Troy Davis is dead, executed in a judicial lynching for a murder he most likely didn’t commit – and his execution isn’t likely to be the last given the enthusiasm the United States has for legal homicide. It’s fucked up – not least because this legal lynching occured under the administration of the first black president in United States history. And this judicial murder of a black man under Obama’s watch isn’t the first – consider the extra-judicial assassination of Imam Luqman Ameen Abdullah in Detroit, who was shot 21 times by the FBI during a raid.
This is just one of many examples of how little has actually changed under Obama, who was elected by millions that saw him as some kind of progressive superhero, the savior who – with one stroke – would wash away the sins of the previous administration and return America to its normal self, as if colonialism and repression didn’t exist until Bush got elected in 2000. It’s a liberal delusion to think that these problems are rooted only in a specific party and administration – rather than the system itself – as well as thinking these problems can be voted out of existence.
One example of this is veteran filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, who demonstrated this shortcoming as he recounted the death threats, harassment and assaults he endured for speaking out against the criminal invasion and occupation of Iraq during the 2003 Academy Awards in his latest book, Here Comes Trouble:
“The actress Diane Lane came on to the stage and read the list of nominees for best documentary. The envelope was opened, and she announced with unbridled glee that I had won the Oscar. The main floor, filled with the Oscar-nominated actors, directors and writers, leapt to its feet and gave me a very long-standing ovation. I had asked the nominees from the other documentary films to join me on the stage in case I won, and they did. The ovation finally ended, and then I spoke: ‘I’ve invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us. They are here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction, yet we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it’s the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts: we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush. Shame on you! And anytime you’ve got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up! Thank you very much.’
About halfway through these remarks, all hell broke loose. There were boos, very loud boos, from the upper floors and from backstage. (A few – Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep – tried to cheer me on from their seats, but they were no match.) The producer of the show ordered the orchestra to start playing to drown me out. The microphone started to descend into the floor. A giant screen with huge red letters began flashing in front of me: ‘YOUR TIME IS UP!’ It was pandemonium, to say the least, and I was whisked off the stage.”
It didn’t stop once he got off stage:
“Champagne and breathmint are the first two words all Oscar winners hear. But, lucky me, I got to hear a third. An angry stagehand came right up to the side of my head, screaming as loud as he could in my ear: ‘ASSHOLE!’
Other burly, pissed-off stagehands started toward me. I clutched my Oscar like a weapon, holding it like a lone man trapped and surrounded in the woods, his only hope being the torch he is swinging madly at the approaching vampires. All I felt at that moment was alone, that I was nothing more than a profound and total disappointment.”
And that was just “liberal Hollywood.” Back in the rest of America, Moore had to contend with incidents like these:
• In Nashville, a man with a knife leapt up on the stage and started coming toward me. The Seal grabbed him from behind by his belt loop and collar and slung him off the front of the stage to the cement floor below. Someone had to mop up the blood after the Seals took him away.
• In Fort Lauderdale, a man in a nice suit saw me on the sidewalk and went crazy. He took the lid off his hot, scalding coffee and threw it at my face. The Seal saw this happening but did not have the extra half-second needed to grab the guy, so he put his own face in front of mine and took the hit. The coffee burned his face so badly, we had to take him to the hospital (he had second-degree burns) – but not before the Seal took the man face down to the pavement, placing his knee painfully in the man’s back, and putting him in cuffs.
• In New York City, while I was holding a press conference outside one of the cinemas showing Fahrenheit 9/11, a man walking by saw me, became inflamed, and pulled the only weapon he had on him out of his pocket – a very sharp and pointed graphite pencil. As he lunged to stab me with it, the Seal saw him and, in the last split second, put his hand up between me and the oncoming pencil. The pencil went right into the Seal’s hand. You ever see a Navy Seal get stabbed? The look on their face is the one we have when we discover we’re out of shampoo. The pencil-stabber probably became a convert to the paperless society that day, once the Seal was done with him and his 16th-century writing device.
