Talibanization: The Closing Down of American Society
Update: This series of pieces has been consolidated, updated and rewritten at The American Taliban
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In the debate on Friday evening, asked about the Patriot Act, Bush said “I really don't think your rights are being watered down … I think whoever is the president must guard your liberties, must not erode your rights in America.” We should keep this in mind when we ask why it is any business of the FBI who reads what books?
At the centre of the issue, a book titled "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America." The FBI confiscated the original book after a patron of the Whatcom County public library reported than someone hand wrote a bin Laden quote in the margin that read: "Let history be witness I am a criminal." The FBI demanded to know the names and addresses of everyone who ever checked out the book. Luckily for the independence of the citizenry, the library fought back and refused to hand over the circulation lists. The FBI got a grand jury subpoena and the library filed to quash it. Temporarily at least, Reichsgauleiter Ashcroft’s FBI has backed off in this particular battle against freedom of thought.
But the kicker is at the end of the newspaper report:
"If the feds had demanded the records under the Patriot Act, the library would have had to hand them over without question and without help from the courts."So much for rights.
In the heartland, Kansas Attorney General Phill Klein and Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter have decided they know best what you should be allowed to hear. You don't get to choose; they do. When Kansas and Indiana received 108,000 music CDs as part of a nationwide price-fixing settlement with the music industry, the discs were destined for public libraries. But between them, the two Attorneys General have censored about 7,000 of the records, with the Kansas spokesman declaring the banned music "did not mesh with the values of a majority of Kansans." Again, the majority of the citizens did not get a say in this; their minds were made up for them by the two politicians. So much for freedom of expression.
In Washington, DC, the City Museum has cancelled an exhibit by local artists because the works were deemed "unsuitable." Politically incorrect more likely:
"One artist decorated a church pew with pictures and quotes to allege that President Ronald Reagan was indifferent to the AIDS crisis. Another took an end table and plastered it with drug paraphernalia and a quote from former mayor Marion Barry, who was jailed for drug possession. Another created a coffee-table-size dictionary with Washington entries, such as "A Is for Anthrax" and "G Is for Gentrification," illustrated by a drawing of a white male urinating on African American residents ... Kayti Didriksen, a local artist, decided to paint President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the well-known style of Manet's "Olympia." Bush is nude and reclining on a chaise longue, and Cheney, in a suit and tie, is holding a velvet pillow with a crown topped by an oil rig. "Where is freedom of expression when you need it? Not in today's America, it seems.
In West Virginia, a man who heckled Bush at a political rally has been fired from his job. "I was told that my actions reflected badly on the company and that a client was upset," Glen Hiller of Berkeley Springs said.
Freedom of thought? Freedom of political expression? Apparently these mean absolutely nothing to the Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft regime and its minions.
According to papers released by the Transportation Security Administration, the government's official "no fly" list has grown by leaps and bounds each year since 2001. There are now more than 20,000 names on the list, and no-one really knows whether the names should be on the list or not. The whole system is a mess, but it is growing like Topsy. At this rate of growth, it will soon be impossible for most people to catch a plane to escape a country where your choices in book reading, album listening, and political views are limited by John Ashcroft and his ilk.
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Your article on the "talibanization" of America is an insult to poeple who've had to actually live under the Taliban régime. "Talibanization", my dear, is what happened to Salman Rushdie. When will these 'brave' artists you cited denounce the imposition of sharia law in Ontario, for example? When will they demonstrate against Saudi Arabia's fascist and theocratic régime, a régime that enslaves women, practices slavery, and denies religious freedom?
You won't, Jak, and they won't either. You see, being a TRUE progressive means taking some very real risks, even some that can get you fatwa'd
But then, yoyu probably think that a death fatwa is a Roman Catholic invention.....right?
Posted by: John Palubiski | Oct 14, 2004 10:02:58 AM
"Talibanization" in my phrase is the institution of an authoritarian government with a tinge of fundamentalist religion at its root. Look around you. To deny that Ashcroft and his fascistic freinds are NOT doing this in the States is an insult to all those who are suffering under it today. Wake up!
Posted by: Jak King | Oct 14, 2004 10:16:17 AM
I'm confused. You seem to imply the "Bush-Cheney-Ashcroft" regime as the culprits behind all of these doings yet I don't see where any of them is responsible for what you've written. FBI agents don't do the *personal* bidding of these men in their day to day functions. According to what you have cited here the Patriot Act was NOT inovoked to get the names of those who had checked out the book in the library referred to so why mention Patriot Act at all? The Washington Museum piece: seems to me the show was cancelled because it wasnt really about art at all, but then everyon has a different opinion about what constitutes art. The article doesn't say that Bush, Cheney or Ashcroft closed down the show. The attorney generals of Kansas decided what CDs could be passed out to local librarys, not Bush, Cheney or Ashcroft. Seems to me you are blaming Bush, Cheney and Ascroft for things with which they are not connected at all. Boogey men exist where you want to find them I guess.
Posted by: caroleires | Oct 15, 2004 8:20:19 AM
The atrocities of the Taliban in Afghanistan, both big and small, were not conducted by Sheikh Omar and Osama bin Laden. Rather, they were undertaken by smaller men, under the influence, both direct and indirect, of the leadership. It is the leadership that supplies the environment in which these activities thrive.
Posted by: Jak King | Oct 15, 2004 8:59:31 AM
Jak, Mr. Palubiski notwithstanding, you're hilarious. (And I thought I already had enough reasons to cast my vote in favor of reelection...)
Posted by: AW | Oct 16, 2004 8:44:40 PM
"...Now then, which do you suppose will happen to the man who publicly called for the US to destroy itself:
A) Parker will be taken away during the night by jackbooted thugs and sent to a concentration camp, or
B) sell lots of records and buy a new BMW M5?
Posted by: AW | Oct 17, 2004 1:00:38 PM