On July 31, 1703 Daniel Dafoe (nee Foe) was placed in the punishment stocks in front of London’s Temple Bar for satirically defending Dissenters in his writing. In the early twentieth century Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes proudly wore the moniker “The Great Dissenter.” We’ve slid down a long, slippery slope since the days of the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley and mainstream reporters like Dan Rather turning President Nixon’s own words around to sarcastically imply that the leader of the free world was running from grand jury and congressional investigations.
Mainstream news reporters do little more than regurgitate the spin of the day in 2013. In the age of post 9/11 Patriot Act enactments (It is difficult to think of anything related to the Patriot Act as truly legal let alone ethical), whistleblowers or vocal dissenters are just as likely to find themselves incarcerated as an Islamic jihadist with a bomb in his shoe.
When one of our ex-presidents says that “America does not have a functioning democracy at this point in time,” then something is dead in the well. The only real question left is why are so many able to hold their noses and pretend there’s no stench. This is not the country that so many of our forefathers stole from the Indians. I am sorry Woody Guthrie, but this land is no longer your land or my land. From California to the New York Island this land is overwhelmingly owned by the one-tenth of 1% of the wealthiest of Americans. From the quarter million acres of redwood forest owned by a single family that owes its fortune to overseas child labor down to the Gulf Stream waters where in Post-Katrina New Orleans rents have risen, poor people’s houses have not been re-built, and every unionized teacher was laid off, this land was not made for you and me.
Power corrupts. Nixon’s Watergate crimes look schoolboyish compared to George W. and Obama’s immoral wars, drone strikes, and NSA spying. If you don’t think something’s rotten in the water of this imperialist, bully of a country you better check out the documentary Gasland or find out why the federal justice department spent years prosecuting and imprisoning a college student who disrupted an auction intended to give wilderness lands to oil and gas companies, but the same justice department has done next to nothing to even attempt to prosecute the giant banks who have ripped off our national treasury to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. More to the point, if you think this country isn’t sick, then get sick and see what happens to your bankroll.
I am sick and tired of people standing up and saluting the stars and stripes with a pledge that includes the phrase “under God.” For the first sixty years of its existence “The Pledge of Allegiance” did not include anything about God, though it was penned by a minister. That minister, Francis Bellamy, was a Christian socialist. That’s right, Christian socialism, a form of religious socialism based on the teachings of one of the biggest dissenters of all time: fellow by the name of Jesus of Nazareth. In general, Christian socialists like the author of “The Pledge of Allegiance” believe in political, social, and economic equality for all; that capitalism is idolatrous and rooted in greed, nothing less than a mortal sin.
If you, dear reader, don’t believe that the author of “The Pledge of Allegiance,” was a Christian socialist, well, in the immortal words of the Old Perfesser, Casey Stengel, “You could look it up.”