Sunday, September 10, 2006  

Every day is September 12...

Every day is September 12.
On September 11, I mentally hold my breath because I now know this is the day my country and my life as I knew it, was about to die. On September 11, this country was wounded, and on September 12, it was sentenced to death by the neocons who saw this as an opportunity to put their vision of an American Century into play. The jury was the craven Congress and the mob the general populace who allowed fear, racism and blind ignorance to encourage them to sell the freedoms and basic decency in exchange for the illusion of safety and security that the men behind the curtain held out like bread to beggars.

What have we received for this exchange?
* A president who dares to suggest that the judicial branch is impinging on his right to administer justice.
* An executive branch who needs to be reminded this is not a country of kings, but one of checks and balances provided for in the Constitution.
* A government which engages in torture and then vigorously lies about it
* A war which has cost thousands of lives, ruined a country which posed no threat, and threatens to ruin a generation of young Americans .
* A government that prevaricates and postures while its ally invades and destroys its neighbor
* An atmosphere in which White America tells its fellow citizens to suck it up- because submitting to racial profiling is doing their part
* Depraved federal indifference while New Orleans drowns and unseemingly greed while Halliburton "rebuilds" and South African mercenaries patrol a city in dire need of assistance, especially the Ninth Ward.
* A war on "terror" that sucks in hapless immigrants, preys on the vulnerable and spits them out while the Right engages in evermore vicious anti-immigrant sentiment to the point where HR447 would criminalize priests and doctors doing their moral duty.
* An endless "war on terror" that seems to depend on using the threat of terrorism like a pinata to hide misdeeds and make docile myriad of populations.
* A government that works hand in glove with private entities that scheme to throw elections (see the issue with voter rolls in Florida) and carries that practice across borders (Mexico, Iraq).
* A conscious eroding of civil rights with the colusion of a population driven inconsolate with fear and manipulation.
* The attempt to create a state that would rival Stalin's, one in which all citizens are ignorantly vigilant and willing to inform on each in defense of civic freedoms that may no longer exist.
* The attempt to silence dissent as well as thought and artistic expression that dares to disgree with the neocon agenda.
* A present reputation as a rogue nation that invades, lies, uses chemical weapons, flaunts international treaties, kidnaps and tortures, lies down with torturers and strong men who control their populations all the while mouthing platitudes about democracy.
* A country and a people hated and feared the world over. We are despised, reviled as hypocrites and a society that values American lives far and above the lives of others we come in contact with. Before, many others could and would distinguish between the US government and the US people, but no longer. We are being held responsible for our government, for the soldiers who raped, killed, tortured in Iraq, the US support of governments that torture and surpress their own people, the slow, collective starvation of the West Bank.

We who do not fly on Airforce One, we are not safe.

The ghosts of the thousands chemically destroyed, bombed, shot, maimed, destroyed in our name and their relatives ask for justice from us or at least some recognition that our complicity in our government's foreign policy has ruined their lives, but they get none from us. They do not understand that our government is at war with them and with us.

The reasons for invading Iraq have shifted as many times as quicksand shifts when you walk on it. One present reason is the liberation of Iraq from Saddam's tyranny.

But who will save us? Who will protect our Constitution, save us from wiretapping, profiling, the lies of this government? Who will save us from Bush, Rove, Cheny, Rumsfeld and Rice?

The answer is no one. And we, as a people, are such fools that we seem unable to save ourselves. Our Congress will not impeach, our military will not rise up, our judiciary can barely contain the Executive, and the oligarchy rolls on.

On September 12, this country began a long and slow descent into indecency.

I was working for a conservative newstation at the time. I saw the footage as well as anyone else, probably more, because I edited the same scenes over and over for years. I had to listen to news pople call for the nuking of Afghanistan, the total destruction of Iraq. Many laughed when the photos of Abu Ghraib came out. I left the station, finally, because I could no longer take the reporting style and an ownership in bed with rightwing politicians and defense money. I liked many of the people I worked with, but I despised the station by the time I left.

On September 12, I learned just how much of an exile in my own culture I would become. Like many others, I was married to an Arab, with an understanding of the culture, language and colonial history of the region, in part, from having lived there. We were watched, listened to as we spoke. At work, the fact I could read Arabic and provide culturally relevant information made me suspect for months. I was advised to watch what I did, who I saw and how I conducted my private life. The tendancy was to keep one's head down, keep the music low, not buy certain food, not not speak English. And then, one day, I decided enough was enough. I was tired of being looked at as a cultural traitor, of hearing people whisper when I came in the room at work- the same people who would ask me to listen to interviews from Al Jazeera, the same who would ask me how to call the contacts in the Arab community- and I thought, that is enough. My America is plural, embraces other cultures and holds to certain standards. My America bends to no mob, does not cower in fear of its elected officials. Let them record me, watch me, and learn. I am not an exile here - this is my place and I will not let them force me to help them remake it in the image of Argentina of the 70's, Russia of the 50's.
Isabelle Allende once said in an interview:
You learn to live with things. For example, something is taken away, like let's say, the freedom of the press or... yeah, let's say that you're telephones are tapped so you say "Okay, I can live with that" and then the next day something else, and then you say, "Okay, I will have to live with that too," and so forth. And then after a few months, you realize that you have lost everything. But, you got sort of used to it. And then there's a point when you're talking torture at breakfast time with your kids. And all of a sudden you have this epiphany or this revelation in which you realize what kind of life you are having... and then there is a point where I left.

I refuse to live like that and I began to write again, and to produce artwork in resistance to what I saw as a despicable tendancy to silence civil discourse.

And I found that I am not alone. Over the years, our voices have grown. As has interest in the Middle East and its cultures. And I have learned that I have to be vigilant and active in this effort because "they" do hate our freedoms- and it is not an external enemy we face, but an internal one which is both ourselves and elected representives who do not and will not stand up for what is right-an America in which civil rights and discourse are respected, racial profiling is riviled and both torture and offensive wars are what others do.

And I will not be silent because no one will come to save us. We must save ourselves.

It will never by September 10, again.

Every day is September 12.

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