We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia. How else to explain the electoral sweep that just put the most egregious Republican Party candidates back in power? These are the people who gave us Katrina, made torture a state policy, promoted racial McCarthyism, celebrated immigrant bashing, pushed the country into two disastrous wars, built more prisons than schools, bankrupted the public treasury, celebrated ignorance over scientific evidence ("half of new Congressmen do not believe in global warming" )A theatre of cruelty. Racial McCarthyism. Immigrant bashing. Torture a state policy. Building more prisons than schools. Climate change denial, et al.
Sounds like the Harper government.
So what are we suffering from?
Media deficiency? Brain damage? Narcolepsy? Laryngitis? All of the above?
Stephen Harper committed one of the worst offenses against democracy this week. He extended our WAR by three years simply on a whim. And he didn't even have the decency to announce it in Canada but waited until he was safely in Seoul Korea, where we couldn't ask questions. Not that he ever answers them anyway.
The Star Phoenix calls it an insult to citizens:
On a very narrow technicality, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is correct that he need not seek Parliament's permission to keep military trainers in Afghanistan.Where's the outrage?
But his refusal to put the matter up for debate in Parliament this week shows a gross disrespect for all Canadians, particularly the soldiers who have been risking their lives in Afghanistan. It illustrates such a blatant disregard for the fundamentals of democracy that it must have the tens of thousands of soldiers who fought and died for the cause rolling in their graves overseas. Perhaps the greatest insult is that it was at a press conference in Seoul, South Korea, the prime minister admitted he would be going back on his ill-considered words to remove all Canadian troops from Afghanistan by next summer.
And because of El Presidente"s "whim", "I'll declare war because I can", our troops are not prepared.
Because Canada's new $500-million a year training assignment is to last until 2014, one of the imperatives that the military has suddenly been seized with is the urgent need to find a new staging base to replace Camp Mirage, which was closed to Canadian Forces earlier this month because of a spat with the United Arab Emirates over civilian landing rights. Stopgap measures, such as airfields in Cyprus and in Germany, which were hastily decided in order to get the combat mission out of Kandahar next summer, involve hours of extra flying time and only work long-term if Ottawa is willing to shell out tens of millions of dollars extra for three years for fuel.500 million dollars a year. That's a pretty expensive "whim". But nothing is impossible when El Presidente barks out the orders. Usted debe obedecer!
Of course he's thought of everything and is now recruiting on porn sites, because apparently that's where "18-to-34-year-old" macho men hang out, tempted with phrases like "Nasty Panty Flash" and "Christian Values". Who knew?
Don't even get me started on what this does for women's rights. Two words our dictator would never use together until they included "must destroy". I suppose they also rule out gays who might not be drawn to "Nasty Panty Flash".
Stevie thinks of everything, doesn't he?
Giroux believes he has the cure for American amnesia:
We need to rally behind and support the public intellectuals, media outlets and growing social movements that are instrumental not only in providing the memory work needed to keep democracy alive, but also in developing the conditions for a vibrant formative culture to provide alternative values, knowledge, social relations and hope in the darkest of times.How do we cure the disease of the Harper government? As much as I'd love to have amnesia so I could forget the country that Canada used to be, it's not an easy task.
We're in Harperland now and I'm reminded of that every day.