Eventually, Moore didn’t give up and kept fighting, making movies, writing books and speaking out against injustice. And that would be laudable … if it weren’t for this part:
“I made three films in three years, threw myself into getting Barack Obama elected, and helped toss two Republican congressmen from Michigan out of office.”
Fictitious times indeed, and Moore is a part of our current fiction – that change happened in 2008 and a progressive superhero saved us from the Bush/Republican-induced economic and political wreckage. The fact that Moore would tout helping get Obama say speaks volumes not only of his politics, but of his delusions as well – which is shared by millions, despite reality.
If Obama is the man progs/libs think he is, I’d like to see them explain how during the Wikileaks dump last December, which revealed – among other things – the Obama administration actively covering up for the Bush administration’s crimes of torture.
A Spanish human rights group called the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners sought indictments for six officials. Some are well-known – former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; Douglas Feith, former undersecretary of defense for policy and John Yoo, a former official in the Office of Legal Counsel. Some aren’t – David Addington, former chief of staff and legal adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; William Haynes, the Pentagon’s former general counsel; and Jay Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
What they were doing, according to a U.S. Embassy cable dated April 17, 2009, was “creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture,” a major issue then candidate Obama decried during the 2008 election.
“The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security.” Those were Obama’s words, but according to Mother Jones:
“In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies the that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects.” And in the spirit of bipartisanship, the administration worked with Republican Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.)
All of this is troubling, of course. Troubling, but not much of a surprise.
On many fronts, the Obama administration continued many of the same policies as the Bush administration. Consider the public record:
Assassination – The right to assassinate Americans involved in terrorism. Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged at a Congressional hearing in Feb. last year that with executive approval (White House), the U.S. Government can kill Americans abroad who are suspected of terrorist activities. As nationally recognized legal scholar Jonathan Turley noted on his blog; “Once again, the Obama Administration appears to be following Bush policies.”
Predator Drone Strikes – According to the Oct. 29, 2009 issue of the New Yorker, Jane Mayer wrote, “during his first nine and a half months in office, he has authorized as many C.I.A. aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years in office.” Obama “has granted secret permission” for the agency to increase such strikes, according to Al-Jazeera in May 2010, while the New America Foundation noted that of 247 people who were killed that year alone, only seven were identified as militants. That policy continues unabated to this day.
Civil Liberties – Then. Sen. Obama voted to renew the infamous Patriot Act not once, but twice – in 2006 and in 2010 after getting elected – and again in May this year, weeks after the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, even though he made ending the Act a major campaign promise. Although he did vote against extending the Act’s wiretapping provision in Dec. 2005, his administration “continues to assert that the bureau can obtain them (phone records) without any formal legal process or court oversight,” according to an article in McClatchy newspapers last January. And according to a report last year by the American Civil Liberties Union – “Establishing the New Normal” – despite some progress, “the Obama administration has continued to assert the authority to detain militarily, without charge or trial, Guantánamo detainees (and others) captured far from any conventional battlefield.”
There are other things, like the expansion of the Afghan occupation that included the use of private contractors – mercenaries – that were used by Bush in Iraq and implicated in human rights abuses. And like Bush – and every other politician – Obama supports Israel; he expressed his condolences in 2006 when former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon slipped into a coma – despite Sharon’s well-documented history of atrocities – and his meteoric rise in politics was due in no small part – besides the work of liberal celebs like Moore – to the pro-Israel vote, which Obama cultivated as he shifted from the Illinois legislature to Congress to the White House.
Never forget his silence while Israel bombarded Gaza in 2008/09.
This is the man Moore brags about helping to get elected; unlike Bush whom Moore opposed with every fiber in his body, I doubt he’ll get on stage somewhere and denounce him for his neocolonial warmongering. His criticism is more like this:
“All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam “might” be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish — the full terror of which we scarcely know.
When we elected you we didn’t expect miracles. We didn’t even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn’t even function as a nation and never, ever has.”
You thought wrong, Mike. He didn’t stop the madness and he won’t; the same corporate elite that backed Bush backed Obama – because the problem is not which administration is in power, but the system in its totality. Liberals like Moore can’t see that; therefore, they are part of the problem, not the solution.