April 04, 2010

Gag orders on criticizing Israel and the advent of the long dark night

by Diane V. McLoughlin, Apr. 4, 2010
main website: http://www.mcloughlinpost.com

'What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap between the government and the people. And it became always wider.....the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think....for people who did not want to think anyway gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about.....and kept us so busy with continuous changes and 'crises' and so fascinated.....by the machinations of the 'national enemies,' without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.....   
"Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, 'regretted,' that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these 'little measures'.....must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.....Each act is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next....
'You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even talk, alone.....you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes....
'That's the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed....
'You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things your father.....could never have imagined.'
- Milton Mayer, They Thought They Were Free, The Germans, 1938-45 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1955)
The views and convictions currently held by some people are a threat to democracy and civil liberty. They do not seem to realize even after all we have seen, as recently as World War Two, Kent State/Vietnam, to the present-day Patriot Acts, that civil rights and freedoms are extremely fragile and tenuous things.

The framers of the U.S. constitution knew well how fragile liberty is. They warned that the words on paper mean nothing if each generation is not aware that they will have to defend the principles laid down in them.

The only things protecting us from absolute despotism and tyranny are freedom of speech and Habeas Corpus - the latter which refers to the set of laws binding down the state such that the state cannot lock anyone up and throw away the key without making their case in an open court of law. And both of these two requirements for a free and open society are under direct attack.

People lose sight of the crucial fact that laws meant to silence and control will be used to silence and control them. It is a fantasy of monumental proportions to dream otherwise.

On the topic of the crimes of Israel, too many people have their facts wrong. That's all. They do not know what they are talking about. They think that all Israel wants to do in East Jerusalem, for example, is to put up a few townhouses, and that Jews should have that right.

Not true. Choice of words can be used to misrepresent the facts. The correct phrase is 'occupied East Jerusalem'. East Jerusalem is illegally occupied by Jewish settlers.

Those few innocent townhouses referred to are in the hundreds on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians are literally being dragged from their homes kicking and screaming and crying while violent settlers move in.

Jerusalem's Palestinian children take their favorite toys and clothes to school with them because they live with the terror and the anxiety of not knowing if their homes will still be there for them at the end of the day.

It is this that is discussed openly on Canadian university campuses each year during Israeli Apartheid Week. Interestingly, some do not wish students to have the right. They do not want any of us to have the right to openly discuss it.

Some applaud the notion that Canada contemplates enacting law to make it illegal to criticize a country - in this case Israel - a direct attack on free speech, freedom of thought and conscience. There is a small band of unaccountable Parliamentarians who have been quietly holding committee meetings to discuss, what they refer to, as 'the new antisemitism' - criticism of Israel. This group calls themselves the Canadian Parliamentary Committee Combating Antisemitism - the CPCCA, for short.

If and when they succeed in outlawing criticism of the State of Israel's crimes, it will be another rope binding humanity up, frustrating the efforts of people of good will to fight for right - around the entire world.

It is a precedent that must not be established. But I fear that it will be made so.

If, like me, you are concerned with protecting the civil liberties of freedom of speech, freedom of thought and of conscience, I urge you to sign the Independent Jewish Voices of Canada petition today.

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