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Enemy of the State

by on October 12, 2017

                                                                   Enemy of the State

                                                                    by Marco M. Pardi

“It is not enough for a prophet to be inspired by God; he also must be informed about the world. The world and its fate are very dear to him. There is no hostility to civilization, only to its abuses.” Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) The Prophets, 11, 1962

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All comments welcome and each will receive a response.

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In discussing the Anthropology of group organization and the development of political systems I distinguished between Nation and State, a commonly overlooked or misunderstood distinction. Nation refers to people of the same or very similar background and values no matter their location relative to each other. Thus, Cherokee Nation includes people in various (of the United) States or elsewhere even if they never meet. It is their demonstrable and felt ethnic solidarity which places them in the Nation, not their presence within a geo-political boundary. There can be no Nation in which there are no people.

“State” is a geographically bounded abstract.  It can be visualized as a flow chart of power and responsibilities, with each position currently empty. So, if every person left the “State of Missouri” the State would not cease to exist. It would simply not be populated, just as the chart would not be populated.

As some, not all, human groups developed from egalitarian bands to council of elders led tribes and on to single person led chiefdoms they continued to State level.  However, the continuation included the personhood of the hereditary leader first seen at the chiefdom level. Hence, the evolution of the “royal family” be it kings, pharaohs, monarchs, or emperors.  This readily provided what seemed to be a natural conflation of the person of the leader with the nature of the State.  And as all power was vested in the leader, what was good for the leader was good for the State; the obverse, of course being what was bad for the leader was bad for the State. It did not take long for the “what” to be vested in a “who”. Who was good for the leader was good for the State, etc.  

That is, views whether supportive or opposing, do not spring to life sui generis; they are conceived, developed, and held by persons.  Those persons, then, are subject to judgment. And history provides a rich tapestry depicting the various degrees to which views could be freely expressed or in some fashion suppressed by “the State”.

My federal career spanned nine Presidents. Each was different, but the ones from one certain Party had one thing in common: they initiated and developed all out attacks on the free press ( every medium).  Several stations were threatened with loss of license. I first saw the media attacks with Richard Nixon’s henchman Spiro Agnew, later forced to resign for income tax evasion. I think this era saw the inception of the terms “liberal, left-wing media” into the American lexicon. And, of course, it was that free press which educated us regarding Nixon’s attempt to cover up Watergate (though the press did not discuss Watergate’s true purpose or who was behind it). 

During the Watergate investigation President Nixon’s “Enemies List” came to light. But this was a personal list, a list of people who, in Nixon’s mind, could do him political damage. There were no agencies or institutions listed. A strong concern at the time was whether Nixon would pressure the Internal Revenue Service to take action against his “enemies”. Daniel Schorr, an Emmy winning journalist and prominent name on the list, had reason to fear for more than his bank account.

Later, as the evangelical religion industry largely absorbed this political party, sharing some of its feeding with the National Rifle Association and, covertly, with various White Supremacist groups the free press was also branded as “secular and profane”.  Jerry Falwell, an architect of the mega-church televangelist industry crowed he had gotten Reagan elected. Fitting that another actor, Charlton Heston, who seemed to have never gotten over his role as Moses (Ten Commandments) became the leader and spokesperson of the NRA.  And emerging as the State “spokesperson” was, then in its infancy, FOX News, a consortium many have called The Voice of the 4th Reich.

Every subsequent president from that political party has criticized the national news media, with the exception of FOX News.  None have emerged as having kept a personal enemies list.  However, the message was clear when the man who was president during the September 11th Twin Towers attacks asserted boldly, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” That covered a lot of demographics.  In fact, during this time the Director of Personnel at a federal agency in which I served asked me into his office to review a document from the White House.

It enumerated a long list of the president’s priorities item by item with a space for the reader to sign each item affirming their allegiance to the president and his plans.  According to the accompanying paperwork, this was to be distributed to all personnel in that agency and returned to the White House.

I read it through and simply stated that my allegiance, as in my oath, was to the Constitution and to the people of the United States.  This document was a prolonged and exacting loyalty oath to a person.

