Take Fifty Steps Back
by andrew haley
In the new movie “Enemy at the Gates,” the conflict between Hitler’s German
forces and the Red Army is distilled down to a sniper duel between two men.
In the movie’s version of the battle of Stalingrad, which (sorry Private Ryan)
was the deciding battle of World War II, and hence the reason this isn’t written
in German – groß Gott! – we see those oh so familiar German helmets off in
the distance, shooting and shouting at the poor sickly looking Russians to
In the movie, surviving the German siege requires nothing but hope, and
hope requires a hero – in this case the hottest English bloke in Russian history,
Vaseline Luvontop. “Do you know any heroes?” Khrushchev, who wasn’t there,
asks young Will Shakestein. And so it goes; Jude Law’s face is passed around,
everyone sighs, and the Russians win. This is, unfortunately, not how the
battle, and thus the war, went. Complicated Russian military strategies, excellent
timing, new equipment, brilliant tactics, and a bunch of administrative bungles
brought the Germans down. But it took three years and more blood than the
US army would know what to do with.
Ladies and gentlemen—or at least those of you who are warm blooded—we are
under siege. Al Gore, who received the second highest number of popular votes
in US history, narrowly lost his rightful place in today’s newspapers and
tomorrow’s history books not because of the millions of dumb crackers across
the nation who would vote themselves into the electric chair; nor because
of the far left who would vote themselves into concentration camps, but because
of a former cigarette model, dying in senility, who once ordered National
Guard troops to march on a peace demonstration with orders to shoot to kill—the
only man who ever won more popular votes than Al Gore—Mister Ronald Reagan.
Reagan had the good fortune of stacking the US Supreme Court with enough
fascist emissaries (who, by the way, recently voted in support of hospitals
that turned over blood test results taken without the consent of pregnant
mothers to the police so that the mothers of new born children could be thrown
in prison) that his legacy has continued to this day. It was Reagan’s supreme
court that has given us our un-elected president—a man who couldn’t make money
in oil; a man who would have been executed by his own policies if he were
poor, Latino, or not the son of a former CIA director; a man who has the amazing
capacity of making convicted killers look eloquent; a man who was not elected.
Our un-elected president has decided to repay his debts by ending a fifty
year policy of running potential federal judges past the American Bar Association,
the group of people who determine who is and who is not qualified to be a
divorce lawyer, let alone a Federal Appeals Court judge.
During President Clinton’s last years in office, the Republicans in Congress
prevented the appointments of over 100 Federal judges that Clinton had put
forward. At the time, this may have looked like nothing more than a taunting
fuck you from those meek, petty worms of men that managed to impeach the most
popular president in history. But oh, we were wrong. Because of the blocking
of these appointees, there is a major shortage of Federal justices in this
Wal-Mart we call America. And fascists, like nature, abhor a vacuum. With
a republican Congress, a republican White House, a republican Supreme Court
and a disregard for the opinion of the American Bar Association, the lights
are all green for Dubya to fill those cold court-house chairs with the fat,
delicate white asses of people even more conservative than himself.
So why should I give a shit, you’re probably thinking.
If your daughter gets knocked up and needs an abortion; if you’re found
guilty of something you didn’t commit; if you ever smoked marijuana; if you
think that Darwin belongs in high school science classes and prayers don’t;
if you think banning books is ridiculous; if you think you should be able
to trade songs online; if you know a gay couple that wants to get married;
if you look at porn on your home computer; if you think chopping the cocks
off of statues is a bit old fashioned; if you think art has a place in society;
if you like breathing; if you want to go backpacking in the wilderness and
not run into oil refineries; if you want your children to grow up without
getting poisoned by industrial pollution; if you think democratic countries
should elect their leaders; if you think a planet needs an ozone to support
life—then you better goddam well give a shit. Judges have the last word in
this country, and the battle over these issues will be fought in the courtroom
and decided by judges.
We are under siege. Ronald Reagan’s supreme court led to our present, un-elected
president; this un-elected president will fill enough Federal judgeships to
seriously retard the development of American law alongside the fresh new currents
of American morals and America’s tradition of freedom and individuality. We
have neglected our duty to protect our rights and our futures. We let a complex
republican attack put us back fifty years because we saw it not as the complicated
assault it was, but let it pass us by unnoticed—a vague character in an oversimplified
melodrama. To break the siege, we need more than a pretty face to pass around;
we need the grunt and gristle to shoulder out of America our unwelcome enemy.
It’s going to be a long march to victory.