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writing for godot

Manson America

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Written by Al Markowitz   
Tuesday, 28 November 2017 01:04

At long last                                                         
Manson is dead
that sly old creep
with the swastika on his head

Orchestrated murder
six or seven dead
got others to do it
His hands not clean of
the blood they shed

Just like our leaders
but on a much smaller scale
Just like our country
from where bullets hail

"I am you" he said and
preferred to stay in jail
We are him, it's true
Manson Amerika -- All hail

Like the vast majority of humanity, I didn't lose any sleep over the recent death of Charles Manson. He was a broken, hate-filled controlling creep. Though I don't know that he ever personally killed anyone, he got others in his cult to murder six or seven people in the twisted hope of instigating a “race war.” Fortunately it did not take long to end his reign of terror, though sadly he was mystified in the media.

For years I have used him as a model for my voting choices in what I referred to as the Manson test. The way this goes is that Manson, as a consummately evil phenomenon, is the last person any sane citizen would ever want to elect to a position of power. What made him so dangerous is that he could get others to murder people. OK, so he got his followers to kill half a dozen or so victims. How does George W. Bush compare? How about Bill Clinton? Barack Obama was the first president with his own weekly kill list. I'm sure he isn't the last. How many did they get other people to kill?

Maybe this seems like a test from a more innocent era, though I don't think it was in my lifetime. With the passing of the old fiend I have come to realize how much he was a symptom of our American culture and devolution. Manson chose his victims based on an insane, misguided agenda. He managed to convince others of the necessity of those targeted murders. The same is true for our country. We identify others around the world as guilty of or associated with crimes ranging from demanding national independence, land reform, or daring to pursue cooperative democracy to being associated with or likely (based on rumor or algorithms) to be “terrorists.” Then we get others to kill them. We do this through paying off foreign governments or private assassins or we do it at a distance through killer drones. We even do it on a more general level killing entire families, turning cities to rubble or feeding proxy wars and aggressions like the mass murder being committed in Yemen by Saudi Arabia with US weapons and a nod.

Here in the US, we pay police and private prisons to kill. States do it for us via the death penalty with some governors failing the Manson test by the numbers. In complicity, many cheer both the domestic and foreign murders committed in our names by others, in a real sense, making us all a bit like ol' Charlie.

Our entertainment has become, like the Manson cult, an exercise in justifying murder and vengeance. Generations have been weened on this mentality and our culture and language militarized and inundated with warrior worship. Our protests ranging from neo-nazis who, like Manson, want to initiate a “race war” to anti-fascist anarchists so immersed in our culture of violence that they respond in kind – though as of yet not to the point of murder.

The point of my pondering is that separate from a crazed individual who rightly spent his life locked away in prison, our nation has become Mansonized. We elect leaders who are even worse than Manson by the standard to which he was rightly condemned or we elect leaders who promise to be more vicious than the last. We inflict terror around the world and we suffer the cost not only of international resentment, blowback and isolation but of increasing violence at home, mass shooting after mass shooting. Even so, a recent poll showed that 18-29 year-olds, raised on video games and violence are the least likely to support banning assault weapons.

I'm glad Manson is no longer around to be a center of media attention but it saddens me how much the rest of the country has been remade in his image. By the time Manson's cult shocked America he was already beyond any hope of rehabilitation. I can only wonder about the rest of us.

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