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When I heard and read the overblown, irrational and inflammatory rhetoric in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon and observed with horror the developments on the international political scene, I was disconcertingly reminded of the atmosphere in Czechoslovakia after the Communist takeover (1948). In the 1950s it was drummed into us again and again that we were engaged in a permanent and monumental struggle between the forces of peace and progress on the one hand and the reactionary and evil capitalists and imperialists on the other. The hyperbolic, vacuous and bombastic cliche-ridden pronouncements we hear nowadays almost daily especially from American politicians sound just like variations on the same theme.
“This is an attack on democracy, on civilization.”
“Our responsibility to history is already clear... We will answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.”
“This will be a monumental struggle of good versus evil but good will prevail.” “You are either with us or against us.” “You are either with us or with the terrorists.”
“We must vanquish the forces of evil.”
“This is a battle with only one outcome, our victory, not theirs.” (T. Blair, Labour Party Conference)
The only difference is that, fortunately for us, in the 1950s the war stayed “cold” and never degenerated (at least in most of Europe) into a “hot” war. The struggle for a Communist utopia led, however, to an imposition of totalitarianism on almost half of Europe. America and the other half were robust enough basically to avoid the totalitarian practices and they flourished. The “hot” war against terrorism, which is currently being fought by a coalition of nations, led by the US, has, however, generated an atmosphere of permanent siege and hysteria which resulted in a surprising degree of willingness of the majority of American people to sacrifice the previously almost sacrosanct liberties. This is very worrying. Although I cringe when I hear the self-congratulatory cliches like “the freedom’s brightest beacon,” “the ultimate bastion of freedom” and the like, I am in no doubt that if liberties are lost in the U.S., the only superpower, or even hyperpower, as the French call them, we will all pay a heavy price.
I have entitled my talk “The Demon of Conformity” – it is a translation of the title of a facetious mini-novel by (the Slovak writer) Dominik Tatarka Démon súhlasu. The English rendering is not perfect – other possible translations might be: The Demon of Agreement / Consent / Conformism (habit of conforming) / or even compliance (readiness to conform or agree) / and acquiescence (passive submission). In fact it could just as easily be called “Manufacturing Consent,” like one of Chomsky’s books. Tatarka’s concept “súhlas” has in it all the above-mentioned shades of meaning.
Written in 1956 Démon súhlasu summarizes brilliantly in a grotesque-absurd light one of the principal mechanisms of totalitarian control of intellectuals, i.e. enforcement of total consent.
In the interest of “unity at any cost” and in compliance with a higher principle intellectuals are conditioned, or if necessary intimidated, to forgo any right of expressing opinions which depart from the official party line, no matter how ridiculous the latter may be. As party members they are duty-bound to agree even if they might privately disagree. It is their responsibility to history. This practice subsequently develops into a conditioned reflex.
People agree or conform in all manner of ways. Some agree by simply not saying anything, some by silent nodding, others agree enthusiastically, fervently, or even gravitationally, as Tatarka puts it, and in addition, they zealously pressure others to do the same. Once people get on the slippery slope of conformity, there comes a virtual avalanche of consent, which is absolutely irresistible. People bend over backwards to agree with anything they are presented with until they go completely daft (až do úplného zblbnutia).
The motto is “trust and agree.” It is their party duty to obey and refrain from examining whether the propositions they are asked to approve are correct or not. Disharmony itself is a crime. Anybody who dares to challenge this state of affairs is severely dealt with. Facts must not influence their duty to conform as Bartolomej Boleráz, the hero of the story, learns to his cost.
When on one occasion he presents his lady friend with a nosegay of mass-grown violets, he notices with disappointment that she doesn’t even bother to sniff at them. She explains this lack of enthusiasm of hers by pointing out that they are devoid of any fragrance. When the hero later mentions this fact to his comrades, he gets into a lot of trouble; he is summoned to appear before a committee and is heavily reprimanded for even suggesting that “violets, mass-grown in our people’s democratic republic, could be anything other than perfect” and he is asked to publicly recant “his nihilistic and individualistic views because such slanders could endanger the country’s moral and political unity and its readiness for action.” When he refuses, he is declared a traitor and an enemy of the people.
