Who would expect to find poetry in a House bill? These bills don’t soar, they don’t inspire, and they don’t lift the spirits. They are mundane vehicles cluttered with language that is as mundane as it is legalistic. If anything, they employ language that conceals the bill’s true intent.
Well, let me tell you, George, I just read one whose language was so moving I wet my pants.
I am speaking of none other than HR 1955, The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. God, how it sings!
This is truly a bill for all seasons and one of the most monumental pieces of legislation ever to enter the Halls of Congress. It is a bill that will remake America and provide a bridge into the twenty-first century.
The bill is a masterpiece of corrupted language. Instead of twisting words, it deflates their meaning, leaving only a vague and elastic shell. Words no longer mean what they once did. Their meaning is ambigious, allowing them to cover any situation. At the same time, the words are not allowed to have any depth or nuance. The bill uses the language of the technician in which a word is allowed but one meaning, and that meaning is whatever the user says it is.
Ever since the Cold War, America has been playing at paranoia. Finally we have a bill that gives it the poetic expression that will peak its efficiency.
The bill begins with a finding that states, “The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.”
Ah, Omission, how sweet is thy name! The word “violence” peppers the bill like little droplets of piss. But nowhere is the adjective “physical” attached to the word. No sir, this bill addresses violence in all of its multiple manifestations. Firebrands, pulpit pounders, demagogues and radicals, take notice. Be careful of what you say and how you say it. Under this bill, the government will take notice.
HR 1955 creates a commission to be called the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism. America finally has her Star Chamber, and we will be all the safer for it.
The purpose of the Commission will be to “investigate and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization in the United States.” It is authorized to hold hearings, issue subpoenas and swear in witnesses.
The poetess of this magnificent work is none other than Rep. Jane Harman (D-California). The woman doesn’t speak, she sings when she says, “Free speech, espousing even very radical beliefs is protected by our Constitution-but violent behavior is not. (Note the absence of “physical”.) Our plan must be to intervene before (emphasis mine) a person crosses that line separating radical views from violent behavior; to understand the forces at work on the individual and the community, to create an environment that discourages disillusionment and alienation, that instills in young people (emphasis mine) a sense of belonging and faith in the future.”
Of course, you must see what is happening here. It is all part of your reform of our archaic legal system that is transitioning it from reactive justice to proactive justice. Why in the hell should we wait until a crime is committed before we act? The damage is done, it is expensive to gather evidence and mount a prosecution, and with our cluttered law books it is too easy for a criminal to slip through a legal loophole and walk free. Harman is right, screw the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights and let’s nail radicals while they are speaking before they cause any harm. Violent speech is the midwife for violent “physical” violence.
When I hear her speak of creating an environment for alienated young people, I see a string of reeducation camps spread across the land. Camps work wonders. They are especially important because the alienated are the sane ones, and it is important that they be made as barking mad as the rest of us. Incarceration is good for the soul.
Harman doesn’t stop there. She goes on to target a major thorn in your side, the internet. “Combine that personal adolescent upheaval with the explosion of information technologies and communication tools which American kids are using to broadcast messages from al-Qaeda-and there is a road map to terror, a ‘retail outlet’ for anger and warped aspirations. Link that intent with a trained terrorist operative who has actual capacity, and a ‘Made in the USA suicide bomber is born.”
I never knew paranoia could have such a beautiful ring to it. The congresswoman knows full well that people are scared shitless of teenagers and she play that fear like a concert piano. (Anyone who thinks America’s young people are passive lumps of clay has never taught eighth-graders.)
One of the finding in the bill states, “The Internet (Blame Al Gore for that-bj) has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorist process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”
When Tail-Gunner Joe McCarthy died, he tore a hole in the American psyche. That hole is about to be filled by the Commission. But, unlike McCarthy, its hearings will be secret, not only because they touch on issues of National Security, but because they must prevent the location of radical websites from going public. The only time they would hold public hearings is when they wanted to trash a reluctant witness’s reputation.
To be effective, oppression must be arbitrary. To be arbitrary, it must be vague and diffuse, sucking in those who believe themselves to be free of the taint of terroristic thoughts and beliefs. HR 1955 makes this possible. Give Harmon the Medal of Freedom. She is certainly doing her part to preserve it.