Part Two of Three
Americans’ ever-enduring, catatonic sleepwalk through the Empire’s vast array of bread and circus, as always produced by the Ministry of Truth and the Department of Propaganda, better known as the corporatist media, has succeeded in the creation of an ignorant, incurious and dumbed down populace completely bereft of knowledge of what is done in its name. With no concern for or understanding of geography, cultures, history, alien societies, the outside world and of the imperial aspirations of the Empire, Americans have proved easy targets to the manipulations and deceptions of the corporatist world. Seemingly unwilling to gain knowledge of anything outside American Idol or the weekly NASCAR rat race, the soldier ants and worker bees of the Empire are content to circumvent the horrors of war and the myriad crimes against humanity committed in their name in order to maintain their beautiful minds at peace.
Indeed, the corporatist media has triumphed in completely erasing America’s two disastrous occupations of Muslim lands from the peoples’ conscious and concern, in effect shifting the ongoing debacles away from the daily reality of Americans and towards the abyss of a most cavernous memory hole. Methodically and systematically, the quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan, with all their inconvenient truths, with all their disturbing realities, with all their corresponding death, suffering and destruction, have virtually vanished into a vacuum of nothingness, transported by the corporatist state into a clandestine and secretive reality, making of these disasters non-existent nightmares that vanish upon the waking of a new day.
This propaganda by omission, this “out of sight, out of mind” machination has virtually erased from American reality the disasters unfolding in Iraq and Afghanistan, thus guaranteeing in the public mind a complete ignorance in or understanding of a barbaric continuation to occupations stuck in the quicksand of fierce resistance and never-ending guerrilla warfare. Thus, America’s aggressive wars, its imperial occupations, its crusade of surge and siege that has done so much harm to millions of people, not to mention to the moral standing of the nation, have become non-existent memories under cover of fog and haze.
To the American people, the hegemonic occupations now descending further into quagmire have become invisible creations that only surface in the rare instance that a branch of the corporate media goes off script and produces footage of death, destruction or suffering. Otherwise, the war against West Asia remains a figment of our imagination, a reality when our beautiful minds want it to be, an inconvenient truth that becomes fiction the moment we decide it is so.
As such, having been conditioned through the corporatist media’s ceaseless dehumanization propaganda to believe Arabs and Muslims sub-human enemies, having been manipulated into hating America’s new enemy and having the corporatist media erase Iraq and Afghanistan from the memory hole, the American people have developed a disturbing, almost criminal indifference for the millions of human beings dying, suffering or otherwise being affected by the Empire’s wars and occupations. To a vast majority of Americans, the malignant tumors that are Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib, together with what they represent, are as hazy and as far removed from reality as last week’s episode of a favorite sitcom. These cesspools of immorality rarely, if ever, register in the beautiful minds of most Americans, only bothering the conscious when photos, video or whistleblowers surface to incriminate torturers, leaders and patsies. Only then are we forced to confront one of the myriad number of inconvenient truths the red, white and blue does across the globe.
When truth does not surface, however, we revert back to willful ignorance, aided by the fictions of television and the comfort of consumerism, for deep down, inside the dark recesses of our mind, we know exactly what is done in our name, though we chose, willfully, to erase it from memory, to suppress the reality of American criminality. Using denial and delusion in conjunction with conditioned brainwashing and manipulation, we have decided that crimes against humanity do not exist if those crimes are done to sub-human enemies. Thus the barbarian horde at our gates becomes undeserving of human rights and international laws protecting human beings because they do not fit our definition of human.
Thus, never do we seek to know the ugly realities of places like Guantanamo, nor how America’s gulags, with their brutal methods and tactics, will inevitably affect our way of life, or question why they exist in the first place. For us, America’s black sites are reserved for the evildoers wanting to destroy our way of life. Little do we realize, though, that our way of life is being eroded at these very same sites, one right at a time, done not by terrorists, but by those managing our descent into the breadbasket of despotism. Remaining passive, obedient, silently acquiescent and possessing the attention span of a gnat, hundreds of millions of Americans thus concern themselves only with what new toy they can add to the family collection, or what new product they can obediently purchase next, or what new reality show will entertain them the most. After all, we must preserve our “way of life”.
If Guantanamo and what it stands for does not directly affect us, if torture and perpetual suffering and dehumanizing conditions and sadistic treatment and the destruction of habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights only affects the dreaded dark skinned Arab or Muslim, then America’s beautiful minds need not concern themselves or have empathy, they need not contemplate the inflictions of wickedness on their fellow human beings, they need not realize the crimes done in their name, nor the evisceration of American morality, nor the new normal being established, nor the precedence beings set, nor the trial and error being conducted, nor the techniques being experimented and refined, nor the machinations of tyranny being perfected.
