by The Other Katherine Harris
Mar. 11, 2008
I write this at 2 a.m., jolted awake by the dream of finding prisoners in my home, in a locked room I’d forgotten. Upon chancing to open it, perhaps while putting someone in there, I was stunned to see about half a dozen young men sitting forlornly on a cot. They couldn’t recall when they’d last eaten, although thankfully none appeared to be starving or unwell. I left with the intention of making them omelets, yet aware that I might fail to do it. With each step along the corridor outside, I kept telling myself to remember – and remember also to bring other meals, not only today but tomorrow. The prospect seemed so terribly difficult that I wondered how soon I’d forget them again.
This nightmare, obviously prompted by recent news that prisons now hold one American out of every 100, is all too true. They’re OUR prisoners: captives in OUR home, forgotten by those of us who don’t see them. We’ve actually seen far more of the foreigners held elsewhere in our name, whom Shrub the Head Thug believes he has some God-given right to torture.
Yes, supposedly we dream all the time, but frankly I doubt it in my case. I’ve had no example to report for the nearly two years since writing:
“You know things have gone way too far when Shrub invades your dreams. I don’t have many, but there he was on Saturday night, armed and unbelievably dangerous. While asleep in my bed and simultaneously standing in the corridor of what looked like an English country house hotel, I watched him blast five or six people at point-blank range. Smirking and certain to get away with it.
‘Even this,’ I thought at the time – as if his gunning down a handful of imaginary guests at their imaginary doors were somehow worse than Shrub’s public crimes. I don’t recall feeling threatened, myself, but it wasn’t in the manner of the old epics, in which a bard is always ‘saved for the song’s sake.’ It was because his power to spin the story rendered me not only irrelevant but invisible, or perhaps mildly amusing. This, I see on reflection, is what Shrub and His Thugs have done to us all. Even though a majority of us now oppose them, we don’t count … ”
That nightmare remains all too true, too. We’re merely inmates on longer leashes, “free” to pay endlessly for our captors’ wars and economic abuses.
Unreasoning fear lies behind it all. Reagan first played on this with his “law and order” number, the pretext for building a police state to protect the new robber barons who’ve preyed increasingly on the rest of us for decades.
A really good first step toward recovering our sanity and strength as citizens would be to demand release of all non-violent criminals. Among the millions in our prisons, most are kids who did nothing much wrong. By letting them out of our collective basement to get on with their lives, we’d shed an insupportable moral burden and also free a fortune for wiser use.