Children in Chains: This is the New America

Bob Herbert, one of the very few voices of genuine anger and dissent remaining in the corporate media, went down to Avon Park, Florida, last week, and came back with the story of a 6-year-old girl whose kindergarten temper tantrum landed her in jail, booked on felony charges. This is what happened to her:

…the child was no match for Avon Park’s finest. The cops pulled her from under the table and handcuffed her. The officers were not fooling around. In the eyes of the cops the 6-year-old was a criminal, and in Avon Park she would be treated like any other felon. There was a problem, though. The handcuffs were not manufactured with kindergarten kids in mind. The chief explained: “You can’t handcuff them on their wrists because their wrists are too small, so you have to handcuff them up by their biceps.”

..Desre’e was put in the back of a patrol car and driven to the police station. “Then,” said Chief Mercurio, “she was transported to central booking, which is the county jail.” The child was fingerprinted and a mug shot was taken. “Those are the normal procedures for anyone who is arrested,” the chief said. Desre’e was charged with battery on a school official, which is a felony, and two misdemeanors: disruption of a school function and resisting a law enforcement officer.

We have all supp'd full of horrors during the past few years, read many stories detailing horrific outrages, greasy crimes, and the ongoing destruction of the American Republic. But for some reason, this Herbert story (which should be read in full) got to me in a visceral way, hit me like a punch in the stomach. Maybe it was just one drop too many in that horror-filled cup, I don't know.

But this is not the country I was born and raised in. I don't know where that country went, or when exactly it was replaced by the clapped-out goon show of greed, cowardice, brutality and servility that is ro
lling across the land today. No doubt it was a long, slow slide into rot, but it was certainly accelerated by the ascension of Ronald Reagan and the coiled-up sphincters of fear and hate that rode into power with him. That great flood of steaming effluent – the corporate whores, the war profiteers, the frothing cranks, the bloodthirsty ideologues, the talking gasbags, the arrogant elites – has never receded, but keeps rising year by year, drowning us in their rancid lies and saturating every acre of ground, every structure, every institution with their corruption.

What they want is war: war against the world so they can own the world, war to "show the world that you're tiny and we're not" as Newt Gingrich put it last week (and Lord have mercy, was there ever such a Freudian statement made in all of American political history as Newtie Gingrich's panic attack over not being perceived as "tiny"?). What they want is the war of all on all, with every community, every street, every family riven by conflict, by fear and suspicion, by bile and aggression, by iron-clad division between those on "the right side," on "God's side," the head-bowed, knees-bent slaves of authority – and "the Enemy," the "traitors," the "moonbats," the "defeatists," the Islamopinkofeminazifags: i.e., anyone who dissents in the slightest from whatever the authoritarian party line of the day might be. And in our brave new Goon Show Land, these "internal enemies" must not only be politically defeated; they must be "destroyed," they must be sent home in "body bags," as the former leader of the Christian Coalition used to put it; they must be eliminated.

This is the kind of nation they want, because that's the kind of moral sewer they need in order to thrive. A nation where the very idea of a common good has been cast aside, mocked and scorned as a
"quaint" relic of the ancient past, like the rule of law. Such sissy notions must give way to the blood-and-iron supremacy of the so-called "free market" – in reality, a rigged game in which the wealthy elite and the major corporations commandeer the institutions of government and society for their own aggrandizement. The corporate ethos is in essence ruthless and rapacious; after all, corporations exist, by law, for one purpose only: the profit of their shareholders. With the enshrinement of this ethos over all of society, every other evil follows – for do not the Scriptures tell us that the love of money is the root of all evil? This ethos drives the elite, destroys communities and families, tears fissures across society and in each individual human heart, twisting and perverting the very structures of our lives. And in this spiritual ruination, the way is open for the ungodly perversions of modern American religion and the ludicrous but murderous fantasies of the right-wing ideologues to breed like rat-borne pestilence.

A nation that has made money its god should not be surprised when the image of God that it produces is a horrible rictus of meanness, violence and sexual obsession. A nation that has made money its ultimate value should not be surprised when its communities are gutted, its families wither and millions of people are thrown away like trash. A nation that has made money its only guiding principle should not be surprised to find its sons and daughters being blown to bits – and blowing other people to bits – in foreign lands for the sake of the wealth and power of a small rapacious elite and the bootlicking liars who serve them.

A six-year-old girl carted away in chains, in manacles clamped on her biceps, thrown into a police car, booked and photographed and branded a criminal. Jesus Christ Almighty God, I don't know what country this is anymore. I don't know where these goons came from. I don't know what they did with America. But they have spewed the hell they carry inside themselves all over the country -- and all over the world.