By Manuel Valenzuela
Part One of Three
Sojourn into the outer recesses of a nation bordering on madness, into a land deeply disturbed and emotionally bewildered, a world of anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism, of fanaticism and fundamentalism, entering a case study into fantasyland and escapism, taking a pilgrimage into realms both of purposeful ignorance and blindness, of electing lifelong incompetents based on wanting to have a beer with them, walking through the dark valley of indifference, climbing the monolithic mountain of hubris, finally reaching the hallowed halls of smoke and mirrors, a place where only the blind lead the blind and where the deafening roars of death and destruction are easily suppressed in delusion and denial. Journey, if you will, into a nation that lost its moral compass inside the dungeons of fear and hatred.
Enter what fascists call the Homeland, what patriots used to call the United States of America, now named, simply, and appropriately, Amerika, a place where corporations enjoy more rights and protections than the People, where corporations – through their products and policies – help kill hundreds of thousands of human beings every year in the name of profit over people, making them mass murderers on a scale reserved only for humanity’s worst; a land controlled by the military-energy-industrial complex, with war the engine for unimaginable profits; a nation now without a Constitution, nor a moral standing; a country that has developed a thirst for human blood and an appetite for destruction; a land of Manifest Destiny leaving death, suffering and destruction in its wake; a sadist entity that develops and refines its crimes against humanity it inflicts upon the people of the world by first practicing them on its own citizenry.It is inside the bowels of the Homeland that the malignant cancer that afflicts the country can be seen. The inner tumor inflicting constant pain can be seen through the eyes of a people so psychologically damaged by the never-before seen pressures on the human mind caused by capitalism run amok— conditioned to live to work and not work to live, thinking that work will set them free – that no nation on Earth has more citizens taking anti-depression and mind-numbing drugs in order to bandage an otherwise perpetually open gash. It can be seen through a people so internally despondent that only escapism through hours of fantasy-television watching or ceaseless consumption of materialistic goods, a modern version of bread and circus, can alleviate the stress and the pressures and the fatigue and the frustration and the anger developed in the pursuit of empty promises, of fictional dreams, in a world of the unreal.
Crisscross the land of the free and the home of the brave to see those who serve and protect abuse the people they serve. Tour Taser Nation, a land where authorities routinely inflict electroshock torture on the People, pulling the trigger first, asking questions later, as always enjoying inflicting pain and suffering on both innocent and guilty. Students, suspects, the infirm, the handicapped, pregnant women, motorists, the elderly, those asking questions, those protecting their rights and yes, now even children, all can be electroshocked into submission in a legalized form of torture that seems to grow by the day.
Taser Nation has become Torture Nation, zapping one unsuspecting citizen at a time, conditioning the population towards the new normal of police brutality and state-sanctioned intimidation. Welcome to the Land of the Brownshirts, a place where respect for human rights and loving your neighbor as yourself is now frowned upon, a place where bullying, intimidation, harassment and a budding police state are the new normal.
Take an excursion into the vast hinterlands of the Empire’s prison system, a network of concentration camps holding over two million human beings, most imprisoned for petty drug violations, most black or Latino or working class white, many suffering serious mental health problems, many trapped in a vicious circle of indigence, unemployment, incarceration and oppression at the hands of the state. Ostensibly designed to rehabilitate, these jails do the opposite, exacerbating mental anguish, frustration and anger, easing the transformation of human beings into rotting manifestations of lives lost and altered. It is here where Guantanamo and Bagram and Abu Ghraib find their genesis.
These prisons, these cages of solitude and loneliness and madness and survival and violence, are where American society discards itself of the unwanted, the undesirable, those not comporting to the mores of Puritanical code. America’s vast prison system is where those fated from birth to the lower echelons of society’s caste system end up, those millions tattooed with the shackles of American society’s perpetual enslavement, destined to forever live in ghettos, inner city reservations and Bantustans, devoid of opportunity and a future, forced to dwell upon the realities of metaphysical imprisonment, desperate to survive either by illegality or escapism, oppressed and subjugated by authorities, marginalized by society, discriminated against by the state.
