I’m taking this opportunity – this anniversary – to make an urgent call out to you my brothers and sisters. May 1st marks the anniversary of the deaths of our martyrs in the labor struggle. There are numerous reasons why it is of the utmost importance that you remember, just as your brothers and sisters before you, that we are in a life and death struggle. I speak of these things not in hyperbole, but in their realest sense. I also speak of our deaths not simply at the slow hands of the levers of capitalism, the utopia of which all good modern-middle classes strive for, but by the sudden impact of drone missiles and the blunt force of militarized police batons. But in order to fully understand this distress signal, you must have even the shortest memory of your own history.
A (Very) Brief History of 21st Century America
The century began not on new years day 2000 but on November 2, 1999, when George W. Bush stole his first term as President. This was the foundation for the decade to follow: an unprecedented move and the fatal blow to American democracy. However, there is not one simple way to frame the circumstances and reaction of the 2000 election. So I choose only one: the American people’s acquiescence with barely a whimper. If your nationalist upbringing makes that hard for you to accept, then look no further than to the Iranian people’s reaction to their stolen Presidential election in 2009.
9/11 and it’s Aftermath
The destruction of civil liberties in the aftermath of 9/11 is undeniable . The Patriot Act paved the way for the next decade of destruction of not only individual civil liberties, but of the entire socio-economic structure of the United States. (Highly recommend you see “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein)
The end result politically was the devastation not only of the last bits of hope the Baby Boomers held that they too could be the Greatest Generation, but that of the real future, the teenagers and college students who had just voted for their first time. In a sign of the once unfathomable decline of the “free-est county in the world,” the part of the American public that still voted in 2004 (less then those that watched that years finale of “American Idol”) actually voted Bush in for a second term. You can spend days reading commentary on the disgusting nature this represents, but I’ll move on to the longest lasting repercussions of Bush’s second term.
20+ Years of a Conservative Supreme Court
On November 2, 2003, I was devastated, heart broken and going through the stages of denial. Why? Because the foundation of my nationalistic, dream inspired upbringing inside the machine was dead. Although I was still in undergrad, I knew the legal ramifications of Bush’s second term. Rehnquist was near death and O’Connor was staying around only long enough to give the voters a choice. Bush got 2 appointments in his second term, enough to swing the Court for the first time in a half century.
And just like that the “sacred cows” of the actual social progression of the United States were gone. Not in the sense that they were overturned with the appointments of the baby fascists’ legal scholars, but in the historical sense. It will matter little whether it took 1 year or 15 years when: affirmative action, abortion, the 4th Amendment, and Habeas Corpus are gone. (8 years on and the NDAA of 2012 has done away with 2 of the 4 already.) Affirmative action has been decimated and will be put out of it’s misery in the coming term. Hopeful dreamers still have a couple months to believe that the only positive action by Obama, his health care program, still has life( it doesn’t).
However, what’s even more alarming than the regressive tactics of the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse and their dispatcher (Justice Kennedy), is the progression of a neo-fascist agenda that even the bravest little middle class progressive would never have dreamed possible.
Indefinite Detention of American Citizens
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2012 has an unforeseeable strength for destruction. However, what is obvious about the law, even at this early stage, is devastating enough for the Republic. The NDAA, specifically Sec. 2, Title X, Subtitle D., Sec. 1021-22., authorizes the “Indefinite Detention” of anyone, American or non-American citizen alike, who is accused of being a terrorist or providing material support to terrorists. I’m going to go into these terms deeper. However, it is extremely important to note that there are no legal requirements for anything more than a non-legal accusation of such activities and anyone (you, your family, your professors) can be “indefinitely detained” for life.
It is of historical note, particularly important for those Americans still delusional enough to vote, that Obama feigned a veto to this, the most destructive Act in a century, all the way through the legislative process until he cowardly signed it into law, not only on a Saturday night, but New Years Eve.
Much like it sounds, Indefinite Detention in the American 21st Century is the internment of individuals without charge or formal “legal” accusation for an unending period. Because it’s been 11 years since 9/11, that is the upper limit to indefinite detentions so far, but these are ongoing and continue in Guantanamo Bay and in black site prisons across the globe. Occasionally, if political and social tide winds collide just perfectly, there can be formal charges brought against those labeled as “suspected terrorists,” or even more rarely, you can provide evidence in the blind hopeful optimism of release. Most likely, and much more commonly, you can and will be held definitively without charge, regarless of how young or old you are.
Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights
Because the NDAA allows indefinite detention of American Citizens, without charge, these linchpins of our Republic are effectively obliterated. In mockingly futile ways, the ideas of Habeas and the Bill of Rights still enjoy feigned importance when advantageous to the state; however, one need only be accused of aiding a “terror organization” to see the real effectiveness of these sacred doctrines.
Providing Material Support to Terror Organizations
Even assuming that the Government has or desires evidence against an individual being held under the NDAA (becuase there need be none as you will never come near the inside of a court room), the idea of “providing material support” is in itself an unexpectedly dangerous tool of the State. As the case of Terek Mehanna exemplifies, “providing material support” can be as little as translating documents or speeches from one language to another (google translator anyone?).
Implementation of NDAA
Obama, after his cute dance around the veto threat, turned his back on yet another campaign promise and issued a signing statement when he authorized the NDAA into law promising not to use the powers of indefinite detention (but leaving them open for every other president after him). You need not hold your breath on whether this promise will be kept, as the Obama Administration is already using the NDAA to justify indefinite detentions.