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Freedom and Hypocrisy
"There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of human freedom."
Those are bold words spoken on January 20, 2005 by a man some revere and others despise. George W. Bush made those comments during his inaugural speech. As Americans wonder what to expect from a second Bush term, Dubya continues to speak with clueless, hypocritical, almost ironic, arrogance.
As Dubya talked of the "reign of hatred," the U.S. wasand still isaddressing atrocities of abuse committed at Iraq's U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison. In its annual report, Human Rights Watch writes,
"[The United States'] record at home and overseas in 2004most notably the government's use of coercive interrogation and disregard for the Geneva Conventions in its treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, exemplified by the images of torture from Abu Ghraib prisonhas undermined [the country's human rights record]." The report goes on to address the "implications of the Bush administration's counterterrorism measures, for citizen and non-citizen alike, and continuing rights violations in the U.S. criminal justice system."
As Bush spoke of exposing a tyrant, he appears as one himself, later commenting in his speech that "the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world." But what freedom has been brought to Iraq? After nearly two years, thousands dead and thousands more injured, Iraq is still a dangerous place and freedom is certainly not within reach for the citizens of that nation.
And is Bush not making a threat to other countries where freedom isn't guaranteed? Is he not flexing the muscle of the United States toward countries like Iran and North Korea? If he is, he needs to add to that list such places as Saudi Arabia and China, two countries the U.S. holds close, yet clearly have human rights violations and questionable levels of freedom for their citizens. Bush's desire for worldwide freedom is subjective. Only countries that serve to benefit the U.S. (i.e., oil in Iraq) deserve liberation, while those that currently benefit the U.S. (i.e., oil in Saudi Arabia, trade with China) can continue on with their un-American governance.
Bush's most arrogant and hypocritical comment may very well have been, "America will not pretend that jailed dissidents prefer their chains, or that women welcome humiliation and servitude, or that any human being aspires to live at the mercy of bullies." This comes from a man who has jailed hundreds in Guantanamo Bay without charges, leads a country where women still lag in pay behind men, and personally bullies other nations from the pulpit of his presidency.
Even Bush's idea of freedom within our own country is all talk: "In America's ideal of freedom, citizens find the dignity and security of economic independence, instead of laboring on the edge of subsistence." Yet, this administration has increasingly worked toward the benefit of the wealthy at the expense of the less fortunate. From tax cuts to corporate loopholes, the Bush administration has made it easier for the rich to get richer. What dignity does he speak of when, according to United for a Fair Economy, "the federal minimum wage, presently $5.15 an hour, would need to be raised to $8.20 an hour simply to meet the federal poverty level"?
In the end, Bush's speech is all chest-thumping and self-serving. The word "freedom" is used 27 times and for good reason. Who doesn't like freedom? Who doesn't like the idea of others being free? But this is just a ploy; it is politically-wise usage of a word that is all talk, meant to make Americans rally around him. Sadly, as the recent election showed us, Americans are easily fooled.
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