America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between. - Oscar Wilde
“Why are we over there in Iraq?”
“To protect our freedoms.”
“How are the Iraqis threatening our freedoms?”
“They attacked us on 9/11.”
“If that is true, why are so many Americans against the war?”
“I don’t know, but I think Cindy Sheehan and all the other war protestors should be rounded up and shot.”
04/10/06 "ICH" -- -- I was involved in this exchange with a co-worker about two months ago. I was utterly perplexed at how this individual managed the obvious cognitive dissonance created by thinking that we are fighting to protect our “freedoms” while simultaneously holding the notion that non-violent dissidents “should be rounded up and shot”.
In retrospect, why was I so surprised? As a vehement critic of the United States government’s foreign and domestic policies, I have received numerous death threats from &ldquoatriotic” loyalists to the American Empire over the last year. Recently, a severely brain-washed US resident who maintains a site called American Jihad issued a “Farwa” (his spelling) against the editors of Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, and Uruknet and against dissident writers Mike Whitney and Kurt Nimmo. Many of my essays have appeared on Dissident Voice and Uruknet, so I suppose I am a target of the “Farwa” too.
Violent Extremists Abound
While many death threats issued by American hate-mongers may be hollow, the nations of the Middle East do not have the market cornered on fanatical ideologues who commit acts of terror. Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, Michael Griffin, Paul Hill, Ted Kaczynski, Baruch Goldstein, David Lane, Donald DeFreeze, Clayton Waagner and Earl Krugel are but a few of America’s home-grown violent extremists. America, and often components of its government, have a history of assassinating dissidents who become too powerful as they pursue equality and human rights. Fred Hampton, Malcolm X, RFK, MLK, and Paul Wellstone each met a premature demise which ended their efforts to introduce real social justice into the Empire.
Your Mind is our Vessel
Actually, I suspect many of the ardent supporters of the American Empire truly believe that they are preserving and spreading noble principles like freedom, democracy, equality, and human rights. There is no shortage of propaganda to convince them of this “fact”. Delusions and illusions “generously” provided by the corporate-controlled mainstream media afford Empire loyalists with the opportunity to avoid the burden of independent thinking. Sound-bites, canards, propaganda, stereo-types, and white-washed versions of the truth supply their programmed minds with a virtually endless loop of rationalizations to justify their approbation of a morally reprehensible entity.
People who continue to nurse at the bosom of Lady Liberty, the noble symbol of an imaginary land which has never existed, rail against those who seek peace, social and economic justice, and human rights. In their perverse worldview, health care, safety, ample nourishment, and adequate shelter are reserved for a select segment of the population in the Empire’s homeland. Those of us who believe in a more just and equitable world are indeed a threat to the oppressive capitalist imperialism of the United States. To perpetuate the Empire’s military dominance and parasitic exploitation of humanity, our attempts to awaken and rally the masses must be stopped by any means necessary.
Often accusing proponents of a more just and humane world of seeking “entitlements” for the poor and oppressed, the foot soldiers of the Empire are actually struggling with virtually every fiber of their being to preserve what they believe to be their own entitlements. Since the concept of “might making right” reinforces their belief that their “special rights” supersede the Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is time to identify and enumerate these exclusive privileges:
Inalienable Rights of Select Citizens of the American Empire
1. We have the right to pre-emptively attack the nation or region of our choice simply based on our belief that they may be a threat to the Empire. No evidence necessary.
2. We have established and will maintain the right to murder an unlimited number of innocent civilians so long as our military machine does the killing and we label the victims as “collateral damage”.
3. We have the right to label whomever we choose as “terrorists” or “enemy combatants” and to hold them indefinitely without a trial.
4. We are exempt from the Geneva Conventions and have the right to commit acts of torture or to rendition our unconvicted prisoners to other countries which will torture them.
5. We have the right to continue glorifying and justifying the land theft and genocide we committed against Native Americans.
6. We have the right to continue to claiming we are the “leader of the free world” when slavery was a legal institution in our nation until the Civil War, women were not able to vote until the Twentieth Century, institutionalized segregation existed until the 1960’s, and we deny 5% of our population (Gays and Lesbians) equal rights and protection under the Constitution.
7. We have the right to sell ourselves as a “democracy” despite the fact that we are a constitutional republic, and despite the fact that corporate interests, lobbyists, wealthy campaign donors, and Israel shape most of our foreign and domestic policy.
8. We have the right to bill ourselves as a “bastion of human rights” (and thus justify our imperial interventions) despite the fact that we have the highest prison population in the world, we have a government which tortures on a wide scale, and we are one of the few “developed” nations which metes out the death penalty.
9. We have the right to hoard the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the history of humankind while prohibiting other nations from possessing such weapons. We also are the only nation with the right to employ WMD’s on a wide scale, as evidenced by our annihilation of over 100,000 Japanese civilians.
10. We have the right to plunder 25% of the world’s resources to provide for a scant 5% of the world’s population, while blustering that if the rest of the world embraced laissez-faire capitalism, they could reap the same bountiful harvest. (Forget the mathematical impossibilities involved. Those just get in the way of the propaganda!)
