Forks and Knives
The American security state presses onward and the bitter cup of tyranny is being presented to a once free people. Still, the triumph of evil is not a foregone conclusion. The great goodness of the American people may yet win the day.
Now, a very great man once said
That some people rob you with a fountain pen
It don't take too long to find out
Just what he was talking about
A lot of people don't have much food on their table
But they got a lot of forks and knives
And they gotta cut something. ~Bob Dylan
In case you hadn't noticed, the ruling class of our plutocracy have been growing increasingly bold in their attempts to project an image of overwhelming and crushing power for the benefit of the citizenry. To my mind the likeliest reason for this show of force clearly intended to cow and intimidate the average American is the government's apprehension that the average American is little by slowly catching on to the scams perpetrated upon him by that very government over the span of many years.
Having destroyed America's industrial base and wrecked its economy, the powers that be are finding that the tricks in their bag, so useful for many years in distracting and diverting Americans' attention from the real action, have lost much of their power. Endless repetition of skewed or false data by the mainstream media and controlled press, backed by the cadre of court historians and economists whose function has been to legitimize the destructive effects of government intervention and present it as a necessary or even desirable part of our lives is no longer as effective as it was in earlier days thanks to the vast increase in speed and ever-diminishing opportunity cost of communication brought to us by technology and the internet. In other words, the jig is up, and they know it.
The institutionalization of militarized law enforcement along with the presence of the actual military across the country (thanks to the gutting of the Posse Comitatus Act by various unconstitutional pieces of legislation) engaged in day to day actions is not only useful in projecting that image of overwhelming force to keep average Americans in line, it also serves to acclimatize them to an existence marked by a constant military or quasi-military presence. In addition, it creates a strong delineation between anyone in this Praetorian class of enforcers and the ordinary American, aggrandizing and according special privileges to the former while diminishing or even demonizing Americans who don't belong to their ranks.
This week the public saw a memo from the Department of Justice disclosed by NBC in an article discussing the DOJ's rationalization for killing Americans using drone strikes if they're thought to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force” that pose “an imminent threat of violent attack.”
According to the NBC piece:
“The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future,” the memo states.
Instead, it says, an “informed, high-level” official of the U.S. government may determine that the targeted American has been “recently” involved in “activities” posing a threat of a violent attack and “there is no evidence suggesting that he has renounced or abandoned such activities.” The memo does not define “recently” or “activities.”
Notice first the reference to 'an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government' who will apparently be the one making the determination whether or not to murder an American under suspicion. As I predicted more than a year ago, the option to initiate deadly force against declared enemies of the state is already being delegated to those lower down the chain of command from the president. As bad as the administration's claims that any American deemed to be dangerous could be targeted for extrajudicial killing by the president were, this new move further entrenches this illegal and immoral practice, spreading the ability to simply assassinate American citizens it fears or just doesn't like to an unknown number of faceless, unelected bureaucrats who aren't held accountable for their actions. Defenders of this plan insist that the good nature of those wielding this frightful power is the only assurance needed to protect ordinary Americans, that the vague and endlessly malleable language justifying it is needed to give the authorities the tools to combat the Evil Terrorists. Looking to history for a guide, we see that in reality we now have only the flimsiest of barriers between the population and those who would dominate them. Instead of the stout buffer provided by the rule of law on our behalf, we're told we must now depend upon the morality and integrity of faceless men to restrain them from inflicting abuse upon their fellows.
I do not use these pejoratives lightly. In my view there's no ambiguity here; you can pretty up the language or engage in obfuscation all day long but the fact remains that our government is loudly broadcasting its intent to murder anyone it pleases. This plan has been evolving for some time; the government was sure to establish the precedent so beloved by the legal profession with the assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki by means of a drone strike in Yemen in late 2011. He was the perfect test case, a trial balloon to see if Americans would accept the new paradigm of the president as Assassin-In-Chief. Think about it: Al-Awlaki was comfortably far away in Yemen, had an Arabic name to condemn him in advance in the minds of the xenophobic jingoists among us who assume that anyone with such a name is automatically a crazed terrorist, and his rhetoric and chosen associates were unquestionably anti-American. By and large the public did indeed accept what happened as an expedient way for our all-knowing masters to dispose of a Bad Man.