It is here, in these rotting machinations of rusted iron, metal bars and decrepit institutionalization, of fetid squalor and sadistic reality, where America’s brigade of automatons makes its problems disappear, creating an entire state and privatized prison-industrial complex dependent on crime, guilt, sentencing and prisoners. It is inside these penal institutions that America’s sadists and authoritarian personalities work, brutalizing and torturing inmates, oppressing and exploiting individuals, fomenting racism and hatred.
It is here where America trains her torturers and her malevolent warriors, her “bad apples” and her fascist enablers, exporting lessons learned abroad, infecting the innocent of occupied lands with the cruel and inhuman punishment that is as American as apple pie. It is here, in these creations of human hell, that crimes against humanity are perfected. It is inside the gates of hell that experimentation becomes indoctrination and where brutality becomes legalized torture.
Rise of a New Crusade
Enter the periphery of the Empire, where fear and hatred together form silent acquiescence to myriad crimes against humanity, where indifference and unconcern leads to war crimes going unpunished, where ignorance of the outside world leads to ignorance of forgotten occupations, where ballots cast help ease into power corruption and criminality and mass murder, where the two headed hydra of the Corporatist Party colludes to condemn millions in Muslim lands to premature death and wretched suffering, where critical thinking is shunned and backwardness embraced, and where progressive, humanist ideals find castration by the knives owned by those living inside the bubble of primitive and extinct days long since passed.
Traverse a nation conditioned to hate the Arab and Muslim world – a land of a billion strong – with its corresponding depravity of jingoism and xenophobia boiling beneath the surface, ready at a moment’s notice, or upon the happenstance of new Pearl Harbor events, to explode in searing anger, for a populace injected with the venom of fear and ignorance easily unleashes its wrath on the chosen dark-skinned scapegoats of the undeveloped world. Programmed fear and molded hatred born of inside jobs and false flag events have unlocked the flames of bigotry from the inner demons of the Empire, creating sub-human scapegoats whose only crime is inhabiting lands the vampire of hegemony needs in order to satiate its ceaseless craving for power and control. Thus, in the lands where black blood flows and the devil’s excrement spills you will find the Empire’s dripping, black stained fangs.
Enter, if you will, the land of Christian soldiers and born-again leaders, a terrain belonging to the army of Jesus and to the vengeful, disastrous deity of Old Testament belief, marching off to victory with a cross in one-hand and an M-16 in the other; a nation of bible camps, bible conventions, bible thumpers and Bible Belts; of mega-churches, mega- proselytizers and mega-hypocrisy; of fanaticism and fundamentalism; of illogical – and damaging – belief in the myth of creationism and the delusions of abstinence; of agents of intolerance, thirst for conversions and theocratic fantasy; of protection and respect of life only if life is that of a zygote, not an actual human being caught in war, terminal disease or endemic suffering; a place where belief in myth and fable and of the never seen is given prominence over reality and reason and modernity’s treatises; of blind faith trumping sound science; of a nation self-professing and monopolizing blessings by humankind’s archaic and historically grossly incompetent divinity; of extremist theism, evangelical psychosis and reactionary emotion; and of evangelical sheep being led to pasture by wolves dressed in shepherd’s clothing.
Indeed, enter the eye of the Middle East storm, the creator of hatred and blowback, the father and mother of the fictional war on terror, the epicenter of the crusade of surge and siege, the fulcrum of Christian extremism, the home of the American Taliban, the disseminator of the self-fulfilling prophesy of a so-called clash of civilizations. From the Cathedrals of Consumerism to the Enormous Edifices of Evangelism, from the Hubris of Imperialism to the Arrogance of Righteousness, it is the Empire itself, holding debauched neoliberal capitalism in one hand, the mutated, distorted principles of the Cross on the other, that has birthed this latest of Crusades into the lands of ancient history.