This frivolous persiflage might seem banal to you now but I can assure you that in Czechoslovakia during the oppressive 50s it was quite something. Young people of my age – I was 20 then – found it very inspirational. There was nothing as daring available in Czech literature at that time yet. I remember being very impressed.
Almost as much as the year before (1955) when Jaroslav Seifert (who later, in 1984, won a Nobel prize for literature) came to the University of Olomouc ostensibly to talk to us about his poetry. There was a huge audience. The talk began as planned but after about ten minutes one student asked a silly question, probably something about poetry and socialism (but don’t quote me on this), and Seifert got carried away and not being able to contain his disdain, he gave a withering criticism of the regime and its cultural policies. It was all great fun and I really enjoyed the subsequent classes of Marxism-Leninism which were aimed at decontaminating our young impressionable minds from this dangerous stuff.
These were, however, rather rare moments of truth and insight. It was not until the 1960s when the demon of conformity began to lose its totalitarian grip.
In Communist Czechoslovakia full consent and submission was ultimately achieved by coercion, in spite of a great deal of initial support for Communist ideas in the aftermath of the war. The dictatorial will was imposed on the population by a totalitarian regime supported by a foreign power.
In the wake of the September terrorist attacks America seems to have succumbed to the demon of agreement of an entirely different kind. It is being imposed on America and by extension also on many other countries by the American people themselves.
The terroristic attacks were of course tragic and horrific, so horrific that it is only natural for American people to be outraged and traumatized. The rest of the world was and is just as shocked. But the spectacular nature of the crimes and their symbolic and visual (and televisual) power seems to have had an absolutely devastating effect on the American psyche. America was and still is shell-shocked. This highly emotionally charged tragedy, however, also allowed the politicians and the media shamefully to manipulate these emotions.
The incessant intrusive showing on TV screens of the two planes flying into the WTC towers and their spectacular collapse and the inappropriate constant and inexcusable coverage of the great sadness of the victims’ families, the high profile given to the numerous narratives of human tragedy and heroism created hysteria and panic and mobilized Americans to demand revenge. And the President rose to the occasion. He immediately declared the attack an act of war and promised to take action. But there was no convenient static enemy to bomb back to the Middle Ages. The old model of a centralized enemy – a state “whose ass could be kicked” and victory declared did not apply. The enemy was elusive and dispersed all over the world. The most likely perpetrator was declared to be Osama bin Laden’s terrorist organization Al-Qaida. War was declared on all terrorism in general and on Al-Qaida in particular. And the whole world was warned that it will be a long battle which may never end.
America thus embarked on the Orwellian “permanent war for permanent peace.” George Orwell warned us about it in his 1984. Big Brother knew that the best way to control the masses was to keep them in a constant state of paranoia – to make them believe that the enemy was ubiquitous and that it was getting closer and closer and that there was a permanent threat of war.
(Cf the repeated warnings of the so-called generic terrorist threats, or vague, specific credible terrorist threats declared just to keep people in constant fear in case they notice that they are being robbed of their rights.)
It is only in this context of heightened emotions, fear and panic that one can understand the subsequent frenzy of patriotism and willingness of the majority of people to give the President absolutely draconian powers to take any military action he deems appropriate and surrender their essential liberty in the hope of achieving illusory security. The motto was “trust and agree” as in Tatarka’s short novel. This was reflected for example in the polls on the trust in the media with the following results: after the attack – 89%, in mid-October – 74%, at the end of November – 43%. The high figures reflect the patriotic unity in the first two months; when in late November some media started criticizing more openly the new drastic anti-terrorist legislation, the support went sharply down. The government enjoys the highest support since 1968 - 64% of the population trust the government.
Without doing anything much to deserve it apart from using tough and folksy language the president, who had been until Sept. 11th the butt of everyone’s jokes, suddenly gets 90% + approval ratings. One day he was laughed at, the next he was hailed by the same people as a statesman par excellence. He seems almost ready for sainthood. In the last two months this staggeringly high rating of his hasn’t significantly changed. He is still getting around 87% approval ratings despite some misgivings being voiced about the change of the American political scene caused by the legislative assault on civil liberties. Those who criticize him are deemed unpatriotic and some see them as traitors. The administration which has just failed so spectacularly to protect its citizens from terrorism is given carte blanche to do almost anything it chooses both at home and abroad to make them more secure.
