9 January 2004
On the 14th of May last year I wrote a piece called “Remember to remind me”. In small part it was about my confusion over two quotes, one by James Baldwin:
“If we know, then we must fight for your life as though it were our own…. For if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.”
And the other by German anti-fascist Martin Niemoller:
“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”
And in turn, “Remember to remind Me” referenced an earlier piece Knock-Knock written on the 12th of May 2003, also about domestic repression and censorship of the media. In any case, in “Remember to remind me” I also quoted from Angela Y Davis’ book, written in 1971, “If they come in the morning”:
“”Political repression in the United States has reached monstrous proportions. Black and Brown peoples especially – victims of the most vicious and calculated forms of class, national and racial oppression — bear the brunt of the repression even as it now engulfs the most presumably respectable groups and individuals including members of Congress. Literally tens of thousands of innocent men and women – fill the jails and prisons; hundreds of thousands more are the subject of police, FBI and military intelligence investigations…. It seems to us that the most important fact to be considered in the midst of this repression is that it and its attendant paraphernalia for coercion, manipulation and control reflect serious infirmities in the present social order. That is, while we do not underestimate the coercive resources – available to the state to suppress all forms of opposition (and the centralisation of control over those forces), we think that the necessity to resort to such repression is reflective of profound social crisis, of systemic disintegration.”
This is getting really boring but it seems that just like the mantra of the ‘war on terror’ I’m going to have to resort to the same tactics; keep on hammering home the point that we have been here before, this is not new ground. Wars on something or other have been going on for generations, and they eventually knock on your door because we didn’t speak out.
Well it’s time again to remember to remind not only myself but all who have a care about the coming terror, not of Osama bin Laden but of our own, formerly democratic governments and especially to those in the ‘free press’ who simply refuse to accept or even acknowledge that fascism is creeping up on us, one step at a time.
I am also amazed at the ability of otherwise rational people to be in a state of total denial about the fact that we have two governments, the British and the American, who in the name of freedom are quietly abolishing our own. It seems that the campaign to create the ‘war on terror’ has been completely successful, not with the public but with the very intelligentsia who have willingly taken part in its creation.
Can people be so blinkered as to sign away their own rights? It seems so if one looks at the almost total lack of coverage of the “Civil Contingencies Bill” in the UK or “Patriot II” in the US, that although miles away, is intimately linked to the Blah policies simply because both governments are pursuing a common foreign policy that requires the submission of their respective domestic populations in order to be carried out.
As I sat down to write this, I have to say that words – for once – failed me or at least words seemed totally inadequate to the task at hand. Perhaps that’s why I resorted to the words echoing down from earlier times of repression whether of the Nazis in Germany or the Nazis in the US. In one it was the ‘Red/Jewish Menace’ in the other, the ‘Black/Red Menace’. Either way, they had a scapegoat that was used to terrorise the rest of us into submission. So now we have the Arab/Islamic Menace’. Are we so gullible?
What makes it all the more frightening is the measured tones that the media intelligentsia use as they hand over the keys of their own imprisonment to the jailer. The Independent had an extraordinary editorial (8/1/04) in which it claimed that:
“It would be easy to respond to the publication yesterday of the Civil Contingencies Bill…with knee-jerk opposition to what, if implemented, would be an astonishing and frightening suspension of civil liberties. Easy, but wrong.”
Note the use of the phrase “knee-jerk opposition” that more properly describes the bill itself rather than opposition to it. The editorial goes on to say:
“Extraordinary times really do call for extraordinary measures, and were we to suffer an emergency it would, by then, be too late to start planning. We need our plans in place now.”
But aside from 9/11 the nature of the “extraordinary times” are in fact the creation of the policies of the US and UK governments, who faced with ‘extraordinary opposition’ to their policies, need a pretext to suppress opposition. Moreover, the editorial has the extraordinary audacity to call these powers “ours”.
The editorial, in a strange twist of logic then says:
“That said, it is right to be wary of handing such powers to any government. If there is one lesson to be drawn from politics in the modern era, it is that governments take power whenever the opportunity presents itself, more often than not trampling over civil liberties as if they were merely an unimportant irritant.”
