Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Weakly Courting Supreme Disaster

More than 20 years ago, when I was living in Lahore, Pakistan and before I had been to the USA I remember taking a few months long course at the American Center there. It was a great introduction to the history of this great nation, and what makes the US government one of the most stable and democratic in all of history.

I remember being educated on how the balance of powers between the President, Congress and the Supreme Court ensured no government could usurp the rights of the people, no power hungry and corrupt president could become dictator, no laws could be made by a majority to take away the basic rights enshrined in the American Constitution.

I even remember looking around me and wondering, how come we had the same three bodies in Pakistan, yet had a US-backed dictator General Zia abrogating the constitution, handpicking Supreme Court judges and basically selecting a Parliament to rubber stamp everything he wanted. The only explanation I found was that Pakistanis had become disinterested in the importance of democracy and their rights. Everyone was basically caving in to let an illegal dictator claim to be a legal head of state. The judges on the court just wanted to live in nice homes, the members of parliament merely wanted to get government contracts & kickbacks and no one wanted to stand up for what was right.

What ensured America's supremacy as a democracy was that the Congress and the Supreme Courts made sure that they stood up to the White House to ensure that no man, no matter how great, could ever even think about acting as, much less being, a dictator. But that history course I took was 20 years ago.

News items I have seen in just the last few hours have me wondering if we Americans, as a nation, have already embarked on the path to becoming ruled by a dictatorship. We are being ruled by power hungry people with a population least bothered by the future of democracy. We have corrupt politicians and politically motivated judges letting a man hardly qualified to be President now become a dictator, by claiming some sort of never ending war as his justification - with no one able to question his stupidity or bad decisions or lies or incompetence.

You already know the case of a guy named Jose Padilla. This is that lame ex-gang member who is supposed to have been half a screwdriver turn away from blasting us all with a dirty bomb.

That was three years ago. He was kept in a military jail for that time and was not even charged with a crime or given the rights he has an American citizen. When his case was appealed to the Supreme Court, the Bush government immediately played some legal games and pulled him out of the military justice system and finally put him into the civilian courts while also claiming that the Supreme Court does NOT have the authority to judge the actions of the government relating to such military tribunals.

The Supreme Court had an opportunity to put a stop to this undeniable march towards dictatorship that our government has embarked upon. It had the opportunity to ensure that this and future governments would always remember that what rights we have, as Americans, cannot be taken away by any President, any White House, any government.

But, with a 6 to 3 margin, the Supreme Court sold us out today and decided not to hear whether it has jurisdiction on what the government does in cases like this. Whatever the merits of Padilla's case, the Supreme Court just weakened its own standing as one of the three pillars that ensures a strong democracy in our country. And, it weakened you, and me, as Americans. Basically, now, anyone in government can arrest any one of us, and throw us in a brig for YEARS, without charging a crime or giving us our rights as Americans.

Sure, some will foolishly disagree with this and say that "Oh, it won't happen to ordinary people..." That is NOT the point. The point of many of our fundamental rights being enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights are not that someone did something specific but to ensure that no one, no President, no government, no Congress, COULD take away our rights IF it wanted.

We have the Bill of Rights not because someone in government took specific illegal action against you or me, but to ensure that no one CAN. We have the Supreme Court to ensure that the law was upheld. But, the current Supreme Court, instead of taking action, instead of ensuring it acted as the third pillar of balance in our system of government, basically deferred to a dictatorial, tyrannical system of government.

My fellow Americans, This is how tyrannies take shape. We have begun our downward slide. Yet, look around you.

Most of our fellow citizens, fellow Americans, will completely remember what the judges on American Idol said, but will not know one word about what the Supreme Court judges said, on a judgement day for American Ideals that is upon us... How sad.

If you think I am exaggerating, think about another small news item I came across today. According to media reports a news producer at NBC has been disciplined, and sent on leave, because someone leaked out an email he wrote in 2004, two years ago saying George W. Bush makes him want to puke.

Yes, people, we have private sector companies now realizing it is in their interest to send out a message.... do NOT say anything bad about our President.

Welcome to the start of a tyranny..... This is how things are done in Cuba and Syria, in North Korea and Iran.... everyone knows that saying anything bad about the exalted supreme Idiotollah™ leader will be a crime or can get you fired.

Long Live Democracy, long live free speech.... you will be missed.

Yes, we all want to live in safety, but do we want to live as slaves living safe lives, or do we want to live as free men and women, free citizens of the United States, with rights to live and speak as we please?

Saudi Arabia is actually one of the safest places in the world. There is hardly any crime.

North Korea is another place, that has not had any terror attacks.

Would you, my fellow Americans, give up your rights to speak, to express opinions, to have private intimate conversations on the telephone, to criticize the government, to say that the President is an idiot or a Senator is a crook, to BE what you want to be, to SAY what you want to say, to LIVE how you want to live, to SEE who you want to see, to GO where you want to go, to LOVE who you want to love..... and move to live under the safety of the rulers of North Korea or Saudi Arabia?

I didn't think so.

That is why it is important for you and me to sit up and take notice.

It is OUR rights, not the rights of low-life crooks like Jose Padilla, it is OUR privacy, not the privacy of AlQaeda agents, it is OUR freedom of speech not that of Bin Laden that are under attack... And it is not under attack from Bin Laden or Fidel Castro or AlQaeda or North Korea or the Taliban. It is under attack from our own government in Washington, DC, with our Congress looking on and our Supreme Court bending to the wills of a dictatorial White House.

Are we just going to sit back, watching LOST and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES on TV, voting for American Idol, while our rights are lost, our situation gets more desperate and our ideals are destroyed?

I hope not.




4 comments:

Let said...

It is an unfortunate fact that we have begun a steady decline. I am sure scholars will see eerie reminders of the fall of another empire centuries ago and amuse at the comparisons. But back then, the people could not be blamed. They lacked our technology, our variety in media and sources for information. The lacked strength to combat the evils of their opressors.

Today, this mess we have, is our doing. We allow these things to happen. So pardon me if I do not join you in bashing just our leaders. Our silence during supreme court confirmations, our locked hands while the Constitution is used as toilet paper and our trained feet and wallets that continue to shop at the nearest Walmart to save $.30 while it fail to provide attainable healthcare for its employees, makes it our fault.

So yes, I'm disgusted... but not at who you may thing. I knew this was coming. I am more disgusted at the fools who point one finger at someone else when there are three fingers pointing at the real problem: Themselves.

Imran Anwar said...

Unfortunately, LET, I agree with you. I responded to a friend in NJ just a few minutes ago. She was saying the "American people" are not responsible for the actions of the "American government". I said that is the excuse *I* make as an American when I am abroad, but here at home, the fact is we Americans could not care less if we woke up and a Fascist government abrogated the Constitution, declared martial law, bombed 2 million civilians abroad and dissolved Congress.... as long as gas prices drop to $1 and Walmart dropped prices on plasma TVs.

Imran

Let said...

Well said Imran. But you and I are in the minority, sir.

darkstar said...

So true, so true Imran...We have created a society where you don't have to legally be responsible for your actions, morally sure, but who cares about morals, right?...