|Terror ALERT (inks on bristol / 2011)|
Will we always be at war with ourselves?
War is as old as man and as old as written and oral history. War predates language and is in human nature to protect one’s own territory, land, family and as it is increasingly the case- assets and wealth. 9/11 evoked within America this territorial instinct to come together and protect their own. Weeks after the tragedy, New York City and America displayed the single most touching show of unity and humanitarian compassion since much different generations of past World Wars. However fleeting, something beautiful came from an atrocity. There are powers which took advantage of this wave of emotion. They channeled it into several forms of control over our own Civil Liberties and used it as a pretense for nearly a decade of a seemingly never-ending war.
On the morning after my 21st birthday at 8:46AM, the world changed forever. When I awoke around 10AM, both towers of the World Trade Center had fallen and the college campus I was visiting was on lockdown and in hysterics. Typical of the stages of grief and loss, anger swept our country when Al-Qaeda was immediately blamed for this National tragedy. Paranoia struck, alerts were issued, people began being suspicious of things as harmless as their own mail. Even worse, Muslim-American culture was impacted by mass suspicion and new-found racism. Neighbors reported on neighbors and anyone suspicious. Under the pretense of this mass hysteria, our Congress and President passed The Patriot Act a mere six weeks later (without the consent or vote of the American people.)
Recently, New York Magazine published an article about the Patriot Act’s usage to date. Only 15 charges of terrorism were cited, as opposed to 122 counts of fraud and 1,618 drug charges. Ironically, the 2nd result on my Google search for “Patriot Act” is from The United States Treasury’s website, which states “The purpose of the USA PATRIOT Act is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and other purposes.” One certainty about business is that numbers don’t lie (and our country IS a business since Capitalism kicked Democracy out of bed in our lifetimes.) The Patriot Act was NEVER about terrorism. Less than two months after the attacks of 9/11, the clamps were tightening on our changed country and our personal freedoms were already slipping away. This legislation eliminated check and balance from our law enforcement agencies and their capacity to monitor their own citizens creating an Orwellian police state.
The ACLU’s website states, “The Patriot Act vastly — and unconstitutionally — expanded the government’s authority to pry into people’s private lives with little or no evidence of wrongdoing. Years after its implementation, there is little evidence to demonstrate that the Patriot Act has made America more secure from terrorists. But there are many unfortunate examples that the government abused these authorities in ways that both violated the rights of innocent people and squandered precious security resources.”
Despite only being accountable for 1.5 terrorist charges per year since its initiation, on May 26th of this year, Congress passed four-year extensions on expiring provisions of The Patriot Act. In July of this year, my own home state of Tennessee made it a Felony charge to post offensive images to the internet along with making even something as trivial as an offensive bumper sticker a fineable offense. (Click HERE to see my artist’s response to this new legislation and my portrait of our Governor Bill Haslam, who signed the bill into law.) Our civil liberties and freedom of speech and expression are being squandered on FEAR. Two-thirds of Americans say it's fitting to sacrifice some privacy and freedoms in the fight against terrorism, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The numbers just don’t add up: over 200 million people are willing to sacrifice their Constitutional Rights to capture less than two terrorists a year?
“He loved Big Brother.” –George Orwell, 1984
|FEAR (Report any Suspicious Activity) inks on bristol / 2011|
A year and a half after 9/11, the Bush Administration convinced Congress and leaders of a handful of other countries to invade Iraq on March 19, 2003. In the past seven years, this pre-emptive occupation of The Middle East has led to hostile actions against nearly every country in the region and setting up permanent military operations. 9/11 wasn’t used as a catalyst of war, but of INVASION. Death tolls for combined losses of Middle Eastern and American civilians and soldiers are estimated at well over 900,000. Both leaders accused of crimes against their own people and our country- Osama Bin Laden and Sadam Hussein have both been executed, yet there is no end in sight. Our Government and the Powers that Be have no intention of leaving the Middle East, having set up their pawns around most of the richest oil reserves in the world in anticipation of a Third World War over this finite resource which yields the power of transportation, mass production and all that goes with greasing the wheels of a doomed system of Capitalism. All the while, the rich and powerful gain more riches and power by taxing themselves less due to Bush-era legislation. These tax cuts and corporate tax cuts since 9/11 have eroded out economy to the brink of collapse.
You see the men in power ceased the greatest marketing scheme of all time by using our own fear against us after the most significant domestic attack in American history. They sold our public representatives the pretense for foreign Invasions without the approval of the United Nations- wars which under the influence of capitalism grossly exploit War Profiteering by every aspect of its definition. They use your fear against you to the point which you’re willing to let them spy on you while you hide in your home and censor yourself as to not be suspected of terrorist intentions yourself. You live in a society of fear but you are not alone today and you won’t be tomorrow…
There IS a better way and with your voice and vote; you hold your public representatives accountable for their actions and decisions. Speak out against spending your tax dollars on a hopeless occupation to control an out-dated energy source. Insist your monetary contribution to the government but used to find alternative energy to get us past reliance on foreign oil and pork-barrel wars. More importantly, raise your voice against legislation which hinders our ability to communicate with absolute Freedom of Speech which outlined in the founding documents of our Country. Your VOICE is your RIGHT. We are supposed to spread this message across the Globe but we must first reinforce our own ideals at home and TAKE BACK what was once guaranteed by our Constitution.