Dec 4, 2013
The Shooting Gallery: Obama and the Vanishing Point of Democracy
Posted on Feb 13, 2013
By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout
Clearly, political and popular culture are in dire need of being condemned, interrogated, unlearned and transformed through modes of critical education and public debate, if American democracy is to survive as more than a distant and unfulfilled promise. Americans have lived too long with governments that use power to promote violent acts, conveniently hiding their guilt behind a notion of secrecy and silence that selectively punishes those considered expendable - in its prisons, public schools, foster care institutions and urban slums. As Tom Engelhardt points out, what has not sunk in for most Americans, including the mainstream media, is that the United States has become a lockdown state, or more appropriately an authoritarian state, as evidenced by the fact that the Obama administration can:
The fateful consolidation of an authoritarian state reaches its tipping point when a government engages in these practices along with the claim that it can kill its own citizens anywhere in the world without recourse to due process or any moral qualms. Such policies point to more than an ethically empty space and the atrophy of democratic modes of governance, politics and culture, they point inexorably to the dark caverns of a society that has embraced the foundations of authoritarianism. Democracy has been hijacked in the United States by right-wing extremists, the financial elite, the military-industrial-academic complex and a demagogic cultural apparatus that has created a state of emergency that appears to “lack the kind of collective sense of urgency that would prompt us to fundamentally question our own ways of thinking and acting, and form new spaces of operation.” All of us are now in the shooting gallery and we are all potentially the targets.
 Amrit Singh, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition (New York: Open Society Foundation, 2013).
 Steve Coll, “Why Zero Dark Thirty Fails,” The New York Review of Books (February 7, 2013), ppp. 4-6.
 Rustom Bharacuha, “Around Adohya: Aberrations, Enigmas, and Moments of Violence,” Third Text (Autumn 1993), p. 45.
 Fabiola Salek and Fabiola Fernandez Salek, eds., Screening Torture: Media Representations of State Terror and Political Domination (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012).
 Michael Halberstam, Totalitarianism and the Modern Conception of Politics (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1999), p. 6.
 Ibid., Amrit Singh, Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition. Also see, Amrit Singh, “Globalizing Torture: Ahead of Brennan Hearing, International Complicity in CIA Rendition Exposed,” Democracy Now, (February 7, 2013)
 For some insightful critiques of this document, see: Interview with Jameel Jaffer, “Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of US Citizens “Has No Geographic Limit,” Democracy Now, (February 5, 2013); Jameel Jaffer, “The Justice Department’s White Paper on Targeted Killing,” ACLU, (February 4, 2013); Glenn Greenwald, “Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens,” The Guardian, (February 5, 2013; Juan Cole, “Top Five Objections to the White House’s Drone Killing Memo,” Reader Supported News, (February 6, 2013); Dennis Bernstein, “An Interview With Legal Scholar Marjorie Cohn: Why Targeted Assassinations Violate US and International Law,” CounterPunch (February 8-10).
 As Jameel Jaffer points out, “Without saying so explicitly, the government claims the authority to kill American terrorism suspects in secret.” Jameel Jaffer, “The Justice Department’s White Paper on Targeted Killing,” ACLU, (February 4, 2013).
 Glenn Greenwald, “Chilling legal memo from Obama DOJ justifies assassination of US citizens,” The Guardian/UK, (February 5, 2013).
 Isabel Hilton, “The 800lb Gorilla in American Foreign Policy,” The Guardian/UK (July 28, 2004).
 Chris McGreal, “White House to release legal rationale for killing of US citizens with drones,” The Guardian/UK(February 4, 2013).
 Interview with Jameel Jaffer, “Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of US Citizens “Has No Geographic Limit,” Democracy Now, (February 5, 2013).
 Maria Pia Lara, Narrating Evil: A Postmetaphysical Theory of Reflective Judgement (NewYork: Columbia University Press, 2007), pp. 14–16, 19.
 Roy Eidelson, “How Americans Think about Torture—and Why,” TruthOut.org (May 11, 2009).
 Frank Rich, “America Yawns at Obama’s Assassination Policy,” New York Magazine (February 7, 2012).
 Tom Engelhardt, “The American Lockdown State,” TomDispatch.com (February 5, 2013)
 Teddy Cruz. “Democratizing Urbanization and the Search for a New Civic Imagination,” in Living as Form: Socially Engaged Art from 1991-2011, ed. Nato Thompson (New York: Creative Time Books, 2012), p. 57.
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