11. We have the right to continue to empower multi-national corporations with the rights of person-hood, limit their exposure to criminal prosecution and civil suits, and to enable them to exploit human beings in other nations. As long as our corporate friends are showing a profit, they can operate sweat-shops, facilitate the murder of labor agitators, maintain monopolies, off-shore American jobs while exploiting the foreign workers who take them, avoid paying taxes by setting up “shell headquarters” in places like Bermuda, destroy the environment, and continue the race to the bottom in wages and benefits, here and abroad.
12. We have the right to maintain and enhance a socio-economic system that places a significant portion of the world’s wealth in the hands of about 3 million people (approximately one percent of the US population). Tax cuts and an end to estate taxes will ensure that the Empire’s plutocracy perpetuates its reign. We have the right to foster a malevolent world economic order which results in 3 billion human beings living on less than $2 per day.
13. We have the right to account for half of the world’s military expenditures to &ldquorovide for the common defense” of 5% of the world’s population while 46 million of our people have no health insurance, 13% of the overall American population lives in poverty, over a million are homeless, an alarmingly high percentage of Black America suffers poverty and receives a pathetic education, and crises like New Orleans result in passive mass murder and diasporas of “undesirables”.
14. We have the right to send military recruiters into public schools. Our recruiters have access to student addresses and phone numbers and we pay them to use propaganda and financial incentives to entice our youth into sacrificing themselves for the latest imperial crusade.
15. We have the right to accrue as much public and personal debt as we deem “necessary” to perpetuate the American Dream for our nation and to satiate our personal obsessions with acquiring material possessions.
16. We have the right to impose our hollow, shallow, and violent cultural values on a world cowed into acceptance by the raw military and economic power of the American Empire.
17. We have the right to spy on our citizens, eliminate habeas corpus, and contract private companies like Blackwater to avoid the constraints of posse comitatus. It is of no concern to us that our actions seriously conflict with the US Constitution.
18. We have the right to produce 25% of greenhouse gasses, ignore and discount mounting evidence of global warming, and refuse to sign the Kyoto Treaty.
19. We have the right to malign, threaten, intimidate, or kill those within the Empire who have the audacity to question or oppose our agenda.
20. We have the right to maintain a corrupt Duopoly consisting of the Republican and Democratic Parties, which consistently present American voters with candidates whose goals are to perpetuate the Empire and the agendas of its corporate and plutocratic leaders.
21. We have the right to use the IMF and World Bank to impose our economic will on “developing” nations which we “help” by burdening them with crushing debt.
22. We have the right to ignore and violate international law while demanding that the rest of the world (excepting Great Britain and Israel) adhere to it stringently.
23. We have the right to subsidize and support Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
24. We have the right to concentrate the power of the United States government in the hands of the Executive Branch under the pretext that it is necessitated by the “War on Terror”.
25. We have the right to label those who dare to oppose our invasions or genocides as savages or terrorists and strip them of their human rights.
There you have it. Now the American Empire’s principal supporters and beneficiaries have their own “Bill of Rights”. Ironically, it has more than twice the number of rights guaranteed to all Americans under the original Constitutional Amendments. Since the true Bill of Rights is anathema to their cause, it is essential that the Empire loyalists’ “special rights” outnumber the rights protected by our Constitution.
A Severe Spiritual Malady
Certainly believing in America’s and its supporters’ entitlement to these “special rights” would qualify one as a sociopath (one with minimal concern for the welfare and feelings of others) within the world community. However, in the American Empire, those subscribing to such depraved and self-centered “rights” receive affirmation and acceptance.
Obviously this Bill of Rights II is my construct and does not formally exist. However, each of the entitlements I enumerated is necessary to enable the United States to exist in its current perverse form. If you truly support and pledge allegiance to the American Empire, this Bill of Rights II represents the core of your sociopolitical beliefs.
For those of you who embrace the notion that Divine Providence bestowed these “inalienable rights” upon you and your nation, I call upon you to search your souls. I challenge you to do a long and fearless moral inventory. If you do, and the maleficent elements of the United States of America have not managed to burn your conscience out of your psyche, I predict you will begin the journey to rejoin the brotherhood of humanity by renouncing your support of the American Empire.
If you are so narcissistic (or perhaps morally bereft) that you have no problem with the means by which the American Empire sustains its unregenerate existence, at least consider a pragmatic angle. The United States is pursuing a ruthless course which will eventually lead to a fierce and violent backlash, which will probably affect you. The 6.2 billion other members of the human race are only going to accept so much abuse before they strike back in a powerful way.
Jason Miller is a 39 year old sociopolitical essayist with a degree in liberal arts and an extensive self-education. When he is not spending time with his wife and three sons, researching, or writing, he is working as a loan counselor. He is a member of Amnesty International and an avid supporter of Oxfam International and Human Rights Watch. He welcomes responses at firstname.lastname@example.org or comments on his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.
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