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Understatement of the Day

Monday, May 28, 2007

If you've been following the events at all in Venezuela then you know that their "democratically elected" president, Hugo Chavez, has pretty much become a dictator. If you will recall, Chavez nationalized their communications and energy producing industries as well as demanded special powers from the National Assembly which allows him to enact laws by decree. His most recent move is to not renew the broadcasting license for the only opposition-aligned TV station with nationwide reach. (Nothing like silencing the critics, no?)
While reading this AP article, I stumbled upon the following quote:
[Radio Caracas Television's] top executive, Marcel Granier, said on a morning talk show that [President Hugo] Chavez's action "marks a turn toward totalitarianism."
Note that I've fixed the quote up a bit so that it make sense since it is taken out of context. Immediately after reading it, I thought to myself, "You fool! You're country made that 'turn towards totalitarianism' a long, long time ago. This just happens to be another example in a long string of offenses committed against the Venezuelan people by Chavez."
That's when it occurred to me. Often it seems, we as a society are too close to an event to truly see what is really happening to us. We often hear warnings from critics that our government officials are taking us "down that slippery slope." We often condemn our elected officials for trying to create a surveillance state or some other oppressive program for fear that we will lose what freedoms we have left. And the whole time it never occurs to us that we're fighting over the table scraps that are what's left of our liberties. The encroachment by our government upon our freedoms and liberties has been going on since they were first constituted. Much like a glacier slowly makes molehills out of mountains, so does our government eroded our liberties.
We say things like "marks a turn toward totalitarianism" or "don't go down that slippery slope" so that we can hide behind our deliberate misrepresentations of actual events. But why? I really do think it's because we, as individuals and as a society, are not prepared mentally or physically to do that thing which logically comes next once we've admitted to ourselves we've been oppressed by our government... and that is to revolt. No, it's much easier, and a whole lot less lethal to pretend that we are not as far along the path to totalitarianism as we really are. That way, we can still point out the atrocities committed against us and remark, "Man, it's getting pretty bad around here, but not bad enough yet to do anything about it," and then go home.
Meanwhile, the 800 pound gorilla that represents our oppressive government eats another banana and continues to grow.


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