Above the law, and under a cloud
Posted: Saturday, July 27, 2002
By Dennis Rahkonen, YellowTimes.org
Thanks to our cultural consciousness being pervaded by rightwing notions and biases, it's almost instinctive for us to think of "crime" in street-mugger terms, or as the stereotypical, drug-related activity of warring urban gangs.
Seldom do we associate crime with the organized lawlessness of the Mafia, as would have been the case not that long ago.
While this at least partially reflects objective changes in where and when criminality occurs in today's America, it's mainly the result of far too many of us buying into reactionary propaganda contrived to give the majority populace a demonized vision of the poor and racial minorities.
Nowhere is the usefulness of that misrepresentation to the right more evident than with respect to gun control.
While rational souls see a clear logic in gaining prudent strictures on the all-too-ready access to hand guns that exists in this country, gun advocates are able to effectively parlay deliberately generated fears about the alleged criminal character of the supposedly typical ghetto dweller into a tawdry dichotomization which divides us into two, distinct camps.
There are the purportedly good, honest, decent denizens of white, middle-class America confronted by a growing scourge involving armed "criminals" invariably presented as low-income and of color. It's us vs. them, in the starkest terms, which best fit the longstanding conservative tactic of divisively pitting us one against the other while a special-interest hierarchy that exploits everyone laughs all the way to the bank.
Thus, we're smokescreened from recognizing much greater, more serious lawlessness - namely the crime in the suites that's become endemic to our system, and which has grown so blatant (Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, etc.) that usual, obfuscatory means have proven inadequate in keeping it completely hidden.
But lawlessness at the top goes far beyond Big Business and High Finance malfeasance.
Consider the current controversy over the World Court's entirely proper insistence on having all nations' military conduct held accountable to international law.
The Bush administration, which is currently engaged in such illegalities as bombing Iraq on a sustained basis, has expressed, under the War on Terrorism pretext, plans to put U.S. troops or advisors into what could amount to sixty nations.
As the recent, atrocious, wedding bombing "accident" in Afghanistan shows, U.S. forces are quite prone to inflicting lethal damage on civilian targets, a problem that would surely expand as our interventions spread.
Bush is seeking, therefore, a prior exclusion from global, legal culpability for the war-crimes violations he knows are certain to come, as the U.S. plays bully/cowboy in behalf of multinational corporate interests on an escalating worldwide scale.
On this score - and certainly with regard to new demands that the Securities and Exchange Commission look, again, into apparent improprieties which took place a dozen years ago as Bush seemingly finagled his Harken oil interests into maximum gain - the powers that be want us to focus on a manipulated "threat" emanating from the nearest bad neighborhood.
"Watch out for the druggie thugs! Don't look over in our direction!"
Falling for this ploy, however, would entail remaining popularly oblivious to what could amount to a revelation of top-level corruption and depravity far beyond what's been disclosed to date.
Just how crooked is contemporary American capitalism?
That's a question which must be answered to everyone's complete satisfaction, so that we can respond with whatever reforms are required to set things right.
Provided things haven't become so rotten that reform itself is impossible, making a truly revolutionary socio-politico-economic change the only workable solution.
[Dennis Rahkonen is a freelance writer from Superior, Wisconsin, formerly long associated with the Tyomies (Workingman) Society publishing house, which served progressive Finnish immigrants throughout America for most of the 20th century. Finns encountered much bigotry in the United States, with an infamous boarding house sign "No dogs or Finns allowed!" reflecting the prejudice that many once felt.]
Dennis Rahkonen encourages your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org