COUP D’ETAT

Since last week’s demonstration in Harlem, I have realized that the right name for what has happened to this country is a coup d’etat.

We talk of stolen elections, violations of the Constitution, illegal actions by the Bush regime, illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.  We see legislation passed to legitimize things the regime has done: the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act.

From the day of the inauguration of this regime, there have been Americans speaking out everywhere George Bush has appeared, but the crafters of this coup knew that they had to make such dissent and protest invisible, unpatriotic, even criminal when possible.  People who protest are penned up away from Bush or members of his administration.  The media, owned perhaps by the same people who put the Bush regime in office or somehow cowed by them, have failed to let the public know the truth on this and many other issues. 

I kept thinking after the Harlem demonstration last week how Lyndon Johnson was very aware of the disapproval of the war in Viet Nam.  He could see and hear the protest himself and it was widely broadcast on television and reported in the press.  That was when we were still a democracy, always an imperfect one to be sure, but a democracy.

Now we have had a coup d’etat followed by acts to legitimize the usurping power.  That is what I would call it if it were not the United States I were speaking of, at least I would have until last week.  Now I will call it that when speaking of the United States as well, for that is what has happened.

My sense of urgency to see the occupation of Iraq ended and the restoration of our democracy beginning with the impeachment of Bush and Cheney are because I know, I have known for years, that this is not a legitimate government, but one that has come about as the result of a coup d’etat.

When I first realized this last week, for a moment I thought “a bloodless coup.”  But, of course, it has not been bloodless.  Blood of Americans has not flowed in the streets of New York, Nashville, Palo Alto, Minneapolis, or Chicago, but it has flowed in the streets of Bagdad and Fallujah.  Many Americans have died in this coup and many, many more innocent Iraqis have died for this ursupring regime.

Will we rise up against the tyrant or not?   In a complexity that is typical of the United States, the tyrant is not just George Bush, but rather a group of people who have used him.  Unless we impeach him and Cheney as a first step in restoring our democracy, the coup will have succeeded in establishing a new government and in legitimizing it.  Even though the next administration may look much different from this one, unless we rescind the laws that have repealed our rights and changed the structure of our government, we will not be “back to normal.”

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