Of Cutting Gas Lines

By David Swanson

Here in Virginia where we’re addicted to the practice of killing people in order to teach them not to kill people, there are certain things that must not be said about the moron(s) who cut a gas line to a backyard grill at the home of the brother of a congressman who voted for a health insurance bill.

1. We must not mention that Congressman Tom Perriello sets a strong example for the use of violence. When he doesn’t know how to resolve disputes, he bombs people. He drops bombs on them. Since the moment he got into Congress, Perriello has seized every available opportunity to vote for more funding for the military and wars. Later this month or next, he will vote another $33 billion for two illegal wars and assorted illegal drone strikes. This doesn’t mean that the teabaggers got the idea of using violence from Perriello, but it does mean that he has set no example of nonviolence from which they might have learned.

2. We must not notice Perriello’s strong example of adherence to group think. It is helpful that Perriello is saying wise and stoic things in response to the lunatics threatening him and his family, but none of that alters his performance as a congress member, which is the performance of a mechanical cog. There are only two congress members, Obama and Boehner. The chance of Perriello disobeying Obama on healthcare was absolutely zero. The sticks and carrots the Democratic Party holds over him are overwhelming. Perriello’s campaigns are funded by the Democratic Party. There was no thinking, much less moral wrestling, god forbid courageous defiance, involved in Perriello doing as he was told. Which is what teabaggers do, too. They just do it for the other party.

3. We need to keep quiet about the media’s role in inventing the teabaggers, encouraging their worst tendencies, and inciting violence. Whatever nut finally kills a congress member or a president, we will be told, will have acted alone. The fact that our national media cartel treats such nuts with respect, presents their lies as one half of “balanced” reports, and downplays its own responsibility for inciting and joking about acts of violence: that’s just not relevant. Why not? Because the media says so. And when war criminal John Yoo came to town last week, neither Perriello nor the local media had a word to say against him. The top concern of the media and of the university was that Yoo’s right to free speech be held sacred. (Will the jerk(s) who cut the gas line be next to speak at the Miller Center, or are they too small time?)

4. No one can point out that the racists and christianists would be supporting the health insurance bill, and all the liberals would be opposing it, if it had been promoted by President George W. Bush. It’s a disastrous corporate bill, written by the industry it pretends to regulate. It’s not a bill that, on its own terms, can be identified as looking particularly Republican or Democratic. The entire uproar around it is one created by a debate that randomly pits one party (and all those who obey it) against the other, with a thick dash of racism thrown in.

5. We certainly cannot speak about the fact that Republicans in Washington get their way by being mean and nasty, thereby showing their supporters around the country how to get things done. When Republican leaders on television yell and curse and threaten and lie, exaggerate and distort, and appeal to racism and fear, it seems like it usually works. The Democrats usually back down. What should people enduring hard economic times learn from this, given that the media doesn’t teach them anything substantive about what is happening to their country?

6. Absolutely we should not mention that leftists and progressives have hidden under their beds in Perriello’s district since the moment he took office. His predecessor was a Republican, and peace activists were routinely arrested in HIS office protesting his support for wars. Perriello has supported every war to the full extent of his ability, and there has not been a single protest, picket, rally, Email campaign, phone-calling session, or letter to the editor. Nothing. Supporters of single-payer healthcare, by and large, clammed up. They took their orders from astroturf groups and unions that took their orders from the same place Perriello did. The absence of a real leftist position in our political debates for the past two years has meant that whatever Perriello did could plausibly be called the extreme leftist stance. Our absence framed the debate as significantly as the teabaggers’ presence did.

7. Finally, by no means must we ever mention the major gas line that has never shown up in the media in Virginia’s Fifth District, the gas line that should be discussed far more seriously than the one to Perriello’s brother’s backyard grill. I mean the gas line we are building through Afghanistan, for which our young men and women are committing crimes, risking their lives and well-being, and turning much of the world against us with blowback sure to follow. We just conquered the fictional city of Marjah because of the region’s location: it sits where we plan to run the gas line. When can we talk about that? Why is Perriello funding it?

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