we move to canada
YIKES!! That was extremely disturbing! Land of the Free my ass!!
Ayayay! Disturbing things here:1. The tasering itself. Anyone familiar with police brutality issues in the US knows that cops seriously injure and kill people all the time with tasers. It was amazing to me when they started being allowed to carry them in the 90s, to little protest.2. Kerry's lack of response. He could have stopped it. He just watched it happen.And most disturbing of all ...3. The crowd's lack of appropriate response. Beyond a very few students yelling for the tasering to stop, the crowd just sat and watched. I've read that some students were cheering it. I'm reminded of the incident last week when Lennox Yearwood was tackled by DC police to the point of needing hospitalization. It was a slow tackle, with burly cops piling on him and then one cop standing and pressing down hard on the pile with his arms from the top. There was ample opportunity for the crowd to intervene. Yet, the Americans near him, some of them activists, stood and watched like it was a TV program or a movie.I've seen films of protests from the 60s and read about some from earlier in the century in which people physically prevented cops from doing harm by blocking truncheons with their bodies, overturning police cars, etc. The US population at this point has been brainwashed by years of cop TV and movie propaganda, as well as a quarter century of invective against non-right-wing political activists and liberals.
Thanks, Dean. Well said.
There's a painting by Norman Rockwell; one of the Four Freedoms paintings he did in response to FDR's speech of the same name. It shows a man, bright-eyed, standing up in some public assembly to have his say. I was reminded of it when that young man in blue was trying to ask the hard questions. Then I watched him being hauled off for daring to. It crossed my mind, quite grimly, to wonder if he were on his way to some Siberia of the Western hemisphere.What happened to the country Rockwell was celebrating while our parents were children?
How nice to see you, LP.What happened to the country Rockwell was celebrating while our parents were children?I know what you're saying, but I'm not sure it ever existed. Or at least if it did, it was only a tiny part of the country. The part our parents knew about.And of course that was only if they were white.****The Four Freedoms. That's a beautiful speech. And the greatest of these is freedom from fear...
Wow, that is awfully upsetting to watch. Where and when was this? What is particularly disturbing is that I have not seen or read anything about this, which leads me to think either that it is so routine that it isn't newsworthy or that the press is not able or interested in writing about such incidents.[Just found this today while lurking around the blog in response to your comment last night on JOS about not voting for Gore.]
Hi Amy. It was huge on the internet - and from what you're saying, unreported in the mainstream. And that's typical.
Yes, I guess I still depend mostly on newspapers for news or the mainstream Internet sites. I am still figuring out where to find reliable alternative sources on the Internet. It also is possible that I missed the story even in the NYTimes or elsewhere because I am spending too much time either reading about or watching baseball.
Oh sure. No one can see every story. Most of us only see a small portion, even on the topics that interest us. I find myself skimming vast numbers of stories but reading very few in depth. It bothers me.Some very good news sites, comprised of a combination of mainstream and alternative sources:common dreamstruth outthink progresscrooks & liarsbuzzflashtalking points memohuffington post
Thanks, I will check those out. Although I am not negative about the United States as a place to live, I am totally disgusted with what the current administration has done to our civil liberties and to people overseas in the name of fighting terrorism. Seeing a video like this one reveals a much deeper systemic problem.Thanks again for the tips. I'll be sure to check those various sites out.
The US is a great place to live if you're middle class (or higher) and can be assured of staying such. For the rest, not so much.I would also argue that what's being done in the name of fighting terrorism is of a piece with what's always been done - more of it, more overt, and worse, without a doubt. But not actually different.Substitute communism for terrorism, and very similar things were done in other eras. Systemic. Yes.Thanks for your open-mindedness - and for your disgust. It doesn't matter if it matches mine, what counts is you have it and are willing to talk about it.
Fear has always brought out the worst in people and in the government. The McCarthy Era is a clear predecent for what is happening now. But I do think this is even worse. The men who Bush appointed to the Court will do long term, maybe permanent, damage to our understanding of personal liberty and rights. There has already been serious erosion on issues such as civil rights, constitutional limitations on police and governmental investigational powers, abortion, separation of church and state, etc. And these two men are young and will be on the Court far longer than the few there who still see the world more progressively.Despite that, I still have underlying faith in our system, perhaps foolishly. There has and always will be evil and fear and abuse of power all over the world, not just in the US. And I still think our system generally has done as well if not better than most systems to protect its citizens from that abuse.I added some of those websites to my bookmarks and Google home page.Thanks again.