Overnight political leaders have changed into cult figures. Somewhere I read that when vice-president Cheney’s motorcade was passing through the streets of Washington recently, people got out of their cars and applauded him. Those are the same people who must have overwhelmingly voted for Gore only ten months previously and who must be among those who thought that Bush and Cheney stole the election from Gore / Lieberman. A normally thoughtful and intelligent syndicated (lady) columnist tells us in one of her pieces without a trace of irony how one of her (lady) friends absolutely adores – out of all people – the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Donald Rumsfeld – a heart-throb? Unbelievable!
In his address following the first US attack against Afghanistan, President Bush quotes approvingly from a letter from a fourth grade girl with a father in the military.
“As much as I don’t want my dad to fight, I’m willing to give him to you.” (almost like another Iosif Vissarionovich but this time in the White House)
When the TV personality Bill Maher dared to suggest that one can’t call suicide bombers cowards, there was such a fierce outcry that he had to publicly apologize and his program called “Politically Incorrect” was taken off the air. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer declared that “nowadays you have to be careful what you say and do” adding that it is not because of censorship but because of what the people themselves want. Haven’t we heard the platitudes about lid a narod (the people) thousands of times under Communism? The sad fact is, however, that in this particular case Ari Fleischer was probably right. A recent poll by The Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center indicated that 7 out of 10 Americans agree – very or somewhat strongly – that the government ought to keep the media in check. A recent Pew Research Center poll showed 59% of respondents want more military control over reporting the war.
In a poll conducted on Sept. 13 by ABC news and the Washington Post 92% of respondents said they would support “new laws that would make it easier for the FBI and other authorities to investigate people they suspect of involvement in terrorism. In another poll conducted by CBS News and the New York Times on Sept. 13 74% agreed that Americans will have to give up some of their personal freedoms in order to make the country safe from terrorist attacks. Almost 40% of the respondents were willing even to allow government agencies to monitor their telephone calls and e-mails on a regular basis.
90 - 96% (in a number of polls) of Americans agreed with the attack on Afghanistan without asking any questions about the implications. Astonishingly 58% wanted action even if it meant that many thousands of innocent civilians may be killed. The (London) Times columnist Simon Jenkins says about this pointedly: “These were not Viking berserks. They were sophisticated Americans in possession of telephones. Most would have called themselves Christians.”
Even more impressive are the results of exuberant voting in the US legislative bodies. They suggest a degree of unity normally achievable only in totalitarian regimes. On the 18th of September the Congress approved in a 420 - 1 vote a resolution giving President George Bush a free hand to take retaliatory action. The dissenting Congresswoman, Barbara Lee, received subsequently death threats. In early October the House Judiciary Committee voted 36 - 0 for a package of repressive measures sought by Pres. Bush in the name of Combating terrorism. The Senate approved a similar bill by 96-1.
Both bear Orwellian titles. The House bill is named the “Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” to give the high-flying acronym PATRIOT – which is meant to suggest perversely that it is in some way patriotic of the American people to give the police and the government more powers over them and more scope to invade their private lives. The Senate bill is called the “Uniting and Strengthening America Act” (acronym USA). These two bills were rushed through the House and Senate in the most undemocratic fashion. The 372-page document was introduced on the morning that it passed and there was no realistic chance for members of Congress to read it. Despite that it was passed with an incredible lightness of patriotic fervour by 455 members (to use a Kunderian phrase). The 67 members who refused to be railroaded were branded unpatriotic. Republican Ron Paul expressed his dismay in particular about the way those who didn’t vote for the proposal were stigmatized.
“The insult is to call it a PATRIOT BILL and suggest I’m not patriotic because I want to know what was in it.”
In his statement Senator Russ Feingold stressed that passing the law would authorize FBI surveillance of vast areas of American life that have no conceivable relation to the September terrorist attacks. He warned that the terrorists want to destroy our freedoms and that we must be vigilant in order not to do it for them.
