Bill of Rights or Orwellian State? You Decide

Police use pepper spray on a woman as she approaches them with a flower during a rally at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

This post is not intended to speak to Democrats, Republicans, conservatives or liberals. The intended audience is ALL AMERICANS who value the freedoms described in the First Amendment of our Bill of Rights. The article below, written by Chris Hedges, recaps the frightening actions of the St. Paul police department in response to peaceful protests at the Republican National Convention. Leave your party affiliations at the door and ask yourself if these actions demonstrate the characteristics of a free society. For those that don't, please get involved in protecting the original freedoms that help make this country great, as that is what a true 'Patriot' does.
Tyranny on Display at the Republican Convention By Chris Hedges St. Paul is a window into our future. It is a future where, as one protester told me by phone, “people have been pepper-gassed, thrown on the ground by police who had drawn their weapons, had their documents seized and their tattoos photographed before being taken away to jail.” It is a future where illegal house raids are carried out. It is a future where vans containing heavily armed paramilitary units circle and film protesters. It is a future where, as the protester said, “people have been pulled from cars because their license plates were on a database and handcuffed, thrown in the back of a squad car and then watched as their vehicles were ransacked and their personal possessions from computers to literature seized.” It is a future where constitutional rights mean nothing and where lawful dissent is branded a form of terrorism. The rise of the corporate state means the rise of the surveillance state. The Janus-like face of America swings from packaged and canned spectacles, from nationalist slogans, from seas of flags and Christian crosses, from professions of faith and patriotism, to widespread surveillance, illegal mass detentions, informants, provocateurs and crude acts of repression and violence. We barrel toward a world filled with stupendous lies and blood. What difference is there between the crowds of flag-waving Republicans and the apparatchiks I covered as a reporter in the old East German Communist Party? These Republican delegates, like the fat and compromised party functionaries in East Berlin, all fawned on cue over an inept and corrupt party hierarchy. They all purported to champion workers’ rights and freedom while they systematically fleeced, disempowered and impoverished the workers they lauded. They all celebrated the virtue of a state that was morally bankrupt. And while they played this con game, one that gave them special privileges, power and wealth, they unleashed their goons and thugs on all who dared to challenge them. We are not East Germany, but we are well on our way. An economic meltdown, another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil, a war with Iran, and we could easily swing into an authoritarian model that would look very familiar to anyone who lived in the former communist East Bloc. A few of those arrested in St. Paul, including eight leaders of the RNC Welcoming Committee—one of the groups organizing protests at the GOP convention in St. Paul—now face terrorism-related charges. Monica Bicking, Eryn Trimmer, Luce Guillen Givins, Erik Oseland, Nathanael Secor, Robert Czernik, Garrett Fitzgerald and Max Spector could get up to seven and a half years in prison under the terrorism enhancement charge, which allows for a 50 percent increase in the maximum penalty. This is the first time criminal charges have been filed under the 2002 Minnesota version of the federal Patriot Act. The Patriot Act, which was put in place as much to silence domestic opposition as to ferret out real terrorists, has largely lain dormant. It has authorized the government to monitor our phone conversations, e-mails, meetings and political opinions. It has authorized the government to shut down anti-war groups and lock up innocents as terrorists. It has abolished habeas corpus. But until now we have not grasped its full implications for our open society. We catch glimpses, as in St. Paul or in our offshore penal colonies where we torture detainees, of its awful destructive power. The commercial media told us that what was important in St. Paul was happening inside the convention hall. The vapid interviews, the ridiculous soap opera sagas about Sarah Palin’s daughter and the debate about whether John McCain or Barack Obama has proprietary rights to “Change” divert us from the truth of who we have become. You had to search out “Democracy Now!,” TheUptake.org, Twin Cities Indymedia, I-Witness, along with a few other independent outlets, to see, hear or read real journalism from St. Paul. It does not matter that the RNC Welcoming Committee describes itself as an “anarchist/anti-authoritarian” organization. We don’t have to embrace a political agenda to protect the right to be heard. Shut down free speech and radicals only burrow deeper underground, splitting ossified political systems into fractured extremes. We may well end up with the Christian right on one side, with politicians like Sarah Palin providing an ideological veneer to a Christian fascism, and embittered leftist radicals who turn to violence on the other. St. Paul was not ultimately about selecting a presidential candidate. It was about the power of the corporate state to carry out pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. It was about squads of police in high-tech riot gear, many with drawn semiautomatic weapons, bursting into houses. It was about seized computers, journals and political literature. It was about shutting down independent journalism, even at gunpoint. It was about charging protesters with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely used statute that criminalizes legal dissent. It was about 500 people held in open-air detention centers. It was about the rising Orwellian state that has hollowed out the insides of America, cast away all that was good and vital, and donned its skin to shackle us all.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