I agree that it is much worse today, for many reasons - lessons learned, changes in media and population, changes in the economy.When I said communism, I was thinking of the wars, like Vietnam, that were supposed to stop its spread, as the war in Iraq is supposed to stop terrorism.Of course abuse of power is not peculiar to the US. But the US is alone in its vast resources and power. It can do much more damage.I think your faith in the system is more than foolish. I think it is dangerous. There is abundant evidence that the US is no longer a functioning democracy, but a fascist state. If one thinks fascism only looks like tanks rolling down the street and goose-stepping, then perhaps it is easy to mistake what is really happening. But there appears to be a new kind of fascism, one dressed up as a democracy - but that is a facade.If you grew up loving the US, this can be a very bitter pill to swallow. That's one reason why so many people refuse it.
When I said I still have faith in the system, I meant as an ideal, not as it is currently functioning. Although I detest the current forces in our government and the way politics is played overall, I don't see another form of government that works better. And I am not sure there is anything anywhere that is true democracy. True democracy cannot work in a country of one million, let alone 200+ million. My town of 14,000 people is not a democracy. We always end up with representatives who make the decisions without necessarily following the will of their constituents. The problem is with who we elect and how we elect them. If we elect people of bad faith, as we now have in control of the federal government, then we will have the neo-fascist types we now have. I don't have the answers for how to correct the political process, but I have not given up on the basic form of government we have.Yes, I do love my country, and I am sure that blinds me to many of its faults. But I do not think we have yet become a Nazi state or a Stalinist state. And yes, I am middle class or above so I have a distorted view, but I don't think poor people anywhere have a fair lot in life. I do not feel defensive about my feelings, and I certainly respect everything you say. I am more than happy to learn and to listen.
Amy, I appreciate your open-mindedness, your lack of defensiveness, your willingness to talk about this. And I am not sure there is anything anywhere that is true democracy.Note that I didn't say "true democracy" - I said "functioning".There is a mountain of evidence that the last two presidential elections were fraudulent. I ask a rhetorical question you will find peppered throughout this blog: If the US does not have fair elections, what makes it a democracy?Many of the problems with the US election system are completely fixable. Yet election after election, the system gets worse. But I do not think we have yet become a Nazi state or a Stalinist state.Of course not. To say so would be absurd. But are those the only forms fascism can take? Because the US is not equal to the two most brutal dictatorships of the 20th Century does not mean it's not fascist, and does not make it a democracy. I have no time to search for links right now, but when I read the definitions of fascism, the list of components of what makes a fascist state, the US has nearly every one.I don't think poor people anywhere have a fair lot in life. Amy, you're too good for illogic like this. The richest and most powerful nation in the world allows millions of its citizens to go without health care, to choose between starving and freezing to death, to live without decent paying jobs, and we say "the poor have it hard everywhere"? Poor and not-poor countries around the globe offer their citizens free health care. And this is the US, for godsakes. We're not talking about Zimbabwe or even Mexico. And it's not just how poor people fare in the US. Why are there so many poor Americans? Why have so many middle class Americans slipped into poverty in the last 25 years? Why do your taxes fund unnecessary foreign wars and not health care for all? I'm not asking you those questions expecting an answer. I'm suggesting the system you are defending, as flawed as you know it to be, is much, much worse than you want to see.
"The 14 Characteristics of Fascism"Lawrence Britt1. Powerful and Continuing NationalismFascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottoes, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human RightsBecause of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying CauseThe people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.4. Supremacy of the MilitaryEven when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.5. Rampant SexismThe governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.6. Controlled Mass MediaSometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.7. Obsession with National SecurityFear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.8. Religion and Government are IntertwinedGovernments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.9. Corporate Power is ProtectedThe industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.10. Labor Power is SuppressedBecause the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the ArtsFascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.12. Obsession with Crime and PunishmentUnder fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.13. Rampant Cronyism and CorruptionFascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.14. Fraudulent ElectionsSometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.***********I'd say the US scores a perfect 14 out of 14.
