Saturday, December 30, 2006

The real trial we need to further democracy.

Once again U.S. President George W. Bush demonstrates his fascist disregard for human life and democracy. Bush has praised the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as "an important milestone," but the question is: on the road to where? Bush claims the execution is a milestone on the road to building an Iraqi democracy, but in fact it is only building an Iraqi fascism in the image of the USA's brand of fascism. Every true democracy in the world has abolished the death penalty because their people recognize it is an essentially barbaric act that has absolutely no utility other than debasing their humanity in the name of revenge.

The USA is in the camp with such great "democracies" as communist China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iran as the most prolific executioners in the world. Luca Signorelli's Fresco of the Apocalypse at the Orvieto Cathedral of the San Brizio Chapel in Orvieto, Italy, depicts mass executions as a sign of the time of the Anti-Christ. Perhaps that is something for the evangelical Christians who support Bush and the mass executions of the USA to meditate upon.

Bush said: "It is a testament to the Iraqi people's resolve to move forward after decades of oppression that, despite his terrible crimes against his own people, Saddam Hussein received a fair trial.” Excuse me, but no, Hussein did not receive a fair trial. For example, his defense was limited by severe restrictions, and his sentence was announced before the verdict.

Bush’s claim that the execution "is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the War on Terror." demonstrates that he has no clue what being a democracy actually means. The execution of Saddam Hussein has absolutely no connection to the phony “war on terror” and Bush’s repeated lies attempting to connect them only show his fascist disregard for the truth in his zeal to issue propaganda. There is not one statement by Bush about the purpose of the US occupation that rings true, and most of all that Iraq or Hussein had anything to do with the attacks of terrorism on the U.S. In fact the only attack on the US that Hussein threatened was to change the currency of exchange for oil from US dollars to EU euros.

If there is any trial that is absolutely necessary in order to secure a democracy for the United States of America it is the impeachment and trial of President Bush himself. Until Bush is impeached and tried we cannot say that the USA is today a true democracy. We are reminded by the recent death of President Gerald Ford how the conservatives feel that law and order apply to anyone but themselves. Bush's imperial sense of invulnerablilty to criticism can be seen as directly stemming from Ford's unpardonable pardon of President Nixon.

Dennis Kucinich, the man who should be president, asks about accountibility:

Who will be held accountable for sending 3,000 US troops to their deaths in Iraq, for a war based on lies?
Who will be held accountable for the deaths of over 655,000 innocent Iraqi civilians during the course of this illegal war?
Where is the two trillion dollars that this war is going to cost coming from?
When will Congress be held accountable for having voted to go to war?
When will Congress be held accountable for continuing to fund a war, and for abandoning our troops to a conflict that cannot be won militarily?

Sean Penn in his recent comments on receiving The 2006 Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award also asks, "And, where is the accountability on behalf of the American dead and wounded, their families, their friends, and the people of the United States who have seen their country become a world pariah?"

Where the president has violated the Constitution and International Law and lied to the people in order to prosecute an invasion that violates every principle of Nuremberg and by ordering the invasion has ordered the killing of thirty (30) to two hundred (200) times more innocent Iraqi civilians than the number of people killed in the 9/11 attacks and resulting in more Iraqis being killed than Saddam Hussein ever ordered killed, and still the congress refuses to consider impeachment, one can only say that democracy is missing in action.

Sean Penn said it most colorfully in his acceptance speech, "So...look, if we attempt to impeach for lying about a blowjob, yet accept these almost certain abuses without challenge, we become a cum-stain on the flag we wave." Bush's pronouncment and glorification of death on the the execution of Saddam Hussein are yet another such stain on the red, white, and blue dress of democracy.

Reference links:
BBC News: Saddam Hussein executed in Iraq
human rights death penalty
Ten Reasons Congress Must Investigate Bush Administration Crimes
In These Times:In Praise of Impeachment
Dennis Kucinich's statement on Saddam Hussein - Accountability
Sean Penn's Acceptance Speech of the Christopher Reeve Award

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Freedom to Choose a Good Book Is the American Way of Civilization

American fascists are making Keith Ellison a household name. Who, you might wonder? Keith Ellison is the newly elected congressman from Minnesota's Fifth District and is the first Muslim elected to the United States Congress. Much to the consternation of American fascists, Congressman elect Ellison has announced that he will not take his oath of office by placing his hand on the Bible, and instead chooses to be sworn in using the Koran.

