Second-hand – a cabbie from Uganda describes what it was like:
“Bush is a dictator. Did I offend you?”
“No. What makes him a dictator?”
“You cannot joke about killing him. Hell even under Amin we danced and sang death songs at him. He had a hotel complex that he tortured people in. The difference between Bush and Amin as far as that goes is that I knew where my relatives were being tortured, and no one knows exactly where the Americans are torturing their victims.”
“Do you believe we are doing horrible torture to thousands or to a few?”
He thought about it and said “Is there any difference? My experience is that once torturers begin torturing, the torturers have a hard time stopping.”
That really upset me. I persisted. “Seriously, do you think we are torturing thousands?”
He took his time. “They won’t let you see one dead soldier. Even under a flag they won’t let you see it. They don’t tell you the truth about anything. They lie lie lie. My experience tells me this. I don’t really know. But if I had to guess, I would guess that your government is doing the worst things you can possibly imagine. Liars are lying because they cannot tell the truth. When I see Bush speak, I don’t see a stupid man as you do and many others. I see a man who is too shamed to tell the truth. He has caused so much pain and knows it, but if he admitted one little bit of it, it would come crashing out like a dam. You understand? Bush is in a lot of pain.”
We pulled up to the hotel, I asked him to park and waved off the bellhop.
“What do you think will happen to America, Bale?”
“What do you mean WILL happen? What hasn’t happened yet? You torture in secret. You invade for what? The government reads your e-mail and listens to your telephone and makes you take off your shoes and pull out your computer. For what? Who do you need to protect yourself against? Is your computer going to attack you? Who should you be afraid of? Your government is more scary to most people than any terrorist. I feel for you really. Because I don’t think you have any idea how far down the road you already are.”
In 1971, while in Lefortovo prison in Moscow (the central KGB interrogation jail), I went on a hunger strike demanding a defense lawyer of my choice (the KGB wanted its trusted lawyer to be assigned instead). The moment was most inconvenient for my captors because my case was due in court, and they had no time to spare. So, to break me down, they started force-feeding me in a very unusual manner — through my nostrils. About a dozen guards led me from my cell to the medical unit. There they straitjacketed me, tied me to a bed, and sat on my legs so that I would not jerk. The others held my shoulders and my head while a doctor was pushing the feeding tube into my nostril.
The feeding pipe was thick, thicker than my nostril, and would not go in. Blood came gushing out of my nose and tears down my cheeks, but they kept pushing until the cartilages cracked. I guess I would have screamed if I could, but I could not with the pipe in my throat. I could breathe neither in nor out at first; I wheezed like a drowning man — my lungs felt ready to burst. The doctor also seemed ready to burst into tears, but she kept shoving the pipe farther and farther down. Only when it reached my stomach could I resume breathing, carefully. Then she poured some slop through a funnel into the pipe that would choke me if it came back up. They held me down for another half-hour so that the liquid was absorbed by my stomach and could not be vomited back, and then began to pull the pipe out bit by bit. . . . Grrrr. There had just been time for everything to start healing during the night when they came back in the morning and did it all over again, for 10 days, when the guards could stand it no longer. As it happened, it was a Sunday and no bosses were around. They surrounded the doctor: “Hey, listen, let him drink it straight from the bowl, let him sip it. It’ll be quicker for you, too, you silly old fool.” The doctor was in tears: “Do you think I want to go to jail because of you lot? No, I can’t do that. . . . ” And so they stood over my body, cursing each other, with bloody bubbles coming out of my nose. On the 12th day, the authorities surrendered; they had run out of time. I had gotten my lawyer, but neither the doctor nor those guards could ever look me in the eye again.
Sure, right now it’s just a bunch of foreigners and I guess we don’t feel foreigners are entitled to basic human rights. They must not be human — or at least not as human as “we” are. When you think about it, who knows who “we” are either? Right wingers make millions of dollars writing books about how liberals are godless, death-loving, traitors within. Many people who read those books probably believe these liberals are only one step away from being sub-human too —- they are, after all, godless traitors.
But as the soviet experience shows, anyone can be defined as such sub-humans and at some point it usually comes around to catch even the people who wrote the original tales of godless, death-loving traitors within. I don’t know why — maybe it’s a kill the messenger thing.
Many of my friends and neighbors don’t believe that even they may end up in prison with no recourse to justice.
Many of my friends and neighbors have not experienced, like I did in Yugoslavia of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the gradual transformation from a nice, sweet, proseprous, freedom-loving country into a bunch of thugs duking it out over land and religion. Tito was dead for ten years. Prime Minister was Ante Markovic. Thousands of small businesses were starting up every week. Small people were getting rich. There was ebullience in the air.
Then, in a manner eerily reminiscent of BuchCo, thugs like Milosevic, Tudjman and Izetbegovic hijacked the government and started a civil war, ending with a break up of one big strong country into six small, economically weak and dependent units.
But that was a small country. Who is going to stop the USA? If you leave for Australia, Europe or Canada, you will just feel the effects a litle later than if you stay.
I can’t afford to leave, so that makes my decision easy.Â For whatever reason, maybe residual Boy Scout indoctrination, who knows, I still believe in the idea that the United States of America represents, so I wouldn’t leave even if I could.Â It helps that I don’t have a family to protect.Â And I’m privileged enough that I’ll probably never have to worry about dying in a jail for dissidents or anything like that.
There are already American citizens who do have to worry about that, though, if their families are from the wrong country.Â There are already American citizens, and people who by sheer chance were born in countries other than the United States of America, who are receiving the Josef K. treatment.Â Until now, the Josef K. treatment was merely de facto, and potentially rectifiable.Â As of Friday, the Josef K. treatment is the law of the land.