Thus, through our transcendental customs, our American “way of life,” of methodically following the exploits of celebrities dead or dying, of aimlessly producing and consuming, as always becoming hypnotized by modern day court jesters, jousters, gladiators and chariot races, as well as exhibiting idol-worshiping, messianic-like followings and tendencies over the Corporatist Party’s current crop of presidential contenders, we have chosen to ignore the plight of the innocent – for most prisoners are – in Guantanamo and Bagram and Abu Ghraib and other places of ill-repute. We have thus chosen to be good Americans, seeing no evil, hearing no evil, mistaking ashes for snow, and pretending the evil done in our name does not exist.
Reincarnation of the Habitual
To look inside one of America’s gulags is to look back at dark history, to times of brutality and primitiveness, using the tunnel of hindsight to peer at the dungeons of the Roman Empire and of the Middle Ages, with their chained and caged collections of dissidents, enemies and scapegoats, their persecuted and tortured, and their sadism and thirst for blood; it is to step back in time to days of Inquisitions and torture chambers, to eras of witch persecutions and heretic trials, of silencing threats to power and spawning a black cloud of fear and intimidation throughout society.
It is a return to days when humans had no right, to nights of barbarism, to the depravity and indecency of our mammalian past, to the possession of the human mind by the wicked demons inherent in man. Looking inside America’s gulags helps us remember that over and over, for as long as humankind has walked the plains of Earth, when authoritarians rise, as always carried high on the shoulders of fear and insecurity, morality, integrity and human rights become lost in a sea of tyranny. These institutions of immorality help us see beyond the veneer and the hypocrisy that those espousing freedom and liberty propagate, helping erase the fog of deception those claiming to be defenders of human rights engender.
America’s archipelago of gulags proves, once again, that the “western” mantra of values, modernity and morality is nothing but an empty shell built on self-adulation, delusion and echoes of ethnocentrism and exceptionalism. This hollow and cynical vociferation falls flat upon the challenge of evolving human rights, for in its claim of moral superiority, hiding behind the theoretical wonders of Judeo-Christian tradition, supposedly progressing away from the primitiveness of our past, the “western” tradition has been one of continuous mass murder, repression, tyranny, oppression, exploitation, suffering and destruction, most aimed directly at the peoples of the “south,” most directed at people not possessing the genetic mutation that turned skin color pale.
American gulags and its system of extraordinary renditions, green lighted at the very top of the food chain, proves to anyone not blinded by delusions and propaganda that America is not now and has never been morally superior to the rest of the world. From the very beginning of the republic, morality has given way to imperialism. Whether done through proxy, by puppets or by America’s own hands, control over the peoples of the world has usually involved some form of tyranny, as always dependent on the vast funding, financing, political support and training of the Empire. However, where once hidden under the veneer of democracy and freedom, under the ruthlessness of puppet dictators, America’s sordid, though clandestine, past has come to the surface thanks to the exposure of its methods and techniques, becoming an open acknowledgment of past indiscretions and present malfeasance.
From the School of the Americas, to research into psychological and physical torture at McGill University, to perfecting the art of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” to support of every tin pot dictator and junta in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, to the training of their thugs, enforcers and torturers, America has always possessed the wickedness of human malevolence. Its claims of being the defender of human rights is and has always been hypocritical at best and farcical at worst. Today we can see the real America at Guantanamo and its extension of gulags and torture chambers, the America the world entire has known for the last century but that Americans are just now waking up to. For today’s gulags are evolved creations of yesterday’s criminality, just as they will be the inspirations for tomorrow’s tyranny.
Guantanamo, with its cages and sensory deprivation and barking dogs and dehumanization and its stress positions and forced feeding and extremes of cold and hot and its isolation and its medical/psychological experimentation and its waterboarding and its darker, more sinister methods of torture yet to be exposed magnifies American tyranny and her hypocrisy, her injustice and depravity, her criminality and arrogance. It exposes, more and more, the charade that the war on terror is, how the purpose of Guantanamo is not the imprisoning of terrorists, for most there are guilty only of bad luck, persecution, retribution and being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but the methodical evisceration of the Constitution.
For Guantanamo, and its siblings, are a culmination of desperation, an attempt to rationalize the supposed existence of Arab and Muslim evil, an attempt to validate a fictional war on terror by incarcerating people falsely labeled “terrorists.” It is as much a torture center as it is a public relations and propaganda institution, a way to manipulate the American public both that Arab and Muslim terrorists exist, and that the American government is succeeding in bringing the terrorist threat to justice. It is a Hollywood-style set with its corresponding fictions and illusions of reality, a scam to convince Americans that a war that is concocted is indeed real, that it is being won.