The Director agreed and, after a few others expressed the same view, sent the document back that day. Not long after, spurious charges were leveled at the Director. Knowing my career was at risk, and why, I testified in closed hearing on his behalf.  Yet, he was unsurprisingly forced into early retirement.  The hearing was a sham.

The current president is long on record as placing personal loyalty to him above all other considerations in an underling.  And, as the underlings absorb this value they act in their turn. An example is Nick Ayers, a former Georgia Republican political consultant now Chief of Staff to the Vice President. As reported by Jay Bookman, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, during the week of this writing Ayers “urged top Republican donors to take out anybody in the GOP who dares to question or challenge (the President), a step that would pretty much complete its transformation into a personality cult. ‘”Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him. If – and this sounds crass – we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him.”‘

The attacks coming out of the White House multiply and expand daily. The United States has long been suffering from the It Can’t Happen Here syndrome. The drivers of this syndrome are clever enough to segment the threats in ways beyond the ability of many Americans to connect. Stand back a moment and consider the variety of daily news grabbers, from taking a knee to bump stocks to health reform to tax reform to N. Korea to the Iran deal to castrating the environmental agencies to giving religions the power to buy elections to silencing unapproved news outlets to stripping women of their right to control their own reproductive function and on and on. A mosaic should be forming. And the world has seen it before.  

The attacks on the First Amendment are stunning. The current president is threatening the licenses of the major news networks.  They tell the truth, showing in his own words how he contradicts himself and capriciously undercuts and insults the very people he put into office. So, he calls it “fake news”.

The drive to reduce or eliminate freedom of choice in reproduction is nothing more than a drive to ensure a population desperate enough to work at low wages without benefits or recourse. And, it ensures a ready pool of cannon fodder to further the Fascist aims of the Republican Party. Wrapping it in the guise of morals is a vile and simple minded hoax.

As clearly spelled out in the Constitution, the State is a structure, not a person. This State is structured to afford and guarantee the people (Nation) certain freedoms.  An enemy of the State is a person who wishes to destroy the structure.  As we see the daily efforts by the current president to regress into a society in which the Head of State IS the State/Nation, we might ask ourselves, Who is the Enemy of the State? 

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4 Comments
  1. Personally, I’m exhausted. I have followed the news stories, signed petitions, donated money. There are many like me who are giving up, can’t read anymore and have put all their faith in Mueller.

    • Thank you, Mary. I well sympathize with your feelings, as do many others I’m sure. As we exchange these ideas two things are happening: Congress is moving to prevent Trump from firing Mueller – a move which would only worsen his situation, not relieve it; and, the “inner circle” is giving more thought to the 25th Amendment – which enables the Cabinet and Vice President to remove the President on the grounds he is “unable” to do the job. Unable has never been defined. But I think the American public has by now formed an opinion of its meaning and application.

  2. We watch a lot of history/American hero channel around here, and so I have seen many documentaries of the various despots in our relatively recent past, including Hitler, Stalin, and Papa Doc Duvalier. A pattern of behavior emerges here which goes back to the days of Pharoh, when the leaders of ancient Egypt considered themselves gods. Our current despot certainly seems to have some kind of god complex, capable of and entitled to anything.

    Six months of concentrating on Trump’s every word and movement (for the sake of a bit of fiction) drove me into a deep depression. While walking through the Holocaust Museum in DC, I embarrassed my sister by stating loudly that I didn’t understand how people don’t see that we are on our way to seeing it happen again.

    I still pay attention to what’s been happening as a result of his megalomania, and I am more frightened of the possibilities than at any time since I was a child. Trump is not just an enemy of the state, but of the world. No matter what comes after (and I’m not challenging worse), I hope the people who are capable of making things happen will give a serious look at implementing Amendment 25. As Jerry Clower once joked, “Shoot up here amongst us, one of us has got to get some relief.”

    • Thank you, Rose. I’ve taken to wondering if the Twitzkrieg being waged on the American psyche is a concerted attempt to wear down the population to the point of giving up and accepting anything. Like you, I’m not a person who becomes afraid easily. But I do fear for my daughter and grandchildren as never before. Even were the entire cabal to be ousted – and put in prison where they belong – I wonder if we as a Nation will have the ability to recuperate from all the horrendous damage already done to the environment, the educational system, and on and on.

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