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Humans are old-fashioned

Late 2002 —

Concern for human beings seems to be losing fashionability. The mere idea of human rights is edging nearer and nearer the lefthand side of the table, about to slide off the edge.

The control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House in America by Republicans can mean only that the worst is in the future. This is not to say the Democrats are great, or even that they've been useful at all lately — but Republicans have a modus operandi that guarantees there will be less respect for humanity in America. And America is leading the world, if only by might in its various forms.

The American Republicans will give more rights to businesses, and especially to large corporations. These expanding rights will include greater freedom to use and abuse workers, who will have lesser recourse to protections on the books and in the courts. Businesses will also become even less liable to lawsuit for damages that their products cause. Businesses will be taxed at a friendlier rate. The money will have to come from the people, especially the poor. These folks—those without money—will find their chances for assistance further eroded from an already pathetic and cruel level. Businesses will have more freedom to consume resources and to produce pollution.

Health care will continue to be excellent, but will become further unaffordable.

Freedom of speech, always one of the unique features of Americanism, is going to depreciate. Okay, call this one a hunch. Those other "predictions" are like flipping a two-headed coin. This one I can just feel. Greater surveillance, and greater official mandate in the "war" on terrorism—it just makes sense. It will be good opportunity to influence people's silence, if that's your taste. And, naturally, the control of printed media by bigger and bigger corporations cranks the knob rightward. Speech without a voice is ineffective.

And then there's war. The first war is the hardest, and it's obviously taking this administration a bit of time to convince the public to stop worrying about it. War this, war that. War on terrorism. Iraq, when 15 of the 19 were from Saudi Arabia. Maybe they're just looking for their carkeys underneath the streetlight instead of in the dark alley where they lost them. Saddam this, Saddam that. "This is a man who gases his own people." And that hack William Safire* blathering on about "liberating Iraqi people." Never mind killing them to do it. Never mind that Iraqi people have no relevance in American war goals. War itself is the goal, or so it seems.

But, peace is an idea whose time has come, and gone, and not come back yet. Peace is just another idea, shuffled off toward that left edge. Peace is an idealism, not a political goal, these days. Peaceful goals are a complication, an annoyance, a mere nuissance best dismissed. Peace is great, now what about that war?

It doesn't look good for people. Institutions are in, people are out. People are soft, unreliable, and prone to embarrassing displays of individuality. Institutions are trustworthy and respectable. Well, depending on what you trust, and what you respect.

  — December 2002, Kilkenny Ireland


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* "The other day I was asking [William Safire,] I said, you know, Richard Clarke and Bob [Kerrey?] said 'the war on terror' is not right [grammatically] because terror is a tactic, and you can't have a war against a tactic — [and] as a word person, he should have agreed — but as a conservative he said "yes you can."

— Maureen Dowd, speaking with Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show," 10 August 2004

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