The Guardian

The Guardian February 7, 2001


Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

No shame in the White House

During the 1954 live televised hearings into "Communist influence" in 
the US Army by the notorious and odious Senator Joe McCarthy, Counsel for 
the Army, Joseph N Welch, appalled at McCarthy's brazen insinuations and 
lying accusations, tellingly asked him, "Senator, have you no shame?"

It's a question that might well continue to be asked of the US government 
as a whole, the Congress and White House.

Take the National Endowment for Democracy.

Its an organisation that openly interferes in the internal affairs of other 
countries (in their elections, for example). It is generally frowned on in 
international circles and causes diplomatic notes and other protests. But 
the US Congress is not ashamed at the activities of the National Endowment 
for Democracy (NED) and has voted it a slab of money.

The US government hides behind its supposed "independence". It claims: "Its 
not the government doing it, so what's the beef"? Clever, eh?

Guess who's just been made the new head of the NED? None other than that 
renowned supporter of democracy and defender of the rights of small 
countries, Madeleine Albright.

Yep, the same Madeleine Albright who insisted on bombing Yugoslavia and who 
claims that the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children is "a price worth 
paying" to keep the sanctions on Iraq.

The same Madeleine Albright only recently welcomed the assassination of 
Laurent Kabila in the DR Congo  an event imperialism must surely have 
been working very hard behind the scenes to bring about, ever since they 
found they couldn't buy Kabila or frighten him.

We can expect the tentacles of the NED to spread into even more countries 
with the lovely Madeleine at the helm, attempting to stifle genuine 
democracy and any signs of independence on the part of foreign governments.

She certainly won't be using her new position to denounce the anti-
democratic way the Democrats got ousted from the White House or the corrupt 
electoral processes in the state of Florida. No bombings there, just smiles 
all round and a courteous handover to her equally right-wing successor.

For you see, they have no shame.

Take the new President's shiny new Cabinet. First Bush appoints a 
notoriously anti-union Secretary of Labour who has to resign when it comes 
out that she employed an undocumented immigrant around the house. Illegal 
immigrants have to work cheap because if they don't they will be dobbed in 
to Immigration authorities and deported. Unions didn't think it showed a 
very good attitude. Lots of other people didn't, either.

Then Bush appointed as Defence Secretary one who seems hell bent on 
starting a space-based nuclear war as soon as possible. He's extremely keen 
to get a new-generation Reagan-style Star Wars missile system in place, and 
not just to make the US invulnerable to "enemy missiles". He wants to put 
Theatre Missile Defence systems in place seemingly everywhere that is not 
Russia or China (or that handful of so-called "rogue states" that are 
supposedly such a threat to the US).

And now President Bush  or the evil cabal of aerospace, oil and armaments 
corporations, the religious right and ultra-reactionary groups that 
actually determine Republican Party policy  want to install as US 
Attorney General a man who sponsored a bill in the Senate to allow secret 
police searches of people's homes and who tried to get the US Constitution 
amended to make it easier to remove legal safeguards!

In fact, Bush's nominee, Senator John Ashcroft, is a real doozey as a 
choice for Attorney General. He will be in charge of the FBI and the 
Department of Justice! With ties to the shadowy, ultra-reactionary and 
millionaire-funded Council of Conservative Citizens, Ashcroft loudly 
opposes such things as the funding of drug treatment clinics, advocating 
instead more money for "enforcement".

He is unfased by evidence that after years of intense drug "enforcement", 
more drugs than ever are available in the US. The only real effect has been 
that the price has gone way down, so anyone can now afford the stuff.

He attacks those who advocate treatment rather than enforcement, calling 
them "pro-crime"!

Nor is he worried by the racial disparity in drug arrests and sentencing. 
That blacks are far more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested for 
possession or use of crack cocaine (and draw (much" heavier sentences) than 
whites is not of concern to him. In fact, he used his position as Chair of 
a Senate Committee to effectively kill a bill that sought to alter that 
racial disparity.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Ashcroft thinks the leaders of the 
Confederacy were "patriots". Writing in the extremist "neo-Confederacy" 
magazine (Southern Partisan", Ashcroft called on "traditionalists" to "do 
more".

"I've got to do more. We've all got to stand up and speak in this respect, 
or else we'll be taught that these people [the military and civil leaders 
of the Confederacy] were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred 
fortunes and their honour to some perverted agenda."

Of course, some people  presumably not "traditionalists"  might think 
that waging war on behalf of racist slavery was indeed a perverted agenda. 
But not John Ashcroft, obviously. (And isn't that reference to their 
"sacred fortunes" interesting?)

He praised Southern Partisan for helping to "set the record 
straight". This is a magazine that praises the Ku Klux Klan and attacks 
Abraham Lincoln for "the sinister Emancipation Proclamation  an 
invitation to the slaves to rise against their masters". Tut tut, that 
subversive Lincoln, interfering in the White race's right to own the black 
race!

Next thing you know, workers will think they can take over the factories 
and run them themselves!

We shouldn't be surprised at Bush nominating an openly racist Attorney 
General. After all, considering the way he got elected, Bush obviously has 
no shame about anything.

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