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America the Great ... Police State

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Posted on Aug 2, 2012
Gore Vidal
Truthdig/Zuade Kaufman

By Gore Vidal

(Page 3)

Let us accept the facts staring us in the face—that demonstrably we are no longer a republic. We are no longer governed by laws, only by armed men and force. This is just like the days of Billy the Kid. You have an armed man going down a dusty street and that is authority. And it has come to this for us.

If the media will ever become alert to real news, they will put paid to their universal cry that no matter what happens of a disagreeable nature in the streets or elsewhere in public, it is due to racial hatred. Both corporal and president made no attempt to clear this matter up. Arguably, you can say that everything is subject to it or tarred by it, but it was not true in this case. The young man with the gun seems to have been correct on these issues; he was training others like himself to put up with the lesser breeds, and to say that this was race-inspired because both the president and the professor were black—am I making too subtle a point?—is a serious, murderous mistake in a country like ours.

As I listened to the fallout from these stirring events, I wondered if this might be a moment when the media would reform themselves and only print actual news; for one thing, not all explosions of temper and so on are attributable to race. It would be nice if the media realized how dangerous they when they begin to falsify motives which, to be blunt, they have no authority to do. If a black person is in any way in a jam of any kind, it is because he is responding to racism or if a white person goes berserk over anything with anybody, racism drove him to it. This is a great, great red herring like some giant whale gliding across the pages of police dockets.

So let me mention the real issue. The real issue is class. We have the greatest divide between the very rich and the very poor of any country on Earth, surpassing even France. And this division gets wider and wider as financial disasters overwhelm us. We were already in pretty bad shape before things began to fall apart a year or two ago. We must acknowledge that our character, never much good in these matters, is now reprehensible, and the police seem to have taken it upon themselves to exact revenge for a full professor and his—plainly, in their view—insulting income, which they figure must be considerable. The days of greed through which we all lived now have not done us much good, nor have they taught us any lessons, but you cannot live long with such divisions, which in my view as an outsider overlooking the scene seems to be a nation of total liars. Everybody is lying. Television lies, candidates lie. And everyone says, “Oh they always have.” I love that excuse. Well they haven’t always done that. Sometimes lying to the people is a great mistake. And it is well-known that the rich will tell almost any lie to avoid paying taxes.

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