Op Ed Commentary –
Two novels made into films are a must read: George Orwell’s 1984 and Jack Finney’s Body Snatchers . Both of these stories, in ironically similar and differing ways, hypothesized how life would be under totalitarian regimes. Another irony is that, when written, these novels were focusing on communism in the Soviet Union. Well, things have certainly changed haven’t they? 1984 is a mirror into how far our empire has fallen from a so called democratic republic into the militaristic and propagandized corporate police state similar in many ways to Orwell’s Oceania. Meanwhile, as our empire tramps around in countless countries with our jackboot military presence and collateral damage, our citizenry here becomes more and more mesmerized by commercialism and the narcotic of tasteless and meaningless media. Finney’s Body Snatchers pods have landed and consumed our populace with dreams of having more and more things! As to the real world around us, our fellow Amerikans drink the Kool-Aid of complacency, caring not for phony wars, obscene military spending, corporate strangling of working stiffs AKA ‘The Middle Class’ (another Orwellian purposeful misuse of language) and a Two Party ‘One Party’ diversionary political tactic. Now, all this ‘success in empire’ could never be achieved without one necessary orchestration: the dumbing down of the populace.
Sometime during the 1970s the powers that be made sure that our public education system was retarded by various means. The end result is what we have now: a majority of Amerikans really do not understand history or the actual rights they have. Morris Berman, in his powerful 2004 book Dark Ages America revealed to us just how far we have fallen as a nation. He wrote how, in a ‘State of the First Amendment Survey’ conducted by the University of Connecticut in 2003, 34% of Americans polled said the First Amendment ‘goes too far’; 46% said there was too much freedom of the press; 28% felt that newspapers should not be able to publish articles without the prior approval of the government; 31% wanted public protest of a war to be outlawed during the war. Finally, in other polls three years after 9/11 and after all the news had finally come out about Saddam Hussein having nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, 42% of Amerikans thought that he had a major part in them and, more frightening, 32% believed that he had personally planned them!
They have even stolen our cherished flag, transforming it into an icon of their lies and false patriotism. They use it as much as possible, especially during most sporting events – usually by sending out the color guard and spreading giant replicas of our flag across the field of play. They do the same for the ‘7th inning stretch’ at baseball games, as they pump in ‘God Bless America’ over the PA system to ‘honor our brave heroes’ – when the real heroes are those young men and women who refuse to serve as invaders and occupiers of Iraq and Afghanistan. Or heroes like Chelsea Manning, who risked her whole future to get the news out on what our nation was doing in your name by way of torture and killing of the innocents overseas. As with the craziness in Alice in Wonderland, where ‘up is down’ and ‘in is out’ etc, the country that this writer loves is no longer a nation but an empire! As Chris Hedges alludes to in his fine new book Wages of Rebellion, those of us who dissent are labeled as traitors and unpatriotic, suffering, in a positive way, from some sort of sublime madness. Like the main character in Finney’s Body Snatchers Dr. Bennell, we who question and then protest the status quo are ultimately ‘on the run’… whether figuratively or in actuality. Sad.
Where and more importantly when will we experience the hope and change that Mr. Obama so disingenuously and shrewdly used for his campaign mantra in 2008? Well, since the facts are what they are, and too many of our fellow citizens just don’t get it, it is up to we who do get it to keep on speaking ‘truth to power’ wherever and whenever we can. It is time to forget the petty differences that we who stand against empire have with each other, and focus on… the empire! This word ’empire’ covers lots of ground by the way. It means not only the excessive militaristic mindset, obscene military spending and phony wars and occupations abroad, but it covers the corporate state that is destroying our old fashioned ‘Main Street America’. It covers the excessive incomes and fortunes made by not the 1% , but rather the perhaps 1/4 of the 1% of us. It is the mega millionaires and billionaires who are the true adversaries to our republic. Let us join together and demand a pull back of this military empire while also demanding that the super rich get taxed more, and the rest of us get taxed less. Shall we start there?
Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on World News Trust, Nation of Change Blog, Truthout.org, TheSleuthJournal.com, The Intrepid Report , The Peoples Voice, Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at PAF1222@bellsouth.net