I never really believed things could get this bad.
I still don't really understand it. I don't understand how the American
governmentdemocratically elected! system of checks and balances! land of the
free!can say things like "Now we are going to have mass secret detentions based on
ethnicity, and now we are going to start using torture as a means of interrogation, and
now we are going to try our suspects in military tribunals rather than courts of law,"
with a straight face, and it's not a joke or anything, and people let it happen. I'm
letting it happen. I don't think I can make it stop.
I think I'm a bright person. I vote. I write letters to Congress. I exercise my right
to peaceful assembly. You know what? All of that is horse puckey. It's utterly
When I was a little kid I watched the cartoons about How A Bill Becomes Law, and I loved
that shit. It was so cool, the system of checks and balanceshow the whole
government was carefully set up so that nobody could ever seize power, and every new law
was carefully tested by lots of smart people, and there were funny songs too. I felt so
happy to be free. I really trusted our government; I thought it was swell.
I used to read about things like segregation or the Japanese internment camps and I'd
think to myself, "Wow, things were really bad back then. I'm glad we've learned from our
national shame, and I'm glad that kind of thing could never happen now. I certainly
wouldn't let it."
Right now I want to grab the little girl that was me and shake her hard, and yell in her
face YOU DUMB SHIT, nothing you do will ever make a real difference, GET THAT INTO YOUR
Letter-writing and voting and demonstrations are baby rattles. They are things we get to
play with to keep us distracted and content. As individuals, we have no real power and no
lasting rights. We may be allowed to dissent, but this is an indulgence, not a
right that we could enforce or defend.
The minute that real power is at stakethat is, the minute that our government
perceives a credible threat to itselfall these so-called "rights", these so-called
"principles" like non-discrimination and presumption of innocence, well, they all go away
real quick. This is how it's always been and nothing has changed. Sure, when things
settle down, the pendulum will swing back and people will say to themselves "secret mass
detentions, how awful, I'm glad nothing like that could ever happen now."
But I won't. I'll remember. What I have isn't power; what you have isn't rights.