Saturday, August 28, 2010

Disgust: on the Lonesome Rhodes Trail to Tortureville

Glenn Beck has kept his promise to bring 100,000 plus "teabaggers" and other assorted right-wing and racist reactionaries to Washington, D.C. in a supposed commemoration of the 1963 March on Washington, which culminated in Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech. Grotesquely, King's niece, Alveda King, has joined Beck at the Lincoln Memorial rally to preach her own form of hate against gays (she recently equated gay marriage with "genocide") and abortion rights. King is director of African-American outreach for the pro-life group Priests for Life.

"Something that is beyond man is happening,' [Glenn] Beck told his supporters in DC. Quotes from participants: "Capitalism is what makes this country great." "I don't want this country to turn socialist." "We have to take our country back." "Whenever you hear the words 'social justice', you should leave your church immediately."

Glenn Beck is one dangerous demagogue. He should not be underestimated.

Well, the right-wing can mobilize tens of thousands and bring them to D.C., while the left is mired in electoralism, i.e., concentrate everything on elections, and leave the streets to the demagogues. Nor have the "progressives" anything very much progressive to offer anymore, having accepted the permanent state of immiseration that comes from buying into the "war on terror," having allowed torture and war crimes to have been codified in the Army Field Manual and the Military Commissions Act, respectively. And "liberals" long ago dropped any pretense of reining in the CIA, whose lawlessness is reproduced day by day even as I type these words.

Meanwhile, even as the New York Times puts out mealy-mouthed editorials at least somewhat critical of the current state of affairs (see today's editorial, Legacy of Torture), the Obama administration continues its crusade to institutionalize the notorious Military Commissions, even if that means (to their embarrassment) making their test case a former child soldier who was threatened with institutional rape to coerce a confession. The Gitmo judge said he couldn't see how such a threat would amount to torture or coercion, and there's fairness in America circa 2010 in a nutshell (pun intended).

If I could give homework, I'd assign a view of Elia Kazan's classic film, Face in the Crowd.

But I'm not a schoolteacher, only a part-time blogger (sitting right now in Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans, not pajamas). My disgust with this country won't buy me a meal or put a fiver in a homeless man's pocket. I can only share this feeling with what's left of a nation that has a shred of integrity left, if even living in a country that blithely ignores accountability for the crimes of its leaders -- torture, chemical warfare against civilian populations (Fallujah), running assassination teams, occupying other countries, letting millions get thrown out of their homes and jobs while protecting the fat-cats' bonuses and right to even further exploit the populace -- if even accepting citizenship in such a land doesn't forfeit me the right to anything more than moral exhaustion.

The Age of Disgust. The legacy of the end of communism, with a corpulent, weepy would-be savior as the national emoticon, spewing hate and lies, and stuffing a lot of money into his pockets along the gold-lined way, you betcha. Home of the "suckers" and land of the "stupid idiots." Don't ask me, ask Lonesome Rhodes.

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