More than any other "advanced civilization", the United States encompasses several universes: the larger one is a world of information that is tailored and controlled via built-in censorship. In its orbit, but hidden by (seeded) clouds, there is a moon that waxes and wanes. Seemingly barren, it is covered not with moon dust but with facts that fall there from printed pages and digital images:
When you know how far back Rumsfeld and Cheney go (NYRB, October 5th), it's much less surprising that Cheney should support Rumsfeld no matter how many other supposedly major players demand his resignation, as revealed by advance tidbits of Bob Woodward's latest book "State of Denial". It says President Bush stood firm by his Secretary of Defense. Significantly, there is no mention of Cheney's position. Could the much-vaunted stick-t0-itness of the President be in reality Dick Cheney's determination to carry through the neo-con agenda, with Rumsfeld in charge of actual combat?
Here's' another example of parallel universes that has been on my mind since last week: the Hungarian Prime Minister was caught on tape confessing that he had lied to the Hungarian people about the country's economic situation. Did the Hungarians fill the air waves with learned debates about how much he knew and when he might have known it? No, they took to the streets. They threatened to burn down the parliament - an impressive nineteenth century building on the banks of the Danube, not some communist-era monstrosity. For days and nights on end they besieged the state broadcasting building and burned cars, demanding the resignation of their elected leader. Just for lying about the economy! What would the Hungarians have done if they'd been lied to about a war - or if Danube flood victims had been treated as were Katrina's? Having lived under Communism for forty-odd years, the Hungarians take their freedom seriously. But that's not all: the Europeans have always taken seriously the idea pompously expressed in the American Constitution but unnecessary in theirs, because self-evident (sic): in a democratic society the people are expected to demand with force if necessary the removal of a government that fails them.
In the American parallel universe - parallel to most other advanced universes, like tracks that never meet - you will increasingly risk going to jail for that, especially until the Supreme Court strikes down the latest legislation that Congress has allowed itself to be railroaded into passing with respect to "enemy" combatants. If the President - or his henchmen in trench coasts - decide you're against them, you could be held for years without them having to provide you with a legal justification - the famous "habeus corpus" that's been the basis of Anglo Saxon law since 1215 (twelve hundred and fifteen A.D. see Magna Carta, you learned about it in school.)
Are Americans caught in a parallel universe from which there is no escape?