By Marilyn Chandler McEntyre

Marilyn Chandler McEntyreI recently used the word "totalitarian" in a conversation to describe the direction our government is going and met with the objection that this characterization was "ludicrous." Is the use of the word "totalitarian" ludicrous? Consider the following list of actions.

--The PATRIOT Act, which was rammed through Congress after 9/11 without even the chance for Congressmen to read it.
--The NSA domestic spying program.
--Legitimizing the violations of the Geneva Conventions and basic human rights at Guantanamo and other sites.
--The practice of "rendition": transferring prisoners into the custody of other governments that practice torture and violate human rights of prisoners.
--The failure to carry out investigations of human rights violations at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere to top ranking officers.
--The failure to acknowledge the damage to civilians, water, soil, and infrastructures necessary to survival brought about by depleted uranium and other weapons made, used, and supplied to others by the U.S.
--Putting numerous innocent people on "no-fly" lists based on race, political activism, or other things not related to terrorism.
--Incarcerating innocent citizens and resident aliens for months without due process and then releasing them without apology or compensation
--Lying to justify war. (Besides the outright lies, we must also include the use of clichés and buzzwords designed to elicit a knee-jerk fear and loyalty response.)
--Allowing the serious and consequential irregularities in the last two elections to go uninvestigated.
--War profiteering in Iraq and elsewhere by American companies who are running their own paramilitary organizations
--Our support for military dictatorships around the world, and our subversion of democratically elected governments that don't do our bidding.

Each one of these has contributed to eroding the accountability of American leaders and the protections the Constitution affords citizens and others.

I don't think I'm paranoid. I don't think it's "ludicrous" at least to imagine that what has happened in so many other countries by similar means couldn't happen here---too much power in too few hands with too few checks and too much in-group collaboration (especially in those countries where power is held and media controlled by a very few with intersecting interests). Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams all issued strenuous warnings about exactly that kind of erosion of accountability. That was part of their wisdom.

I am distressed that so many of us can fall into such chronic complacency about our privileges, protections, and the functionality of our processes. The myths and the facts get harder to sort out as the media fall under the control of fewer and fewer corporations who have vested interests in the war machine.

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