Jason Miller: We Can’t Let It Happen Here
We Can’t Let It Happen Here
What is beyond the looking glass?
By Jason Miller
"And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist. In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room."
Over a year ago, the comfort of my world severely diminished as I took my journey through the looking glass and discerned the ugly truths about the nation of my birth, the United States of America. “Logic and proportion” certainly seemed to have “fallen softly dead” when I discovered that much of what I had learned about my country as a child had been a lie. My world was turned upside down. Now I passionately pursue my goal to share my awakening with many others so they too feel inspired to struggle to preserve the excellent qualities of America and to eradicate the rotting decay.
Virtually each day I sift through a wealth of information I glean from books, the Internet, and sometimes the mainstream media. I also read (and respond to) many of the hundreds of emails I receive. Supporters of my writing email me with thanks and observations. More neutral parties send me information or viewpoints I had not considered and point out factual or logical flaws in my essays. Antagonists and critics hammer me with ad hominem attacks, invitations to leave the country, and even death threats. I offer my thanks to each person who writes me. I welcome support for obvious reasons, additional information expands the limits of my knowledge, and attacks inspire me to pursue social justice with a renewed intensity.
As my base of knowledge and volume of communication with people on political matters have increased, I have become increasingly certain of an unpopular conclusion. Certainly it could be much worse in America in some respects, but if one drills a bit beneath the surface, the putrid stench of corruption and inhumanity is almost unbearable. The United States of America is governed by an aristocracy with globally imperialistic ambitions that is preparing to sweep away the remaining vestiges of our Constitutional republic. My viewpoint is based on a wide array of eclectic sources. While many derive comfort from labeling themselves and following the herd, I align myself with neither conservatives nor liberals, Democrats nor Republicans. I pledge allegiance to no party, flag, or government. My loyalty is to my Higher Power, my family, my friends, my fellow human beings, and to myself.
US democracy: the best government "The Moneyed” can buy
America’s apologists can deny the reality to their dying breath, but the truth is that the United States of America as a democracy, a republic, or a free society is a fraud. While our nation was founded on high principles, even our founders fell far short of the standards they set for themselves. Many owned slaves, despite the fact that they may have had misgivings about it. Some, like Alexander Hamilton, desired an overt aristocracy because they did not trust the "people" to govern themselves. Virtually all of our founders were wealthy, white land-owners. Throughout its history, this nation has failed to deliver on the promises of its Constitution. Even Lincoln, one of the finer men to serve in the Oval Office, did not end slavery out of moral considerations. The Civil War and political pressures led him to pursue the abolition of that abhorrent institution.
In spite of the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent Thirteenth Amendment ending slavery, Black Americans have continued to face tremendous oppression, abuse, and racism throughout America’s history. The feeble response of the federal government to the crisis in New Orleans (a predominately Black city) and Bill Bennett's recent repugnant remarks provide poignant evidence that bigotry and racism are deeply ingrained into American government and society. As it continues to pour $5 billion per month into an illegal occupation in Iraq, the federal government plans to cut entitlement programs to pay for the reconstruction of the city of New Orleans. This will render a significant blow to the impoverished victims of Katrina and to many other poor Americans, regardless of their race.
Despite intense opposition by the wealthy elitists who dominated America's government, throughout much of the Twentieth Century groups and movements fought to utilize the mechanisms available through our Constitution to advance the cause of social justice. The Women's Suffrage Movement, the Wobblies, the Socialists, the ACLU, the Civil Rights Movement, and many others employed non-violent means to gain unprecedented rights for women, the working class, Black Americans, children, the poor, and other minorities. Many paid for their "crime" of standing up to the ruling elites through loss of their careers and reputations, prison time, beatings, deportation, and even assasination. Thanks to these brave individuals, the soulless worshippers of money were curtailed in their oppression of the people, at least for a time.
Stop! You have gone FAR enough….