A brief list of the changes brought about by “The USA PATRIOT Act” includes the following:
The government may now search people’s homes and offices surreptitiously and without a court order and take away documents without ever telling the owners about it. The government may now read people’s email and follow their Web surfing habits without a court order. The government may now hold non-citizen suspects for up to six months without filing any charges against them. The government may now demand to see people’s financial records and medical records without first obtaining a court order. Terrorism is defined so broadly that almost any form of civil disobedience could be targeted and result in indefinite detention of innocent people who may be subjected to secret court proceedings. Almost anything can be labelled “terrorism” and then dealt with severely. I am personally against abortion although not dogmatically so. But I cringe with horror when I see headlines like “Keyes Declares Abortion As Another form of Terrorism.” (Nov. 4, PM Pacific). Alan Keyes is a two-time former presidential candidate.
Hidden in the text, which was unread and undebated by the members of the Congress before they dutifully passed it, are many other provisions which are just as scary. They provide a framework for, among other things, the formation of a DNA database, for the introduction of smart high-tech electronic ID cards and for turning businesses into watchdogs.
The law was signed by the President towards the end of October and Senator Feingold’s sinister predictions were confirmed almost immediately. Listen to a Kafkaesque story published in Counter-Punch on Nov. the 2nd.
Armed government agents grabbed Nancy Oden, Green Party USA coordinating committee member, Thursday at Bangor International Airport in Bangor Maine, as she attempted to board an American Airlines flight to Chicago.
“An official told me that my name had been flagged in the computer,” a shaken Oden said. “I was targeted because the Green Party USA opposes the bombing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan.”
Oden ... was ordered away from the plane. Military personel with automatic weapons surrounded her and instructed all airlines to deny her passage on any flight.
“I was told that the airport was closed to me until further notice and that my ticket would not be refunded,” Oden said.
It seems that there is a lot of truth in Benjamin Franklin’s warning that
“They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
The draconian law was followed by a series of no less draconian presidential orders which provide for the creation of secret military tribunals for foreigners suspected of terrorism, for eavesdropping on phone calls between lawyers and their clients in terrorist investigations and for extending the secrecy of presidential documents indefinitely. There is serious talk in the media about the introduction of torture and about legitimizing assassination (or “targeted killings” as they are called when they are carried out by the Israelis). A recent CNN poll has revealed that 45% of Americans would not object to torturing someone if it would provide information about terrorism. Note the loaded formulation of the question.
More than 1100 people have been secretly detained, many on the basis of tips from their concerned neighbours etc. (as of Nov. 6 almost half a million tips had been received by the law-enforcement authorities). Snitching on people is something that anybody who lived in the former Communist countries knows plenty about.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), whose Chairwoman Emeritus is Lynne Cheney (American’s Second Lady), which has a proclaimed mission of being “dedicated to academic freedom, quality and accountability” has recently compiled a list of 40 American college professors who are considered “short on patriotism” for making critical comments about American policy. More MacArthyist “naming and shaming” of intellectuals, who are “out of step” with the current policies, is promised.
In order to warn people about the dangers of these creeping totalitarian changes several columnists used the simile of the frog. If you put a frog into hot water it will immediately jump out. If, however, you put it into cold water and increase the temperature of the water gradually, the frog will not notice and gets cooked. One would have thought that the changes of temperature in the last three months have been so sudden that the frog of American freedom should have jumped out of the water a long time ago. The way it is now almost reminds me of the Communist coup d’état in Czechoslovakia in February 1948.
In America civil liberties have been curtailed several times during the times of major wars but the accepted assumption has always been that the emergency powers will be lifted immediately after the crisis is over. However, in view of the fact that the war on terrorism is conceptualized as permanent, the emergency powers seem to have been appropriated by the American government so to speak “temporarily forever.”
It is not only American civil liberties that are threatened. The fear and rage created by the atrocities both in America and in many other countries led the American president to declare war on terrorism anywhere in the world targeting not only the actual terrorists but also countries which the U.S. sees as supporting terrorist activities. Countries are invited to join an anti-terrorist coalition under the almost communistically sounding slogan (Kdo nejde s námi, jde proti nám) “you are either with us or against us” unsubtly bullying allies and foes to agree enthusiastically with whatever disastrous knee-jerk decision the U.S. policy makers make. The rhetoric is unashamedly inquisitorial and threatening.
“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. ... We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these attacks and those who harboured them.”
Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish Deputy Secretary of Defense has told the world openly that
“if a country doesn’t cooperate with us, we will end that country.”
