Monday, August 04, 2008

Naomi Wolf: Dear world, please confront America

I've blogged about author Naomi Wolf several times before. On Friday, Daily News Egypt (archive) published her op-ed called "Dear world, please confront America." Yet again she has struck a chord I can't ignore:

But, while grassroots pressure has not worked, money still talks. We need targeted government-led sanctions against the US by civilized countries, including international divestment of capital. Many studies have shown that tying investment to democracy and human rights reform is effective in the developing world. There is no reason why it can't be effective against the world's superpower.

We also need an internationally coordinated strategy for prosecuting war criminals at the top and further down the chain of command - individual countries pressing charges, as Italy and France have done. Although the United States is not a signatory to the statute that established the International Criminal Court, violations of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions are war crimes for which anyone - potentially even the US president - may be tried in any of the other 193 countries that are parties to the conventions. The whole world can hunt these criminals down.

An outlaw America is a global problem that threatens the rest of the international community. If this regime gets away with flouting international law, what is to prevent the next administration - or this administration, continuing under its secret succession plan in the event of an emergency - from going further and targeting its political opponents at home and abroad?

We Americans are either too incapable, or too dysfunctional, to help ourselves right now. Like drug addicts or the mentally ill who refuse treatment, we need our friends to intervene. So remember us as we were in our better moments, and take action to save us - and the world - from ourselves.
Sad but true, and once again reminding me of an old essay of mine I've oft quoted here at the We Do Not Consent blog. I wrote these words during the indeterminate period following the 2000 "election":
If any world leaders are indeed scrupulous, shouldn't *they* contest the legitimacy of the recent U.S. Presidential election? Could you imagine if impartial voices of reason from around the world helped us to hold up the mirror displaying our own ridiculous image?

In the final analysis, either foreign powers will choose not to recognize our next government or the entire world will be complicit in our illegitimacy. Either way, it would not only serve us right, it will be what we deserve.
Of course when I wrote that it was not inevitable that Americans would roll over (and over and over) for the march to fascism. I don't claim prescience either, though I'll also quote not for the first time Rage Against the Machine, from their 1992 song "Settle For Nothing":
"If we don't take action now, we settle for nothing later. We'll settle for nothing now, and we'll settle for nothing later."
Americans have been doing that repeatedly despite one egregious injustice after another. We're past realizing they don't represent us; we're past plainly calling them liars; we're past even revealing enough to prove war crimes. Maybe we Americans have more in common with average Iraqis than we realize - both our peoples have become subjects of the same occupiers, another point I've made previously.

I'm struck now by the thought it is no wonder I've been posting so infrequently. When I do I'm barely more than repeating myself. Then I'm reminded of my friend Paul Lehto, who is fond of reminding us that early American pamphleteer Thomas Paine noted that not all people will simultaneously conclude revolution has become necessary. Those of us who figure it out earlier on bear the responsibility of bringing others on board, serving as teachers to repeat our message as often as needed. And so, at least right now, I'm back at it, dear WDNC readers:
Peaceful revolution is necessary, NOW!
And kudos to Naomi Wolf for indefatigably reiterating and updating her lesson (see her book "End of America: Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot; and my North Coast Journal book review). We need to expand the ways we consider transformational strategy.

And one more thing. Another part of what's been keeping me quiet is the maxed out noise factor of being a news follower - and I don't even own a television! Just from online reading, some radio, and an occasional youtube video, I can't escape the sense that Americans are trapped within the parameters of a public dialog that goes nowhere near the relevant issues necessary to deliver us out of fascism. As I said in So-ing The Seeds of Change, all pretenses of progress will be mere illusions (and slogans of hope and change unfortunate delusions) unless and until we restore justice and the rule of law. Let's not be too proud or stubborn about how we help ourselves.

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Posted by Dave Berman - 10:35 PM | Permalink
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Dave:

Thanks for your expressed thoughts today, and your continuing efforts
to awaken a slumbering America. I am very afraid that the fears of
Naomi Wolf are real and too easily accomplished. The Democratic
leadership and the sheep that follow them have been complicit in
passing the "enabling acts" for a rapid descent into a fascist
American police state. For years the military hierarchy has been
infiltrated with ideologues, the police forces of the country
militarized both by training, weaponry, and the hiring of former
military MP's.

A country rapidly descending into a dire economic time where people
will be desperate and so-willing to embrace scape-goating. Add to the
mixture real or imagined safety issues, whether intentional or
accidental, and the coupe is complete. We will be like the general
German populace in 1936 wondering how it all happened.

This cannot be happening without the knowing complicity of our
representatives and the corporate elite. That complicity can consist
of either intentional complicity, or intentional ignorance. Either
way, it is a betrayal of our country, humanity, and the earth.

I wish I could offer some words of encouragement, but I am of the same
thoughts as you.

Best wishes and thanks for your efforts!
Jody Holder

Posted by Blogger Jody @ Aug 6, 2008, 10:03:00 AM
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It is not for nothing to stand up and be counted. Thanks for sounding off, Jody. I believe you do see clearly what is happening.

Posted by Blogger Dave Berman @ Aug 7, 2008, 12:05:00 AM
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