I recently learned that a national campaign has begun to oppose the use of the Koran in the swearing-in ceremonies for representatives, senators, and even the President and Vice president. The American fascists are sending emails and letters to legislators asking for a law to prevent the use of any other book than the Bible for taking the oath of office.

Why? Because to use any other book would “undermine American civilization” according to columnist Dennis Prager. The so-called “good Christians” of the American Family Association have endorsed and embraced Prager’s fascist views and assert that because Prager is a Jew that it is not just a Christian issue. Of course they don’t acknowledge that the first half of the Christian Bible is the Jewish Bible, and therefore for a Jew to advocate the exclusive use of the Christian Bible is actually advocating the exclusive use of the Jewish-Christian Bible. Of course for Prager to place his hand on the Bible to take an oath, if he were an observing Jew, he would have to accomplish the mental gymnastics of having his hand only reach down to the first part of the book and stop before including the New Testament.

Prager’s un-American ranting is really something to wonder at. First he says, Ellison “should not be allowed to do so -- not because of any American hostility to the Koran, but because the act undermines American civilization.” This silliness is really fascinating from someone who is supposed to be engaging in rational discourse. If one believes that placing one’s hand on the Koran is a threat to American civilization, then clearly the holder of that belief is extremely hostile to the Koran. To argue otherwise is just absurd sophism.

Then Prager says, by way of example, “What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.” Dennis Prager’s education is woefully lacking as he evidently never learned in school that America doesn’t have a “holiest” book, because the USA believes in the doctrine of the separation of Church and State. This doctrine by the way is enshrined in our US Constitution’s First Amendment, as well as evidenced by the fact that God is not mentioned anywhere in the US Constitution. What a great document it is!.

But the real irony is that the fascists like Prager overlook the very core of the symbology of the oath taking ceremony as it relates to American civilization, that is the very purpose of putting a hand on a book. The person is not swearing allegiance to the book, nor to a religion or a culture, he or she is swearing allegiance to the US Constitution. The ceremony is one in which the person is stating an oath of allegiance, based exactly on their own personal religious and spiritual faith, that they will uphold and protect the US Constitution. We accept this oath precisely because it is based on the person’s sincerity and personal integrity as evidenced by their hand on the book that they themselves uphold to be the highest expression of their spiritual and moral life. That's not to hard to understand is it?

Contrary to how Prager and similar totalitarian thinkers see damage “to the fabric of American civilization” if Ellison is allowed to choose his own book, it is squarely this choice that is the fabric of American civilization. The book chosen is intensely personal and individual by design! Other wise the oath of office would be meaningless. If would be as meaningless to a Muslim to make the oath with his hand on the Bible as it would for a Jew to make the oath with her hand on the Koran. Or for either to make the oath with their hands on the phonebook.

There are only two rational positions to have on this question. Either the person being sworn in must get to choose the book that represents to them their most personal and important evidence of their own integrity and sincerity, or the book should be the document to which they are pledging allegiance, that is the US Constitution.

If the fascists want to avoid having the Koran being used in the oath of office, then the only American alternative is to remove all religious books from the ceremony and have the hand placed on the US Constitution itself. This of course would change the central meaning of the act itself. Instead of being the indicator of the source of one’s spiritual and moral values, as the book now represents, the hand on the book would simply indicate the object to which the oath is being given. That is workable, but the consequence means that there would be no observable ritual and ceremony showing the personally meaningful traditional source of the moral integrity of the oath taker.

If a person puts his or her hand on a Bible, Koran, Buddhist Sutra, or whatever book that gives them their roots of moral strength, then I feel that is a welcome indication of the character of the person who is taking the oath. Prager’s Chicken Little “the sky is falling in on American civilization” warning, of course, only presents his own hubris even as he projects his hubris onto Ellison. For Prager to worry that some elected Nazi might use Mein Kampf, or that an elected Scientologist might use the book Dianetics,is really a baseless worry. If those are the books a newly elected Congressperson would choose, then those books are the evidence of their sincerity. I would much rather have a congressman openly show us that he considers Mein Kampf to be his greatest moral inspiration than to have him secretly embrace it while publically putting his hand on the bible.

Mr. Prager, this is America – with its separation of church and state– if you don’t like to have Muslims in office, then don’t vote for them, but you don’t get to dictate your religions views onto others and prevent them from using the book that means most to their moral character.

Mr. Ellison, thank you for putting your hand on the Koran. You make America a better place to live by showing that a Muslim can get elected and make an oath to support the US Constitution.

Now, when do we get to have a Buddhist or an atheist elected to Congress?