Monday, January 08, 2007

CONFEDERACY RISING

We as a Republic and as a democracy have a great deal to fear from the already-established Fundamentalist-Southron Ascendancy that is only now coming around to show its true dimensions and intentions.

The South, it may be recalled, was militarily defeated in the Civil War. The great fear that the gray armies would melt away into guerrilla cells and continue the armed struggle was – with great wisdom – neutralized by the combined efforts of Lee and Grant, supported by Lincoln’s policy of non-retribution and of generosity in the service of reconciliation. “Let’em up easy” was one of the President’s last instructions to Grant, at that time the commander of all the armies of the Union.

But that guerrilla defiance, although it no longer expressed itself militarily, hardly disappeared. It retrenched, taking up a position in the heart of “The Lost Cause” interpretation of events: that the glorious and civilized South and its honorable and gallant manhood was beaten by the ogre-ish, inhuman and inhumane, industrialized North and its hordes of urban, foreign blue-clad zombies.

To which was added Southern religion’s contribution: that in the South’s military defeat God had not demonstrated His disapproval of slavery, but rather had used the blood of the Confederate dead almost as martyr-seed to plant the first truly Christian nation (and perhaps empire) in the modern world. Southern preachers who chose to believe that Appomattox was the judgment of God on evil slave-holders were soon out of a job and out of a safe place to live.

Weirdly though, in the embrace of ‘racial theory’ in the 1870s, the very fundamentalistic Southron religion that was supporting The Lost Cause also accepted concepts of genetic and racial inferiority latent in the Social Darwinistic interpretation of Darwin’s basic scientific discoveries and theories. But Fundamentalism has never allowed itself a serious discipline of thinking things through; it is not a theologian’s religion so much as it is a preacher’s religion: if a concept “preaches good” then it is embraced. Doctrinal integrity, or even the correspondence of religious assertions with ‘reality’ – these are not deemed essential. The emotional rush is all, the ‘save’s the thing’ whereby to catch the conscience and attention of the believers invited down to the altar-call. It’s not so strange, then, that an Administration led by someone so ‘saved’, a former alcoholic (and perhaps drug-user) who was considered something of a lost cause himself for much of his life, and a Republican Party fully indentured to its Fundamentalist ‘base’, would find it both congenial and hugely convenient to dispense with thinking and accuracy (or truth) in the prosecution of their wars.

In fact, you could do worse than to think about the resemblance between Bush the man and the South after its defeat. Proven irrefutably to be failures, both chose rather to deny their failure and to re-invent themselves or re-spin themselves: the South declared itself ‘saved’ by the Providence of God, Who used the ‘defeat’ merely as a preparatory rigor whereby to spackle up the South as His instrument in world history; Bush declares himself ‘saved’ by the same Providence, the failures of his past life merely a to-be-forgotten prelude to his chosen emergence on the world stage, where he would commit the might, blood, and treasure of the United States to wars that would be justified not primarily by a ‘national interest’ but rather by the very authority of the God Who chose him to lead the Southrons as a vanguard elite of His Kingdom against both the godless and immoral (including most of the citizenry of this Republic) and against the Evil in the world.

The South would rise again because God chose it, and in that way it would not so much ‘win’ the Civil War after all, but would render that war’s military outcome irrelevant, much – it is marvelous to realize – as the Vietnamese rendered their own military defeats irrelevant and ultimately forced the Americans to withdraw. Stonewall’s descendants and Ho Chi Minh are indeed “sisters under the skin”.

The psychological implications, for any individual or group of people who embrace such a gambit, are large and grave. There is of course that syndrome so often deployed by the assorted Revolutions and Advocacies: Denial. By failing to confront themselves in their defeat and weakness, the Southrons and Bush not only obliterate any chance of deep-seated Repair and Rework, of achieving not only Restoration but a genuine maturity and spiritual growth, but in the deepest levels of awareness they plant the reality of un-Truth, a no-longer-conscious cancer that will now increasingly influence their thoughts, motivations, and actions. And seriously impair their integrity: psychological, communal, and characterological, as well as spiritual. Increasingly violent, perhaps rabid, certainly florid measures will have to be taken to repress that awareness. The deep-seated stain will be projected outward onto others, who can then righteously be demonized and upon whom violence can righteously be wreaked.

