The following article is taken from a letter to a prominent New Zealander from Martin Hanson, a retired science teacher. We have omitted the introductory paragraph where Martin introduces his topic, the looming GCSB bill.
The real issue is surely this: what lies behind the fact that the Prime Minister is forcing his MPs to vote for a bill that has virtually zero support among New Zealanders? It’s difficult to believe that the driving force originates in New Zealand. One is bound to wonder if the visit to New Zealand by United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her meeting with John Key and other ministers in Wellington on May 2nd of this year had something to do with it.
If so, the issue can be reduced to this: Is New Zealand independent of the United States, or is it, like so many other countries, a vassal that does what it’s told? Until 2004, when I read The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin, I had naively believed that the United States, though it had frequently done bad things in the past, was fundamentally wedded to its constitution, and that such departures as did occur were for reasons that were for the greater good. Since reading Professor Griffin’s nine other books on the 911 attacks, together with other polemics on the abuse of American power, such as William Blum’s Killing Hope, John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the scales have fallen from my eyes.
Looking under this particular stone has been a painful upheaval in my geopolitical view of reality. Protected by cognitive dissonance, the thought that nearly 3000 innocent people were murdered by people within and behind the U.S. Government is simply too painful for most of us to contemplate.
Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of citizens, including many in the United States, have openly challenged the official account of 911, pointing out a great number of serious anomalies and contradictions that the authorities have never attempted to answer, let alone debate. Most prominent of all are Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, nearly 2000 of whom, at latest count, have put their names to a call for a new and genuinely independent inquiry into the events of that terrible day. (The official 911 Commission was driven by Philip Zelikow, a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice, and thus for all practical purposes a White House Insider).
If the events of 911 are deeply disturbing, the wider implications are frankly terrifying. Quite apart from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis who have been killed, or the hundreds who have been tortured following the invasions, a number of New Zealand, Australian and British military have also been sacrificed as cannon fodder in the extension of United States power.
And then there is the infamous Patriot Act, baptized without a hint of irony by a Congress who were not given time to read it. This Act effectively shredded the rights of U.S citizens under Constitution. With the abandonment of habeas corpus, a citizen can now be detained indefinitely without charge, simply because government employees believe him or her to be a ‘terrorist’. Of perhaps even greater concern is the fact that a United States citizen, if suspected of terrorist activity, can be executed by drone attack in foreign lands, without any legal process whatever.
Even if a non-terrorist were not gravely disturbed by this abuse of executive power, recent developments in the United States should give all but those of a totalitarian disposition pause for reflection. There is an increasing tendency in the United States to define ‘terrorism’ ever-more elastically. The New York Times has reported that a dozen or so state legislatures have proposed or enacted bills that would criminalize the covert filming of acts of animal cruelty in factory farms.
One such bill is called the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act”. So, it seems that ‘terrorists’ are now considered to include environmental and animal cruelty campaigners or, as a cynic might say, anyone who attempts to put a brake on corporate power.
Over two centuries ago Americans were warned by Thomas Jefferson of the dangers of excessive government power, when he said:
“When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny”.
More recently, in July of this year, at a meeting in Atlanta, President Carter said: “America has no functioning democracy”.
One could be forgiven for fearing that John Key may be determined to drag us down the same road to perdition.
About the author, Martin Hanson, in his own words.
I am a retired Biology teacher and have taught Human Evolution to High School students for 20 years. Since researching a small book (Apes and Ancestors: an introduction to Human Evolution), I try to think about the human environmental predicament in a ‘big picture’ context. Much of behavior of our closest relatives, chimpanzees, can be seen in the context of an ever-shifting interplay between cooperation in obtaining food, and competition among males for status and consequent reproductive success. In captivity, food is provided and, as Frans der Waal showed in his book Chimpanzee Politics, male chimpanzees at Arnhem zoo devoted much of their time to forming complex webs of alliances in the struggle for power.
Since then, I see much of human behavior in that context. More recently, my perspective has come to include the role of psychopathy in contemporary politics. Psychologists tell us that significant proportion of the general population — and a much higher proportion of politicians, CEOs and bankers — have psychopathic personalities. The vast majority of psychopaths, it seems, are not violent killers like Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. On the surface they appear as normal, and often charming, individuals who, however, differ from normal people in having a complete absence of conscience, arising from an inability to empathise with their fellow human beings.
This realization has made a big impact on me. How else can we explain the wrecking of our environment by the policies of our leaders, in the teeth of all the scientific evidence that we are rushing headlong towards planetary destruction?