By David Swanson
Of course we’ve long since established that they do not hate us for the reasons they say they hate us. For example, our military bases in their countries have nothing to do with it. When I mention to people in the U.S. that Italians or Czechs or Germans or Koreans are protesting new U.S. bases, the response is usually along the lines of:
“What are we building a base in Italy for? Are we at war with Italy now?”
Therefore the bases we have already built all over Italy and in 80 percent of the nations on earth, most of which nations we are not at war with, do not exist. Mention them, and the billions of dollars U.S. taxpayers spend on them, and the response is usually:
“Oh, really? That’s terrible. Hey, are you going to watch the game tonight?”
Therefore, the reason they hate us must be something else. But it is obviously not the financial or trade policies we impose on other countries making it harder for people to earn a living. We know this because when people flee these policies and come here to try to earn a living we can tell by looking at them that it’s entirely their own fault.
So, whenever I’m on Fox radio or TV I try to ask myself why Fox viewers believe they hate us, and who “they” are and what they’re doing about it. I assume that if anyone knows, it’s got to be either Fox viewers or frequent flyers. The ordeal involved in getting on an airplane reinforces dramatically that whoever they are and whatever their reasons, they truly must hate us. It’s almost enough to start us hating them. It’s almost as if that were the… never mind.
The reasons they hate us can’t matter much, since the solution lies in new technology. Bigger walls and databases will surely save us. Nonetheless, out of pure curiosity, I have to ask: what ever happened to the theory that they hate us for our freedom? Is there anyone left in the U.S. capable of believing that even “they” could consider us particularly free? Of course, they might believe anything, but can we any longer believe that even they would believe THAT?
I know we do still have the Third Amendment, but the rest of them are pretty well wrecked, including the Thirteenth. That’s right: slavery. We not only buy consumer goods made elsewhere with slave labor and avert our eyes. We not only use slave labor in the so-called reconstruction of nations we’ve destroyed. We have slavery right here in the US of A. We have it established by court cases and documented in books, and still we think of it as in the past, as not existing, as no more real than our empire of military bases spread around the globe.
Over this holiday season, you might consider reading a new book called “Nobodies” by John Bowe, which documents in detail the use of slavery in the United States today and in U.S. territories.
Or you might read Andy Worthington’s stunning new book: “The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison.” Here they are: they. Who are “they”? Why did we pay people money to turn them over, imagining we’d get the right “they” that way? Why did we torture them to tell us about others, imagining we’d learn something useful that way? Why do we look back on the slavery abolition movement with respect but look askance at those struggling to close Guantanamo and secret prisons because they wear orange jumpsuits and complain about things we never see on television?
Spying without warrants or probable cause, free speech zones, indefinite detentions, torture, a commission to investigate unapproved belief systems, a media that functions as state propaganda, and an empire stretching from Atlantic to Pacific the long way: is this what the rebels braved the holiday season at Valley Forge for?
Or was it for the rule of law, for the rule over men and women by the U.S. Constitution? That may sound like a complete change of subject to those who imagine that defending the Constitution is all about xenophobia and the rantings of a libertarian presidential candidate who believes in black helicopters but not evolution. The Constitution, on the contrary, is not our key to opposing international law. Our Constitution has been a driving inspiration for international law. Its importance to us now, however, lies in its establishment of representative powers and the all-important check on the power of an outlaw executive known as impeachment.
A couple of weeks ago, three members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee started trying to publish a column urging that their committee begin impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. Several major newspapers turned them down. So, the congress members posted their op-ed online at http://www.wexlerwantshearings.com where it quickly gathered over 100,000 signatures (and counting) in support. Newspapers were forced to cover the growing push for impeachment, and an appropriate newspaper finally agreed to put the op-ed into print: a paper from the city where the Constitution was written, the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Forget about choosing a presidential candidate. If we want a candidate roughly as good as Jimmy Carter, we can guarantee it by doing now to Bush and Cheney what we did then to Nixon and Agnew. These are the words that should guide us over the coming months:
The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment… The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present… Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.
Removal of the President from Office… he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment… The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors….