Monday, March 31, 2008
Bordering On Autocracy: This American Life
Do people matter?
Ira Glass examines the Bush administration's abuse of power in relation to the maintenance of the Canadian border and to widows of U.S. citizens. Do the little people of this modern American life matter?
Click on the Full Episode link located on the left side of the Web page to play the program audio.
I'm one of the little people. I don't know anyone but little people. Citizenship has been reduced to a spectator sport, where corporations and monied power brokers pretend to do the people's business; Virtual-reality democracy.
Several generations of expansion of democracy has been brought to an abrupt halt. While pretending to expand democracy abroad, the U.S. government retracts rights at home. During the past 100 years women fought for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1920) that gave them the right to vote. Laborers fought for the eight-hour day; how many thirty-somethings marching off to the San Francisco financial district know that laborers died for the 1938 Wage and Hour Law?
Blacks, long disenfranchised notwithstanding the provisions of the 14th Amendment, fought in the streets for the right to vote—a right abridged by poll taxes, literacy tests, and physical intimidation in the South. Blood in the streets brought passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Having enjoyed the benefits of sacrifices made by others, so few young Americans understand that human rights are not a privilege handed down by authorities, nor is it all said and done with.
Our nation has waddled into an absurd, but historically brief, luxury of innocence. The legacy of expanding human rights leads not to more human rights but to cultural amnesia. The U.S.A. – United States of Amnesia, as Gore Vidal observes.
The nation has no progressive movement of any kind. The end of education has arrived, where there is nothing left to read or discuss of any significance because all is well with the universe of humankind. Our leaders will take care of us. We seek testosterone governors and pip-squeak presidents with penis envy.
Americans, now isolated in the Mojave of the mind, are left only with a slight hollow feeling, staring blankly for hours into the forgotten glow of HDTV. LCD cultural death comes in the form of Pleasantville where patriotism is defined as silence, and duty defined as shopping.
The conformity of the iPhone assembly line reflects in the mirror as conformity in the workplace, and conformity in the vanishing horizon of political space.
The luxury of ignor-ance will be brief.
Fire, or Ice?