After The Music Stops

first_imgBy electing Barack Obama as the country’s first Black president, Americans defied powerful stereotypes and assumptions about race.Little India first endorsed Obama in the primaries in January 2008, when he was still a long shot. In endorsing him again in the general election, we noted that we had originally been attracted by the historical character of his candidacy as the first minority nominee of a major political party and as the biracial child of a Kenyan immigrant father and a White mother from Kansas. However, we also pointed out that “Obama has worn his multicultural identity with such ease, that the promise that Americans might transcend race in this election already stands delivered.”What the world is now celebrating, we had already acknowledged before the Nov. 4 elections. Our expectations of him only begin there, and they start not simply with coping with the financial wreck he inherits from the Bush administration, which will likely command most of his early attention in the next several months.Important as dealing with the economic meltdown is, it is even more imperative that Obama begin to address the egregious violations of America’s historical commitment to civil rights and liberties by the Bush regime right off the bat, indeed the very day he assumes the presidency on Jan. 20.The Bush administration’s so-called “War on Terror” will go down in ignominy with the Red Scare of the McCarthy era, the Alien & Sedition Acts of 1798 and the persecution of dissenters in World War I and World War II. In the name of a war against terrorism, the Bush administration engaged in reprehensible unconstitutional and criminal violations, including kidnapping people, torturing suspects or rendering them to other countries for torture, and holding prisoners without trial in Guantanamo Bay and other secret gulags. In Bush’s secret society, prisoners were held indefinitely without charge, immigrants were detained and deported without a hearing, or even access to a lawyer, and citizens and non citizens alike were monitored and their telephones and email accounts tapped without judicial or political oversight.Even after Democrats wrested control of Congress in 2006, they did little to rein in, or even document the full extent of these abuses.One of Obama’s first acts, on Jan. 20, must be to shut down Guantanamo Bay, which shall forever stand as a shameful episode in American history. He should also launch a “truth commission,” similar to the one established in South Africa to document the abuses of apartheid, with the aim of exposing the full extent of the mendacity and the abuses of political rights and civil liberties by the Bush regime.Even though Pres. George Bush and Vice Pres. Dick Cheney will not be prosecuted for what were unquestionably criminal and constitutional violations of the office they had sworn to uphold, they must be publicly exposed and humiliated.After the music stops on his inauguration on Jan. 20, constitutional scholar Obama’s first task – crucial if only for its symbolism – must be to open up the secret files of the Bush administration, so that no future president ever dare engage in such heinous atrocities again.   Related Itemslast_img read more