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Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

Uncle Sam's Classroom Theatre
Colin Todhunter

There are implicit rules within the teacher/student relationship. First, the teacher must believe that the student is "teachable"; second, both parties feel that the teacher possesses something that the student needs or desires that s/he presently lacks. It is essentially a gift relationship. But what happens if someone offers you a gift that you just don't want? In other words, what about those ‘difficult’ students? - those individuals who do not want to be "taught". Perhaps they feel that the ‘education’ on offer is something that they don't desire or they reject it outright as a logical world-view. They may be exceptionally bright and intellectually sharp, yet their unwillingness to participate means they are ‘disruptive,’ or ‘misguided.’ Worse still, they may even be defined as ‘subversive.’

In Uncle Sam's classroom, the stakes are high. It's less about sub-standard grades and more a matter of life and death. He educates and informs. He bullies, coerces and manipulates. Indeed, many believe the message and are model citizens. It becomes the truth - the logic of the age. It is the classroom of fact and evidence, is it not? Probably not, but who cares? Quite simply, those who beg to differ. For them, it is a place of one-sided half-truths, misinformation and control. Unfortunately, they cannot leave the classroom. They are bombarded every second of the day, but refuse to be cajoled. They organise, protest and resist. It was big news here on BBC World and in the Indian newspapers when 250,000 anti-war protesters were on the streets of Sydney, over a million in London, similar numbers in Madrid and Rome - and so on. Like bad children, they have their own rationale and refuse to participate. They are the most troublesome of students - stuck in the schoolyard, yet unteachable.

Hate education is enticing. It can leave you wanting more. It is simple. And its simplicity addicts: good must prevail over evil. And as with all evil, its source is depicted in one person - demonised through Bilblical Old Testament morality transported from the Bible Belt to the Oval Office via the route of Hollywood-type cowboy justice. All concocted into a heady brew of Bushisms: "We are going to smoke 'em out. And when we've smoked 'em out, we're going to hunt 'em down and bring 'em to justice; or bring justice to them." After that, he rounded up his posse and rode into Afghanistan on the back of a cluster bomb. Now he wants to begin to redraw the map of the Middle East with a dripping blood-soaked ballpoint pen and then try to wipe the slate clean with an oily rag - an Iraqi one. Ludicrous really. Stopping the development of weapons of mass destruction under the guise of gaining access to the ultimate weapon of mass consumption - oil.

But like all forms of classroom propaganda, it is public theatre. Rumsfeld, Powell, Bush and Blair stand in front of the cameras with their divisive half-baked lesson plans and props.
It can become easy for the orgy of press conferences and sound bites to turn into a daily ritual of TV armchair entertainment to be consumed and then forgotten. And when it begins, it may become just another TV-dinner war designed to be gazed at in some kind of post-9-to-5 after-work hypnotic stupor. Consumerism distracts and apathy consumes. But thankfully, this time around, too many can see that it's a mere charade being carried out under the guise of democracy. When people stop believing in it - democracy - the game is up. Liberal democracy may indeed be the best shell for capitalism, but it's cracking and spewing out its guts for all to witness on the streets of London, Rome and Sydney.

And when everyone was looking the other way, in the staff room and behind closed doors, Tony Blair casually handed over British sovereignty to the USA. After all the debate in the 1990s about handing it over to Europe, Blair gives it to Uncle Sam and as his reward becomes the head boy.
The game's up. The full time whistle may be about to blow.
The University of America. Principal: George W Bush. Head Boy: Tony Blair. Curriculum: the truth as they see it. Course fees: life and death. Career options: the clash of civilisations and remaking of world order or - slow death and Armageddon.

© Colin Todhunter March 2003

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