The richest and most powerful nation in the world allows millions of its citizens to go without health care, to choose between starving and freezing to death, to live without decent paying jobs ... Meanwhile, $720,000,000 is being wasted every single day in Iraq.That's $500,000 every minute.WP, Sept. 22, 2007: "The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity, according to the American Friends Service Committee, which displayed those statistics on large banners in cities nationwide Thursday and Friday."Priorities.
OK, with both of you debating me and with my brain getting nervous about Game 6, I am not sure I can properly respond. But just a few points.With respect to poverty, I certainly did not mean to imply indifference to poor people ANYWHERE by my comment. I agree--it is sinful how much poverty there is here and how little is done about it by our government. No argument from me. I think I was responding to Laura's point that middle class people think life in the US is good, but not poor people. I was just saying that I didn't think poor people anywhere would think that their lives were good.I also agree that our electoral system is awful and subject to abuse and fraud and corruption. Like many if not most Americans, the 2000 election sickened me, as did the decision of the Supreme Ct. We have no disagreement on this. As I said earlier, I wish I had an answer to the political process and its problems. I also am dismayed by the fact that so many, perhaps most, Americans vote based on appearances, charm, or empty rhetoric. Even if we had an honest electoral process, I fear that we would elect people like Bush and Reagan (and Clinton) based on their "charm."As for the definition of fascism, at first I was tempted to write and say, "Whose definition of fascism should we use?" But then I thought of Mukasy's bullshit answer about how to define torture or Clinton's answers about how to define sex, and I had to laugh at myself. Under that definition, yes, there are many fascist things going on in this country. But on many of those factors I would say things are really not that bad. For example, professors are not arrested or censored on any regular basis, most opinions do get published, and the arts have not been censored. But I will agree that on many of those factors, our government has become and is becoming more fascist.Finally, you don't need to persuade me about the travesty in Iraq. I was among those who never bought Bush's assertions about WMD, and I was angry from the beginning about his use of that and the desire to "democratize" Iraq as justifications for the bloodshed and destruction he has wrought.So perhaps we are not really in much disagreement after all. I just still feel very American. I also feel very obligated to express my opinions criticizing my country, but I have not given up hope.Nor have I give up hope for our beloved team. So...on to Game 6, and see you at JOS (though I am more than happy to continue this discussion as well, although not during the game---gotta have my priorities!)
"It could never happen here."
For example, professors are not arrested or censored on any regular basis, most opinions do get published, and the arts have not been censored.True. We have the appearance of freedom.These things have all happened, a very partial list.
Never said it couldn't. But I believe that there are enough people of good faith and good values and good conscience that it will not. Call me naive, that's okay. I am a romantic, I admit, despite the fact that I am also very cynical and skeptical (and neurotic as hell). Like I said, I feel obligated to express opinions and to act on those things that anger or upset me about the US; I am not blindly loyal. I just haven't given up hope. Or to quote Anne Frank, "I still believe that people are basically good." She faced incredible adversity, yet held on to hope. No, it didn't stop her from being killed, but perhaps it gave her the strength to go on living as best she could while she could.(No, I am not comparing the US to Hitler or the Holocaust. Just trying to describe my underlying optimism. Remember, I have been a Sox fan for 32 years; that's a testament to my romantic spirit and ultimate faith!)
But I believe that there are enough people of good faith and good values and good conscience that it will not.I believe there are a tremendous number of those - but they (we) are powerless to stop it.No, I am not comparing the US to Hitler or the Holocaust. I think there's a lot of validity in such a comparison. When you said "I feel very American," I thought, the Jews in 1933 Germany felt very German. As you know, that's one reason they found it impossible to believe what was happening around them.I actually came back to the thread to affirm, as you did, that we do agree on many, many things. If we didn't, I wouldn't bother discussing it. I never have these conversations with right-wingers.I'm more concerned that liberal and progressive people take what is happening seriously, and not beleive that the good hearts of Americans are enough to get the country through this intact.
