- The Sleeping
- "We will not walk in fear, one of
another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if
we dig deep in our history and our doctrine; and remember that we
are not descended from fearful men. Not from men who feared to
write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were for
the moment unpopular... We can deny our heritage and our history,
but we cannot escape responsibility for the result." Edward R.
Murrow - May 9, 1954
- By Ernest Partridge
- Co-Editor The Crisis
- "The Americans will always do the
right thing" Winston Churchill once remarked, "after they've
exhausted all the alternatives."
- The American public may be running
out of alternatives. If so, the Bush Administration and the
Republicans have reason to be very worried.
- It is all too easy to despair over
the ignorance and gullibility of "the American mind." This is a
public, after all, a majority of which rejects the theory of
evolution &endash; the central coordinating concept of the
biological sciences. In addition, the National Science Foundation
reports that more than a third of Americans believe in UFOs and
that astrology "has scientific merit."
- And yet, amazingly, at many crucial
moments in our history, public opinion has somehow moved toward a
wise and appropriate point of view.
- For example, public support for the
Vietnam war eroded until eventually the war was unsustainable.
Richard Nixon's landslide re-election in 1972 was no use to him
when, less than two years later, the full extent of his "crimes
and misdemeanors" became known and he was forced from
- Throughout his presidency, Bill
Clinton was hounded by a hostile press, while $70 million of
taxpayers' money was expended in search of a crime to fit the
punishment. Eventually he was caught in a sexual indiscretion. It
was then widely assumed that Clinton's public approval scores
would drop into the basement. Instead, "the hunting of the
president" backfired as Clinton's high approval scores held
steady, while those of his tormentor, Kenneth Starr,
- And so right now, something
remarkable is taking place. At long last, however belatedly, the
public is beginning to appreciate the shallowness and incompetence
of George Bush and the unparalleled mendacity and corruption of
his administration. Moreover, it has arrived at this realization
on its own, despite the determination of the captive mainstream
media to hide these manifest failures from the public, through
distraction, non-reporting, and occasionally through outright
- For five years, the Rovian smoke and
mirrors have worked spectacularly well. A majority of the public
was persuaded that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction,
was somehow behind the 9/11 attacks and was an active agent of al
Qaeda. At the same time, the skeletons of Bush's past &endash; his
AWOL from the Air National Guard, his business failures, his
insider trading, his suspected drug use &endash; were all kept
hidden in the closet. A package of lies about Al Gore was
concocted to "prove," ironically, that Gore was a "serial liar."
John Kerry, an authentic war hero, was successfully portrayed as a
coward and a fake.
- Thus did the Bush message machine
vanquish the Democratic opposition and reduce it to pathetic
impotence. However, there was one adversary that Bush, Inc. could
not defeat: reality. And at long last, reality is retaliating and
the public is taking notice.
- The failure of Bush's FEMA to deal
with the Katrina catastrophe can not be hidden forever from the
public. Nor can the loss of manufacturing jobs and their export
overseas. Nor can the rising price of gasoline and the obscene
profits of the oil companies. Nor can the upward redistribution of
national wealth from the producers to the owners of that wealth.
Nor can the corruption and the consequent indictments or
investigations of the malefactors: DeLay, Safavian, Frist, Libby,
Abramoff, and now Tomlinson. Nor can the horrendous tales of
torture in Bush's Gulag. Nor can the shredding of our Constitution
and the loss of our "inalienable rights." Nor can the mounting
casualties from the Iraq war, as they return home in caskets
("transfer tubes") or with broken minds and bodies. And despite
the media conspiracy of silence, the evidence of election fraud
can not be suppressed. The unthinkable is becoming
- Moreover, the public has a memory.
The weak but growing voice of the independent progressive media
and internet has recorded and now broadcasts the lies in the
voices of the liars: "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam
Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction." (Cheney, August,
2002) "We know where [the WMDs] are. They are in the area
around Tikrit and Baghdad." (Rumsfeld, May, 2003). "We found the
weapons of mass destruction." (Bush, May, 2003).
- Despite their self-congratulatory
myth of rugged individualism, Americans are herd animals; they
look around, then follow the crowd. When Bush's approval scores
were in the high eighties and the media were meekly and
uncritically passing on the official lies, few dared to resist.
Troublesome news, such as election fraud, foreign opposition,
citizen protests, the looting of the treasury, and the Downing
Street memos, were absent from the print and broadcasts of the
mainstream media. Those in the media who did resist, like MSNBC's
Ashleigh Banfield and Phil Donanue, soon found themselves out of a
job. Their example was not lost on the survivors. But now the
beast is wounded and just a few of the bolder predators are coming
out of the woods to investigate. At last, the hidden issues are
beginning to come into play.
- And the public? Ever so gradually,
public opinion has shifted and now the critics and skeptics are in
the majority. No longer can dissenters be successfully branded as
traitors who "hate America." More and more of us are remembering
that America was born out of resistance to tyranny and has
flourished through dissent and open debate. Protest is once again
becoming fashionable, and there is a whiff of possible success in
the air. The message of the American people to the media? "Lead,
follow, or step out of the way. You have made yourselves
- When asked the secret of success in
show business, George Burns replied: "sincerity &endash; if you
can fake that, you've got it made." For five years, it worked for
Bush and his gang, but now the public is finally seeing through
the fakery. And once the politician loses his grip on the fakery
&endash; once he has lost the trust of the public -- he can never
get it back.
