Sunday, May 27, 2007

Jihad Pendidikan


Jihad Pendidikan
oleh Jaya Suprana

BAGI yang tidak menghayati hakiki maknanya, banyak prestasi yang tercatat di Museum Rekor Indonesia atau Muri terkesan remeh, sepele, bahkan janggal. Termasuk di antaranya Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali, sebagai penerima piagam penghargaan Muri atas prestasi sebagai kabupaten pertama yang berhasil menyelenggarakan pendidikan secara cuma-cuma bagi segenap warganya.

NAMUN bagi yang mau dan mampu menghayati maknanya, prestasi Kabupaten Jembrana layak dikagumi sebagai Jihad Pendidikan yang merupakan teladan dan bukti nyata bahwa menyelenggarakan pendidikan secara cuma-cuma bagi setiap warga negara Indonesia-sesuai dengan Undang-Undang Dasar (UUD) 1945 versi sebelum maupun setelah amandemen-sebenarnya bukan sesuatu utopia nan mustahil!

Meski jelas tersurat dan tersirat dalam UUD 1945-versi mana pun-bahwa setiap warga memiliki hak atas pendidikan, pada kenyataannya hak atas pendidikan itu diingkari dengan fakta bahwa setiap warga Indonesia hanya memiliki kewajiban atas pendidikan, dalam makna kewajiban memikul biaya pendidikan, bahkan masih ditambah biaya-biaya yang sebenarnya tidak wajib dipikul sebab tidak mutlak langsung terkait pada pendidikan, seperti seragam, uang gedung, dan buku pelajaran yang terus-menerus diganti dan wajib dibeli. Para penyelenggara dan "ahli" pendidikan lazim beranggapan bahwa pendidikan itu butuh, bahkan rakus biaya, maka mahal, maka layak divonis sulit bahkan mustahil diselenggarakan secara cuma-cuma bagi para warga.

Para guru, jika mendengar angan-angan bahwa pendidikan akan diselenggarakan secara gratis, langsung alergi derita- makin-parah akibat khawatir mereka juga harus menggratiskan jasa mereka, padahal mereka sudah dipaksa menjadi Pahlawan Tanpa Tanda Jasa! Maklum, di masa pendidikan wajib dibayar (mahal lagi!) oleh para warga saja, mutu kehidupan para guru-akibat kebocoran administratif di sana sini-sudah di bawah garis kemiskinan, bayangkan skala malapetaka yang terjadi jika pendidikan malah digratiskan!

Pihak Depdiknas sendiri, termasuk segenap departemen yang tergabung dalam koordinasi Kesejahteraan Rakyat, cenderung menganggap bahwa pendidikan cuma-cuma masih merupakan utopia, suatu cita- cita mulia yang mungkin baru akan berhasil di masa nun jauh di depan, di masa bangsa Indonesia sudah masuk kelompok negara maju, seperti Jerman. Kesejahteraan rakyat ditingkatkan dulu sampai tingkat tertentu, baru pasal hak warga atas pendidikan sesuai yang tertera dalam UUD 1945 benar-benar dapat dijabarkan pada kenyataan. Jadi, rakyat disejahterakan dulu, baru boleh berhak untuk memperoleh pendidikan, bukan sebaliknya.

Seperti memang sudah lazimnya terjadi pada masalah-masalah nusa dan bangsa yang hakiki sekaligus akut, tampaknya hak rakyat atas pendidikan lebih banyak diperdebatkan dengan kecenderungan luar biasa enggan ketimbang benar-benar diupayakan untuk diselesaikan apalagi sampai tuntas.

Fakta

Lain halnya dengan yang terjadi di Kabupaten Jembrana, Bali. Di kantor kabupaten terletak di pantai barat, dengan perbendaharaan wisata relatif paling minim maka tergolong kabupaten paling miskin di Bali, masalah pendidikan ternyata bukan asyik diperjanjikan atau sibuk diseminarkan, tetapi segera dikaji, ditelaah, direncanakan, lalu langsung dijabarkan dengan langkah-langkah nyata.