Good point, Laura. Sometimes it is hard not to be complacent, especially since my day to day life is so good here. I have to be vigilant about not confusing hope with complacency. It's one reason that I am interested in finding sources outside the mainstream media for information. I haven't been much of an activist since the 70s---got too tied up with children and career and the like in the 80s. Maybe I do need a good wake up call. So don't give up on me. I am certainly not pooh-poohing anything you say. I just am perhaps too much the lawyer in some ways---I tend to overthink and to debate most things, sometimes just for the fun of the debate. I also am skeptical of most information received from any media source --- so for the same reason that I never believed there were WMD, I also tend not to believe most conspiracy theories, be they from the left or the right. Thanks again so much for listening and helping me to learn.
Amy, thank YOU for being so open-minded.I'm not talking about conspiraacy theories, an expression often used to dismiss facts unfamiliar to the listener/reader. Facts are facts. Everything I'm referring to has actually happened. The conclusions we draw may differ, but the facts are indisputable.It's worth remembering that being a romantic, or having hope, or believing in the essential goodness of your fellow countrypeople are feelings and beliefs. They help you personally, so they are very worthwhile beliefs. But believing your countrypeople to be essentially good - and indeed their essential goodness - will not keep democracy intact.
Also Amy, I should emphasize that I never discuss these issues for the fun of debate, or for fun at all. We uprooted our entire lives - quit great jobs, gave up a rent-controlled Manhattan apartment, moved away from our family - spent spent thousands of dollars and two years in an immigration application process - and started over in a place where we knew no one, with only each other and some money in the bank - because we were so unhappy with the US. We didn't do it because of conspiracy theories or because we think Americans are bad people.
I have great respect for the choice you made to move to Canada. It strikes me as incredibly brave. It is not for me, so I have to find another way to fight the forces of evil here without hating my country. I hope you can see that. My survival mechanism includes hope because otherwise it would be just utterly depressing.I do want to know the facts. I like to reach my own conclusions based on facts rather than accepting the conclusions that others may draw, be they right or wrong, right wing or left wing. As I said, I am too skeptical to merely believe what others describe or conclude. Too many times the media or the government report things as fact that turn out to be false---from the days of Vietnam, Watergate, Iran-Contra, Iraq, etc. My references to the fun of debating has to do with the fact that I enjoy the intellectual stimulation I get from discussing ideas and opinions with people who can bring another perspective. I enjoy testing my ideas and the ideas of others. I enjoy learning things that surprise and challenge my assumptions. I did not mean "fun" in the sense of something frivolous or meaningless. It is not the same fun, for example, that I get from watching baseball.
Thanks. It really wasn't all that brave, no more than any other Big Life Change people make. I ran out of hope, and I couldn't stand being so angry all the time. Hope, as you say, is a crucial part of survival. When I lost it, I couldn't stay.I know the choice to leave the country is not right for most people. And many people who want to leave cannot do so. I feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to make this choice, and still be relatively (in global terms) close to my family, and to NYC.I misunderstood what you meant by fun (although I didn't think you meant Red Sox-type fun :) ). When I was younger I used to enjoy debating, but I haven't for a very long time. If I didn't already know you were a "good guy" (my shorthand for a whole constellation of world views), I couldn't have had this conversation. That's a failing of mine, but one I can only accept.Amy, it's been so great meeting you online. I have nothing but respect and admiration for your views. My last hope is that I am wrong about the US.I really appreciate your perspective and your open-mindedness. And now, back to baseball!
Thanks, Laura. Too bad you do live all the way in Toronto because I have a feeling we could enjoy each other's friendship in real space as well. (And I also don't waste my breath arguing with right-wingers. I can barely talk to them, let alone engage in debate. On the other hand, back in 2002 I tried desperately to convince my friends and even Harvey not to buy into Bush and the rhetoric he was using to drag us into Iraq. It was exhausting and unsuccessful with many of them, though now I fight hard when they rage about the war not to smirk and say, "Told you so." So I know how hard and yet how important it is to keep talking and arguing and listening and learning. Minds can be changed---even mine!)See you at the game! GO SOX!!
I meant to say I also appreciate your skepticism. It might be even more important than your hope. :)GO SOX
I have a feeling we could enjoy each other's friendship in real space as well. I'm sure of it! There's a reason we're always chattering off-topic on game threads. :)
Uh, not that anything is actually off-topic on a game thread, but we always manage to have those side conversations.Nervous, excited, me????
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