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Commentary Last Updated: May 7th, 2008 - 00:22:27

Captivity of impression, not freedom of expression
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

May 7, 2008, 00:15

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In my mind you don�t trot around the world creating havoc and taking peoples� lives to defend your �envied freedoms.� For all the shame we may rightly accumulate as we send young people to die for our elite�s lust for power and greed, we don�t have to lie to our enlisted military by mockingly making them martyrs and heroes when, sadly, they are just being played for chumps.

Our freedoms and rights need to be protected, but right here, not in some battlefield or neighborhood somewhere in the Middle East. And we, Americans, have done a very poor job in fighting domestically to preserve them.

A couple of mornings ago a thought occurred to me just as I was reading an article by H. Josef Hebert (AP) on how Bush rhetoric on energy strayed from the facts. Of course, it wasn�t the headline that caught my eye; as I see it, Bush rhetoric on most everything has always been light years away from the facts! But it was the mere thought of this persistent and hopeless liar, that went off like a flash -- and just like there is a liar ready to divert any and all facts from a given story, or there is a vice for every virtue, or an antonym at the opposite end of a synonym, or even that science fiction idea of parallel universes, why can�t we come up with a set of anti-freedoms, one that can quantify the degree to which we, Americans, have become complacently enslaved?

During the six plus years since 9/11 and the passage of the pseudo-patriotic USAPATRIOT Act, we have slowly become aware of fundamental and diminutional changes to Americans� constitutional rights under this embryonic fascist government embodied by the faith-based Bush administration, and a condescending, peoples� unrepresentative Congress.

Freedoms of association, information and unreasonable search, as well as rights to liberty, legal representation, and a speedy and public trial . . . all were confiscated and warehoused -- only borrowed, mind you -- so as to relieve us from our heavy load of fear and make us all think we�re assisting in �terror investigation.� Notice that I haven�t included �freedom of speech� in the list, although the government may prosecute librarians and other record keepers if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation. Actually the freedom of speech, or expression, had long been under attack almost two generations before George W. Bush came to the political scene . . . and it was done without the aid of any specific legislation.

To journalists and commentators, the first freedom that comes to mind is an easy one: freedom of speech or expression. For those of us left with the option of writing for our peers and a compressed audience of progressives, freethinking coreligionists, plus the occasional lost souls who might be reading us as result of boring curiosity or perhaps cyber-randomness, we know that freedom of expression is for the most part a cruel hoax. No, it isn�t that we aren�t free to write (or say) what we please; it�s just that such writing means very little if it cannot be readily accessed, be available to a mainstream audience; and people must travel to the underground of verboten ideas that could never make it through the red-white-and-blue strainer of our nation�s unfree corporate press.

Soon after World War II, to keep our country uninfected from the diseases of that malignant world of foreign socio-political ideas, our freedom of expression was quietly modified without much planning or fanfare to include patriotic clarifications and purifications via a filtering layer added to the strainer, one capable of removing all foreign viruses that could challenge the �American way of life.� These impressions have been very meticulously carved in the American psyche for almost three generations, and they render any deviation from capitalism or individualism -- the way we define them -- as sacrilegious; down and out heresy. The Spanish Inquisition of 1478 had been de facto transplanted to America, in both cases to preserve the faith (Christianity for the Spaniards, and Americanism for the Americans) and with it the nation�s unity. In fact, it isn�t just Socialism that Americans have been taught to hate and also to ridicule, but anything that is part of, or prefixed by, the word social; or another neutral word, welfare, which for no good reason has lost its primary meaning of well-being in the US.

Our citizens must be guarded against all those foreign social remedies that seem to plague much of the industrialized world, particularly those Northern European countries; just how sick can those forsaken foreigners be when they exchange an indomitable and survivalist spirit for a system of welfare from cradle to grave? Obviously Elitist America is willing to throw overboard half or more of Americans to the seas of the Third World in its globalization attempt.

Someone told me the other day that the Statue of Liberty should have Emma Lazarus� poem on that bronze plaque welcoming the tired and the poor, re-inscribed with the new reality . . ."Welcome to America, Land of Human Recycling.� Grotesque perhaps, but true! And all because we have surrendered the free flow of ideas in our nation, our true freedom of expression, with the captivity of impression of an immutable Americanism unable to grow and transform.

Like birds in a cage Americans are free to flutter, but haven�t we been forced into economic and political submission with the control held by an elite few?

� 2008 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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