October 15th, 2004


Freedom Fries

I understand the appeal of the 'Bush Package' to people. It is appealing, because it was carefully crafted to be appealing to people. It calls upon feelings of patriotism just as much as it flames people's fears. Ideologies are attractive because they confer comfort on the believers, and grant them rationales for their behavior.

But repeating the phrase 'freedom is on the march' is completely specious, for a couple of reasons.

1) Freedom is 'on the march' when and where it coincides with the raw pragmatic geopolitical goals of our country. Everywhere else, Freedom don't even got shoes. We are in bed with Pakistan, a military dictatorship, and also a state sponsor of terrorism. Hell, the Taliban were a product of the United State's cold war strategy and Pakistan's regional ambitions. The US supported Iraq in the Iran/Iraq war, and when the gassing of the Kurds came out, the US INCREASED aid to Iraq. The US, as shown by its actions, supports 'freedom' when it is convenient and expedient.

2) No one asks Bush the questions I think they should ask, like "how would you define the 'freedom' that you say is 'on the march?'" I think he'd sputter like a Chevette with a blown vacuum hose, dribble out a few random talking points, and change the subject.

You can talk about freedom in the land of the Free and the home of the Brave, but it's completely untethered from any real meaning coming out of Bush's mouth. He does not think women should be free to make medical decisions about their own bodies. He doesn't think our 'freedoms' should protect us from sneak searches and audits of our library records. He doesn't think the rights guaranteed by the Bill Of Rights apply to everyone, and especially not people he choses to incarcerate for years without charging them with any crime, or granting them legal council.

Back up and think about the whole Gitmo debacle: The US paid bounty to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan for Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners, and shipped them off to Guantanemo Bay, for indefinite detention. No doubt there were some bad actors in that bunch but only now are they finally letting most of them go home, many of whom were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. But those people spent nearly 2 years in prison, charged with no crime, provided no legal council, and interrogated frequently, using methods that aren't torture only in the narrowest legalistic sense.

And what about the hundreds of people rounded up and detained for months on US soil, and held without charges for months after 9/11? Are all those people now either released, or deported, or charged with a crime? Who would know?

I know how I define freedom: it's defined by the Bill of Rights and by the 200+ years of legal precedent from our Judiciary. It's defined concisely at dictionary.com too. I want everyone in the world to have similar protections, but you can't bomb and shoot people free, and you can't pick and choose who you want free, and who you want to live under a dictatorship, based on short term political goals.