Part II — Lying labels, involving a “moderate” president and some “radical” peace activists
I’ve recently been reminded of the power of NAMING in any society, with 21st-century Newspeak abounding in many forums where pundits and commenters casually describe President Obama as a political “moderate.” This misinformed view is commonly held by his many supporters and apologists (and the establishment he champions, of course), but I can’t help wondering where — beyond the president’s laudable steps toward recognizing the rights of the LGBT community — is the substance of this notion? Is there really anything to it, beyond the powerful Obama brand? Bear in mind I am not referring to the president’s charmingly self-assured personal demeanor or his accommodating (and hardly peeve-able, let alone flappable) political style. I am speaking of his policies, of the substance of his so-called “leadership” (leadership being an accolade bestowed upon politicians who follow the oligarchs’ orders well, usually in contravention of the express wishes of the American people — in short, more Newspeak).
But if Barack Obama governed anything like the “center-left” character he plays on TV, he wouldn’t have deported over 1.4 million individuals (at a record-breaking rate) during his first term — often dividing American children from their parents (undocumented/illegal immigrants who’ve been aggressively recruited by our minimum wage-averse business class, to toil in their fields, meat-packing plants, construction sites, hotels and motels, casinos, restaurants, and more). If President Obama governed as any kind of liberal, he wouldn’t have escalated the federal government’s war against state-licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries, well beyond his draconian predecessor’s efforts. He wouldn’t have exploded the historical record for using the 1917 Espionage Act against honest whistleblowers helping journalists expose high crimes (SIX times already in this fashion). He’s dramatically expanded the immoral and counterproductive terror war, including the assault on our civil liberties, and he’s moved the Supreme Court even further to the right (two-for-two, on that front), so how gullible are we if we simply accept the patently misleading labels that we’ve been handed?
Instead of passively accepting these corporate-media supplied labels, we need to ask ourselves: what kind of “moderate” (Republican or Democrat) president in U.S. history would have done as Obama has, effectively ending due process, habeas corpus, and Posse Comitatus, including for uncharged (let alone convicted) American citizens on U.S. soil (after winning office on the promise he would undo such egregious transgressions against the founding values of the country)? What kind of “moderate” refuses to investigate internationally reviled, mass-murdering torturers and instead treats muckraking journalists and whistleblowers like traitors and terrorists? And what kind of “moderate” hands trillions of taxpayer dollars to a gang of robbers in three-piece suits, leaving their industry essentially unreformed and insolvent?
Since I don’t wish to dwell overlong on a subject regarding which I’ve already expended a fair amount of time — and because I don’t wish to unnecessarily try the patience of readers who are already accustomed to hearing such criticisms of the president from this quarter — I’m going to devote the rest of today’s blog-installment to some truly radical (only in that “totally tubular and awesome” way) peace activists: CODE PINK!
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A few weeks ago, my spouse and I attended a party celebrating the activism of a true CODE PINK stalwart, Rae Abileah, an idealistic, hardworking, and utterly impressive young lady who has given the better part of the last decade to opposing war, authoritarianism, and massive violations of human rights. It was a modest gathering, just a few dozen individuals with stories to tell, testimonials to give, and songs to sing, with some acoustic guitar as accompaniment. The pot-luck feast was savory and delicious, with a little beer and wine adding to the convivial atmosphere. Rae’s proud, proud mom was in attendance and fairly glowing with pleasure to see how loved and admired the child she raised is. Our hosts were Toby and Fred, two committed activists and friends (who had played the nyckelharpa at our wedding, beautifully I might add, music to which my wife and I waltzed — thanks to Toby’s lessons). In short, it was as quaint, lovely, and wholesome an affair as one can picture in today’s America, and we were delighted to be among such warm, gentle, and decent people.
And these are the folks whom our corporate media marginalizes and labels “radical.” Why?
For readers who are unfamiliar with the organization, CODE PINK was born opposing the actual radicalism of the Bush administration — which the vast majority of Americans resoundingly rejected the moment they saw through the blitz of media propaganda that said Bush was a “strong leader.” Once they were up to speed, most Americans vehemently disapproved of Bush’s institutionalized torture, preventive wars (not even “preemptive”), rendition and military tribunals, warrantless wiretapping, and more. Most Americans — like CODE PINK — opposed the no-strings bailout of Wall Street that has left Main Street looking increasingly like Skid Row. In short, most Americans found more representation of their views in this small, marginalized (but often surprisingly effective) organization than they found in their elected “Representatives” (our “representatives” — how’s that for an example of Newspeak!).
Did CODE PINK build and plant bombs to jolt the nation into consciousness? No. Did they plot violence against the mass-murdering war criminals in our midst? Not even close (waving symbolically bloody hands in the face of a high official with the actual blood of innocents on her hands is hardly “radical” or violent, so THANK YOU, DES!). Nor has CODE PINK ever even contemplated any form of violence — and I know the group pretty well (in 2008 I spent nearly half a year in the CODE PINK House in Washington, DC, beginning a relationship that lasts to this day… a relationship for which I remain very grateful).
Conclusion: When it comes to public policy, this women-led, peace and social justice-predicated organization has been solidly within the mainstream of public opinion on one issue after another. Granted, CODE PINK has been ahead of the curve when it comes to recognizing the terrifying, Constitution-eradicating moment that America is in, but the rest of the country have largely come to share their conclusions (at least they had done so, before President Obama confounded the issues all over again by cementing the Bush/Cheney legacy and making lawlessness cool for “liberals,” too). I, for one, recognize my values in CODE PINK’s mission, and I have learned from their willingness to boldly disrupt the speeches of our atrocious leaders and take a courageous stance, even when it’s the unpopular thing to do (as it was in the early, heady, fascism-enabling days after 9/11). In fact — and this is the real kicker — the only thing that makes CODE PINK remotely “radical” is their willingness to speak out, to follow the examples of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and practice non-violent resistance to resist America’s unmistakable slide into fascism.
More than anything, I wish the rest of the country would get off the sidelines and follow CODE PINK’s audacious example. Together, we can reverse this disaster, and I sure as hell hope we do — because I, for one, miss the Bill of Rights and rule of law.
Next: Part III — Happy 2013, seizing the day by helping Obama help us!