PEOPLE NEED TO BE MORE AWARE OF WHAT WE ARE ALLWOING TO TAKE PLACE BY NOT STANDING UNITED IN FIGHTS LIKE THIS - WE NEED TO GET OUR COUNTRY BACK IN OUR CONTROL BEFORE WE COMPLETELY LOSE EVERYTHING. WE NEED TO BRING MORE AWARENESS, WE NEED TO HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD. DON'T STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING, I BELIEVE EVERY LITTLE BIT DOES HELP AND I HOPE THE LITTLE I CAN DO WILL INSPIRE MORE PEOPLE AS WELL. THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!

Anonymous said...

That article is absolute RUBBISH!!!!

No word of the violent protesters smashing the city up!

Another left wing hack trying to rewrite history.

This is shameful!

Speech said...

What is shameful, is when people disagree and then demoralize the other person just because they spoke up. It takes me back to grade school, when KID'S called each other names. "Hack"? No need for all of that.


SP

thecultjam said...

wonder what it is that makes someone decide what is rubbish and what is truth. Its interesting that when someone writes something you dont want to accept you automatically dismiss it. I personally have heard PLENTY about the "protesters smashing up the city" and while I agree its wrong to protest violence with violence (clearly counter productive) I also think its wrong to be violent with a peaceful person because they disagree with you.
I believe you may be a little sensitive for no reason (as this is STILL America and everyones story and experiences have a place) and you obviously have a limited grasp on history if you think telling a truth (one out of many) will "rewrite history". Im a sociology and history major and I can ASSURE you thats not possible. History has a place for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Not attacking you Speech but showing the writer of the article for who he is and has been known to be for a LONG time! He has a history of stuff like this.

Anyone can take a picture and give it a headline that completely misconstrues what really happened.

The police in St. Paul did not just randomly attack "peaceful" protesters. There were many violent protesters wreaking absolute havoc in St. Paul.

They should be locked up for breaking the law. Destroying property, disrupting the peace and even attacking the police themselves. It was on ALL the news networks.

I am all for peaceful protests however the display of the anarchists in St. Paul was absolutely disgusting and this article by Hedges is complete garbage! IT is false!

Lisa said...

Well, I'm one of those crazy people who watch Democracy Now! I'm fortunate enough to get it where I live...which is fairly ironic because I live in one of the most conservative areas in the country. That being said, I also watch CNN, and any other news channel, via t.v. or Internet, that I can get my eye's on. I even catch Fox news when I'm at my folks, which I pretty much despise.
Bet your wondering what my point is...Unless you expose yourself to a variety of sources, you'll never get "fair and balanced news." I do think that some protesters, a small few, got outta hand. But those few people's ridiculous actions do not account for half of the Police brutality that took place during the RNC. Innocent protesters and press where violated on several video documented occasions. The raids where inexcusable. Almost everyone who was raided was from peaceful organizations or where part of liberal press. It was very bias, prejudice, and WRONG.
I don't know about you but I don't want to live in a police state. Right now we are, and things will only get much worse if we don't start educating ourselves and taking action. One of my biggest issues right now is the Diebold corp. and voting machines. You see our vote may not even count because of these screwed up machines. So, what do we do? Not vote? Hell, no. Make people aware of the problems. Don't sit back in complacency and give up on doing anything about it. I don't trust my government. I don't trust most the information out there. But I've done the research and I can honestly say... we are in some scary times and unless we start taking some serious action, America isn't gonna be America anymore. You think the last 8 years were bad? Just sit back and do nothing. You'll see just how much worse it can get. If you want to find out more about the Diebold machines, look for a documentary on You Tube called " Hacking the System"...I think that's what it's called. Sorry pregnancy brain. Just research it if you don't believe me. I work full time, I'm gonna be a mom. I still make time to study this stuff because I want to make sure my little girl isn't going to have to fix this shit when she's my age. I want my, and your kids, to have more opportunity for their futures than having to worry about things like this. The only way real change is gonna come is through us!

OFFICIAL SPEECH BLOG said...

