This thought has been taking shape slowly in my mind--as a result, perhaps, of digesting all the new information that has been emerging this past week about the misguided and incompetent efforts of our current administration in Washington to keep all the consequences of their actions under control: Intimidation differs from terrorism only in degree. It's a matter of scaring people into bending to your will. In its effort to combat terrorism, this government has been practicing institutional intimidation on an unprecedented scale. We see it in every aspect of public life. The latest example is in the Justice Department, which has been intimidating its own prosecutorial staff by dismissing those who fail to perform according to the administration's political contingencies in its relentless quest for a permanent Republican majority. Oh, and then there were the revelations, yesterday, that the FBI has been systematically abusing the so-called "Patriot" Act to obtain massive amounts of information about private citizens. We are now a nation governed by fear, with a president himself elected through a process of intimidation.
Speaking of intimidation, Ellie and I watched this movie about the Dixie Chicks last night. It's based on the story of the group's fall from public grace--at least in the "country" territory from which their music sprang--and their refusal to be intimidated by an angry, ignorant lynch mob of former fans who were infuriated by the off-hand remark by Natalie Maines on a London stage, at the time of the start of Bush's invasion of Iraq, that she was ashamed that the president came from Texas. It makes for a compelling story, and a heartening one, to see their sorely tested solidarity and their spirit of fiercely-protected independence finally win out over the bully tactics of mindless fans and the radio stations that capitulated to their fury. I'm happy that these women are "Not Ready to Make Nice." They seem like a gutsy trio, with more of a sense of what this country is about than Bush and all his powerful friends in Congress and the corporate empires that seek to run our lives.
If this Buddhist path I'm on is about freedom, a part of that is surely the freedom from intimidation of all kinds, whether personal or institutional. Three cheers, then, for the Dixie Chicks, for modeling the courage to resist.