For no slave of war Is slave by his own will
— Aeschylus, Agamemnon
Unlike the historical "peculiar institution" in American history that we know as slavery, the majority of whom had this condition imposed on them against their will, the American electorate today has volunteered to be slaves, captured in part by a rogue government bent on imposing its will on the rest of the world. To achieve this, the neoconservatives had to first impose its will through a systemic process of lie-telling. Forget about the American Revolution, which was a landmark victory for the establishment of liberal government based on ideals in humanism from the Enlightenment, or the French Revolution, which launched the incredible idea that the poor could make change through their own efforts ? a frightening development for European royalty. However, facts are not important to neoconservatives. For example, the attack on liberalism was to make liberalism a "bad" thing by first attacking its values for support of the poor and minorities. And, in its global campaign, the neoconservatives launched a war on liberalism by creating a scheme of "free market" trade that it calls "neoliberalism", but which is nothing short of economic imperialism. Latin Americans hate it. The good news is that a new democracy is on the rise in South America.
On these issues, the majority of the US population is mute. By our silence, the neoconservatives believe they have already won. Who besides Cindy Sheehan has shown the individual courage to confront George W. Bush, woman to male? Would a real man not meet with the mother of a soldier lost in battle? Remember, Bush was a national guardsman who was running from soldiering, not towards it during the Vietnam era. Ironic, is it not, that he sends other guardsmen to fight in Iraq when he lacked the courage to do so in Vietnam? Does the color of canaries come to mind? “A coward is much more exposed to quarrels than a man of spirit.” (Thomas Jefferson)
And, where is our Congressional representation, those members of Congress elected not only to represent the electorate, but are sworn to protect the Constitution of the United States? Of course, it would help if they read it. Where are they in opposition to treason? Should we not expect them to stage sit-ins at the White House and stay there to end this reign of terror? Some say they are trying to maintain a position of dignity for a war where there is none, mirror images of Bill Clinton without Monica, giving symbolic heads up to a diabolical Head of State.
It was Voltaire who observed that “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” There is some debate about the phrase, "The first casualty of War is Truth." Terry Jones , a Monty Python member, writer and performer, suggests that the first casualty of war in the so-called war on terrorism is grammar. The popular use of the expression is attributed widely in the West to Hiram W. Johnson, a US senator from California, who uttered it on his introduction to the Senate in 1917 or to Winston Churchill from comments made during World War II.
Of course both men got their academic footing in the Classics from which the earliest documented expression of the idea seems to have been made by Aeschylus, the Greek tragic dramatist, who lived from 525? BC – 456 BC. My favorite comes from the inimical Samuel Johnson, who may not have had the first word, but always attempted to have the last one: "Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages." (from The Idler, 1758) I assume that Johnson meant by "interest", self-interests, nor do I believe that the word "diminution" would be one that Johnson would use to refer to the Bushies nuclear assault on Truth today.
Unlike the chickenhawks in contemporary Washington, DC, Aeschylus was no armchair dramatist, he actually went to war we are told, fighting successfully against the Persians at Marathon in 490 BC, at SalamÃs in 480 BC, and possibly at Plataea the following year. He is said to have made at least two trips, perhaps three, to Sicily. His experiences in war are the basis of his tragedies. As the predecessor of Sophocles and Euripides, Aeschylus is considered the father of Greek tragedy. What would he make of Bush’s presidency, one of the most significant human tragedies in history?
On the other hand, looking at the gruesome images of human suffering coming out of Iraq, and the continued apathy by US citizens to aggressively act to end those horrors NOW rather than later, it’s clear to me in 2006 that in modern warfare it’s not truth that is the first casualty, but reason, the power of being able to think in a logical and rational manner as a basis of knowledge for taking appropriate action. What kind of people subjects its own soldiers and civilian populations in war zones to such terrors? “There’s no difference between one’s killing and making decisions that will send others to kill. It’s exactly the same thing, or even worse.” (Golda Meir)
It’s not surprising that the Bush administration embedded journalists and blocked the transmission of images from the war zone. Was the action to attack Iraq a reasonable and appropriate option for the destruction of the World Trade Centers? You need serious therapy if you believe this is truth because the jury is not out on this one — there was NO evidence linking Iraq to the tragic events of 9/11 nor is there any global support for the so-called War on Terror that can justify the criminality of the Bush presidency against the Arab people. Is it reasonable for Americans to continue to permit its government to carry out these crimes? Again, this, too, is a no-brainer. Of course not! There is nothing in the Constitution of the United States or in any mandates from Congress, nor in the hearts of the majority of Americans that support this inane war on the Arabs by a roguish US leadership. Thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of voices have revealed how the Bush administration has invented a non-existent mandate that is founded on a strategic telling of "big lies" that began under his father. Stephen Gowans has detailed this chain of events in "Truth is the first casualty of war: Often uttered, rarely learned" at Media Monitors Network.
What remains is that the American electorate has chosen slavery over freedom — voluntarily. It has chosen slavery voluntarily by its history of denial regarding the inequities that were created at the very beginning in the founding conventions of this country and its social contract expressed in the Constitution of the United States in which skin-tone, gender, and socioeconomic discrimination are the hallmarks. The US has the highest degree of poverty and wealth differential, together with the lowest degree of social protection of any industrialized country in history. It has chosen slavery voluntarily by reinforcing core institutions that promote poverty, disinformation, and incarceration, where the subjugation of African Americans, poor whites, and Hispanics are the most visible signs. The less visible ones are evident in the nation’s predatory foreign policy and the rising corruption of some elements of its citizenry. The right to change this government is enshrined in the Constitution. Liberty is not free; it takes sacrifice. As the old saying goes, "Use it, or lose it."