Many disturbing comparisons have been drawn between
the totalitarian society George Orwell
describes in 1984 and George Bush’s Amurika.
The similarities are easy to see, even if you’ve
only read the Cliff’s Notes version of Orwell’s book:
Citizens are encouraged to spy on one another, there’s endless war with ever-changing enemies,
the media herald Big Dubya as the greatest leader in human history (while promptly dispatching his
many embarrassing gaffes down the memory hole), and, as we’ve seen in Portland recently,
dissent is coldly quashed with police-state tactics.
The parallels between 2002 and 1984 are obvious.
However, as I listened to news reports
of the anti-Bush protest in Stockton, California on Friday, the book that came to mind was
Orwell’s other classic, Animal Farm.
With its obvious allusions to Soviet Russia, this
dark satire about animals taking over and running a farm
isn’t usually associated with the cabal of rightwingers currently controlling this country in the same way 1984 is.
But aside from the striking correlations between members of the Bush regime and the avaricious pigs that run
Animal Farm (Ari Fliescher and Squealer the pig propagandist could easily have been separated at birth),
what happened in Stockton is something straight out of Orwell’s barnyard.
If you didn’t hear about the protest (and chances
are you didn’t if you get your news from corporate media),
here’s what happened:
Bush came to Stockton on yet another of his Republican
fund-raising appearances (if he put the same energy
into winning his war on terrorism as he does in raising money for his GOP cronies, the terrorists would be
vanquished by now). According to reports on KPFA FM and Indymedia (Click Here), up to 1,000
anti-Bush activists showed up, some of them bussed in from the northern California area.
They came to demonstrate opposition to the impending war with Iraq, among other issues.
Although a number of Bush supporters were also
bussed to the event from the surrounding area, there were
still many seats available in the auditorium where Bush was scheduled to speak. So the GOP, in its desperation
to pack the house with supporters to cheer on their made-for-TV president, gave away tickets to anyone who
wanted them—including, without realizing it, a few protesters.
Taking advantage of their good fortune, these
brave Americans did what most of us are no longer allowed to
do anymore: they openly voiced their dissent right in front of the media and before the Charlatan-in-Chief himself.
Their act of defiance is a true blow for democracy in these repressive times when reasonable anti-war viewpoints
are shut out of the mainstream media, and when citizens who peacefully exercise their right to protest are either
confined in “First Amendment Zones” or are pepper-sprayed, beaten, and shot with rubber bullets by police.
Their bold action of resistance kind of reminded
me for a moment that we’re supposed to be living in a free society.
But what happened next at the protest brought me back to the reality of what we have actually become:
bit players in George Bush’s production of Animal Farm.
In Orwell’s book, if anyone questioned Napoleon,
the lead pig on the farm, “the sheep were sure to silence him
with a tremendous bleating of 'Four legs good, two legs bad!’” The bleating would continue until all questions
were forgotten or dissenters were too intimidated to raise them again. Similarly, the citizens in the auditorium
who dared question the sanity of AWOL Bush’s disastrous plans to invade Iraq were drowned out by the
GOP sheep obediently bleating “USA! USA! USA!”
Like dogs trained to sniff out and attack illegal
substances, the police dragged the protesters out of the auditorium
and placed them under arrest. As the braying continued thundering throughout the auditorium, a new order was restored.
To their credit, some corporate media have reported
the incident. The brief reports I’ve seen, though, focused
mostly on the deafening chants and completely ignored what the protesters were saying along with the many
anti-Bush demonstrators who were gathered outside.
But this kind of distortion of reality shouldn’t
surprise us any more, should it? I mean, after all, we should know
by now that in George Bush’s Amurika, as in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, all of us animals are created equal.
But some animals here are more equal than others.