“With us or against us” is clearly a false dichotomy. Most decent people do condemn terrorism and want it rooted out, most decent people are absolutely appalled by the mass murder committed on the 11 of September while being at the same time genuinely concerned about the bombing of Afghanistan.
The so-called coalition of anti-terrorist states becomes in fact just a more malleable surrogate of the United Nations. It is similar to the mendacious use of the term “International Community” to refer to the cluster bombers of Serbia and Kosovo. Every country which is called upon to assist the U.S. in its fight against terrorism is then in a sense bound to use the same undemocratic emergency practices as America. Typical of this are the heavy-handed practices of suppressing democratic procedures in the British Parliament. War critics are bullied and compared to appeasers of Hitler. For example the Labour Party chief whip Hilary Armstrong used this kind of strong arm tactics to bully the anti-war labour MP Paul Marsden.
“It was people like you who appeased Hitler in 1938,” she told him. Further she stated that “war is not a matter of conscience. Abortion and embryo research are matters of conscience, not war; it’s government policy we are at war.”
The most recent news is that he will have to take a loyalty oath.
New anti-terrorist measures are being introduced also in Great Britain. The way it is being done is almost as alarming as the actual contents of the bill. Britain’s home secretary sneered at anyone having doubts about his new measures as living in an “airy-fairy libertarian” world.
The emergency laws can have repercussions even for individual citizens outside America.
On Oct. 10, 2001 the Vancouver Sun published the following report:
“A University of B.C. women’s studies professor who criticized U.S. foreign policy has been accused of a hate crime – publicly inciting hatred against Americans. An unidentified B.C. resident alleged Oct. 4 that assistant professor Sunera Thobani violated the Criminal Code of Canada during an Oct. 1 speech to a women’s conference in Ottawa, Corporal Michael Labossiere of the B.C hate crime unit said on Tuesday.”
According to Der Spiegel three German teachers have been unfairly punished for expressing allegedly anti-American sentiment after the September 11th bombings. They complained that their treatment was no better than the punishment of dissenters in East Germany for their anti-state views.
In Australia, the ABC broadcaster Phillip Adams, a vigorous opponent of racism and all manner of discrimination, is under investigation for alleged racial vilification by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission for his remark about Australia’s “blank cheque” support of the united States’s war against terrorism. He wrote: “If Australia is to be a true friend of the American people, we must try to rein them in, not urge them on. The US has to learn that its worst enemy is the US.” (The Sydney Morning Herald) – smh.com.au
A few days ago the world famous conductor, Pierre Boulez, asleep at his five-star hotel in Basle, Switzerland, was dragged out of bed by police who told him he was on a list of suspected terrorists. It appears that in the 1960s he remarked that all opera houses ought to be dynamited. As to whether this was a political statement or a purely aesthetic judgment, hardly mattered: clearly the authoritis weren’t taking any chances. They felt that comments like this made him a potential security threat. The 75-year old Boulez had his passport confiscated and was allowed to leave after three hours. (BBC.com 6/12/01)
The chairman of the Czech extreme right-wing National Social Bloc, Jan Kopal, has been threatened recently with imprisonment for publicly approving of the terrorist attacks on the US. He said that “Americans deserved the attacks” and that Osama bin Laden was “an example to our children.” The purpose of this crude and deliberately provocative remark was clearly to get some media exposure.
In the noble spirit of “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” and in defence of the right of free speech, Tomáš Pecina, Jan Culík’s second-in-command in BL [Britské listy], ratcheted up the tasteless affair even further by declaring publicly that he too approves of the attack and demanding that he be charged for the statement alongside Mr Kopal. I would say that in this particular case TomáÅ¡ Pecina was unwise, despite his noble intentions. Stirring up a hornet’s nest should probably be avoided. When angered, Uncle Sam has been known to unleash missiles for much less.
If the above-mentioned little problem concerning Kopal et al receives the attention of hundreds of self-righteous Western activistic journalists, then Czechs will be in real trouble. Only two years ago, during the terroristic bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO, Czechs were severely castigated for not showing enough enthusiasm for the heroic struggle of Osama bin Laden’s friends and our faithful allies in Kosovo. There was a spate of articles in the Western press about the unreliable Schweikian Czech allies. The missives from the imperial New York Times and The Guardian were openly threatening. Czechs were dubbed “the biggest ethnic cleansers in history.”