Ketika diangkat menjadi Bupati Jembrana, Prof drg I Gede Winasa bukan bingung mencari cara demi memperkaya diri, tetapi demi menyejahterakan rakyatnya. Pejabat kabupaten jenis langka ini juga tidak cengeng meratapi dana penghasilan daerahnya yang kebetulan termasuk relative miskin, akibat minimnya obyek wisata di tengah gemerlap wisata Pulau Bali, tetapi langsung mengoptimalkan efisiensi dan efektivitas dana yang sudah ada, di samping ikhtiar mencari atau bahkan mencipta sumber dana (halal!) yang belum ada.

Bupati Jembrana langsung nyata gigih membasmi korupsi, bukan dengan janji atau slogan atau sekadar membentuk tim, tetapi dengan keteladanan sikap dan perilaku dirinya sendiri, sambil menindak tegas, tanpa kompromi atau pandang bulu, siapa saja yang masih nekat berani melakukan korupsi.

I Gede Winasa juga layak memperoleh penghargaan Muri atas prestasi satu-satunya bupati yang menuntut gajinya diturunkan. Untuk kendaraan dinasnya, Bupati "Tidak Lazim" Jembrana ini juga tidak minta yang baru, tetapi cukup Toyota Hardtop tahun 1978 saja.

Dari total Anggaran Pendapatan dan Belanja Daerah Jembrana untuk tahun 2003 yang hanya Rp 232 miliar, Sang Bupati mengalokasikan anggaran pendidikan (termasuk gaji PNS-nya) 34,27 persen yang ternyata mampu menjabarkan program pendidikan berupa pembebasan biaya pendidikan SD, SLTP, SLTA; pembangunan dan pemugaran gedung sekolah; beasiswa untuk para guru guna melanjutkan pendidikan; peningkatan kesejahteraan guru lewat peningkatan insentif; pemberian bonus tahunan, dan penyelenggaraan Sekolah Kajian.

Bagi yang skeptis, mutu pendidikan merosot akibat penggratisan pendidikan, silakan menyimak bukti terukur kinerja pendidikan di Jembrana seperti angka drop-out turun menjadi 0,03 persen (nilai rata-rata nasional 1 persen), dan hasil ujian akhir sekolah maupun nasional dengan tingkat kelulusan 98,84 persen termasuk kelompok tertinggi di Indonesia.

Meski demikian, bukan berarti Bupati Jembrana hanya miopik terobsesi masalah pendidikan. Sebab, demi kesejahteraan rakyat Jembrana, masih ada program pembebasan biaya kesehatan bagi segenap warga, pembebasan biaya penerbitan KTP (yang berasuransi!), pemberian dana talangan pertanian di samping pembebasan PBB untuk lahan pertanian, pelayanan perizinan satu atap, pemberlakuan owner estimate, pemberian bonus tahunan bagi PNS, pemberlakuan standardisasi satuan harga barang pembelian pemda, efisiensi kendaraan dan rumah dinas, pendirian industri penyulingan air laut menjadi air minum, dan aneka langkah spektakuler lainnya.

Makna terakbar prestasi superlatif I Gede Winasa sebagai Bupati Jembrana pemrakarsa Jihad Pendidikan adalah membuktikan dengan sikap, perilaku, dan langkah nyata bahwa cita-cita terluhur bangsa Indonesia, yakni masyarakat adil dan makmur, bukan sekadar suatu slogan impian utopis yang mustahil dicapai secara nyata. Apalagi sekadar menyelenggarakan pendidikan secara cuma- cuma demi menjunjung tinggi hak setiap warga memperoleh pendidikan (masih ditambah fasilitas pelayanan kesehatan gratis), jelas nyata dibuktikan di Kabupaten Jembrana-dengan segala kekurangan dan keterbatasan dana-apabila benar-benar mau, pasti mampu dilaksanakan. Jika tidak dilaksanakan, berarti bukan akibat tidak mampu, tetapi sekadar tidak mau belaka.

Jaya Suprana,

Budayawan

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Three animal or plant species become extinct every hour


By Alister Doyle
Reuters

Wednesday 23 May 2007

Oslo - Human activities are wiping out three animal or plant species every hour and the world must do more to slow the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs by 2010, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

Scientists and environmentalists issued reports about threats to creatures and plants including right whales, Iberian lynxes, wild potatoes and peanuts on May 22, the International Day for Biological Diversity.

"Biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate," UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement. Global warming is adding to threats such as land clearance for farms or cities, pollution and rising human populations.

