Eleven Months Later

On January 1, I wrote in this space that 2004 would be the year that determines whether democracy survives in the U.S. With less than a month to go, three stories from the front section of today’s Washington Post give us an idea of where we stand.

On the front page is a story about federally-funded programs to teach sexual abstinence in schools. An investigation by congressional Democrats examined the 13 most commonly used curricula and found 11 of them contain false or misleading information about sex.

Here’s what your federal tax dollars are paying to teach your kids in school:

– Half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus,
– Abortion can lead to sterility and suicide,
– Touching a person’s genitals “can result in pregnancy,”
– A 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person,”
– HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears,
– Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

The federal government has appropriated $170 million for “abstinence-only” sex education programs for the coming year and has spent $900 million on these programs in the past five years. Note that these are “abstinence-only” programs – this package of ignorance is the ONLY information some children receive about sex.

On page A4, the Post reports on U.S. District Court Judge Joyce Hens Green’s questions to attorneys for the Justice Department about detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and what, in the Bush administration’s eyes, qualifies a person to be considered an “enemy combatant.”

According to the legal minds at Justice, persons held as “enemy combatants” might include:

– A Muslim teacher whose class includes a family with Taliban connections,
– A man who does not report his suspicions that his cousin may be an al Qaeda member,
– A reporter who knows where Osama bin Laden is located but does not divulge the information to protect an anonymous source.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled the military has the authority to detain people to prevent them from returning to a battlefield or prevent them from waging war on the U.S. Among the Guantanamo detainees, however, are men apprehended in Britain, Bosnia and Zambia. Attorney Brian Boyle of the Justice Department argued that in the war on terror, the entire planet is a battlefield. Mr. Boyle argued, in effect, that George W. Bush has the right to order the detention of any person, of any nationality, in any country and keep that person detained, without due process, for as long as he chooses.

Again, your tax dollars pay for those detentions and worse – they are being carried out in your name.

Finally, there was a story on page A8 about the NBC and CBS television networks and it wasn’t about departing news anchors. These two networks have refused to allow the United Church of Christ to purchase airtime for an ad promoting tolerance.

The ad features a church with two bouncers at the door; the bouncers turn away a gay couple, a Latina woman and a disabled man. The voice-over says, “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”

NBC simply called the ad “too controversial” and CBS refused the ad on grounds that because the Bush administration has recently proposed a Constitutional ban on gay marriage, the UCC ad was “unacceptable for broadcast.”

The ad doesn’t mention gay marriage, merely implying gays and lesbians are welcome at UCC churches, but why should the networks take chances? Allowing the UCC to preach tolerance might offend the intolerant and since the White House has declared itself on the side of intolerance the broadcast media is going to censor itself. Makes one wonder what stories didn’t make it into the Washington Post.

In January, I wrote that if the increasingly totalitarian Republican Party retained control of the White House and Congress in the November election, we would likely see the end of the American republic and the birth of a new tyranny. I’d like to report that in hindsight, those words seem exaggerated and fearful, but I can’t.


Enemy Combatants


© Mark Floegel, 2004

One Comment

  1. Azur Moulaert
    Posted 12/5/2004 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Here in the small hamlet of Burlington our Gannet owned newspaper -the Burlington Free Press- carries stories of departing reserve troupes and yes the ceremony of the traveling Red Sox trophie – 4000 people greeted this object. The photo of the day was this poor gas station attendant standing in front of a pump with a look of despair counting the days to his departure. Now that the army reserve has called him he’ll go from pumping gas for Sunoco to getting shot at by experienced mujuhadins – probably also trained by Sunoco.

    Our departing troops will be stationed in the Middle East protecting the interests of the oil companies and the corporations that shove raw energy down our addicted throats. Their only immediate console, whether in Saudi Arabia, Iraq or any given Red Sea carrier will be Christmas emails from their loved ones and watching the upcoming Superbowl. Provided they don’t step on a land mine or their hummer gets blown up right around Christmas they will return to Vermont to tell their horror stories.

    Here’s an idea for our leadership, let’s send the Red Sox trophie to Baghdad to cheer the troops and let’s send Tiger Woods to the grand opening of the Kabul golf course. Here’s another idea, let’s gather 4000 people at the airport to oppose sending the best of Vermont to the defend the interest of the worst of our Nation. Shame on the media for not showing us the rising tides of conscientious objectors around the country. Shame on the millions of people that took the streets before the war and like obedient sheep went back to their TV sets and their cushy middle class lives. Shame on all of us for not being outraged at the fate of our fellow Vermonters and our country. Civility and good manners have ruined democracy. Yes Mark, our country is now dead smack in the the dark ages of moral McCarthyism.

    O tempora, o mores.

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