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Freedom is just another word

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
November 18, 2004

 

"Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think you want to hear." — Alan Core

I have long believed that Veterans Day and Memorial Day are one in the same, the only distinction between the two is one day is reserved to honor war dead, the other to recognize the service of those who made it home. This Veterans day, the battle of Falluja will add to the numbers of the fallen, and forever scar the memories of those lucky enough to survive another day.

Why American soldiers were asked to pay the ultimate sacrifice on November 11, 2004 because of something that happened on September 11, 2001 is still unclear. George W. Bush likes to say freedom is on the march, sadly it's marching over the civil liberties of North Americans while crushing the nation of Iraq, and whoever else might "threaten" American interests. Of course when I say "American" interests I actually mean corporate interests.

Halliburton comes to mind.

Red America is quick to say the occupation of Iraq will result in a free and democratic nation. How is freedom achieved in an occupied nation? Permanent military bases are being built on Iraqi soil. Osama bin Laden cites the "blasphemous presence of foreign troops on sacred soil" as a reason for waging jihad on Americans. Saudi Arabia is the homeland of the Prophet Muhammad and the site of Islam's two holiest shrines.

It seems to me, the freedom people are dying for, is the freedom to plunder Iraq. Saddam Hussein is no longer in power. Why are we still there? There is US-appointed interim Iraqi Prime Minister. Why are we still there? Elections are scheduled. Why are we still there? The answer to that question, and the others swirling around Bush's War on Terror, come be summed up in one word.

Oil.

Even if democracy in Iraq were the goal of the Bush administration, what kind of democracy could we offer the people of Iraq? Ours is flawed to the pointing of breaking. Voter suppression is now the norm. The corporate duopoly works to marginalize alternative political parties such as Libertarians and Greens, working over time to safeguard corporate interests at the expense of public well being.

American freedom has always been a case of limited choices and limited opportunities. The rape and pillage of the environment has always been a cultural imperative. Slavery built America, and oppression enabled the constant expansion of it interests. Native people were "displaced" nearly to the point of cultural genocide. White women and people of color had to march in the street to gain equal rights under law.

Rights still not fully granted.

Demonstrators at the Republican and Democratic National Conventions could speak volumes on the how the rights to assemble and free speech where exercised under the threat of police violence. For a week in September riding a bicycle in Manhattan could land a person in custody without charge or legal council. Homeland Security is beginning to look like a police state.

Elements in the U.S. Patriot Act, allow for secret searches and seizures of individual property, invasion of privacy, federal detentions without due process, and guilt by association provisions. On the federal horizon is the corporate financed Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, currently being shopped around by the American Legislative Exchange Council. Such legislation would make organized environmental activism a federal crime. In Red America saving Buffalo or redwoods is domestic terrorism, and political dissent treason.

In Red America, freedom is relative to the whims of the faith-based crowd. As every gay man and woman knows, freedom to openly serve in the military is a freedom denied. The freedom to marry is also denied gay Californians, as is the case in every state but Massachusetts. The freedoms of reproductive choice are slowly being eroded away as well. Nothing more than a Trojan horse aimed at undoing Roe vs Wade, the ban on partial birth abortions targets a woman's right to choose.

Freedom is a personal issue and can't be imposed or defined by government decree. Freedom is individual. Freedom is about personal responsibility. In Baghdad or Boise, Falluja or Fallbrook, freedom is only possible when people are able to make choices on an equal playing field, without the threat of violence.

Corporate dictated democracy is not freedom. After all, when was the last time anything was free in America?

 
 
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