(Taming of the Shrew, act 4, sc. 3)
Few people know about Lynne Stewart, as the corporate media is adroitly quiet about such scandals, while busy to publicize sex gossip and to advertise horror shows, pills and junk food.
The matter about Lynne Stewart is so incredible that, if in doubt, I suggest the reader to find the person on Wikipedia to verify the facts. Lynne Stewart is a 74 year old attorney who has spent her life defending civil right cases and others where the defendants are or were classified as ‘terrorists’.
Under request from Ramsey Clark, Ms. Stewart took up the defense of terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is completely blind but who is said to have masterminded the first bomb attack at the World Center Towers.
Ramsey Clark, Attorney General from 1967 to 1969, has championed, almost single-handed, the causes that pit the recent administrations’ lust for blood and murder against those who make attempts either at defending themselves or to fight back.
Lynne Stewart is serving a 10-year sentence (since 2010) in the federal penitentiary for being a supporter of terrorism. Her crime? Two years after the 9/11 attacks, she read publicly, at a press conference in New York, the following message from her client, convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman.
“I [Omar Abdel-Rahmn] am not withdrawing my support of the cease-fire, I am merely questioning it and I am urging you, who are on the ground there (read ‘in Egypt’) to discuss it and to include everyone in your discussions as we always have done.”
The crime? The U.S. federal courts construed the message as exhorting the members of Abdel-Rahmn’s Islamic organization in Egypt, which U.S. officials had labeled a terrorist organization, to use violence to overthrow the Egyptian government (of Hosni Mubarak). The public reading made Stewart a supporter of terrorism.
It is well known that the Mubarak regime was brutal (euphemism) to the point that people eventually managed to oust him. And Egypt was (maybe still is) a location of choice to torture people captured by the American military or the CIA.
Stewart was convicted for going one step further and actually exhorting the Egyptians to use force to overthrow the tyrannical regime under which they had long suffered.
However, quoting from the Declaration of Independence, “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The fact that Lynne Stewart was convicted must mean by consequence that the quoted words from the Declaration of Independence are good only for the Americans. They do not apply to other people in other nations who endure tyranny.
By exhorting Egyptians to do what the Declaration says they have a right to do — use force to overthrow the Mubarak government she “supported terrorism”
Clearly, any American (or Egyptian) who exhort others to use violence to overthrow a tyrannical but pro-U.S. regime is considered a terrorist or a supporter of terrorism
Most hated in Mubarak’s military dictatorship were the “emergency” powers enforced by Mubarak and his military, police and intelligence forces. Such powers had come into existence some 30 years before, when Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, was assassinated. The “emergency” enabled Mubarak to use the Egyptian military to arrest people without warrants on suspicion of being terrorists, incarcerate them, torture them, and execute them — all without due process of trial or trial by jury.
The extraordinary powers were supposed to be temporary. But 30 years later, they were still in existence and employed routinely and brutally against the Egyptian people, especially those who dared to challenge Egypt’s military dictatorship, military supremacy over the civilian population, and Egypt’s military dictator himself, Hosni Mubarak. Most Egyptians learned to just keep their mouths shut.
It was mainly the exercise of those “temporary, emergency” powers that drove Egyptians into the streets, risking their lives at the hands of the military dictatorship to bring fundamental change to their society.
In fact, one of the principal demands of the protesters throughout the protests was that Mubarak relinquish those “temporary, emergency” powers that came into existence 30 years before. Mubarak refused to do so, arguing that his temporary, extraordinary powers were more necessary than ever, especially given the global war on terrorism that came into existence on 9/11.
For those entire 30 years, the U.S. government supported Mubarak and his military dictatorship. Those temporary, emergency powers weren’t tyrannical, U.S. officials believed. They were instead the essential prerequisite for protecting Egypt’s “national security” and for maintaining “order and stability” in the Middle East.
And immediately after 9/11, Bush did precisely what Mubarak had done during Egypt’s terrorist emergency some 30 years before. Bush decreed that the terrorist emergency America was now facing meant that Bush, as commander in chief, now wielded those same extraordinary powers — the powers to arrest people as suspected terrorists without judicially issued warrants, torture them, incarcerate them indefinitely, and even execute them, perhaps have some sort of kangaroo military tribunal. Now, President Obama has expanded those powers with a worldwide assassination program.
Thus, how could U.S. officials look upon the Mubarak dictatorship as a tyrannical regime, since it was a loyal, pro-U.S. regime that was doing nothing more than what U.S. officials would do in similar circumstances?
Throughout the Mubarak dictatorship, if anyone called for the violent overthrow of the Egyptian government, the Egyptian government, not surprisingly, considered him a terrorist. But as Lynn Stewart found out, so did the U.S. government.
Now, one might think of Syria, where U.S. officials are doing precisely what Stewart got convicted of — exhorting the Syrian citizenry to violently overthrow the Syrian dictatorship and supplying arms to the rebels.
The difference? Elementary dear reader. Syria is no longer an ally of the U.S. government.
For exhorting the Egyptian people to violently overthrow their tyrannical regime, Stewart got sentenced to serve 28 months in jail, a fairly lengthy term for a 73-year-old woman suffering from breast cancer. But Stewart, in a public statement to the press after her sentencing, scoffed at her sentence, declaring that she could serve it “standing on her head.”
Her statement garnered the wrath of federal prosecutors and federal judges and earned her a resentencing, one that sent her away for 10 years instead of 28 months.
What happened to freedom of expression? – one may ask. The episode should terrify those who still believe in it.
It won’t be long before the practical reenactment of the “Sedition Act” during WW I. Then the US was desperately trying to enter a war for which there was not the remotest reason or cause to join – it could only do so by silencing any dissent.
Ms. Stewart could no longer “conceal the anger of hear heart, or else her heart concealing it would have broken”, paraphrasing the words of Shakespeare.
That this unbelievable event is known by only a few, while occurring among the silence and indifference of just about all, is one more tile in the mosaic that describes the current conditions of the nation’s mind and soul.
Do not think of airing your opinions about who is or are the criminals in this case.
Tips for Use. When you have finally decided not to be quiet any longer.
In the play. Katharina is mad at Petruchio over a hat of hers that she likes and he doesn’t.
Image site: gogetfunding.com