WHO is Brain-dead?

The passing of Terri Schiavo leaves us much to think about. There is the event itself. There is why should we even have become conversant about it: why and how did it reach our awareness and get exploited. We saw our Congress sully itself (again!), and our attention stolen from us (again!), as the latest neo-con anti-democracy creed—the Unfairness of the Judiciary—was trotted out for testing onto the playing field of the American consciousness.


Many of us watched, astonished and dismayed, the TV coverage of the Congress—the US Congress!—staying up late on a Sunday to determine if they would pass emergency legislation to require a twentieth judge to render a decision on the re-insertion of a feeding tube in a single woman in Florida. I can’t help but reflect how far down we have gone and how much we have lost in this nation. A nation that sees threats, bombs and bullets as the most efficient means of achieving foreign policy goals—but prohibits its citizens from seeing images of the results of those policies. A Congress that thinks nothing of cutting funding for the healthcare and education of those same citizens.


As the Schiavo drama unfolded, I thought, “Welcome to the Bush boys’ Backyard Barbecue of Symbolic Life Values.” The special Congressional session in DC was a re-run of brother Jeb’s earlier attempt to have the Florida legislature create “Terri’s Law” in order to “save” their poster-child of Life—and exploit the sad realities of a family’s difficult end-of-life decisions and at the same time making a mockery of the very purpose of Law.


You can’t really blame the more reactionary of them. Given their proclivity for pre-emptive war, torture, death penalty and pay-if-you-can healthcare, it’s not easy to make themselves look like Defenders of Life. To cloak themselves in that mantle, they require a helpless victim unable to pronounce her own opinions (and, therefore, a perfect choice for right-wing political razzle-dazzle). They are the champions of the brain-dead and the unborn. The rest of the population? Well, they apparently can just go to hell. Why other members of Congress went along with this bizarre behavior is in many ways more troubling.


The neo-cons and fundamentalists are on the attack. They are swarming, they are gloating. They have dizzied the lackluster opposition with so many punches—social security, Anwar, bankruptcy, war spending. They see the progressives and liberals up against the ropes, and want to see the Other Side finally down on the canvas. They wanted this trophy: the Battle to Save Terri’s Life. Big. Symbolic.


We must ask, however: who really is brain-dead in this scenario?


Brain-dead are the neo-con Right and their theocratic minion. They wish to Save the World from Reality and shape it to their own desires, showing neither pity nor respect for Facts, Law, Science, or anything outside their circle of the Saved. They could care less about such silly human experiments as Democracy, which for them is merely a word, a bullet point on a marketing brochure for Empire. The tens of thousands of Schiavos whose lives hang by a thread each day? Starve ‘em by pulling the tube on healthcare, minimum wage increases, and bankruptcy protection.


But … brain-dead, also, are all too many seeming progressives, liberals and moderates who enable the hijacking of our nation by ignoring its many signs, or by cutting deals with our home-grown Wehrmacht. Brain-dead are those members of Congress who have stood silently by as a procession of would-be war criminals march, nearly unopposed into crucial life-controlling positions of authority and power. Abrams, Rice, Negroponte, Reich, Gonzalez, Bolton. Now they want Wolfowitz heading the World Bank?


Did any of them say, “No! This is a disgrace!”? Did any say “This is unacceptable!“? Did any of them warn us of the REAL dangers of this neo-con war trust? Where is an alternative vision? Which ones have said, ”Here, follow me! This is the way out.“? Except for Barbara Boxer, who among them even defended democracy and the voters’ integrity by seeking the vote recount in Ohio led by the Green Party’s David Cobb?


Elected. Holding office. Earning salaries. But for all intents and purposes, brain-dead. Enablers, the lot of them. On their best days, they can only hope to slow down the rape of our environment, our society, and our values—not to oppose or prevent it.


Brain-dead, too, are the media, most of whom played along with this latest toy of Mass Distraction, the Schiavo Situation. Who in the media was talking or thinking about the campaign against Social Security, the plans for war in Iran, or the appointment of UN-bashing John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, as we were being force-fed hourly images of a woman’s end-of-life drama?


We just witnessed the latest object lesson in how to tie up and gag the progressive community. Air America, the year-old progressive media darling upon which so many dreams and hopes have been hung, was simply hijacked for nearly two weeks! All Terri, All the Time! How easy it was to fall into that trap. Without a clear, alternative vision of what progressives should be organizing around, what else could they talk about?


Boy, has the Right got this nation hoodwinked. While their media outlets were having a field day, do you think Rumsfeld, Cheney, Negroponte and that gang stopped their action plans for just one second over any of this? No, and I imagine they really appreciated the smoke screen it provided.


It was that easy. With the Right’s concentration of money and media power, and progressives’ lack of will and alternative vision, we end up nearly ALL brain-dead, and will remain so until we find a unified vision and leadership to march us away from this brink of national—and planetary—disaster.

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