Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The medium is the message 

The Smirking Chimp writes about the Guantanamo message to America:
"The prison facility at Guantanamo Bay is the brightest star in the Bush firmament. It towers over the political landscape like a monument to human cruelty . . . What is it that we fail to grasp about Guantanamo? Are we so blinded by the assuring narrative of democracy and personal freedom that we don't recognize the symbols of tyranny when we see them? The reality of Guantanamo is quite stark; a dull-gray world of cinder-block and wire situated beyond the reach of any law or regulation. Is their some doubt about what this really means? . . . Guantanamo is a deliberate effort to overturn every legal protection that safeguards the individual from the arbitrary actions of the state. Simply put, it is the end of the law . . . The Gulag at Guantanamo casts a pall over American political life. It illustrates a seismic shift in our fundamental values as Americans and a wholesale betrayal of our commitment to human rights. Concentration camps are anathema to democracy and Guantanamo is asphyxiating the promise of American justice. Institutions that once were counted on to protect the individual have been casually discarded by the perpetrators of the most despicable crimes against humanity. The Bush administration has assumed the role of Grand Inquisitor; dispensing 'cruel and inhuman' punishment without remorse or hesitation. They've elevated injustice to a level of state policy. "
I never understood Marshall McLuhan's statement "the medium is the message" until I considered Guantanamo -- it was built as just another prison, sure, but one consciously designed to subvert constitutional due process and prisoner of war conventions. In just three years, it has distorted American thinking to the point that the US now has a nominee Attorney General who supports presidential rule by divine right and who endorses torture - and the lock-step Senate Republicans, and probably a few Democrats also, will likely vote for him.
Maybe with the Patriot Act vote they had some excuse in 911 panic. And maybe with the Iraq War vote they had been sandbagged by mushroom cloud scenarios.
But with Gonzales, they will know exactly what they're voting for -- government of the gulag, by the gulag and for the gulag.

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