Published on Saturday, April 2, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Who is Brain-Dead?
by Alan Kobrin
|The passing of Terri Schiavo leaves us much to think about. The event itself. Why we should even be aware of it. Why and how it reached our consciousness and was utilized. Our Congress was sullied (again!), and our attention stolen from us, as the latest neo-con anti-democracy creed, the Unfairness of the Judiciary, was trotted out on the playing field of the American consciousness.
Many of us watched, astonished, dismayed, the TV coverage of the Congress -- the US Congress! -- was staying up late on a Sunday to determine if they would pass emergency legislation to require a twentieth judge to render a decision on the re-insertion of a feeding tube in a single woman in Florida. I can’t help but reflect how far we have gone and how much we have lost in this nation. A nation who sees bombs and bullets as the most efficient means of tough foreign policy changes - but prohibits seeing images of the results. A Congress that thinks nothing of cutting funding for healthcare and education for the rest of the citizens.
I thought, “Welcome to the Bush boys’ backyard barbecue of symbolic Life Values.” The special Congressional session in DC was a re-run of Jeb’s earlier attempt to have the Florida legislature create “Terri’s Law” in order to “save” their poster-child of Life -- and exploit the sad realities of a family’s tough end of life decisions -- as they make a mockery of the very purpose of Law.
You can’t really blame the more reactionary of them. Given their proclivity for pre-emptive war, torture, death penalty and pay-as-you-go healthcare, it’s not easy to make themselves look like Defenders of Life. To cloak themselves in that mantle, they require a helpless victim unable to pronounce her own opinions (and, therefore, a perfect choice for right-wing political razzle-dazzle). They are the champions of the brain-dead and the unborn. The rest, well, they apparently can go to hell. Why the others in Congress went along with this is in some ways more troubling.
The neo-cons and fundamentalists are on the attack. They are swarming, they are gloating. They have dizzied the lackluster opposition with so many punches -- ANWR, bankruptcy, war spending. They see the progressives and liberals as up against the ropes, and want to see the Other Side finally down on the canvas. Now they wanted this trophy: they battled to save Terri's life. Big, symbolic.
Who really are the brain-dead ones here?
Brain-dead are the neo-con Right and their theocratic minion. They wish to Save the World from Reality and shape it to their own desires, showing neither pity nor respect for Facts, Law, or anyone outside their circle of the Saved. They could care less about such silly human experiments like Democracy, which for them is merely a word, a bullet point on a marketing brochure for Empire. The tens of thousands of Schiavos whose lives hang by a thread? Starve ‘em by pulling the tube on health care, minimum wage, and bankruptcy protection.
But brain-dead, too, are all too many seemingly progressives, liberals and moderates who enable the hijacking of our nation by ignoring it, or by cutting deals with our homegrown Wehrmacht. Brain-dead are those members of Congress who have stood silently by as a procession of would-be war criminals march, nearly unopposed into crucial life-controlling positions of authority and power. Abrams, Rice, Negroponte, Reich, Gonzalez, Bolton. Now they want Wolfowitz heading the World Bank?
Did of them say “No! This is a disgrace!”? Did any say “This is unacceptable!“? Did any of them warn us of the REAL dangers of this neo-con war trust? Where is an alternative vision? Which ones have said, ”Here, follow me! This is the way out.“? Except for Barbara Boxer, who among them even defended democracy and the votes' integrity by seeking a vote recount in Ohio lead by the Green Party's David Cobb?
Elected. Holding office, Earning salaries. But for all intents and purposes, brain-dead. Enablers, the lot of them. On their best days, they can only hope to slow down the rape of our environment, our society, and our values - not to oppose or prevent it.
Brain-dead, too are the media, most of whom played along with this latest toy of Mass Distraction. Who was talking or thinking about Social Security, the plans for Iran, or the appointment of John Bolton as we were force-fed hourly images of a woman’s end-of-life drama?
We just saw the latest object lesson in how to tie up and gag the progressive community. Air America the year-old progressive media darling upon which so many dreams and hopes have been hung, was simply hijacked for nearly two weeks! All Terri, All the Time! How easy it was to fall into that trap. Without a clear, alternative vision of what progressives should be doing, what else could they talk about.?
Boy, has the Right got this nation hoodwinked. While their media outlets had a field day, do you think Rumsfeld, Cheney, Negroponte and gang stopped their action plans for one second over this? No, and I imagine they rally appreciated the smoke screen it provided.
It was that easy. With the Right's concentration of money and media power, and progressives’ lack of will and alternative vision, we end up nearly ALL brain-dead, and will remain so until we find a unified vision and leadership to march us away from this brink of national - and planetary - disaster.
We need a rebirth and rededication to democracy and social justice right now. Who is stepping up to the plate?
Alan Kobrin is an activist, web consultant, and visual anthropologist who has been a national co-chair of the Green Party.