Lost amidst the loud braying of propaganda were the more critical facts: Like him or not, al-Awlaki was still a US born citizen and simply assassinating him violated several of the natural rights acknowledged by our Constitutional Bill of Rights that in theory apply to every American; negate them for one and you negate them for all. Far from getting his day in court to face his accusers, he was never even charged with a crime before he was killed. The government's palpable eagerness to destroy al-Awlaki begs the question: what might the man have said in his own defense to ameliorate the charges against him had he the chance? More significantly, what information might have come to the public's attention from the man that might prove embarrassing to the regime; could he have exposed incompetence, corruption, or plain criminality on our government's part that could damage or cripple their credibility?
We'll never know.
In its headlong rush to further entrench its power and ability to intimidate, the government's next move two weeks later was even more alarming when it murdered al-Awlaki's son Abdulrahman, a Denver, Colorado-born sixteen year old with another drone strike. Here too, the fact that he was a US citizen and minor child, had never been charged with a crime and was killed while enroute to a barbecue does not as yet seem to have caused the majority of Americans the least distress. There has been some commentary to the effect that the boy was not actually a target of this drone strike and was merely 'collateral damage,' by others that he was a justifiable target because he was of military age (at sixteen, I ask?) but I don't buy a word of it. In my opinion this child was killed because he happened to be the son of the previous target...and because the government wanted to send a message that any relationship with someone officially designated a Bad Guy can now have fatal consequences, a concept now completely divorced from the consistent rule of law that's supposed to be an integral part of the American character.
Given politicians' demonstrated propensity for stretching reality as needed to fit a definition they've concocted, it requires no great effort to envision any number of scenarios in which people could be killed outright, 'disappeared' into the black hole of indefinite detention to be tortured or murdered, or to have their lives ruined by the government for relatively innocuous behavior that most would consider nonthreatening but that now fall under the definitions of the many malum prohibitum acts created by legislators in recent years with such abominations as the USA PATRIOT Act, the NDAA of 2012 and 2013, HR347 and more. These same laws can prevent them from presenting or viewing evidence supporting their innocence, facing their accusers, or...under the wrong circumstances...even being informed as to the specifics of the charges against them.
For those who can still find it in themselves to support these practices, I pose a question: what's the difference between the American government's current official stance on extrajudicial kidnapping, torture and murder and that of the most corrupt of tinpot dictatorships in history at this point other than some flowery rhetoric, appealing symbolic presentation and assurances of goodwill toward regular Americans? Centuries' worth of proven legal defenses to government abuses have been whittled away, what prevents ambitious and corrupt officials from destroying anyone who earns its displeasure while piously invoking the need for secrecy for the sake of national security, even if that person's never committed a crime other than embarrassing the government or making public its foibles?
I can see no difference in the former example nor answers to the latter. I honestly believe we've entered one of the most dangerous periods of our history. It is now that Americans need to make it clear in sufficient numbers that the tyrannical position taken by our government, the people who are supposed to be our servants and employees, is not acceptable. No bloody physical confrontation is needed at this point to put a stop to those consumed by the lust to dominate us, not if enough of us withdraw our consent to their power over us. I honestly don't know how many Americans are sufficiently awake to effect the needed change, but we cannot afford to flag in our efforts to educate as many people as possible to the realities of the situation. We must also ready ourselves for the adversities we face as our economy continues to deteriorate while our government tends more every day to pursue the savage security state it's obsessed with.
Pro-liberty activist and musical artist Jordan Page's recent cautionary song 'Arm Yourselves' addresses the hazards of being unprepared to face these issues in a powerful message:
While I find all of its lyrics highly relevant, I'm always shaken when I hear
Arm yourselves to the teeth and prepare your eyes for blood
I do believe:
The passive man won't live to grieve.
With a government that's created an environment where police can beat a homeless man to death then plead not guilty when caught (literally) red handed on video, or fatally shoot a double amputee in a wheelchair, claiming afterward that the pen-wielding disturbed man had cornered them, the conclusion that we are facing a clear and present danger from it doesn't strike me as alarmist in the least. With our former entrepreneurial drive and love of self sufficiency at an all time historic low, America offers its people fewer traditional jobs and careers for them to build lives from but many more opportunities to join the metastasizing security state. Most of these involve minimal pay and benefits since the faux security industry produces nothing of real value, so even those still able to find employment find it difficult at best to make ends meet. This marks a civilization in decline; like a snake eating its own tail the spiral is ever tightening and increasingly destructive.
Bob Dylan, intentionally or not, showed prescience with the lines quoted at the opening of this essay: a lot of people today, from the elite with a vested interest in tyranny to the lowest Praetorian enforcer, do indeed have a lot of forks and knives at hand.
If not checked quickly, be assured they'll be doing a lot of cutting with them.
Image Credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 (Flickr)/Madison Guy