USA Today Opinion. Should We Pretend By Hal O’Leary

USA Today Opinion. Should We Pretend By Hal O’Leary

USA Today Opinion. Should We Pretend By Hal O’Leary…

USA Today Opinion. Should We Pretend By Hal O'Leary

Lincoln’s Memorial. Photo attribution Dan Holtmeyer on Flickr

Should we pretend that America is the democracy that politicians continue falsely to claim for us in their attempts to sell what is now little more than a myth?  The irony is, of course, that it is the politicians themselves, those sycophants and prostitutes, representing not the people but their moneyed benefactors, who are responsible for the loss of said democracy.  In an effort to frighten us into relinquishing democratic promise and freedoms, they take us to war, and we are bombarded with the phrase, “creeping socialism,” when actually we are faced with a “creeping fascism.”  Lest fascism be thought of as something new, we find it in ancient Greece, in Plato’s contempt for democracy and in the 14th century with Machiavelli’s insistence on the absolute authority of the state.  The modern concept, however, is best understood in Benito Mussolini’s definition of fascism as simply a merger of corporation and state.  Please note that this concept differs from the more widely held concept of an individual dictator with absolute power disguising for the populace the coup d’etat that has actually taken place.

It is this concept that led a group of influential powerbrokers led by Prescott Bush (father and grandfather to G. H. W. and G. W.) to attempt an overthrow of FDR and implement a fascist dictatorship.  In 1933, Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler was approached by a wealthy and secretive group of industrialists and bankers (including Prescott Bush) who asked him to command a 500,000 strong rogue army of veterans that would help stage a coup to topple then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  According to a BBC Radio 4 investigation, the plotters intended to impose a fascist takeover and “Adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression.”

Following the fascist atrocities of WWII, America’s fascist movement receded but did not disappear.  It wasn’t until the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 that a furtive resurgence of the age-old curse began with his administration.  American fascism emerged once again from the slimy but fertile soil of Iran-Contra, a treasonous crime for which no one was ever held accountable, and the launching of a war on labor unions with the firing of the air traffic controllers.  Thus began a blatant and incessant drive by the neoconservatives to usurp the power once held by the people, culminating with the Patriot Act and Citizens United as the death knell for any hope for a democracy once the envy of oppressed peoples of the world.

Perhaps a close look at what the Patriot Act does to three of the most crucial rights in our Bill of Rights is in order.  The great irony is that politicians responsible and in the employ of the oligarchy are sending our sons and daughters abroad to die, ostensibly to preserve the freedoms being denied at home.

First Amendment:  Freedom of speech . . . Freedom of association.

Patriot Act: The government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation . . . To assist terror investigation, the government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity.

Fourth Amendment:  Freedom from unreasonable searches.

Patriot Act:  The government may search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.

Sixth Amendment:  Right to a speedy and public trial . . . Right to legal representation . . . Right to liberty.

Patriot Act.  The government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial . . . The government may monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal prisons and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes . . . Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.  U.S. citizens labeled “unlawful combatants” have been held incommunicado and refused attorneys.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is a Supreme Court case that will go down in infamy.  In short, it moves this country from a democracy to an oligarchy in which the economic and political life of the nation is controlled by corporations and a few obscenely wealthy billionaires.  This is fascism as defined by Benito Mussolini.  What it says is thatspending is speech, and is therefore protected under the first amendment of the Constitution — even if the speaker is a corporation with all the rights afforded an individual citizen.

The dissenting opinion by Justice Stevens concluded with:

“At bottom, the Court’s opinion is thus a rejection of the common sense of the American people, who have recognized a need to prevent corporations from undermining self-government since the founding, and who have fought against the distinctive corrupting potential of corporate electioneering since the days of Theodore Roosevelt. It is a strange time to repudiate that common sense. While American democracy is imperfect, few outside the majority of this Court would have thought its flaws included a dearth of corporate money in politics.”

It is with this in mind that I no longer vote, for any vote I cast will only signal to the oligarchy that I still pretend.  And I don’t.


Should you pretend we have democracy,

Should you pretend Americans are free,

Should you pretend Iran’s our enemy,

Should you pretend to share that policy,

It seems that you and I do not agree.

I don’t believe we have democracy.

Two parties? Just a joke on you and me,

For both are owned by one plutocracy.

The thought that “we the people” hold the key

To what we think our country ought to be,

Begins to look like base insanity.

I fear it’s gone the way of chastity.

It’s gone the way of honesty

Or trust without which love can never be.

We’re faced with loss of all humanity.

I don’t pretend Americans are free.

This so-called War on Terror? We should see

It as a war on freedom.  You’ll agree

I’m justified if only you foresee

The Patriot Act as an atrocity.

And Citizens United should not be,

Unconstitutional for all to see.

The wiretaps do away with privacy,

Library use?  We cannot guarantee.

We’re spied on with no criminality.

I don’t pretend Iran’s our enemy,

While Pakistan and Israel can be

At Iran’s door with nukes, and openly

Insist Iran has no authority

To call for naught but just equality.

It smacks of blatant, smug hypocrisy.

With Gods alike, an opportunity

For lasting peace with reciprocity?

But, No.  We’re given this iniquity,

We’re told Iran must be the enemy.

I don’t pretend to share their policy

Of homage to the A I P A C,

That bows in homage to a company

Of greedy vultures, who with certainty

Have used our wealth and our civility

To flaunt and add to their prosperity.

Their homage goes to just one entity,

Themselves, and that’s the way it’s come to be.

There’s precious little left for you and me

But just to cope with this obscenity.

Should you pretend we have democracy?

Should you pretend Americans are free?

Should you pretend Iran’s our enemy?

Should you pretend to share that policy?

Oh Yes, if slavery’s your cup of tea.

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Hal O’Leary is an eighty-seven-year-old Secular Humanist who believes that it is only through the arts that one is afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University.

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