Outside the Whale: Was MLK an Enemy Combatant?By Tanya Willow
We liberals looked to President Obama to bring sanity back to America. We were done with a war that had destroyed our economy while making Vice President Dick Cheney — a man literally without a human heart or pulse — billions for his former employer in military contracts.
We were done with the Bush Family Coup, starting with Bush Senior, who, as head of the CIA, traded arms to Iran in exchange for their holding American hostages until after the election, guaranteeing Ronald Reagan’s victory over then President Carter. In exchange, Bush became Reagan’s vice president and then president. His son “W” would then be decreed as ruler of the land not once, but twice, under dubious circumstances.
To put this in perspective, can you imagine our reaction if the former head of the KGB made a secret arms deal with Iran behind the back of his president to get a buddy elected and in exchange became second in command and then president of the Soviet Union? Only to have his son become president after the government had ordered officials to stop counting the votes, all while claiming their country had free elections? We would have called it a laughable absurdity.
We were also done with Karl Rove and Cocaine Republicans like Rush Limbaugh, made obese and deaf from obscene self-indulgences. That Obama was thin and black and an intellectual — the antithesis of these bloated gray ticks passing as men — helped. We heard Obama smoked, but if this were his only poor habit we knew he couldn’t be destroyed by some silly vice like enjoying the close company of women — unforgivable in sexually infantile America.
We liberals watched Obama focus on an ineffectual health care package for the sake of posterity while Americans continued to lose jobs. The Great Liberal Hope acted as we might expect the oil rich Bushes to react when black blood hemorrhaged from the center of the earth and BP’s public relations machine was the nation’s central information on the event. Worried self-funded photographers, working on their own, showed their pictures of slicked earth and birds to empty halls, one coming to the Canton library, their contradicting photos ignored or dismissed as exaggerations by the main media.
Guantanamo, an atrocity, stayed open with no means for it to ever be closed, frightening as the definition of “terrorist” continues to expand. Obama’s fiscal reforms, his supporters say, saved us from another great depression, but his constant compromises weakens his efforts, and so his repairs have been anemic at best.
But on New Year’s Eve President Obama did something that even hope-blinded liberals should not forgive: He signed the “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA), which includes a provision that gives the president the authority to lock up dissidents indefinitely without trial. It all comes under “terrorism” and at first glance seems like it’ll be used to keep us safe from those bad Semites (sound familiar?), but the order is vague enough to round up any group that may protest the status quo.
Martin Luther King is celebrated for protesting the status quo. At an assembly on the Friday before the MLK holiday, Galvin Middle School social studies teacher Elaine McCarthy, using a well-orchestrated multimedia presentation, brought to life for students a time when blacks were separated from whites, forced to sit in the back of the bus and unable to attend school with white children.
Segregation must seem like an absurdity to the students at the Galvin Middle School. It must seem obvious to them that people in those primitive times had something wrong with their thinking. But it wasn’t obvious then. What was obvious then was that blacks needed to be separated from whites as a more savage, less evolved race; that the children of whites should not be exposed to them, no more than children should be exposed to violence or pornography. It was only through upheaval and protest, through social revolution and marches and through an open justice system, that the laws and the very hearts of people were changed.
Can you imagine if President Nixon or J. Edgar Hoover had the powers our president holds today? John Lennon would have been deported before he could finish singing “Give Peace a Chance,” and we’d still be fighting communism in Vietnam. Would Malcolm X and Martin Luther King have been held indefinitely without trial as enemy combatants? And now that workers are being systematically kenneled to the back of the economic bus, will we be free to protest our circumstances? Or will the wide net that monitors every American’s email and communication be able to identify dangerous thinkers and organizations early, sweeping them away before they can disrupt the pyramid of power?
If it is true that “only the underdog believes in equality,” then the underdog must be chained to his stake. Though the links were forged by W’s administration, what a tremendous paradox it is that the stake should be driven in by the nation’s first black president, whose very election could only come about by the works of dissident underdogs like MLK.
We liberals had hoped for so much better. Though he may speak eloquently of justice, Obama’s actions continue to put us on a terrifying slope as a country. Self-censorship and nationalistic pride are the prizes won for nations that combine fear with indoctrination. We believe the lies we are fed, learn disdain for the weak and to applaud the powerful. We salute them, obediently toss a musket on our shoulder and march off to defend their interests, leaving our own to wilt in the unattended fields of our forgotten hopes.
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