Hey all,
This is Gregg Adams and I introduced this article. I appreciate all of the comments, as it shows people are interested, regardless of which side of the issue you support. I would ask our friend that took exception to Mr. Hedges if he or she was in St. Paul to witness what occurred, as I would be willing to give you a chance to share your in-person experience.
We sincerely try to give everyone a forum to express their views.
I know that there are bad apples in every equation, but given the current administration's proven record of abuse, (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib) mis-information, (Iraq, the economy, etc.), secrecy, (sighting 'executive priviledge' to excuse leaders from being held accountable for their actions) and abuse of power, would it not be in our collective best interest to question such events, especially where Sen. McCain has supported the current administration without major exception?
I don't know if you watched Sen. McCain's accpetance speech, but there were at least two people forcibly removed for holding signs that were in opposition to him. I'm not talking about rushing the stage or disorderly conduct, they were holding signs! Have we gotten to the point that opposing views can be suppressed through force?
Thanks for your passion, your reply and further clarity is encouraged.
Gregg

Anonymous said...

Nope I was not there and neither was Chris Hedges who wrote this. As far as questioning events in light of all the Bush "abuses" goes I completely disagree with your premise. Although there are areas in which abuse has certainly been practiced however the abuse that I see Bush partaking in is liberal abuse of spending which is exactly in line with the Democrat playbook!

I saw McCain's acceptance speech and those people who were carried out were not carried out for just holding a sign. They were screaming and yelling disrupting his speech. There is a HUGE difference.

Talking about opposing views being shut down by force a classic example is the Liberal Socialist Democrats desire to implement horrid and unconstitutional "Fairness Doctrine"!

We are heading down the road you and I both fear and both Democrats and Republicans share the blame.

OFFICIAL SPEECH BLOG said...

Well, we can agree on one thing and that we are headed down a very rocky road. I also agree that both parties need to shoulder the blame, but also share the burden to get us back on track.
I am suprised by the fact that someone as articulate and engaged as you appear to be sees spending as the only fault of the Bush administration. I can willingly admit so-called Democrats like Boxer and Joe Lieberman, (I know, he's now a neocon) have helped lead the charge for spending under the guise of 'The War on Terror', to ensure that there are no jobs losses in their states, maximizing their re-election potential. (F-22 Raptor's and Virginia class subs don't have a whole lot of value in a fight against stateless enemies, (especially in the water).
I hope you'll take another, unbiased look before you leap into the next 4 years, as I don't believe the McCain/Palin ticket will effect change, but continue to take us down the dangerous path we're on.

Anonymous said...

I agree the road is rocky. That has always been the nature of our great country since its inception. Bush has certainly botched things up pretty good however I don't chalk it up to pure evil like most do. Lieberman is FAR from a "neocon". Just because he supports Bush on one issue does not make him some kind of conservative. Bush is not even a conservative! I believe both the McCain/Palin ticket and Obama/Biden ticket will both effect great change! The problem lies with which change do you want to go.

Cutting taxes and spending or increasing them? Income redistribution or allowing you to manage your own money the way you see fit?

Having a superficial grandiose kum bai ya image of the USA or going with people with real traditional values of limited government.

We both can go on and on. In the grand scheme of things God will decide who will be the next ruler of this nation and who that person is God be with them.

Chewy said...

Ok, I read through some of the comments and this is what I have to say.

Granted some of these protesters acted violently. They should be prosecuted accordingly to the law.

Now, not all of them were acting in violence. I think we all can agree on that. So here's my problem. These police officers are granted the power to serve and protect. Why didn't they protect the peaceful ones while trying to defuse the violent ones?

How do you justify spraying someone in the face with mace, that is holding flowers? Where's the discretion in that?

The last time I checked...police officers are human, they're not a bunch of robots that act on command. They could of easily let that lady by or detoured her from the threat of the others, but they didn't. Everyone was a target and that's just wrong in my book.

It wasn't like these people were armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons either. There's the right way to do things...and the wrong way. These cops made a huge error in judgment here and should be held accountable for their actions.

Now don't get me wrong here either. There were also cops that did their jobs correctly as well. They should not be touched, but the ones that were spraying anything that moved...should be punished!

What's wrong is wrong! Common sense can go a long way when dealing with any situation. Unfortunately, both sides involved were wrong in one way or another.

If you want to protest...fine, do it in a peaceful manner. If you're a cop trying to defuse a riot...make sure you use a little discretion before you act.