- And so, Bush's approval and trust
ratings are now in the mid-thirties, and heading south. According
to the latest Washington Post/ABC poll, two-thirds of the public
has a negative opinion of Bush's ethics and believes that the
country is headed in the wrong direction. Sixty percent believes
that the Iraq war was a mistake. A majority doubts Bush's honesty
and integrity, and believes that Bush misled the country prior to
the invasion of Iraq. And amazingly, a majority would want to see
him impeached if it were proved (as is likely the case) that Bush
lied to get the U.S. into the war.
- Significantly, many GOP politicians
and the media are beginning to sense that support of Bush and his
administration is distinct liability &endash; a liability that can
cost the politicians their offices, and the media their audiences.
Moreover, as the demise of the Miers nomination attests, the
religious right is finally beginning to realize that they've been
had, cynically kept on the GOP reservation with promises, such as
the repeal of Roe v. Wade, that the GOP dare not
- Is it over for the Bush
Administration? Don't count on it. As I wrote at the outset: "at
many crucial moments in our history" the American public gets it
right. "At many crucial moments," not all. There are no
guarantees. And the Busheviks still have formidable weapons at
their disposal as they struggle to maintain their grip on
- Accordingly, this is no time for the
opposition to sit at the sidelines, content to be spectators of
the self-inflicted decline and fall of Bush, Inc. This malignant
regime may not go over the precipice unless it is
- What then is the ordinary citizen to
do? The question requires a separate essay &endash; several, in
fact. But here are some brief suggestions.
- Regarding election Fraud: Spread the
word, person-to-person. Do your part to make respectable a
skepticism of past elections and the demand for election reform.
If the conspiracy of media silence is sustained and the paperless
machines and secret software remain in place, the GOP won't lose
no matter what the voters have to say about it. If the fraud is
exposed, they can't win. It is just possible that if the polls
forecast a Democratic blowout &endash; say, twenty-plus percent
&endash; the GOP won't dare to reverse the outcome. But beware:
fake polls are not out of the question.
- Thankfully, there is one institution
that remains independent of Bushevik control: the criminal justice
system. Thus the aforementioned criminal indictments, present and
forthcoming. Herein may be the best hope for the restoration of
honest and verifiable elections. In the United States, elections
are administered at the local and state level. Surely there must
be some prosecutors somewhere in the realm prepared to investigate
this crime with the powerful instruments of subpoena, discovery
and perjury threat. So let us, as concerned citizens, demand
criminal investigation and prosecutions of the crime of voting
- Put pressure on the media. Boycott
the offending corporate media and their sponsors, and tell them
that you are doing so. Demand that they investigate malfeasance of
office and report "all the news that's fit to print" about issues
of public concern. And if they won't, make them irrelevant. As
Sinclair Broadcasting learned in the last election, if right-wing
propaganda results in a loss of market-share, the management must
answer to the stockholders.
- Support the alternative independent
media and the progressive internet &endash; the last, best hope of
a free press that the founders of our republic insisted was
indispensable to a republic of free citizens.
- Encourage progressive candidates to
oppose the "GOP-lite" Democrats in the primaries. Even if the
"Democrats in Name Only" (DINOs) win, they will be given a
message: "represent us, or next time your done for!"
- And write your Senators and Congress
members, repeatedly. Send a constant stream of letters to the
editor. Add your feet and voices to the public protests.
- At the close of the 1970 movie,
"Tora, Tora, Tora,," Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto warns his staff: "I
fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him
with a terrible resolve." The words are those of the screenwriter,
not the Admiral: there is no evidence that Yamamoto ever said
this. No matter, the words fit our times.
- Today, the great American public
stirs. But will it awake? In the captive corporate media, there is
no Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite in evidence who will
protest the evil issuing from the White House and the Congress,
much less a media management willing to give them a microphone.
There is no John Dean from inside this malignant regime that will
step forward and volunteer to break open this criminal conspiracy
&endash; at least, not yet.
- It is up to us, the American public,
and it is possible that we the people are finally beginning to
wake up. But there are no guarantees that we will prevail, restore
our Constitution and our rights, and win back our
- This is no time for each of us to
stand alone, looking after our own diminishing self-interests, and
privately but uselessly lamenting our fates. Echoing Jesus of
Nazareth, Mohandas Gandhi spoke the truth that transcends
political and religious boundaries: "He who loses his life will
gain it; he who will seek to save it shall lose it. Freedom is not
for the coward or the faint-hearted."
- Copyright 2005 by Ernest
- The average age of the world's
greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
- These nations have progressed
through this sequence:
- From bondage to spiritual
- from spiritual faith to great
- from courage to liberty;
- from liberty to
- from abundance to
- from selfishness to
- from complacency to
- from apathy to
- from dependency back again into
- Sir Alex Fraser Tyler: (1742-1813)
Scottish jurist and historian