The reality of the gulags exposes how an initial hunger for vengeance immediately after 9/11 has led to the imprisonment, suffering and torture of thousands, and how, knowing the falsity of charges and the innocence of men, America steadfastly continues shackling injustice, deciding to stage-manage the illusion of guilt as well as sacrifice the innocent to the continued myth of the so-called war on terror.
Kidnapped, traded in for money, picked up by a giant net of vengeance and imprisoned thanks to false accusations by rivals, the men at Guantanamo have become patsies in a world unconcerned for their rights. They are caged in a land of limbo, lost to the outside world, made to disappear, their lives practically an empty shell of their former selves . They are the scapegoats of American mendacity, labeled “terrorists” so that we can feel secure and protected, so that we can believe that evildoers hate us for our freedom, for our way of life. They are the poster children that grant the military-industrial complex a perpetual stream of blood money, a ceaseless parade of war, an endless flow of propaganda. They are, quite simply, the bread that gives authoritarianism sustenance, the wine that makes drunk with joy the enablers of fascism. They are, for all intents and purposes, dead men walking, ghosts without closure, phantoms forgotten by humanity.
Innocent of criminality, these individuals have been subjected to brutal and sadistic torture, as always leading to false confessions, their barbaric imprisonment and systemic dehumanization more a manifestation of American culture than of their resistance and human spirit. Many have been physically tortured, yet it is the more corrosive damage of psychological torture that has destroyed their minds, and their lives. Many will never return to normalcy, for what their minds have surely been subjected to no human brain should have to endure. Many have become the guinea pigs of psychologists and doctors experimenting with various methods of torture, trying to make torture more effective, more efficient.
Many have quietly, and conveniently, under cover of darkness or media blackout, been returned to their native countries, their innocence confirmed by their release, and by the silence of America. Forced to sign papers preventing them from speaking of their horrors, or from suing their torturers, they return a shell of their former selves, damaged beyond repair, scarred for life, forever to relive the horror they experienced in their nightmares and flashbacks. Yet many remain, shackled to American propaganda, held hostage to the illusions of the war on terror. As long as the fiction lives their guilt is assured, their imprisonment guaranteed. As long as tyrants fear persecution and imprisonment for criminality, they will live in cages. As long as they are used as the meat feeding the dogs of tyranny, they will remain encaged. As long as the authoritarian leadership seeks the continued erosion of the Constitution, and of our rights and freedoms, they will linger in perpetual purgatory, becoming the rotting carcass fed to the vultures of fascism.
Guantanamo’s cages cannot yet be opened and made empty, for to do so would be to expose the fictions, the charades, the method to the madness, the sheer immorality of the Empire. It would be to acknowledge injustice of innocence, the depravity of liberators, the criminality of leadership. Guantanamo’s gates cannot yet be closed, for the Crusade of Surge and Siege must continue, the enemy must exist, profits must remain, our rights and freedoms and liberties must be destroyed. New precedents of American legality must be established, kangaroo courts must convict, enemies must be punished, propaganda must manipulate and the innocent must be executed in order to increase leadership popularity, to refresh propaganda, to feed fear and to politicize elections.
America’s leadership is fully aware of the innocence of the vast majority of prisoners, yet cannot force itself to act against its own inhumanity. For to do so would be to admit mistakes, acknowledge criminality, condemn policies and destroy the authoritarian dream. Closing Guantanamo would expose the façade, the hall of smoke and mirrors, ending the subtleties of fear and intimidation being built around the American public. Perhaps more than anything, freeing the innocent and closing America’s torture centers would confirm the monstrosity of what America has become, destroying the foundations of a new normal being developed, maybe even shattering the bubble of manipulation cast over the population.
As long as Guantanamo remains the motives of fascists will survive, and the indifference of the American people will be assured. As long as its cages are occupied, as long as its torture rooms resonate with the screams of agony and suffering, Guantanamo will be the symbol of a new Amerika, one at war with the Arab and Muslim world, an Amerika at war with its people, and itself. As long as it remains a stain on humanity, America’s clandestine past and her immediate present will be exposed to more and more people, thereby freeing truth and knowledge, liberating the brainwashed and emancipating the manipulated.
Inside America’s gulags the future of the nation is being determined, one malevolent policy at a time, one sadistic interrogator at a time, one tortured soul at a time. It is here where our way of life is being altered, perhaps forever, not by terrorist evildoers hating us for our freedoms, but by fascism’s enablers doing the work of those domestic evildoers that hate us for our freedoms, for our way of life. In this Crusade of Surge and Siege, the Arab and Muslim victims have become a bridge of precedence set and normalcy born reaching out towards America, becoming the scapegoats and patsies granting access, and an omnipresent reach, to tyranny rising over that city on a hill once known as the United States of America.
Part Three: Inside the Fires of Imperialism, to be posted 25 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.
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