For it is America, through military might and the power of its weapons, though financial intimidation and market colonialism, that has proclaimed itself heir to the throne of Western imperialism, arrogantly declaring itself the next in line, of humankind’s great historical powers, to reach the apex of Empire. And so, as the maker of mankind’s new reality, as the molder of human destiny, the Pax Americana, through its legions of neoliberal capitalists, religious extremists, corporatist stooges and delusional neocons, has created a collision all its own making, a vicious cycle of hatred born and vengeance sought, of cause and effect, of boomeranging blowback, of making an enemy where none existed, of declaring war on an entire region of the planet.
Thus the fictional war on terror builds the momentum for it to invariably become real, for one billion Muslims – the vast majority peaceful and moderate – to see, and firmly believe, that a Crusade of Surge and Siege has thus been thrust upon them by Christian and uber-capitalist Amerika. By this method the fictional war on terror feeds itself, growing from an invention of fascist Amerika in search of enemies into a mature manifestation of anger and hatred, a true, and artificially engendered clash of civilizations gorging on the boiling animosity of East versus West.
Through momentum that has been building since September 2001, the architects of creative chaos, the designers of bogeymen, the fathers of shock capitalism, and the makers of artificial fear have coalesced into an amalgam of malevolence, planting the seed they hope will sprout a perpetual battle between Muslim and Christian, America and Middle Easterners. In the desert landscape of Muslim lands they have found an oasis from which to plant and grow a modern day crusade, not to reclaim the Holy Land, but to simply claim the vast fields of the Devil’s Excrement; not to rain freedom and democracy on uncivilized people, but to firmly plant permanence in strategic lands; not to bring Christianity to barbarians, but to violently force neoliberal capitalism down the throats of the Muslim world. Such is the method to the madness of the Crusade of Surge and Siege.
First they came for the Muslims…
Navigate from coast to coast, witnessing the persecution of Arab and Muslim groups, most set up by the same government that later concocts charges and smears against them in the usually unsuccessful attempt at maintaining the illusion of insecurity within the greater population. The state propagandists realize that in order to maintain the chimera of an enemy, that in order for the idea of terror to coagulate in the minds of the people, the illusion must be maintained that indeed an enemy exists. It must be made to look as though the enemy lives among us, that it is domestic as well as foreign, that it is planning to attack our way of life. This, of course, also creates the fantasy that the state is our protector, and that in order to protect us, we must sacrifice even more rights and freedoms for security.
The use of scapegoats, in this case the use of naïve, oftentimes incompetent, illiterate, indigent and sometimes even mentally deficient groups of Arab or Muslim men, usually with no political power and no financial resources, is part of a formula of fear designed inside the rubble of the Twin Towers that has been used to terrorize the American people into submitting to a fascist, despotic state. With every persecution of Arab and Muslim groups, charged with planning terrorist activity, usually with little or no proof, usually later found innocent by a court of law, the state further cements the fiction of fear and the illusion of perpetual insecurity in the citizenry. Propaganda makes bogeymen of scapegoats and scapegoats make obedient cowards of us all.
Of course every new persecution is met by a thunderous manifestation of corporate media coverage, bombarding the airwaves with the fictions and illusions of the charade that is the war on terror. There are enemies in our midst, we are told, dreaded bogeymen intent on killing us, trying to shoot up a mall, or blow up a building, or murder our children. Yet, as usually happens, when the alleged plot is discovered for the lie that it is, when the state is forced to drop charges, when a court of law throws out the case, when the innocent’s voice is validated and the condemned are once again free, there is not one camera or reporter or journalist ready or willing to bombard us with the truth. The blitzkrieg of guilt is suddenly replaced with the utter silence of innocence.
The damage, however, has already been done, for in the eyes of tens of millions the parade of fictions and the presumption of guilt that has so readily been beamed by the corporate media have already established the fear and insecurity that America is under siege by the barbarian horde and its evil religion. The illusion has thus been established, the excuse to erode yet more liberties has been successful, and the scapegoat has again been made the object of growing hatred. The people have again been manipulated, conditioned to hate the very idea of a Muslim or an Arab. The enemy has again been vilified, dehumanized and ostracized, the very term “Muslim” becoming denigrated, its practitioners and believers made to wear an invisible crescent moon on their breasts, becoming in many eyes unwelcome pariahs in the land of immigrants and the home of freedom.