Richard Nixon was a felon, but the Watergate scandal was rather insignificant when one considers that his presidency marked the advent of a new "Gilded Age". Starting with the Nixon era, Social Darwinism began to recapture the hearts and minds of many Americans. While fancying themselves to be part of a pluralistic society resting on the pillars of freedom, equality, justice, and democracy, many denizens of the United States have willingly enabled their government to become one of the most avaricious, corrupt, and covertly repressive entities in history. Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II have worked feverishly to advance the "noble causes" of the enrichment of corporate America, the expansion of the American Empire, the steady erosion of the populist gains made during the Twentieth Century, and the substantial increase in the wealth chasm between the rich and the poor. When we see Ronald Reagan’s face enshrined on the $50 bill, we will know that the tyranny of the wealthy elite has reached a milestone in convincing average Americans of the "righteousness" of their cause. Few worked harder than Reagan to advance their agenda and to bring the social justice movement to a screeching halt.
Who needs the Constitution?
Consider the circumstances of Jose Padilla, a US citizen arrested on US soil. He has been imprisoned by the US government without charges or a trial for 3 years and 153 days. Violating principles which originated with the Magna Charta, and which are clearly embedded in our Constitution, the federal government has denied Padilla due process under the law. In our Constitutional republic, civilian authority is meant to supersede military authority, yet Padilla remains in military custody. While Padilla’s plight remains abstract to many Americans because it is not happening to them or someone they know, the Padilla situation demonstrates our government’s newly self-endowed power to declare any US citizen an enemy combatant (or "terrorist”) and hold them without a trial. Do we toss the Constitution in the trash, recycle it to help save a tree, or keep it as a relic of the past to remind the ruling elite just how bad it can get for them?
Abu Gharib and Guantanamo Bay serve as further harbingers of the collapse of the Constitutional republic in the United States. Once deemed unimaginable, torture inflicted by the "shining beacon of truth and justice" has been exposed to the light of day. While the Bush administration "cleanses its sins" by punishing the enlisted soldiers who were carrying out their orders to inflict prisoner abuse, it has promoted Alberto Gonzalez, the architect of the US torture policies, to the position of chief law enforcement officer in the United States. How ironic (and frightening) can it get?
Justice, one of the lofty ideals which the United States supposedly exemplifies, is non-existent for those at Guantanamo Bay accused of "terror". If those in US custody committed crimes or perpetrated attacks against the United States, I favor punishing them to the extent of the law. However, in denying them due process, we have become the very tyrants our government professes to oppose. Try them or release them.
"Patriots" champion the "nobility cause" for the aristocracy
Since World War II, the United States has aggressively vied to expand its empire through covert CIA operations, support of ruthless dictators who support US interests, economic manipulation, and direct military intervention. While many readers who email me agree with my condemnations of US state terrorism (which has resulted in the murder of millions of innocent civilians), a surprising number of bellicose, mean-spirited individuals have indicated their strong support for such actions. The wealthy elite, who are the true power-brokers in our nation, thrive on the support of such spiritually shallow individuals who are blind to their own malevolence and hypocrisy. Rallying for the cause of "conservatism" in the face of the "weak", "whining" liberals, these blindly patriotic individuals readily accept the false dichotomies such as the “good American Christians" versus the “bad Islamofascists” perpetuated by government shills like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. While these "patriots" wave the flag and rush to label those who dare to challenge the actions of the hallowed US government as traitors, Communists, or even terrorists, they unwittingly advance the cause of history’s deadliest and most powerful terrorist, the federal government of the United States of America.
