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Syndi Holmes

The Object Lesson of Guantanamo
By Syndi Holmes
Aug 24, 2004 - 6:12:00 PM

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This week, a number of human right organisations are at the Guatanano detainee prison, attempting to discern what is occuring there. One of the observers, Anthony Romero, noted in a communique to his organisation: "As I said to one of the reporters today, this isn't about the guys in the orange jumpsuits,this is about us. This is about what rules and values will guide an American system of justice that we can hold up to Americans and to the entire world. So far, I have no comfort to give on that front and I doubt that much will change by the end of the week."

Mr. Romero is right that the situation in Guantanano is about us, not just how American values are being displayed before the world but how it is being used as an object lesson to warn Americans who object to the way our government conducts our business.

This administration knows it's hold is tenuous; it knows it came into power in 2000 illegitimately, through a coup brought about by the Supreme Court. It will hold onto it's position through the help of unverified electronic voting this time. You have to admit, it was a slick act of social engineering that allowed them to manipulate the "disenfranchisement votes" in Florida, wait for the outraged Democrats and civil rights organisations  to call for a change in voting and then, right on cue, from behind the shadow of Dick Cheney, appearing as the saviour of democracy, comes Diebold, with an unverified voting machine in hand - just in time for the 2004 election.

This administration knows it's hold is tenuous, and fears a thinking population. They use their No Child Left Behind programme to limit intellectual inquisitiveness, as teachers and schools must focus on teaching for their tests or face loss of accreditation. They limit secondary opportunities with a two pronged strategy - by underfunding institutions and limiting grant monies to students. They allow the hemorrhage of jobs to flow from this country and cut back over-time from many white collar jobs, so that  more people will only be concerned with survival and will have no time to think beyond that level. They already have the religious right and conservatives under their control, having brainwashed them into a state of paranoia and perceived persecution, leading them believe that they are the only Party who can save them from their amoral fellow citizens. And then this administration has the Patriot Act to use against the American citizens it cannot control. Places like Gitmo are being used as object lessons to desensitise the vast American public to accept the necessity of stripping persons of their civil and human rights when those persons oppose the government. Unlike the former Soviet Union that made some attempt to hide it's gulags in Siberia, unlike other contemporary repressive governments who hide their prisons by simply ignoring or denying the facts of their existences, this administration defies the world, flaunting its prisons and its contempt of civil, human and Constitutional rights. Its open contempt for American citizens, for American allies and enemies alike, makes the Bush Administration extremely dangerous to us all because it signals that government no longer fears exposure and censure. They feel they control enough of the elements in this country that they can now operate in plain sight.

Our soldiers are not fighting for the freedom of Afghanistan or Iraq - they are, under the guise of patriotism, being used unwittingly to implement this administration's bastardised version of democracy - a version that gives people only the illusion of freedom and meaningless votes - because if you really give them freedom then you risk the loss of control. This administration must control; they only put into power those they can control - which is nothing new for America to do, but, the removal and imprisonment of so many from their  countries who oppose the co-opting of their countries is a new precedent for America.

This administration knows it's hold is tenuous and therefore must control us through fear. It must keep us uncertain, kept off balance by the possibility of a terrorist strike, and manipulating the colours of alerts. We are deprived of our rights to privacy as this administration now claims the right to even interfere in our legal affairs and claims proprietary knowledge to what we buy and what we read. We live in fear as our economic security is eroded by the uncertainty of our jobs, by rising gas and heating prices that eat away at any discretionary income we might have (if at all) and by rising local taxations that threaten our ability to maintain our very homes. Those who are deemed suspicious by this government live in the fear that they will disappear into the limbo of a detention system where they will be held indefinately nameless and without charge. Those who still speak out live with the fear that dissent will be equated with traitorous behaviour, that words will be used against them ,and that they will be without Constitutional recourse.

We are witnessing the death throes of democracy - in the world and in our country. We are on the verge of falling into the precipice of fascism. I fear for the future of my children and grandchildren. I fear that so few of us care.


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