The fact is that America is a wounded and traumatized nation and it is not wise to seem to give too high a profile to boorish and crass pronouncements of somebody who is after all a Czech politician of sorts. Remember the outcry about the Palestinian kids dancing in the streets apparently celebrating the success of the attack. (Incidentally there is some suspicion that the footage was from 1991). I am in no doubt that this unfortunate event has hardened the anti-Palestine attitudes in America which might (have) in its turn cost the Palestinians further lives.
On the 19th of September AP Washington reported that the United States is ready to reward friends and punish nations that don’t sign up for a fierce new war on terrorism. Some countries will be lured to help with tasty carrots, others pummelled with hard sticks. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer formulated it as follows:
“In different nations the carrots may be bigger, in other nations, the stick may be bigger.” (AP, Sept. 19/01).
Czechs like any other small country must bear this in mind. Who knows, there might be one or two sticks or perhaps canes kept in reserve for them too.
George Orwell stressed repeatedly that a powerful tool for government control over a populace is control over their vocabulary. The spinmeisters of the current “war on terrorism” have managed to utilize this insight both domestically and globally. The crucial linguistic concept at stake here is “terrorism.” It is well known that there is no satisfactory definition of this word. One man’s “terrorist” is another man’s “freedom fighter.” The devil is, of course, in the definitions. Such large abstractions as good and evil, evildoer, justice, terrorism, terrorist, humanitarianism, freedom and the like have often hidden various sordid geopolitical, nationalistic and material interests of powerful lobbies.
I do not expect President Bush to consult Webster dictionary about the semantics of these words before he starts bombing another hapless country back into the Middle Ages. An entirely new branch of semantics has come to existence. Its main tools are guided missiles, cluster bombs and daisy cutters. Lexicographers are in no position to argue about semantics with bombs, each weighing six tons. Those who own them are like Gods. They are in charge of the definitions. Meanings are assigned to words on the basis of what I would call a Humpty Dumpty theory of meaning.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Ch. 6).
The language used is godlike. President Bush’s “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” is reminiscent of Christ’s own words “He that is not with me is against me” (St Matthew, ch. 12., v. 30; St Luke ch. 11., v. 23). The original designation of the current campaign was “Operation Infinite Justice.” This almost theologically sounding operative title was later changed – ironically at the insistence of Muslim clerics – into a more politically correct, but no less ridiculous, “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
The words “terrorism,” “terrorist” have been turned into explosive snarling shrieks whose definitions are absolutely fuzzy and fluid. Any country, any group or organization, any individual who happens to be caught in the quicksand of their shifting semantic fields is in deep trouble. With the concepts of “harbouring” and “sponsoring” terrorism being equated with terrorism itself there are indeed very few limitations to this deadly semantic game.
Political leaders of many countries are aware of this. The persuasive semantic power of daisy cutters is such that most political leaders hasten to declare their support for the new U.S. war but at the same time many of them are aware of the enormous opportunities offered by this cataclysmic change in world politics for pursuing their own political ends. They are hurriedly renaming their opponents as “terrorists.” This blowback is felt not only by those who until now had been called “freedom fighters,” eg in Chechnya, India (Kashmir) and China but also by movements which are trying to unseat dictators by democratic means as for example in Zimbabwe. President Robert Mugabe, himself branded a terrorist in the 1960s and 1970s, labelled the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the country’s white farmers “terrorists,” telling them that their “days were numbered.” He assumed sweeping “presidential powers” that will allow him to ban the MDC, or jail its leadership, and confiscate 90% of all remaining white-owned farmland. Foreign journalists and human rights campaigners have been advised that they too will be treated as “terrorists.”
But it is not only corrupt regimes which take advantage of the situation. The very bastions of democracy such as the U.S. and Great Britain seem to be undergoing their own creeping coup d’etats. Will this epic struggle make us safer from terrorism? I doubt it. Bullying the world with quasi-biblical quotations such as “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” is sheer hubris. If we do want to draw on the wisdom of the Bible, we should perhaps remember another quotation:
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians ch. 6, v. 7).