you're thinking: Well, Hightower, sure, if a dictatorship was imposed here in the US of A, then, by golly, you can bet your
boots that I'd stand up! Too late, manana patriot.
military coup is not the only way to slip the plush rug of America's democracy from beneath
your motionless feet. A few tugs here and a couple of hard yanks there . . . and it's gone. And they've been tugging and yanking
furiously of late, taking scores of actions that would cause Paul Revere to mount up again, including: Ashcroft's ruling that
the FBI can secretly infiltrate and spy on political and church meetings without a warrant (yes, your meetings, not
just the meetings of Muslims or dark-skinned, foreign, "terrorist-looking" people); the federal judge's ruling that New Yorkers
could be denied their constitutional right to march in protest of Bush's war plans, instead relegating them to a ten-thousand-person
"rally pen" where they "could be adequately policed"; Ashcroft's PATRIOT Act II, which would provide advance immunity for
federal agents who conduct illegal surveillance at the behest of top executive branch officials (a provision that would
have protected Nixon's illegal wiretappers).
undermining of our basic civil liberties and imposition of antidemocratic police power are in addition to other maneuvers
that are steadily strangling our people's democracy:
The Supreme Court's
1976 ruling that campaign money is "speech" effectively negates the value of your vote and electoral participation, while
giving a handful of corporations and wealthy interests far more "speech" than the rest of us and also putting the possibility
of holding public office beyond the reach of ordinary Americans. Nothing has been so destructive of our nation's promise of
democratic representation as has this totally un-American decree—which neither political party challenges.
provisions of NAFTA, the WTO, the forthcoming FTAA (Free Trade Area of the Americas), and other arcane trade schemes that
allow global corporations to wield veto power over your local, state, and national laws, usurping our people's right to self-
theft of power that has been pulled off without the people knowing it, much less agreeing to it.
With a massive
infusion of campaign donations, a half-dozen conglomerates have gotten Congress and the FCC to rush through a radical
rewriting of the rules so that they now control our public airwaves, making a mockery of our "Freedom of the Press" and restricting
the mass-media debate to corporate-approved topics and viewpoints.
expect these political, corporate, media, and other money powers to alert you to the fact that big chunks of your democracy,
right here in the US of A, already have been seriously damaged or stolen— and they're certainly not going to rally us
to the essential cause of repairing and retaking our democracy. That's up to us.
course, BushCo is hoping we're idiots, and to help keep our minds from wandering to what's going on with democracy here in
The Homeland, they have us riveted on color-coded threats from afar, warning sternly that millions of the world's people
hate us—indeed, as George so eloquently put it, "They hate our freedoms."
Start with this, George: The world's people are perfectly able to discern the difference between the American people on the
one hand and America's corporate and military force on the other.
What they hate is that our government, corporations,
and military storm around the world in betrayal of every democratic value that the American people hold dear. Bush poses grandly
as the noble spearpoint for democracy, yet he (like his predecessors) is a willing accomplice of brutal dictators
and global corporate powers that oppress the world's people, impoverish them, and plunder their resources. Through his
perpetual war agenda, his oil buddies, the World Bank, the arms dealers, his defiance of environmental and human rights
treaties, and dozens of other actions, George W (and our Congress) is an enthusiastic supporter of global-scale theft and
he thinks (whoops, back up, that's too strong of a concept for him, so let's start over). Perhaps it doesn't cross his mind
that the people who are being run over can clearly see America's economic, governmental, and military
might behind the thievery and thuggery. Aung San Suu Kyi damned sure saw it. When the generals threw out Burma's elected government and
installed themselves in power, the U.S. did nothing in support of democracy. Worse, our government
turned its back as Unocal, Texaco, and Halliburton cut deals with the new junta (which had given itself the Orwellian
moniker of SLORC, the State Law and Order Restoration Council) to develop gas fields there and build the billion-dollar Yadana
pipeline across the country. The pipeline partnership stole land from farmers, displaced entire villages, uprooted sections
of rain forests, and conscripted locals who were forced at gunpoint to help construct the pipeline. Unocal, based in
California, is still in partnership with these dictators, who daily hound and harass Suu Kyi.
Such upstanding American corporations as Disney,
Eddie Bauer, Levi Strauss, Liz Clai-borne, Macy's, and PepsiCo also made business deals with the devils of Burma—though
grassroots boycotts and political pressure back here in the U.S. and elsewhere finally forced them to withdraw (www.freeburma.org).
is this investment by our oil giants and other corporations that has given the generals the wherewithal to build and maintain
a police state that boasts 300,000 armed forces deployed to stifle democracy and keep the dictatorship in power. This is the
face of America that much of the world sees—the faces of executives from
Unocal, Halliburton, Disney, and others, standing side by side with the SLORCs of the world.
Suu Kyi does not hate you and me. She knows the difference between us and our corrupt leadership. She knows and shares
our egalitarian values, and she is sacrificing her comfort, happiness, and quite possibly her life to try to extend to her
country the very values that you and I cherish. She and oppressed people throughout the world love freedom, and they look
to the American people as a beacon of the democracy that they seek.
The irony is that she is more aware of what we're
at serious risk of losing here than most Americans are.
How corporate America views democracy:When Dick Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton was asked about human rights
violations his company supported including the providing over $400 million to Burma’s totalitarian rulers and Halliburton’s
use of forced labor, he replied: “You have to operate in some very difficult places and
oftentimes in countries that are governed in a manner that’s not consistent with our principles here in the United States.” “Have to”; I can only wonder who is forcing the
CEO to do such business? Could it be that the rule of the game is to maximize profits?