Admiral Yamamoto, who directed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, said he feared that all Japan had succeeded in doing was waken a sleeping giant.
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Well, the sleeping giant did awaken, and the world was changed. America moved into a period of prosperity promised by the New Deal of the 30s. Not perfect, but mostly a time of economic and constitutional health. However, Eisenhower’s warning about the danger of the military industrial complex came to be. The defense corporations hijacked the government and became monsters with very expensive tastes.
In 1980, the golden tongue of Ronald Reagan put the nation to sleep. In fact, Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post author Haynes Johnson wrote a book, “Sleepwalking Through History – America In The Reagan Years” in 1991. The so-called think tanks created in those years lead the relentless drive to dismantle the America most of us knew. Civil liberties, health care and our general well-being was replaced with fear and never-ending war. For the next 27 years, with a slight slowdown during the Clinton years, every element of government devoted to the common good was attacked and reduced. Money was collected from the poor and the middle class and given to the wealthy. Corporations bought Congress, and, as a result, now determine most legislation. Enemies were created and attacked. We went on to destroy democratic governments in the rest of the world, and to prop up dictators who would follow our orders.
The Bush II years brought an unbelievable assault on the strength and integrity of our country. Over 900 documented lies by Bush are the tip of the iceberg. The critical strategy has been to systematically reduce our constitutional rights and to keep the population in fear. Our country has been destroyed a millimeter at a time. The giant slumbered on, restrained by an ever-growing web. Had the giant been awake, it’s hard to believe that the monster of the Patriot Act would have been created or that we would follow Bush, Cheney and their war corporations into a war that has bankrupt the moral, financial and human treasures of our country.
Those who dared question this usurped imperial power were thundered down, accused of lack of patriotism, soft on terror or whatever inane label seemed to work. And work it did. Our supposed leaders, protectors of rights and humanity cowered in the corners. Thoughtful people around the world stared in disbelief as this once great democracy was dismantled. Our moral leadership was callously trashed.
Serious travesties of justice and decency continue. Torture is now an instrument of national policy. Created by the highest levels of government and approved by the President. The corporate media did not report this serious war crime.
Today we have a media controlled by money and fear. The fear of “loss of access” keeps otherwise responsible journalists from reporting. Spin is transmitted to the populace uncontaminated by human thought.
The election campaigns are largely driven by the need for personal power, power at any cost. We are now treated to the spectacle of shape shifting senators. A once respected senator flipping and flopping to try to appease the fanatic right. This personal power drive is largely purchased with corporate lobbying funds even as he champions election-funding reform. We have a once respected stateswoman, Hillary Clinton, now threatening to, “Destroy the Democratic Party to save it.” The intoxicating need for personal power transcends all concern for the country.
Barack Obama’s grass roots campaign is a serious threat to the existing power structure and the status quo reacts accordingly. The possibility of a government of, by and for the people sickens the “have mores.” Democracy is a wonderful idea, but not a desired reality for the landed gentry.
How can these outrages and crimes continue? Is the slumber that deep?
There are many encouraging signs. Peace protests draw increasing crowds. Record numbers participated in the caucuses and conventions. Many people are truly concerned. However, the carnage continues. The administration, according to the Vice President, has no obligation to the American people. An Iran attack is a frightening possibility.
Will the giant really slumber through this destruction? Not if we force an awakening.
We can accomplish the return to consciousness without another Pearl Harbor. The secret to saving our country will be to fuel the energy thus far demonstrated and turn it into votes in November. This means shoe leather, talking and pressing continually. It means waking up Americans to see the reality of what our once proud country has become.
The traditional media will be little help, their abdication of public concern and trust is shocking. We are fortunate to live in an age that has many alternative media outlets. In some ways we are back to the broadsheets that fueled the Revolution. Tom Paine and others stood up to the imperial government. We need to do likewise. We have the blogs, email, YouTube Flickr and other media.
The good thing about these channels is they are available to all; the bad thing is they are available to all. Truth, lies, outrage are all mixed together.
The use of these media is still rapidly evolving, no one has all the answers as yet, but the traditional propaganda outlets are terrified. We need to recognize the multiplicity of outlets and use them all. Email is good, email plus blog posting is better, email plus multiple blog postings is even better. YouTube and Flickr and the like add even more power.
Our job in the next few months is to waken the giant. To use the power of the people as our founders intended. To prove to the world and ourselves that democracy and freedom can prevail. We can replace the top down politics of demagoguery and fear with true grass roots action.
It can be done. It has to be done.