Friday, January 26, 2007
They Just Run It For Us
image credit: Screenshot by Cujo359 See Note 1
My Senator finally wrote back today. A month or two ago I'd written her lamenting that we're torturing people and imprisoning them without trial and that this could be considered a bad thing. I might have even mentioned the words "Latin American dictatorship" or some such. Anyway, she finally wrote back, or someone on her staff did, and said that, for the most part, she thought this was a bad thing, too. She also mentioned that she will try to work on changing this, which I think would be just splendid if it actually happens.
Which brings me to the point of this brief essay. One of my favorite television shows these days is Stargate SG-1, which for those of you may not be aware, is a science fiction show about contemporary American soldiers fighting a secret war against over-the-top bad guy aliens who are bent on conquering the galaxy. OK, one might call this escapism, but on the whole it's no more fanciful than 24, which some pundits and Administration officials seem to think is a wonderful guide to fighting terrorism. I think the idea that any human being could go for twenty-four hours without sleep, being beaten up, tortured, and wounded along the way, without making a single mistake of the sort one typically makes after that much abuse (like not remembering one's car keys are in one's pocket, that sort of thing) is so far from reality that aliens with glowing eyes who can control inanimate objects from a distance seems pretty down to earth by comparison.
So, consider this a warning that there will be the occasional reference to Stargate SG-1 here. For the moment, I'm just going to mention my favorite line from the show. It's from the episode "Inauguration", where a new President in his first day on the job is told about the stargate program, which is being kept secret from the public. The President then observes;
"I'm here because the people of the United States elected me to run their country for them ..."
I have yet to encounter a more elegant description of what the relationship is between us and our elected officials. This show aired in 2004, when we were just starting to realize how truly off-kilter things were becoming in this country. Iraq was turning into a disaster, we were finding out that Administration officials had revealed the identity of a non-official cover (NOC) CIA agent for political purposes, that there was a secret network of prisons all over the world that was being run by the CIA to kidnap and torture people who may or may not have been terrorists, and that all across our own country our Constitutional protections from our own government were being systematically ignored. A science fiction show, produced in Canada by mostly Canadian actors and several Canadian writers, had a better handle on who we are supposed to be as a country than our own government and our supposed news organizations did.
Which brings us back to me and my Senator, and you and yours. Don't be reluctant to tell your government officials what you want for your country. Writing about things like torture, suspension of habeas corpus, and your elected representative's own complicity in those things is an uncomfortable thing, but it's a necessary thing. Be polite, be respectful, but be firm. It's our country. They're just running it for us.
Note 1 - This is a screenshot from the Stargate SG-1 episode "Inauguration" on DVD. William Devane is playing the President, and James McDaniel is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Screenshot taken by Cujo359. This is not an official image of the show or MGM.