Forget "the majority rules": He who has the gold rules…
Ironically, many supporters of the current paradigm in the United States still believe they are a majority. On September 24 in Washington DC, I marched with over 300,000 others who support peace and social justice, and who oppose the Bush regime. The next day, about 400 Bush supporters "rallied". According to the Associate Press, a very recent AP-Ipsos poll shows that 28% of Americans believe the country is headed in the "right direction" while 66% believe our nation is “on the wrong track”. The truth is that the enemies of peace and social justice are in power because they carefully constructed a powerful propaganda and campaign finance machine, not because they represent a majority of Americans’ interests. The fraudulent presidential "victory" of 2000 represents their crowning achievement. Protecting corporate and aristocratic interests is their goal, and they are accomplishing it quite handily.
Despite the Machiavellian efforts of men like Karl Rove, the Tom Delay indictments, Delay’s connections with the Blunts, and the ongoing investigation of Patrick Fitzgerald could spell significant trouble for Bush, his corrupt cronies, and his allies in Congress. Possibly there is enough integrity and power left in the US legal system to derail, or at least postpone, the obscene power grab by the wealthy in the United States. Sadly though, even if things end grievously for the current regime of aristocrats, the American people will need to work vigorously to prevent a new one from emerging.
Regardless of its legal difficulties, or perhaps because of them, the Bush regime continues to push the United States closer to the precipice of overt rule by an elite few. As many of their Religious Right supporters demand a literal interpretation of the Bible, the elite power brokers in the US government continue chanting their litany calling for a literal interpretation of the Constitution. Lambasting the actions of judges who "legislate from the bench", they continue their insistence on judicial nominees who will "strictly interpret the Constitution". Despite my disgust, I admire their strategic brilliance. Tyranny thrives on reducing the populace to "black and white" thinkers. Iron-fisted rulers crush dissent from those who attempt to introduce thorny complexities which threaten the simplistic propaganda with which they manipulate their subjects. Our leaders know that if the American public accepts the absurd notion that there is no room for subjective interpretation of the Constitution to adapt to the changes that come with the passage of time, they can utilize the Supreme Court as an accomplice in crushing the gains made by the social justice movement in the Twentieth Century. The white, wealthy patriarchy is salivating over the prospect of its return to unabated power.
How many guns do you need? There are hungry people here…
In the battle of guns versus butter in the United States, guns are winning by a crushing margin. As the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina clearly demonstrated, the militarization of America has severely weakened the capacity and the will of the federal government to provide for the general welfare of its citizens. Despite being the wealthiest nation in history, 13% of our citizens live below the poverty level and the US is the only industrialized nation which does not provide health care to 100% of its citizens. There is no excuse for the existence of poverty in a nation with such vast resources. The aristocrats build their fortunes on the backs of the poor and working class, and the incestuous relationship between the federal government and the corporate vehicles of the wealthy is one of their primary means of maintaining the gross disparity of wealth which exists in the United States. Former President Eisenhower warned us against allowing the military industrial complex to become too dominant, but as Andy Rooney recently opined on 60 Minutes, we ignored Ike’s sage advice.
Among other things, Rooney said:
"We still have 139,000 soldiers in Iraq today.
Almost 2,000 Americans have died there. For what?
Now we have the hurricanes to pay for. One way our government pays for a lot of things is by borrowing from countries like China.
Another way the government is planning to pay for the war and the hurricane damage is by cutting spending for things like Medicare prescriptions, highway construction, farm payments, AMTRAK, National Public Radio and loans to graduate students. Do these sound like the things you'd like to cut back on to pay for Iraq?
I'll tell you where we ought to start saving: on our bloated military establishment.
We're paying for weapons we'll never use.
No other Country spends the kind of money we spend on our military. Last year Japan spent $42 billion. Italy spent $28 billion, Russia spent only $19 billion. The United States spent $455 billion."
One hand washes the other, brother
I have received a great deal of correspondence from "patriots" who state that Americans in the peace and social justice movement owe a debt of gratitude to the people who have served in the US military for protecting our freedoms from external threats. There is truth to this, and therefore I say thank you to those who have served in the military. Meanwhile, I will remind the “patriots” that they have the social justice movement to thank for protecting their rights from the internal threat of the US government. We may not be winning (but then neither is the US military in Iraq), yet we remain in the struggle, and will not relent. You are welcome.
