Saturday, February 18, 2006
LAW STUDENTS TURN THEIR BACKS TO GENERAL GONZALES
"The President issued a call to spread freedom throughout the world, and then admitted that he has deprived Americans of one of their most basic freedoms under the Fourth Amendment--to be free from unjustified government intrusion"...However, only last month, we saw an example of what makes America great at Georgetown University Law School. In a quiet, but powerful protest, law students stood up in their seats and showed their backs to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, during a speech he gave at the university facility.
"How is that worthy of applause? Since when do we celebrate our commander in chief for violating our most basic freedoms, and misleading the American people in the process? When did we start to stand up and cheer for breaking the law? In that moment at the State of the Union, I felt ashamed."
This is a story that is worth revisiting; and it did get some coverage from CNN and ABC news. Until very recently, dissent has been all but invisible in America, beginning with the street protest at Bush's first inaugural in 2001. There was a news blackout of the police riot in November 2003, at the Miami FTAA protest. And journalist Greg Palast has described the screening-out of news that gains great currency in Europe, as a kind of "electronic Berlin Wall", that oftentimes prevents Americans from knowing what the rest of the world knows. People with internet access have alone had the opportunity to break through America's media pack ice. Only Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Mothers have had prolonged success in getting past the gatekeepers and breaking through institutional complacency.
ABC News this week had a piece about whether cereal companies were erroneously labeling their breakfast foods as being sources of "whole grains", bringing you the lowdown on that fascinating subject. As the world around us crumbles, the Networks find it all too easy to press the comforting Fluff Button.
Rosa Parks would not relinquish her seat on the bus to satisfy the whim of a white man; and there simply comes a time to say no to what we know is wrong. But as a country, we have seen injustice under the color of law, and have done one worse than that; today we see the law shrugged off by high officials who are entrusted to enforce it, by the Attorney General who has sworn to defend the Constitution.
A few days from now, our elders in the Senate may renew the ghastly Patriot Act, and praise themselves; but we can still take away some confidence and hope, from a single act of courage by the Georgetown law students.
(Tip of hat to Grayson for steering me to this story.) Photos: Charles Dharapak