DISSENT IN THE AGE OF OBAMA--MY FIRST ARTICLE FOR AL JAZEERA
“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.” - Albert Camus
Recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) raided the homes of at least eight anti-war/social justice activists here in the US.
I happen to be a prominent anti-war activist myself, and have joked that I am a “little hurt” that I was not raided and perhaps I should try harder. Even though, we have the urge to try and be light-hearted in this time of an increasing police state, with civil liberties on the retreat, it really isn't funny considering that the activists could face some serious charges stemming from these raids.
I have felt this harassment on a smaller scale myself and I know that defending oneself against a police state that has unlimited resources, time and cruelty, can be quite expensive, time consuming and annoying.
There is nothing noble about an agency that has reduced itself to being jackbooted enforcers of a neo-fascist police state, no matter how much the FBI has been romanticised in movies, television and books.
For example, in one instance, early in the morning of September 24, at the home of Mick Kelly of Minneapolis, the door was battered in and flung across the room when his partner audaciously asked to see the FBI’s warrant through the door’s peephole. At Jessica Sundin’s home, she walked downstairs to find seven agents ransacking her home while her partner and child looked on in shock.
These raids have terrifying implications for dissent here in the US.
First of all, these US citizens have been long-time and devoted anti-war activists who organised an anti-war rally that was violently suppressed by the US police state in Minneapolis-St. Paul, during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Because the Minneapolis activists have integrity, they had already announced that they would do the same if the Democrats hold their convention there in 2012.
I have observed that it was one thing to be anti-Bush, but to be anti-war in the age of Obama is not to be tolerated by many people. If you will also notice, the only people who seem to know about the raids are those of us already in the movement. There has been no huge outcry over this fresh outrage, either by the so-called movement or the corporate media.
I submit that if George Bush were still president, or if this happened under a McCain/Palin regime, there would be tens of thousands of people in the streets to protest. This is one of the reasons an escalation in police state oppression is so much more dangerous under Obama - even now, he gets a free pass from the very same people who should be adamantly opposed to such policies.
Secondly, I believe because the raids happened to basically ‘unsung’ and unknown, but very active workers in the movement, that the coordinated, early morning home invasions were designed to intimidate and frighten those of us who are still doing the work. The Obama regime would like nothing better than for us to shut up or go underground and to quit embarrassing it by pointing out its abject failures and highlighting its obvious crimes.
Just look at how the Democrats are demonising activists who are trying to point out the inconvenient truth that the country (under a near Democratic tyranny) is sliding further into economic collapse, environmental decay and perpetual war for enormous profit.
Barack and Joe, the commandantes of this police state, say that those who have the temerity to be critical are “asleep” and just need to “buck up". White House spokesperson, Robert Gibbs, recently stated that we on the “professional left” need to be “drug tested” if we are not addicted to the regimes’ own drug: the Hopium of the Obama propaganda response team.
It seems like, even though some of those that have been nailed to the cross of national security do activism around South America, most of the activism is anti-war and pro-Palestinian rights. Being supportive of any Arab or Muslim, no matter how benign or courageous is a very dangerous activity here in post-9/11 America.
The Supreme Court just decided (Wilner v. National Security Agency) that the National Security Agency (NSA) did not have to disclose if it was using warrantless wiretapping to spy on attorneys representing the extra-legal detention of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Obtaining warrants, with cause, and attorney-client privilege were important principles of the US justice system, but even the neo-fascist Supreme Court is undermining the law - talk about “activist” judges!
Not only have activists been targeted here in the States, but Obama has ominously declared himself judge, jury and executioner of anyone that he deems a national security “threat". These are the actions of a tyrant and another assault against our rights and against the rule of law from a person who promised “complete transparency” from his administration.
We have learned that Obama’s first victim under his presidential execution programme is Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim who is now in Yemen. Without showing proof of al-Awlaki’s so-called executionable offenses and without a trial in a court of law, Obama has unloosed his hit squads on Awlaki. Is there anyone out there reading this who does not believe, or fear, that this programme could quickly descend into summary executions within the borders of the US?
Al-Awlaki’s father has filed a motion in federal court to stay the execution of his son until he gets his constitutionally guaranteed rights to due process, but Obama’s justice department has refused to cooperate stating that to do so would ‘undermine’ that fabled, exploited and ephemeral ‘national security'.
When Obama behaves like Bush, only on steroids, he amply demonstrates why other people hate our country so much. Persons in other countries are not nearly as blind as Americans. They know that even though Obama went to Cairo to blather about building understanding between the US and the Muslim world, actions speak louder than words and Obama’s actions drip with carnage and pain.
Obviously, the suppression of dissent here in the US, while outrageous and inexcusable, has not reached the level of the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950’s - yet.
The longer we Americans remain silent in the face of these injustices, the more they will continue to occur and escalate.
Make your voice heard!
Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been a tireless activist for peace and human rights; has published five books, has her own Internet radio show: Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, and has been nominated in the past for the Noble Peace Prize. Cindy lives in Oakland, Ca and loves to spend time with her three grandbabies in her spare time.
You can learn more about Cindy's activism and events at Peace of the Action.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.