If, as it says, “we need these plans in place now”, why should we be wary of “handing such powers” to our government? Already, under pre-existing and new ‘anti-terrorism’ laws both here in the UK and the US, we have seen them used against opponents of the war on Iraq, opposition to global capitalism, environmental activists, opponents of weapons production, journalists who question the war or the use of ‘patriotism’ as a propaganda weapon as well as the role of organs of the state in creating ‘fear and loathing’ in the public by planting false stories of impending ‘terrorist doom’ in the press. For surely, the media must ask the question why, if the ‘terror’ is real, is there a need to invent terror?3
The Independent goes on to claim that changes to the Civil Contingencies Bill give us assurances that the proposed powers won’t be used to suppress opposition to government policies, but one would have to be extraordinarily naïve to think that the changes to the Bill do anything of the kind:
“”[N]ew powers cannot be implemented by an event that merely threatens the “political, administrative or economic stability” of the country [to] an emergency…that “threatens serious damage to human welfare, the environment or the security of the UK or part of it.””
The key words are “serious damage” and “security” both of which are meaningless, blanket descriptions that cover virtually any situation that in the government’s opinion poses a threat. The editorial goes on to say that the 21-day limit on the use of these proposed powers is a further guarantee, but the anti-terrorism laws passed in 2000 that have the same 21-day limit have been continually renewed automatically every 21 days by the Home Secretary ever since September 11, and have been used to restrict the right to demonstrate, control the free movement of people, and stop and question literally thousands of people, all under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’.4
The editorial then resorts to pure wishful thinking when it says:
“That means that we need to have in place – with luck, never to be used – legislation that is able to deal with the way the world works today…”
So now we have to rely on “luck” to guarantee our freedoms? Bear in mind that the editorial has already warned us that it “is right to be wary of handing such powers to any government”.
The editorial ends with following scurrilous statement:
“Those who have taken a position of outright hostility to the Bill need to answer one key question: do they deny, in principle, the need for emergency powers? If they do not – and no serious person can – then the onus is on them to show how it is possible further to improve the Bill.”
According to the Independent, only those who don’t take the ‘threat’ seriously are opposed to the Bill. This amounts to a slur on all who oppose the government’s policies, as it assumes that by opposing the Bill we don’t believe that there is a threat. There are several questions posed here but unanswered by the Independent: Does the nature of the threat warrant the construction of a police state? Will the construction of a police state deal with the threat? And finally, where does the real threat come from, the almost mythical al-Qu’eda or the US and UK governments?
So in one paragraph, the Independent reduces its entire editorial to no more than a lot of hot air as they fully concur with the government that there is a need for even more draconian emergency powers than those ‘we’ possess already.
But above all else, what the Independent fails to acknowledge is that behind all the talk of ‘threats’ to our security, there lies a concerted campaign of disinformation designed to convince a rightfully skeptical public of the need for ever more draconian measures to control dissent whether it be under the guise of the ‘terrorist threat’ or the invasion of Iraq (See for example: “How the British Spy Agency MI6 Secretly Mislead A Nation Into War With Iraq”). By conflating the ‘threat’ with the more general issues of an emergency for example, a natural disaster, the government extends its control through stealth.
3. See “CIA Planted Fake Terror Alert” http://williambowles.info/guests/planted.html
4. See “Green Party “Terrorists”, http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=14884
“Interrogation, Torture, the Constitution, and the Courts”, http://writ.news.findlaw.com/mariner/20040105.html
“Why the ‘ weapons of mass deception’ are a death sentence for democracy” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5476.htm
“Torture by proxy : How immigration threw a traveler to the wolves” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/01/04/INGPQ40MET1.DTL
“Crying Wolf On Terrorism?” http://news4colorado.com/topstories/topstories_story_004100900.html
“Quarantining dissent” http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2004/01/04/INGPQ40MB81.DTL
“At What Price Security?” http://www.liberalslant.com/fhw010304.htm
“In this data-mining society, privacy advocates shudder” http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/154986_privacychallenge02.html