are monitoring all of our electronic communications. They are preparing a place for us in the hinterland of America.

War is profitable for those who wage it. Trillions are to be made. And those who wage war are never the ones who have to fight them. The Pentagon and its priests of death and misery in the defense industry cannot exist without enemies""even if they have to invent them. Take away their phantoms of terror and they are left naked and vulnerable as a Deer in the headlights.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, of course, has a long history of abusing the civil liberties of American citizens. The F.B.I. continues to collect dossiers on law abiding citizens, as it did against the leaders of the civil rights marches, anti-war movement, organized labor and, most recently, environmental groups operating in the public interest. Both the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. regularly engage in smear campaigns against both individuals and citizens groups working for social justice. This reveals an important fact about who these agencies are really working for. Their sole purpose is to protect the rich and the powerful from the rest of us. They intend to have the whole enchilada for themselves.

In a time when our tax dollars go to huge public relations groups to place bogus stories favorable to U.S. empire in foreign newspapers and television, we will soon find ourselves with virtually no civil rights. The corporate media in America is such a purveyor of propaganda it is for all practical intents and purposes a State owned media. As such it acts as a mouthpiece for the Pentagon and for Corporate America. Long ago it abrogated its responsibility to serve the interests of democracy and the working people.

Are the American people totally vulnerable and exposed to the corruption of creeping fascism that, Amoeba-like, is devouring our hopes and dreams for a better life, a better world? We are, unless we refuse to drink the Kool-aide. That is the first step toward emancipating ourselves from the all pervasive corporate dominance that dulls our senses and dims our wits. Our fate is sealed if we do not awaken from the stupor of apathy that envelops us and prevents us from acting to save ourselves. We must use the tools we have. We must organize in our own communities and on a global scale. We must act out of a sense of urgency. The hour is late. The sun is setting. Darkness gathers at our door steps. All we have is each other and that just might be all we need. Otherwise, we might have occasion to find out who all of those FEMA camps scattered throughout the country are intended for.
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Charles Sullivan is a photographer, social activist and free lance writer residing in the hinterland of West Virgina.
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