Col. Writ. 1/22/04

State of disunion...again.

By Mumia Abu-Jamal from death row

There is something deeply disturbing about George W.
Bush standing in the well of Congress, smirking out at his
audiences.

Even though it is important that political commentators
view the spectacle, I have studiously avoided it, because
of the unpleasant feelings it evokes.

I watched it for a few minutes, however, and was surprised
to be surprised about what I saw.

It was a classic moment, one surely missed by the millions
who relied on written reports of the event. George, surely
not the world's best speechmaker, was revving up on the
infamous Patriot Act, and he delivered the following lines:

Key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to
expire next year. The terrorist threat will
not expire on that schedule ... You need to
renew the Patriot Act.

What was lost in the written text, was the congressional
reaction. When Bush delivered the line saying the Act was
set to expire, a significant number of congresspeople
applauded that fact. Bush seemed momentarily rattled,
then glared at those applauding, as he tried to make his
main point (the next line). By that time, congressional
Republicans caught on, and began out-clapping those
who applauded his first line.

It was a moment, true, but it reflected the truth that
there are significant divisions and disunions, in American
society.

For many people, the provisions of the Patriot Act,
among them the abrogation of the 4th Amendment
'guarantee' against unreasonable search and seizure,
are terrifying. That Amendment, is now only good for
history books.

Nor can we forget how it came to pass; a frightened,
harried Congress, fearful from an apparent anthrax
attack, rushed the bill through, at the urging of the US
Justice Department, fearful of the political repercussions
if they didn't.

Detroit's senior congressman, John Conyers, days
after the voting, told a televised audience on BET that
neither he, nor many of his colleagues, had even read
the bill!

Rushed, harried, fearful, under Justice Department
pressure, they signed into law a sweeping measure that
profoundly changes many areas of American law.

Amazing.

Yet, with the Administration using the ultimate 'weapon
of mass destruction' -- fear, the nation, deeply divided,
seems on the brink of even greater, and more terrible
change.

Americans, when fearful, are ever capable of doing
great and terrible things. The now-shameful forced
relocation of thousands of Japanese citizens to
concentration camps, and the confiscation of their
properties, still haunts the nation.

Racist and xenophobic politicians played on American
fear; and the fears became law.

There will come a time, even if it takes years, perhaps
decades, when the forced confinement of Arabs in this
country and in the Guantanamo Gulags will elicit the
same views.

Despite claims of Iraqi 'liberation', within hours of
the address CIA reports surfaced suggesting the nation
faces a very real threat of Civil War, along the fault lines
of faith and ethnicity, for the Shiites, who comprise
nearly 60% of the Iraqi population, have been waiting
for over a generation to flex their political muscles. The
US occupation has opened the way to potential chaos
there and throughout the region. We may, in a matter of
months, be watching the emergence of a Shia state,
that rivals its neighbor, Iran.

And while millionaires thrill at their games of chance
on Wall Street, average Americans are twisted with
anxiety over what some economists have called a
'jobless recovery.'

As for Bush's claim to America's "mission", nations
the world over have some idea of that "mission", and
most have rejected it, outright, as New Age Imperialism

The State of the Union, is Disunion.

Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal

[Mr. Jamal has written widely about war and other issues. His latest work, *Faith of Our Fathers* (Africa
World Press, 2003) was named one of "The Most Remarkable Books of 2003" by *Black Issues Book Review* (Nov/Dec '03).]

Check out Mumia's NEW book:
FAITH OF OUR FATHERS: AN EXAMINATION OF THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF AFRICAN AND AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE
at www.africanworld.com

Mumia Abu-Jamal is also the author of three other books:
'Live from Death Row',
'Death Blossoms', and
'All Things Censored'.

When a cause comes along and you know in your bones that it is just, yet refuse to defend it--at that moment you begin to die.
And I have never seen so many corpses walking around talking about justice."
- Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Copyright 2004 Mumia Abu-Jamal