Thursday, October 30, 2014

That Hideous Strength

Maybe you haven't heard the news. Not only does The Homeland now have its very own Ebola Czar, it has spawned yet another shadowy government agency. It's called N.I.C.E. -- the National Institute for the Co-Optation of Ebola.

In C.S. Lewis's dystopian novel That Hideous Strength, N.I.C.E, stood for the National Institute for Controlled Experiments -- a shadowy government agency designed to exploit and destroy everything it touches through the copious use of propaganda. Torture and prison are in store for the few malcontents refusing to get with the program. The novel, the finale of Lewis's Space Trilogy, derives its title from a 16th century poem about the Tower of Babel myth, in which a massive structure built by the oppressed masses for the glory of the elite few resulted in death, destruction, and lots of people talking past each other.  

In dystopian 21st century America, a lethal little microbe that has killed a lot of people in Africa and sickened a few people here has been magically transformed into a political wedge issue, a campaign talking point that serves more to demonize the other side than to frighten the ruling establishment into implementing sanitary living conditions and true universal health care for all people, all over the world.

It turns out that not only can Ebola be grown in culture, it has quickly become an integral part of the American culture wars.  Health care workers have become the latest pawns in the identity politics game played by the two sides of the corporate duopoly. Ask not if we can study and treat this disease. Ask which "side" can best co-opt Ebola, and then pick your team. Are you with the Republicans, who cast nurses as demons to be cast out of society or burned at the stake along with their illegal immigrating germs? Or are you with the Democrats, who cast health care workers as exemplars of American military might and superiority?

Are you with Chris Christie, vicariously insulting your peers who dare stand up to the hideous strength of the boorish ruling class? Or are you with Barack Obama, who pays lip service to Doctors Without Borders even as his hideous and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership would put life-saving medicines out of the economic reach of poor countries fighting Ebola and a whole host of other treatable diseases?

Chris Christie: (nasty, brutish and short to accommodate hate-infested A.D.D. sufferers) "Sit down and shut up."

Barack Obama: (droning on and on in jingoism to accommodate the fiscal needs of the Military-Industrial Complex he so ably serves): "I said this at the U.N. General Assembly -- when disease or disaster strikes anywhere in the world, the world calls us.  And the reason they call us is because of the men and women like the ones who are here today.  They respond with skill and professionalism and courage and dedication.  And it’s because of the determination and skill and dedication and patriotism of folks like this that I’m confident we will contain and ultimately snuff out this outbreak of Ebola -- because that’s what we do. A lot of people talk about American exceptionalism.  I’m a firm believer in American exceptionalism.  You know why I am?  It’s because of folks like this..... What we are -- what we need right now is these shock troops who are out there leading globally.  We can’t discourage that; we’ve got to encourage it and applaud it."

(Did you ever hear Florence Nightingale described as a bellicose shock troop before?  Moreover, tiny socialist Cuba is leading the fight against Ebola. It's not as concerned with border security, partisan politics.... or profit-driven health care.)

Dr. Kent Brantly, the physician successfully treated for Ebola, again was co-opted by Obama as a photo-op prop on Wednesday. After the president displayed his utter sincerity by referring to Brantly as "Keith," the good doctor delivered a gentle but pointed retort to the jingoism:

"At this time, perhaps more than any other, we feel the impact of our position as citizens of not only the United States of America, but as citizens of the world. We must strive together for the good of all mankind to put an end to this disease.”

Of course, Obama never once applauded or even mentioned Kaci Hickox, the nurse whose civil disobedience does not jibe with either Obama's political needs or the fiscal needs of the Military-Industrial Complex. The war budget is now so bloated that it actually boosted the GDP several percentage points this quarter. Obama himself cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control.

So pick your poison. Better yet, refuse to drink. Or better yet, go for a bike ride as you try to ignore your police escort.


Cirze said...

Thanks, K.

I just loved that bike ride meme.

Go girl!

As our civilization sinks further under the tender ministrations of our chosen leaders.

annenigma said...

Obama calls health care professionals 'shock troops' and Samantha Powers calls them 'conquering heroes'. Does everything have to be a war, fight, or battle and everyone a hero? Only if you're an Exceptional American. (Cuban doctors, not so much.) The point they shamelessly make, if you listen carefully, is these heroes are protecting OUR country - not helping save lives in Africa.

I'm so proud of nurse Kaci Hickox, standing up for her rights and taking a healthy bike ride instead of staying indoors breathing stale air, letting her bones leach calcium, risking blood clots, pneumonia, and other effects of laying around indoors for 3 weeks. No healthy person should be placed under house arrest and forced to risk their good health to assure a bunch of frightened nincompoops that they are safe.

The public will never feel safe as long as they're only using half their brain. They also will never feel safe enough as long as they put their trust in those in power to protect them from the latest Enemy of the Week.

That's what our government has cultivated post 9/11 - a bunch of pathetic, fearful, dependent children in adult bodies. Now that fear is deeply instilled in the American psyche, those in power can infringe on more our our rights. Remember how everyone gladly stayed off the streets when they locked down the entire city of Boston without a peep of complaint? In one of the obituaries I read today about the death of Tom Menino, they quoted him as saying that during his long tenure as Boston Mayor he deliberately cultivated fear because fear was power. Truer words never spoken.

Now we're afraid of each other, thanks to government fear mongering. They created a monster of fear and now they can't control it so we're left with too many people frightened of the the Ebola boogie man in the form of doctors and nurses. Our government created this unhealthy mindset when they started on the terrorism war path.

What's left of the Bill of Rights is about to get flushed down the toilet and the public will welcome it because it will give them the comforting illusion of safety.

Ignorant Pearl said...

"The essential feature of capitalism is the investment of money in order to
make a profit.
In a capitalist economic system capital assets can be owned and controlled by private persons."

These statements in a lengthy detailed description in Wikipedia about Capitalism are the important reasons why we are where we are in America.
The answers to how and why this form of a political and financial system became the be all and end all for the country I leave for my more knowledgeable Sardonicky friends and columnist.

Were there choices, were there warnings?

Denis Neville said...

Ebola hazmat suits are popular Halloween costumes this year:

“The deadly Ebola virus has landed in the United States and the crisis has reached new levels of domestic escalation. You are sure to be prepared if any outbreak happens at your Halloween party. This will literally be the most "viral" costume of the year.”

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.

Meanwhile, other voices from in the clown car:

House Republican blasts U.S. attendance at Ebola meeting in Cuba.

Louisiana state health officials asked anyone who has traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea in the past 21 days, or has treated Ebola patients elsewhere, to stay away from the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, which begins on Sunday in New Orleans.

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” - Isaac Asimov

annenigma said...

Twitter quote from Bibi Chickenshit @Empty Wheel (Marcy Wheeler):

"I said last week that when they tell the Decline and Fall of the Great Murkan Empire, they'll say we peed our pants to death."

Hazmat Suit Halloween said...

Ebola hazmat suits are popular Halloween costumes this year: “The deadly ...