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America Went Shopping
While our Constitution Slowly Burned…
By Amy Branham
What will be said about Americans in the future when history looks back at our time? What will I tell my grandchildren and my great grandchildren when they ask what happened to America? It is not just this President and his administration that will be judged by them and by time. It will also be the American people.
Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Sound familiar? Okay, so Nero probably didn’t really play a fiddle while Rome was burning, but it is a great analogy for the behavior of the American public at large right now.
Right after the horrific tragedy of 9/11, Americans were glued to their television sets. We couldn’t believe we had been attacked on our own soil and we were outraged. We mourned and we cried. We learned that it was terrorists who attacked us, specifically, al Qaeda. Shortly thereafter, the President declared war on al Qaeda.
Good American citizens across the country wanted to know what they could do to help. Go shopping, the President told us. Travel, and do the things you have always done. Don’t change your lives. Don’t let the terrorists win.
So, we went shopping in droves. We bought up gas guzzling SUV’s and RV’s, went to Wal-Mart en masse to buy up cheap goods from China, and we traveled the country. We continued to take our kids to soccer and baseball practice, went to movies and football games and did what we in America do best. We spent money. We bought homes and got mortgages we couldn’t really afford and the housing industry went through the roof.
We shopped until we dropped. We did this for years. We ran up our credit card debt and spent every penny we had to pay our bills. Savings went down and spending went up. But, we were being good little patriotic citizens to win our war on terror. We couldn’t let the terrorists change our lives. And we didn’t.
The average American citizen did not go to war and did not see it. There was no draft. Our military men and women, America’s sons and daughters, were called upon time and time again to go to Iraq for longer and longer periods of time. And the government would not give them equal time at home with their families. Veteran’s benefits were cut and those who returned home with PTSD and other disabilities were not helped and cared for as they should have been. Our military was broken.
We were to mind-numbed and shopping happy to see that our Constitution was being disassembled piece by piece. The enemy of freedom and democracy was not a foreign terrorist – although they do exist and are a threat. The enemy was our own government.
Behind the scenes, in the name of the Great War on Terror, people were being quietly picked up around the world and flown to secret bases and tortured for information – policies that are strictly forbidden in the Geneva Convention. This is called Rendition. We put hundreds of men and young boys into Guantanimo Bay and held them without charge for years on end, away from their country and their family and all they hold dear.
American citizens were spied on, had their phone calls listened to and emails read without the benefit of warrants and the FISA court.
In the name of the Great War on Terror and all Americans, prisoners at Abu Ghraib were tortured in the most hideous of ways and further humiliated by having their pictures taken by their torturers.
The mainstream media was bought by the government and did not report the facts, the truth. We did not question their reporting when, after we attacked and moved into Afghanistan, the build up for war in Iraq began. The leaders of this country used fear and terror to sell this war, with threats of mushroom clouds, biochemical attacks and the great evil one, Saddam Hussein. Never mind that the UN Weapons Inspectors told the leaders of this country and the world that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and hadn’t had them for years. We were flat out lied to by President and his administration.
A private mercenary Army was created by Blackwater that moved into Iraq and did the jobs our soldiers used to do with more money – from a no-bid contrast. Halliburton and KBR also won no-bid contracts in Iraq and in the United States. New Orleans was destroyed when the levees failed, and the poor neighborhoods were not rebuilt. FEMA trailers meant to help those who were left homeless were left standing empty in fields full of useless metal that is rusted and useless.
Huge detention centers were quietly built (by Halliburton and paid for with no-bid contracts) beyond the sight of the public eye meant to hold hundreds of thousands of people “in the event of a national emergency”. Many dissenters fear they were built to hold us.
The leaders of this government have tried to quell of freedom of speech, dissent and democracy in general. The right of Habeas Corpus was taken away by the President, who declared himself the Decider. He gave himself the power to decide who was an enemy combatant and who was not. He declared that anyone who opposed the war could be called an enemy combatant.
Our jobs were sent overseas to China and India. Immigrants from Mexico poured over our borders freely.
Our national debt leaped in just a few years to several trillion, yes TRILLION dollars, much of it borrowed from China.
Children’s healthcare was denied but money was approved to continue a war that most Americans eventually came to disagree with. Citizens marched in the hundreds of thousands on Washington to demonstrate the public outcry against the war, but the media did not report it. We lobbied Congress day after day after day for years, yet they paid little more than lip service to us.
The Republicans ignored us. The Democrats told us, get us elected and we will help you. We got them elected and they turned their backs on the American People.
Our President wanted to be a War President. He believed the Constitution was nothing more than “a goddamn piece of paper” and the Vice President ran a shadow government. They believed themselves, and apparently rightly so, above the law. The President claimed that God talked to him personally.
Good Christian people went to church and listened to their preachers tell them to support the President. Some were told that it was a sin if they voted for anyone other than the President when it came time for re-election, so the college frat boy who failed at just about everything he touched in his life once again was elected President – some believe via a stolen election for the second time.
All of this while we Americans consumed goods in mass quantities and woke in the morning with the hang over of debt and worry. Our jobs were going and we started losing our homes.
And then they told us about Global Warming, Darfur and mass refugee camps. We began to hear the same rhetoric that was spewed about Iraq used to build the case for war with Iran. This, when our military was broken.
But we shopped. We did our duty to our country to keep our economy going and strong. The rich grew richer, the poor grew poorer, the middle class began to disappear, and We the People, will be paying for our blindness and stupidity for generations to come.
I ask you, who is the real enemy of Freedom and Democracy? Is it not the responsibility of every American citizen to see to it that our elected Representatives and Officials keep their oath of office to uphold and protect the Constitution of our country? This is their sacred duty.
Gold Star Mother for Peace
Mother of Sgt. Jeremy R. Smith
Nov. 1981 – Feb. 2004