When my battered, bruised corpse is found with a single shot to the temple, look no further than this film for an explanation. No, I will not be the victim of an Alan Berg-style hit (although I am waiting for my hateful rants to generate at least one credible death threat), but rather a suicide; fed-up, disgusted, and revolted as I no doubt will be from now until that final moment. The film — a documentary entitled Hidden in Plain Sight — is the latest in a never-ending round of reasons to leave this country, if not this planet. And while the subject of this film — this country’s notorious “School of the Americas” — cannot be blamed solely on Dubya or even a Republican, it is related to our continued hypocrisy regarding freedom, civil liberties, and social justice.
To be blunt, the School of the Americas (first located in Panama, then moved to Fort Benning in Georgia) trained Latin American soldiers to murder, rape, and torture the poor in their efforts to rid the area of demonic Marxism. Of course the official line (spoken by several well-groomed, yet glassy-eyed members of the top brass) is that the SOA is on a humanitarian mission, devoted to aid, comfort, and the promotion of democracy. They point to the fact that out of 60,000 soldiers, only 600 or so have been cited for gross human rights violations. So what if one time CIA employee Manuel Noriega or El Salvador’s favorite butcher Roberto D’Aubuisson are past graduates? What about the thousands who pass their courses in Covert Ops, Slicing Throats 101, and 1001 Ways to Dismember a Nun; what about those who don’t wreak havoc on rain death upon the illiterate, impoverished peasants of the Third World? Where are their headlines? Missing the point as usual, these supporters of the often-derided School of the Assassins fail to recognize the troubling nature of any taxpayer supported institution that meddles in the affairs of other, presumably sovereign, nations.
And is anyone so blissfully unaware of when this school witnessed its peak of influence? Why the Reagan Eighties, of course! An era when our Chief Executive labeled cold-blooded killers as “freedom fighters” because they happened to believe in the holy trinity of God, Guns, and Profit. A time when feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and educating the ignorant were “subversive” because such ideas have been embraced by folks who might have heard rumors of a man named Karl Marx. A time of juntas, mass executions in soccer stadiums, “rape rooms” and mass graves, before that sneaky Saddam Hussein suddenly cornered the market on evil in our time.
We even get a rage-inducing clip of George H.W. Bush, mocking a protester at a press conference; a silly soul who insists that American leaders should answer for their unwavering support of murderers, even if those killers embrace free trade and Jesus. Bush’s “Look at this guy” remark, complete with that trademark Bush smirk, is so nauseating that I at once remembered clearly why this family is as evil as any the world has produced. Bush the father and Bush the son (and Bush the brother, if we’re anticipating 2008) hate the citizenry with a perverse relish, believing dissent, free speech, and independent thought just get in the way of what really matters — segregated golf, boating off the coast of Maine, and grinding the life out of people who must work for a living.
Hidden in Plain Sight is propaganda to be sure, stirring the pot with healthy doses of emotion, bitterness, and shocking imagery. It also has the unique pleasure of being true, that is if documents, eyewitness testimony, and shallow graves are enough to convict in a court of law. And did you know, my brothers, that our “war on drugs” in Colombia is nothing more than a ruse to scatter the remaining population so that the rich oil wealth can be extracted? Or that we uphold the sanctity of elections so long as “our” candidate receives more votes? And if he doesn’t, that we’ll cry foul, spread rumors of corruption, and help finance a coup to install a more friendly leader? The School of the Americas might mean stability and peace to a scant few who are either hopelessly naive or knowingly insincere, but for those who have felt its wrath, it means fear, pain, and death. Think about that the next time you scan your payroll deductions.