Every new so-called uncovered plot, every new so-called uncovered threat, every new depiction of evil incarnate is, of course, used by the Ministry of Truth to validate the belief that the state is protecting us, that our sacrifice of freedoms and rights, that our submission to a police state has been of great service, that it is indeed working and must therefore continue, no matter how intrusive it becomes, no matter how much it destroys the Constitution and no matter how large Big Brother continues to grow. In the end, the formula of illusion, of imaginary enemies, of chosen scapegoats, works to create a harmonious narrative of terror abroad and terror at home, of a war on terror that must be perpetual and ceaseless, of a state working diligently to secure our freedom, our way of life, the American way.
The formula creates a submissive, compliant and acquiescent citizenry, one that does not blink at the mass murder of millions in the Middle East, at innumerable war crimes, at the use of torture and the creation of gulags. The scapegoating of Arab and Muslims by the state and the corporatist media has succeeded in fomenting a xenophobic hatred and anger against those people emanating from and residing in the Middle East. The mission has been accomplished, for the masses, thinking that the shredding of the Constitution has not affected them because they are not terrorists and have done nothing wrong, have voluntarily eviscerated their own rights and freedoms, for eventually, the crimes and horrors and human rights violations and erosion of liberties committed against the scapegoat class inevitably is imputed onto the majority. In a proto-fascist nation such as America, it is only a matter of time.
First the state comes for the chosen scapegoats, using them as the key to unlocking the rights and freedoms of the masses. The scapegoat is the excuse, the mirage to eviscerate the Constitution in the shadows, with the masses blinded to reality, and creating a new normal of fascism and tyranny. Thinking they are safe from the claws of the state, the masses eagerly give up more power and freedom and liberty in the belief that only the enemy is being targeted. Eventually, before the blink of a collective eye, the masses themselves are being eavesdropped, spied on, surveilled upon, interrogated, harassed, controlled, tortured and disappeared. Eventually, it is their rights and freedoms and liberties that no longer exist.
Told today’s eavesdropping and illegal wiretapping by the state is to spy on the few Muslim terrorists, and that immunity for state and corporations is needed for our vital security, we later learn that all Americans have been illegally spied on, that Big Brother is watching and listening and monitoring us all and that we have no recourse to halt or file suit or seek accountability against the same companies doing the spying. Thus yesterday’s malfeasance and criminality become the present’s new normal, and the closer we approach the precipice of despotism.
The formula works every time authoritarian entities are determined to destroy the fabric of a free and democratic people. It is written in humankind’s history books, yet it remains ignored and unlearned by those who refuse to know the history of man. It is in our history that our tendencies are deciphered. It is in our past that our patterns can be anticipated. In the end, compliant Americans become good Americans, freedom is replaced by tyranny, rights and liberties are usurped by a police and surveillance state and a constitutional past becomes a new normal of authoritarianism and corporatism.
This is what happens when the majority ignores the plight of a scapegoated minority that is powerless to fight the claws of a despotic state. This is what happens when the first signs of smoke over the horizon are seen and ignored, only later realizing, much too late to escape its wrath, that a raging inferno enveloping everything in its path has arrived. First they come for Muslims, then they come for us all.
Part Two of Three, “Cages of Conquest,” will be posted on 20th February, 2008
Manuel Valenzuela is a social critic, commentator, Internet essayist and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel now published by Authorhouse.com . His essays appear regularly at various alternative news websites from around the globe. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . He encourages readers to surf the collection of over 100 essays he has written which can be found visiting his archives and by searching the Internet. His next book, Beyond the Smoking Mirror: Reflections on America and Humanity, a collection of his essays, will be published in early 2007.
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