And if this is bad for the average individual, then for Southrons who subscribe to the Culture of Honor (no wonder they find the military so congenial a place to set up shop) and Fundamentalists who are honorable simply for having ‘been’ (actually: they have simply declared themselves) “saved” and thereby Deputized by God, this monstrous disconnect deep within is intensified tremendously.

In light of the ferocious Southron resistance to Reconstruction, the withdrawal of Federal pressure on the South for purposes of political expedience and to promote the nation’s striving for ‘reconciliation’ (between whites of North and South) in order to prepare for the great leap into empire that bore its first fruit in the Spanish-American War and hasn’t looked back, it’s no surprise that in 1965 advocates for the fullness of ‘Negro’ rights in this country felt that they would have to take drastic measures to ensure that the post-1865 script was not deployed again.

Thus came “de facto”. Since the Southrons were masterful in the art of maintaining their repression of blacks by actions that technically were legal, advocates in Washington sought to widen the deployment of Federal law through the concept of “de facto”: if it could be shown that in the outcome of any State or municipal or private program that there was an apparent discrepancy not in favor of blacks, then this discrepancy would be taken as “de facto” evidence that some form of subsurface discrimination was taking place.

Well intentioned, shrewd, certainly in a good cause … and yet it utterly un-balanced the fundamental role of Law in the Republic. In the long struggle to curb the power of the King and ensure the freedom of the individual, prosecutions were increasingly limited to specific “actions” allegedly perpetrated by the accused; and those precisely described “actions’ could then be examined to see if they were indeed violations of the law and – basically – if they had happened as charged at all. Thus the role of the Law as enshrined in the Constitution by the Framers.

But to now expand the power of civil and – more dangerously – criminal law to cover “situations” that were without further ado presumed to be the “results” of some purposeful and purposefully hidden actions, or even of some “state of mind” or “attitude” … this was a huge and fundamentally dangerous change. Just how dangerous can be noticed by the simple fact that this precise type of dynamic was later deployed by other Advocacies (the sex-offense being one of the most notorious and far-reaching, trying to confine persons on the basis of their potential for committing “acts” being its most recent gambit) and the Iraq War obsession with finding persons with “terrorist leanings” (however either of those words are defined for court purposes) who are imprisoned even though having committed no identifiable criminal or hostile act at all. We are sliding back into the 17th century and beyond.

In the matter, then of the sex-offense mania – the most recent domestic efflorescence of this legal gambit, which helped set us up for the state of mind and heart that would fall for the purported justifications for the Iraq debacle, there are hopeful signs at last. The Duke case (discussed in “Put Up Your Dukes” on this site) is one. Another is that the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts has now reversed its evidentiary rules to again permit defense counsel to examine the mental-health records of Plaintiffs and Complainants. For quite a while a person could make an accusation while secure in the knowledge that thorough examination of the claim would not be permitted by the Court.

Yet the Justice Department has admitted (http://www.rainn.org/) that there are “no reliable surveys” of sexual assaults on children. And yet on the basis of the claims made in that regard (let it be stated here clearly that these thoughts do not in any way constitute approval of condoning of sexual assaults against anybody at all) massive expansions of the criminal law authority have been justified. Despite the lack of reliable information, the Justice Department “estimates” that one-in-six children under the age of 12 are assaulted each year. On what basis are such “estimates” made? Have we tolerated such massive expansion of the police power of the government on the basis of “estimates”? As with Iraq, we had been led to believe – stampeded to assume – that the danger was vast and ongoing. As in WMD. And yet the National Crime Victimization Survey covering 2005 states that almost two-thirds of all rapes were committed by persons not hiding in the bushes but, rather, known to the victim. What has been going on here? And if there are "unreliable surveys", presuming that they're not simply jottings on cocktail napkins, then who would go to the trouble of constructing and conducting a baldly "unreliable" survey? And why? What has been going on here?