It is about expanding the empire, not defending the homeland….
I do respect those who have served in the US military with the intent to defend our nation. However, with the exception of World War II, wars waged by the United States have not been defensive in nature. Too often, our imperialist government has used US soldiers as pawns in wars of aggression waged under the guise of "protecting" or "spreading" democracy. To maintain the obscene profits of entities like Halliburton and the Carlyle Group, our government has sold many Americans on the notion that wild hordes of barbarians stand ready to storm the "castle gates" of our nation to rape our women and plunder our wealth. Even if that were the case (and it is not), the United States could mount a viable defense on much less than $500 billion per year.
I believe in achieving goals through non-violence, but I am not a pacifist. I own a gun and would not hesitate to act to protect my family in the event of a real threat to their safety. As individuals have the right to defend themselves and their families, nations possess the same right. Yet why does the United States, a nation representing 5% of the world’s population, need to account for 50% of annual world military expenditures while maintaining military bases in 130 countries? Were I to follow my government’s example, I would fill several rooms of our home with a variety of munitions and explosives, and hire a squadron of private militia to patrol our city, simply to ensure my family’s safety.
Beware what you wish for….
While the avid supporters of the American Empire scorn those who support a greater emphasis on the betterment of humanity, the military they are so quick to deify is poised to nullify the very freedoms it purportedly exists to protect. Throughout history, the state has been a threat to the freedom of individuals. The principle weapon of government to impose its will upon the people has been the military. For many years, the US government has carefully crafted a covert tyranny of the wealthy through the use of media and propaganda, but as more Americans awaken to the true nature of their state, the Bush regime is becoming more eager to employ its unparalleled military power on the domestic front.
Posse Comitatus, a law which essentially prevents the military from policing the domestic populace, represents a thin veneer of protection against the imposition of martial law. Since it is statutory law and not derived from the Constitution, it can be altered or nullified by further legislation. Reagan trampled Posse Comitatus when he used the Air Force and Navy to fight the “war on drugs”. Bush told us in his address during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that he wants to expand federal authority and the military's role in domestic matters. In his recent press conference he told us that he will press Congress for the authority to employ martial law in the event of an Avian Flu pandemic. The presence of Blackwater paramilitary security forces and the emphasis of property protection over saving human lives in New Orleans provided a glimpse of what the Bush regime has in store for America's citizenry.
Based on reader feedback I have received, it is apparent that a fair number of Americans are prepared to sacrifice what freedoms they still have for the “security” afforded them by increased federal and military authority. Obviously they have not read Orwell, or if they have, apparently did not take his ideas seriously. The Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security have broadened federal powers and seriously infringed upon fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. One of the most dangerous aspects of the Patriot Act is that it empowers law enforcement to act outside of the system of checks and balances so crucial to our Constitutional republic. Consolidation of FEMA into Homeland Security was one of the causes of the feeble federal response to the disaster in New Orleans. To those so eager to rush to the "secure embrace" of Big Brother, I would remind you that the fates of Jose Padilla, the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the residents of New Orleans, or even those of the Japanese citizens interned during World War II could befall you.
As Benjamin Franklin once said:
"They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security."
In 1935, Sinclair Lewis published It Can't Happen Here , his depiction of a "democratically elected" US president imposing a tyranny on Americans. In 2005, life is imitating art. However, there are those of us who are willing to sacrifice and endure whatever is necessary for the cause of a more humane and just government and society. I will stay in the United States to work for something better. I will continue to teach my children to struggle for social causes. And yes, I will persist in my writing and other forms of dissent against the tyranny of the aristocracy, regardless of the consequences.
Jason Miller is a 38 year old activist writer
with a degree in liberal arts. He works in the
transportation industry, and is a husband and a father to
three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International,
the ACLU and the Americans United for Separation of Church
and State. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog at