A little after 9 PM on 05 March 1770, belligerent British troops engaged a riot-minded crowd in Boston, Massachusetts. Hot tempers boiling despite the cold air of the winter night, before the confrontation was over, five Americans lay dead in the Boston streets, the first martyrs of the conflict that presently birthed an entire republic devoted to an idea among the Enlightenment’s crowning achievements – government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In a word, Democracy.
Or, at least that’s how it was promoted. Things aren’t always what they seem. In fairness, the Founding Fathers didn’t have the cultural background necessary to consider most of the human race as full-fledged human beings capable or deserving of personal democracy. Their list didn’t include any women, persons of African descent, the native population of the Americas, people who didn’t own property, those who didn’t have an education, and not infrequently, those without good standing in the neighborhood Christian church. In the beginning, American democracy enfranchised less than 10% of the population.
When the shooting began that night in Boston, a year and a half had passed since the British Crown had deployed troops there to enforce an escalating tax burden, an escalating degree of martial law, and to very plainly inform its American colonists as to their place in the order of the first truly global empire, one upon which the sun was always shining somewhere – yet would finally set, as the sun always has on empires, and always will. The people of Boston were in the vanguard of a sequence of revolutions that took almost another 200 years to divest Britain of all but a few of its imperial possessions. How ironic, then, that just 237 years after the Spirit of 1776 inspired the dispatch to King George of that defiant American Declaration of Independence, the people of Boston would give up without a whimper so much of the very freedom they pioneered, and so readily submit to instructions from the government to “stay inside and lock your doors.”
Lock-down orders are the kind of thing a police state is built on. It doesn’t matter that the most recent “Boston Massacre” was the product of deranged terrorists and that the lock-down order was part of a plan to nab the suspects, dead or alive. It doesn’t matter if the sensible thing for most to have done would have been to stay inside, anyway, and with the doors locked – if only because locked doors are generally a good idea in any big city whether there are an unusual number or degree of terrorists on the loose or not. It doesn’t even matter if the “orders” were more advice than command, and not universally obeyed. What matters is that the government has no business putting a whole city under house arrest, and a free people should never tolerate such an order – or be ready to believe their fellow citizens would, either.
Referring to the Boston bombing and its aftermath in his regular address that week, President Obama declared, “Americans refuse to be terrorized. Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week.” Unfortunately, Obama’s rhetoric is as thin as it nearly always is. What we can remember from the week he refers to is that Americans, ever more characterized by fear, ignorance, and a general lack of courage, slid further down the slippery slope into the same kind of totalitarian state that America was theoretically established as an alternative to.
In less than a day, Boston was swarming with militarized police the likes of which didn’t exist in America as recently as 20 years ago. It’s not that America had fewer problems then – in fact, crime rates were higher 20 years ago, and beginning on April 29, 1992, there was a major riot in Los Angeles that produced an incompletely enforced, dusk-to-dawn curfew in many areas, but didn’t lock the city down. National guard units were deployed, but their use was exceptional, widely questioned, and unlike the permanent presence of militarized police lurking in the shadows of every American city these days, assumed to be a temporary measure with a brief, specific charter.
Fear, the result of being terrorized and softened by cushy affluence, has reduced America to a 21st century approximation of voluntarily quartering the King’s soldiers in its homes (streets, whatever), something else America will refuse to “remember from [that] week.”
Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most quotable Founding Fathers, said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety, and will lose both.” A free people deal with things differently than the coerced, subverted, and repressed. The citizens of a real democracy think of the world differently than the subjects of tyranny, whether it’s the tyranny of a despot or a despotic oligarchy. Free-minded people, like the Americans of 1776, have different natural expectations. The people Benjamin Franklin addressed in his time are not the same kind that people America today.
The road from the freedom of America’s past to whatever form of fascist police state seems to lurk in America’s future is one that’s seldom traversed in a day or year. That journey occurs over the course of generations, each more forgetful than the last of the freedoms their ancestors were willing to die for. America’s demonstration during Obama’s weak “week” is one of both a dramatic increase in willingness to accept the methods of police state repression, and a dramatic increase in the ability of the police in our state to repress us.
Further, words of condolence and sympathy from the rest of the world notwithstanding, and regardless of the crafted content provided by the compromised international media most Americans access, much of the world has a little trouble validating America’s shock and horror at what happened in Boston. Because, in many parts of the world, that kind of thing is tragically common place, and more often than not, something America has some responsibility for.
America is the world’s number one exporter of weapons and war. For the better part of the last 15 years America has exported more war toys than all the rest of the world combined. As a perpetrator of armed conflict, death and destruction, America has won the marathon with no competitors in sight. America’s weapons industry has proven itself time and again not just willing, but eager to supply war material & support to both sides of conflicts, and at times even when American troops were active participants on one of the sides.
For every bloody body on the streets of Boston that week, there were scores more in the world where America is pursuing, sponsoring, or doing business with war. The unspeakable tragedy of the 8 year-old boy who died in the inexcusable terrorist attack in Boston was only an echo of the dozens of children killed in the unspeakable tragedy of America’s inexcusable terrorist drone attacks in the previous few weeks, themselves just the latest child victims in a list of many hundreds in the past few years. In the places where America’s terrorists operate –cowards whose only risk is eye and wrist strain from operating drone controls thousands of miles out of harm’s way – gore like that which spoiled the streets of Boston is a common event.
The wonder of it all is that attacks like the one in Boston don’t occur more frequently. It’s not just for want of inspiration, either. In her book, “Classified Woman,” Sibel Edmonds tells the story of a national security organization so eaten to the core with corruption that Americans should concern themselves less with whether there will be another terrorist attack, than what to do when it happens.
Edmonds’ book is focused specifically on intelligence the FBI bungled prior to 9/11. She explains that not only did the FBI have explicit, timely warning about the attacks, but they aggressively covered up for the people who ignored the information, and generally for the worst of reasons – petty, private gain by numerous people involved, including senior members of the White House and Pentagon. Edmond’s point is not that government officials were part of some “conspiracy” that resulted in 9/11, but that through incompetence, graft, turf wars, favoritism, and loyalty to each other that exceeded their loyalty to America, a coincidentally convenient tragedy occurred.
Here it should be observed that the FBI and other American security organizations had previous contact with the Boston bombers, the Tsarnaev brothers, and that there is evidence that some in the American security establishment were possibly even expecting an attack just like the one that took place. Video and pictures show quite questionable, allegedly semi-official private security contractors clearly next to, bracketing the bomb site, shortly before and after the explosion. In the past few years the FBI has often proven to be the primary instigator in would-be terrorist attacks they then almost always manage to heroically “prevent.”
Although the one alleged bomber that survived the manhunt has apparently been quite cooperative with his confessions and there have been arrests of others who are said to have helped him in some way, why have there been so few questions concerning the evidence of extraordinary security establishment activity in the background?
Perhaps one of the most distressing reactions to the bombing was the call by several US senators to deny the captive bomber his civil rights, to try him in a military court with little or no constitutional protection. Our rights mean nothing unless they apply equally to all, including those with whom we don’t agree. With our rights goes our freedom.
What has been purchased at the expense of all the freedom America has given up since 1776, and most notably since 9/11?
Americans put up with pornographically obscene security at the airports, and listen almost without comment to threats of the same measures being implemented on trains, on busses, and even at shopping malls. In 2013 America, automatic surveillance of all electronic communication is an inescapable reality. Zettabyte databases have been created to facilitate data mining for the benefit of both authoritarian control freaks and the banal parasites whose purpose in life is simply to find out who can be coerced into buying what and how much they can be duped into paying for it. While there was some resistance at first, since 9/11 the attack by America’s Orwellian security establishment on the American people’s privacy has by stages become an increasingly less challenged assumption.
The cultural revolution of the 60s, which claimed its share of lives, may have degenerated into hedonistic obsession with drugs & sex, but initially it had focus on resistance to just the kind of police state policies we see being implemented without meaningful objection today. In fact, along with opposition to the draft and the Vietnam War in particular, opposition to government surveillance in contradiction of our basic constitutional rights was one of the principle issues that gained support from the middle class for the cultural revolution, despite middle class abhorrence of the immorality they perceived in the counter-culture movement. How quickly we forget.
There’s no excuse for terrorism, whether it’s Chechens like the Tsarnaev brothers twisted by a history of war, or Americans twisted by a history of exceptionalism. Terrorism must be contested wherever it occurs, but it can’t be done by implementing more terrorism and willingly giving up one of the most precious things in our lives – the freedom to live them as we choose. Unfortunately for America, we are rapidly being forced to admit that the terrorists have won … and the terrorists are us.
Links directory (Get the info straight from the sources! The article text that the links link from is in parentheses at the end of each line. The music video links are intended to help tell the story in ways that simple reporting just can’t manage, and the lyrics for all the tracks have their own links so you don’t miss any of that sometimes not very subtle messaging.)
- Boston Massacre Historical Society – What was the Boston Massacre? (A little after 9 PM on 05 March 1770)
- Information Clearing House (Anthony Gregory, 2013 Apr 20) – What Is the Threshold for Martial Law? (a police state)
- Popehat (Clark, 2013 Apr 20) – Security theater, martial law, and a tale that trumps every cop-and-donut joke you’ve ever heard (not universally obeyed)
- The Onion (2013 Apr 18) – Jesus, This Week (this week)
- Wikipedia – 1992 Los Angeles riots (major riot in Los Angeles)
- GlossyNews (Barb Wier, 2013 Apr 18) – Don’t assume the Marathon bomber was a white Christian (a little trouble validating) “Factoids are cheaper than facts…”
- Information Clearing House (Robert Scheer, 2013 Apr 23) – 277 Million Boston Bombings (America has some responsibility)
- truthdig (Robert Scheer, 2013 Apr 23) – 277 Million Boston Bombings (weapons and war)
- Information Clearing House (Lindsey German, 2013 Apr 16) – Bombs from Boston to Baghdad: What Is the Value of a Human Life? (America’s terrorists) This article is a little dated in places. It’s included here mostly for the two images in the article. Assuming a stomach that can take it, hours of viewing can quickly be found on the Internet showing body after countless body of children, many quite small, that have been killed by Americans in the 21st century, and that’s without including the ones that were killed with American weapons used by others, most of them officially approved US “allies.”
- Washington Post (Peter W. Singer, 2013 Feb 15) – Military medal for drone strikes? Makes Sense (cowards) Since this article was written, the plan to create a medal for drone operators has kinda, sorta been canceled. For now.
- AlterNet (Noam Chomsky, 2013 May 02) – The Boston Bombings Gave Americans a Taste of the Terrorism the U.S. Inflicts Abroad Every Day (common event)
- Classified Woman – The Sibel Edmonds Story (Classified Woman) For more terrific info from Sibel Edmonds, try her whistleblower &c. website, Boiling Frogs.
- The Smoking Gun (2013 Apr 13) – Feds Warned Of Pressure Cooker Bombs (expecting an attack)
- Land Destroyer Report (2013 Apr 19) – “Contractors” at Boston Marathon Stood Near Bomb, Left Before Detonation (private security contractors)
- Information Clearing House (Tony Cartalucci, 2013 Apr 15) – FBI’s History of Handing “Terror Suspects” Live Explosives (primary instigator) The article lists only a few of the many examples. It’s gotten to be a trite cliché since 9/11.
- Information Clearing House (David Lindorff, 2013 April 22) – Something’s Rotten in Boston (so few questions)
- The Onion (2013 Apr 16) – This What World Like Now (no excuse for terrorism)
- Sublime – April 29, 1992 (YouTube, 7:26 min – Forghrim) (April 29, 1992) Lyrics Can we all just get along?
- Mackelmore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ray Dalton – Can’t Hold Us (YouTube, 7:04 min – Ryan Lewis) (A free people) Lyrics This lyrics link has active help that offers context for some of the lyrics along with explanations. Hover over the lyrics & right click. The whole site is great if you want to know more about rap & rap lyrics.
- The Beatles – The Long And Winding Road (YouTube, 7:26 min – Ken W) (The road) Lyrics
- Van Morrison – Tupelo Honey (YouTube, 4:03 min – neo16280) (the freedom) Lyrics
- Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young – Find the Cost of Freedom / Ohio (YouTube, 5:39 min – WolfEchoes) (cultural revolution of the 60s) Lyrics / Lyrics
- Future feat. Lil Wayne – Karate Chop (YouTube, 4:34 min – FutureVEVO) (Americans) Lyrics This rap is exceptional not only for some of the criticism it got, but for the self-censorship it seems to have responded with. Originally, it “mocked Emmett Till,” a martyr from the civil rights protest movement in 1955, with the reference, “…beat the [expletive deleted] like Emmett Till.” Whatever Lil Wayne’s original intent, the reconsideration given the message says something hopeful about America even in if, well, the rest of the iconic, undeniably American lyrics speak for themselves. BTW, this lyrics link is another one to the great site that helps people understand what the raps are about.