by Don Washington on 2012/03/27
I live in America, where things in some ways are better now than they have ever been. Wearing my uniform of black skin does not have to mean that I could be shot down in cold blood for wearing a gray hoodie without consequences. It does not have to mean that women must endure being sexualized and discriminated against for wanting control of their reproductive freedom. It does not mean that our homosexual brothers and sisters have to fear for their lives simply because they are alive. It does not mean that being a Muslim could make you the target of racist thugs that come into your home and leave you to drown in your own blood. In the past all of those things could be taken for granted in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Now, we’ve the right to fight for justice when these things happen and capacity to confront them as full citizens in defense of own humanity. Things are better now than they’ve ever been but we still live in America and so we still face the Devil’s Standard.
I live in America, which means I live in a country where almost fifty million of us have no health insurance and the best my President was willing to try for was to create a system that made the very insurance companies cosigning people to death for profit, richer and more powerful. It would be like giving the Social Security Trust Fund to Goldman Sachs to grow and safeguard it… wait a second that happens every day and that’s why your IRA is worthless and you may be hopeless or terrified. I live in a land where even the assurance of a quality public education, the concept of a pension and actual retirement and the certainty that the old, poor and infirm will not be left to die grows more uncertain with each passing administration. We’ve the Devil’s Standard on what it means to be secure… a fiscal uncertainty that empowers the wealthy and disempowers and devours the ordinary citizen in every way possible.
I live in a country where its twenty largest banks and most powerful corporations are little more than elite criminals and the people who oppose them are beaten down in the streets with the force of the jackboot while not a one of them has even seen the inside of courtroom. I live in a country where the “rule of law” is a fiction told to children to keep them obedient to a state that is abandoning them a little more every day to the rapacious corporate predators that crave complete control of our society. I am a citizen in a place where corporations are people and those who report wrong doing are persecuted by the very government they are trying to protect and reform. It is the Devil’s Standard of accountability where we look forward not back. It is a future where corporate criminals can depend the government to protect them from the laws they use as cudgel to beat us into submission.
I live in America and that means I live in a place where every year since 2000 the child poverty and general poverty rate has increased and where five thousand of my fellow citizens have died in a pair of illegal wars and occupations that never could have suceeded and show no signs of ending. For those who say we’ve left Iraq our private mercenaries are still gunning down Iraqi’s in the streets and civil war wed to mindless violence still haunts that country. Our drones prowl the Iraqi sky bringing certain death from above in that country and others to innocents and adversaries alike with all the discretion and certainty of an intelligence “community” that seems perpetually surprised by the enemies its actions create like hailstones pounding on what remains of international law and our civil liberties. It’s the Devil’s Standard of interrelated cause and effect. We will spend and lose trillions to feed a war machine but hardly a dime or a dollar on the “undeserving poor” in our country. We will kill but not house and clothe, we will slaughter but will not educate or heal.
I live a country where words have no meaning… where Orwell was right. Where kidnapping is extraordinary rendition, where torture is enhanced interrogation, where strict construction of the Constitution means the elimination of civil, labor and human rights and where illegal and warntless wiretapping, the removal of habeus corpus and the surveillance of citizens means protecting their liberties. It’s the Devil’s Standard of violence and hypocrisy that leads to sixteen butchered Afghans abroad and more soldiers dead from suicide at home than killed on any battlefield and that is the tip of an iceberg of drug addiction, beaten spouses, abused children and perhaps our own torturers of our own citizens someday.
I live in America, which means I watched a major American city drown while a President played air guitar, ate cake and did nothing for four days while the poorest members of an entire city died into the thousands. If it sounds like ancient history it isn’t. There are more poor people now than then and their numbers grow and to get some idea of how much better we’ve gotten many of those same people watched our government do everything in its power to protect a foreign corporation that killed eleven people instantly and has done incalculable damage to the Gulf Coast, from consequences. It is the Devil’s Standard of right and wrong we face but such has always been the case.
But in all of this I am reminded that I live in America. I live in a country where my commitment to it is to fight for what it wants to be. I live in country where even the idea of me having the capacity and the space to write this column and live as I do was a science fiction story my great grandfather could have never imagined. I live in a land where every generation or so we, ordinary people, citizens not consumers must take to the streets to wrestle with near Satanic forces for the rights in the Constitution and blessings of liberty that they seek to tear from us. I live in America and you and I are the bearers of concepts and dreams of equality and justice that can have brought into being everything worthwhile in this society. If democracy is the battle that never ends then I am glad to be fighting for it where it matters in interesting times. We do not have to live by the Devil’s Standard and the fact that we exist at all means that from time to time we do not do so and we’ve an obligation to make this one of those times. Be well and I will continue to see you at the barricades.