Saturday, July 31, 2004

Chair, o chair, Eleutheria!

Last week an important day in Modern Greek history came and went and I totally forgot to blog about it: it's been thirty years since the end of the military dictatorship imposed by the Colonels and the restoration of democratic rule to Greece. The BBC News website has an excellent retrospective collection of articles, pictures, and video clips about that happy day - it's part of their "On This Day" feature, which is significantly richer in content than similar sites because the BBC has committed itself to putting all of its archives online.

The 30th-year anniversary of the Junta's demise in Greece comes at a time when we in the United States (well, some of us at least) are waking up to the fact that we've been under a dictatorship of our own for the past three years, where the rule of one man has for all intents and purposes replaced our Constitutional system of government. From the moment that George W. Bush's lawyers asked the Supreme Court to violate Florida's sovereign right to choose its own electors for President in December of 2000 our democracy has had an asterisk next to it, and quite frankly it's only gone downhill from there. Civil rights are no longer rights, but a luxury that we enjoy at the whim of our Chief Executive; one more terrorist attack on U.S. soil, the Administration tells us, and we won't even have that. Fear allows our junta to get away with such affrontery, while the willful ignorance of most Americans keeps such un-Constitutiuonal measures in place once enacted.

Meanwhile we have launched a costly and unproductive war against a country who could barely menace its neighbors, let alone the sole surviving superpower in the world, on a pretext that changes whenever the logic of the current excuse is demonstrated to be bankrupt. While the President's mandate for this latter-day Crusader was nominally endorsed by both houses of Congress (who spinelessly abdicated its sole authority to declare war), it's clear that he and his advisers were taking the country to war with or without anyone's permission. And they'll do it again, mark my words, telling whatever lies they need to in order to make it happen.

To his credit, John Kerry called Bush and his cronies on their M.O. in his speech on Thursday, accusing the Administration of "misleading" us into war with Iraq. I just hope he doesn't reverse course on this if he meets resistance from the Bushies or the press because this cuts to the heart of the issue that can bring down the Bush/Cheney ticket: they are fundamentally untrustworthy. They lie almost compulsively about everything now, since they know damned well that if they start telling the truth now it will unravel the past three years like a poorly-knit sweater. John Kerry needs to hammer away at these lies - big ones and little ones alike - so that all by Bush's most devoted partisans will have no choice but to realize that they've been taken for a ride.

Kerry goes into these last hundred days with a promising start, but he'll need to keep at it if we are to get rid of this group of thugs. And then maybe we'll have cause to celebrate ourselves, like those Greeks did back in 1974 when freedom returned to their land. While in the stacks chasing books for a patron in the Reading Room this morning I happened upon The Rape of Greece: The King, the Colonels, and the Resistance by Peter Murtagh; maybe I'll be able to find some inspiration there.

p.s., The title of this post comes from the Greek national anthem, which was written by Zakynthian poet Dionysios Solomos. It means: "Hail, oh hail, Freedom!"

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