MerryDeath #75

    Last night I heard a crackling sound coming from out my front window. I stepped onto the front porch and looked outside to see the empty field across from my house was on fire, a small perfect circle of flames.  Several police cars were parked on the street and while neighbors were questioned, I heard a couple of the officers naming all the high school aged boys living on our block as suspects.  I went back inside, for just about fifteen minutes, and came back out when I heard the fire truck. This time almost half the field was on fire, and flames were moments away from licking the sides of one of the neighboring houses.  I watched with most of my neighbors as the water hoses put out the fire.  About fifteen minutes later a thick rain began, washing the whole street clean.  It was so odd how quickly the fire began, it grew so powerful so quickly. 
    I know it’s a cheesy metaphor, but it just seemed to embody my thoughts on Bush and his whole cabinet, how sneaky they have been and so devastatingly successful.  The preemptive assault on Iraq, the attack on Afghanistan, those are flames within sight.  But equally powerful are the fires that start behind us while we watch the grass burning.  There is so much emphasis on the war machine that the domestic laws and actions that have been made don’t even warrant second rate news.  In large and small cities people of, or appearing to be of, Middle Eastern descent are being visited by law officers and questioned about their faith and beliefs.  Quakers are being detained for “supporting terrorism” by giving food and supplies to starving Iraqi children.  Yet American companies like Ford, which supported fascism in the 40s; or Dupont, which provided chemicals to Iraq in the 80s, are safe from persecution under free trade laws.  The underlying message seems to be that supporting terrorism is ok as long as there is a profit being made by Americans.  But giving aid or support for humanitarian reasons, well, that’s just terrorism.
    There are major contradictions in the beliefs and actions of the current legislation.  President Bush is Christian, right wing, and conservative and enforces laws from this standpoint.  Though he is “pro-life” he believes strongly in war.  Protests of this preemptive action have concluded in massive arrests across America and strong critique deeming these opinions radical and of a minority opinion.  However, when radical right wing actions are made, they are protected from criticism and unpunished.  Since 9-11 there has been the creation of the patriot act and anti-terrorism laws.   Since then, over 200 abortion clinics have been sent anthrax threat letters, bomb threats, and other forms of harassment.  The Army of God has claimed responsibility in a majority of these acts of terrorism.  Yet, the Bush Administration has not held this group responsible or sentenced them to the same fate of non-white terrorist groups.  In fact, Bush has appointed right wing Christians into his cabinet, in such crucial positions as the Food and Drug Administration Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Council.  Bush is currently filling all 11 positions; which do not need Congressional approval.  The Committee makes crucial decisions on matters related to drugs used in gynecology, including hormone therapy, contraception, and medical alternatives to abortion such as RU 486.  The newly appointed head is Dr. David Hager who is strongly pro-life and has written books about how women can heal their bodies through prayer.  Some of his beliefs include the idea that menstrual cramps will go away by praying to god, that contraceptives should only be available to married women, and the medically inaccurate assertion that the birth control pill is an abortifacient. 
    Recently, third trimester abortions have been banned.  Those opposing the bill had to struggle for the inclusion of an exception for women whose lives are in danger.  Ninety percent of abortions are within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy.  Most abortions at the third trimester are for women whose health is in danger, fetuses with severe retardation or physical problems, or women in emotionally difficult situations.  This law was created not because there are a large number of later term abortions; it is meant to set a precedent to outlaw all abortions.  The more restrictions there are and the less access women have to our choices, the easier it is to control our lives.  It is important to not only keep track of what is going on, but to also stand up against it and to speak out.  Before we realize it, it could be a crime to even do that. 
    The daily news is infuriating and some days I want to hide and escape.  While America is “shocked and awed” by bombs over Baghdad, your next door neighbor may be carted off to jail for looking suspicious.  My mom is a major peace activist in her small town; being quoted in the newspaper and radio.  After 9-11 she talked about being one of the few not flying flags and feeling a sense of minor persecution from some neighbors.  She is afraid of the consequences, being so outspoken in a small conservative town.  As I told her, it is important to take the risks now, for everyone who speaks 100 more feel the same but don’t have the courage.  Lingering in my head are the voices of the policemen listing off the African American youths in my neighborhood; thinking of all the lists in the world, from blacklists to terrorist lists.  Some people are comparing this time to Germany 1936.  There really is a vast difference from millions of people wasting away in concentration camps and political heads, activists, communist party members, and other civilians being murdered for not standing behind Hitler; to Bush and his administration.  It demeans the experiences millions of people had of being forced from their homes and families into starvation and death.  What we should remember and fight against is the building of an empire that seems to have no lack of momentum.  We shouldn’t get consumed by flames before we see all the other fires around us and try to extinguish them.