It has been said that the march of history, particularly in the realm
of human rights, is always forward. Embedded within this concept is
the idea that despite tragedies and war, the human condition always
progresses. Unquestionably, whoever created the expression did so long
before our just completed decade.
The decade began with arguably the first fraudulent presidential
election in the history of the United States. Rather than a clear and
decisive victory for Bush-Cheney, it was a Reagan-Bush hand-picked
Supreme Court that intervened to give us two candidates who had
received less votes than their opponents in a hotly disputed election.
Upon being sworn into office, these two grabbed the reigns of power
and began to govern as though the U.S. electorate had granted them a
unanimous mandate. From there it went straight downhill.
Bush-Cheney pompously began to govern where Reagan-Bush had left off;
all power to the corporate sector and all power to the
military-industrial complex. Not that Clinton had been a moral beacon
or a champion of the poor, but Bush-Cheney ensured that every aspect
of government came to be placed at the service of the corporate
Then came 9-11. And what could have been a moment that could have
united all of humanity, the Bush-Cheney administration turned it into
an opportunity to divide the world up into good vs. evil and to
consolidate the power of the United States on a global scale. 9-11
virtually became a war marketing opportunity. It also ushered in the
birth of "The Homeland."
9-11 became a clarion call for a fanatical crusade against
Arabs/Muslims and a call for a permanent worldwide war: God Bless
America. With it also came a moral demand for the speeding up of Big
Brother Society with nonsensical mantras such as: "The U.S.
Constitution is not a suicide pact" and "the Geneva Conventions are
now 'quaint' and obsolete." God had bequeathed to the United States
its own special set of laws that Americans could obey or disobey at
the discretion of their God-inspired leader. That's why the
Bush-Cheney administration worked feverishly to ensure that Americans
[soldiers and/or mercenaries] were not subject to the International
Criminal Court of Justice.
It became a license to kill without accountability and a rationale for
dehumanization: Where had we heard that before? New arguments were
contrived that not all human beings were entitled to life or to the
full protection of the law, especially if we were at war. Thus, the
notion of permanent worldwide war was conceived. And thus, the
Bush-Cheney administration abrogated unto themselves the rogue notion
that in carrying out this war, the U.S. now had permission to ignore,
interpret as it saw fit, or create new laws, permanently.
In war, no trials are necessary. The only rationale necessary is that
a legitimate target has been targeted. Whether it is actually hit is
irrelevant and dead civilians are but collateral damage. In this
scenario, drone technology became the weapon of choice with no
fingerprints and no accountability.
Enter hate. The climate was created that those that were to be
receiving our bombs were different than us. Brown people became the
enemy‘«™ with turbans. Brown people became the enemy in Afghanistan and
then at home. And it didn't matter what kind of brown people. They
became both the enemy and the convenient scapegoat. Enter the era of
Lou Dobbs and Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Enter the era of closed borders and
closed minds. As long as the enemy is "not us" ‘«Ű the loss of rights
became acceptable. And to facilitate this era, it became necessary to
stoke fear, periodically. Enter color codes. Or was it simply a return
to America's old-fashioned color codes? Enter a cheerleading media and
the end of its governmental watchdog function. All Americans were
subjected to loss of privacy and freedoms, but by then, it was already
Then came the Iraq War.
No weapons of mass destruction were ever found, but the [true] reasons
for war ‘«Ű and the laws governing war ‘«Ű became irrelevant. The stage
had already been set; Iraq was simply the latest enemy and their
leader the embodiment of evil. And the mainstream media again stepped
forward or jumped: "How can we help?"
Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have lost their lives; many more
hundreds of thousands have been maimed while millions have been
displaced and through all this, Americans yawn. Less than 5,000
Americans dead and only 30,000 Americans wounded has not been quite
enough to bother the American conscience.
Even when the Democrats took back control of Congress in 2006,
impeachment for prosecuting a clearly illegal war became "off the
table" and ending the war was also declared out of the question.
When Barack Obama became President Barack Obama, everything was to
change. But "Supporting the troops" became the circular and continuing
argument for continuing the Iraq war. And the change we could believe
in and Yes We Can began to rhyme with Afghani-stan‘«™ the sequel. And
That was the lost decade. That is how America lost its mythical
conscience. And the decade ended with explosives in the underwear of a
Nigerian man; a jarring reminder that our permanent war is here to
stay. And now, Yemen also rhymes with Yes We Can? Now too, we also
know that Big Brother is also never going to go away. It really wasn't
government; it was the people who gave this decade away.