Meanwhile, up in Boston, the “Boston Globe”, recipient of a Pulitzer for its 2001 investigative reporting of priestly “sexual abuse”, and despite the fact that criminal convictions were only obtained against a very few priests (one of whom, elderly, was sent to prison for touching a young boy’s buttocks in a public swimming pool by a judge who publicly told him that she “just knew” he had done much more, and was subsequently killed there by another convict apparently ‘on principle’), marked the 5th anniversary of its first article by allowing Op-Ed space to a group called “Voice of the Faithful”, which had been set up 5 years ago specifically to make public statements about the just-publicized priestly sex-offenses.

In the absence of further material, the Group now puts itself on record as vowing to keep in business until “the truth” is known in “every diocese in the world” and until “healing” is complete. It is notable that the term “closure” has apparently been retired. Still, there is the nagging question as to how “the truth” is to be found under the limitations of elastic definitions, “estimated” numbers of “hidden” offenses, and the fact that even such numbers as have been put forth by the ‘advocates’ indicate (once the math is done) an annual offense-frequency several places to the right of the decimal point.

Again, while no approval of any unwanted sexual contact with any human being is condoned, it has to be asked: to resolve just how large a problem have we drilled through fundamental watertight bulkheads of Constitutional protections, of criminal due process, of media integrity, of public deliberation? And do we imagine that these laws, like extra ‘emergency’ tax-raising surcharges, will be ‘only temporary’? And that the government police authority, once it has been let out of its cage and invited in, will not try to further expand?

The title of the Op-Ed is “Unanswered Questions Linger”. We are expected to understand, like good Soviet citizens, that the ‘questions’ refer to those made by the advocates. Questioning the advocates or the media that amplifies them is not at all correct. As the Unitary Executive and the military demand our deference or at least our silence, so too do the advocates. We would be better off kicking some tire.

Further, there is an eerie similarity between the Bush and the Advocacy positions nowadays. Bush, we recall, declared war on “Evil”. There is a method to this madness: granted that once a war is over, it will be examined publicly with a deliberateness not possible during the actual time of war, then the path to not having to account for oneself as the wagerer of war is to make sure that the war goes on … and on. And as his war not only bids fair to close, but to end in defeat, and was perhaps started in treacherous untruth, then Bush has even more incentive to keep the thing going and ‘standing tall’ and ‘sticking it out’. Similarly, the particular advocates mentioned above are in a position where their ‘emergency’ is also bidding fair to wind down at least to the point where more deliberation can be brought to the examination of its doings. Thus they now vowing to stay in the field until “the truth” is established all over “the world”, which should keep them in business at least until the Last Trumpet – during which period, as aforenoted, they would prefer that no sustained examination should be conducted. Nope. Tire should not be left unkicked for that long a period of time.

Lastly, Christian Hill in “The Olympian” (www.truthout.org/docs_2006/010507K.shtml) reports further developments in the Watada court-martial matter. Responding to a defense request for an evidentiary hearing on whether the Iraq war violated U.S. and international law, the military judge stated that “he was not inclined to grant” the motion.

The prosecutor is apparently going to try arguing “the political question doctrine”. For those who might want to check their civics books, this doctrine isn’t there. It apparently consists of a habit of courts deferring to the Executive and Legislative branches in the aforesaid “political questions”. This sounds sorta reasonable, except that the military justice Code itself criminalizes the obedience to illegal orders. Wheee! If a soldier is given an order s/he believes to be illegal, then s/he is prosecutable if s/he obeys it and prosecutable if s/he refuses to obey it.

Such is military law. Its object is to provide the maximum possibility for the command to prosecute if it so chooses. Its targets and any observers are expected to have the good grace to be deferential and not go asking questions or raising issues that beginning with those pesky capital letters, like Truth or Justice or Law.

But once you’ve gone and set up a Code that makes obeying an illegal order a criminal offense, and then charged somebody under it, then it isn’t just a “political question” any longer.

The military is also prosecuting under the General Article discussed in a recent Post. Not only is Captain Watada going to be prosecuted for making his decision; he’s also going to be prosecuted (and potentially given extra prison time) for explaining it. We really have to kick some tire here.

The military no doubt is banking on the ‘fog of war’; it’s own foggy reasoning and murky motives help to make that fog. People could get killed in that fog.

Time to put on the armor of light.

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