"The global response to these challenges needs to move much more rapidly, and with more determination at all levels - global, national and local," he said.

Many experts reckon the world will fail to meet the goal set by world leaders at an Earth Summit in 2002 of a "significant reduction" by 2010 in the rate of species losses. "We are indeed experiencing the greatest wave of extinctions since the disappearance of the dinosaurs," said Ahmed Djoghlaf, head of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Dinosaurs vanished 65 million years ago, perhaps after a meteorite struck.

"Extinction rates are rising by a factor of up to 1,000 above natural rates. Every hour, three species disappear. Every day, up to 150 species are lost. Every year, between 18,000 and 55,000 species become extinct," he said.

"The cause: human activities."

Dodo

A "Red List" of endangered species, however, lists only 784 species driven to extinction since 1500 - ranging from the dodo bird of Mauritius to the golden toad of Costa Rica.

Craig Hilton-Taylor, manager of the list compiled by the World Conservation Union grouping 83 governments as well as scientists and environmental organisations, said the hugely varying figures might both be right, in their way.

"The UN figures are based on loss of habitats, estimates of how many species lived there and so will have been lost," he told Reuters. "Ours are more empirical - those species we knew were there but cannot find."

UN climate experts say global warming, blamed mainly on human use of fossil fuels, will wreck habitats by drying out the Amazon rainforest, for instance, or by melting polar ice.

The World Conservation Union also said that one in every six land mammals in Europe was under threat of extinction, including the Iberian lynx, Arctic fox and the Mediterranean monk seal.

"The results of the report highlight the challenge we currently face to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2010," European Commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

Europe's goal is to halt biodiversity loss by 2010, tougher than the global target of slowing losses.

Another report by a group of farm researchers said that global warming may drive many wild varieties of plants such as potatoes and peanuts to extinction by mid-century, wiping out traits that might help modern crops resist pests or disease.

The WWF conservation group and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society said that whales, dolphins and porpoises were "facing increasing threats from climate change" because of factors such as rising sea temperatures.

A survey in Britain said climate change might actually help some of the nation's rare wildlife and plants - such as the greater horseshoe bat and the turtle dove - to spread to new areas even as others faced threats to their survival.

http://www.truthout.org/issues_06/052307EA.shtml

Money Does Not Buy Happiness


By Annie Kahn
Le Monde

Monday 21 May 2007

Work more to earn more is the watchword of the new government. As though it were self-evident that earning more is a guarantee of universally-desired happiness.

Some American economists have recently proved the opposite. To the question, "Would you be happier if you were richer?" 2002 Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman and four of his colleagues from Princeton University's Center for Economic Policy Studies (CEPS) answer in the negative. "When this question is posed by itself, people exaggerate its importance. They think they'll be happier if they earn a higher salary. But it's an optical illusion," the authors assert.

An illusion, certainly, but not for everyone. For the authors' conclusions are valid only for "middle class" households that earn over 50,000 dollars (37,000 Euros) a year. For those households, an increase in income translates only barely into well-being. Below the $50,000 threshold, on the other hand, increases in salary and in contentment seem to go hand in hand.

To explain their conclusions, the American economists emphasize that it's not the absolute value of income that makes people happy or unhappy, but rather the gap between theirs and their neighbors. In other words, to be rich among the rich is not of any great benefit; or worse, can make people very unhappy, since one still frequently encounters someone still richer than oneself. Moreover, the authors deem that the consumption of material goods does not increase the sense of well-being. Finally, they assert, the leisure pastimes of the well-to-do (shopping, going to the gym ...) generate tension and stress.

So then why do CEOs negotiate severance compensation, gilded retirement packages, and other golden parachutes that add up to astonishing sums? They are victims of this optical effect, explain the Princeton economists. They overestimate the increase in pleasure they will be able to extract from that money by thinking that the happiness they feel at the moment they are accorded those sums will last. In the long run, that is not the case.

The OCDE draws similar conclusions in its Panorama of Society. A population's "degree of satisfaction" is not necessarily linked to a country's GDP. Mexicans declare themselves happy to live while Mexico's GDP is relatively weak. In Japan, the opposite holds true. "People's well-being depends to a large degree on the situation of the collective to which they belong and on their relations with that collective," concludes the OCDE.

The French population is also less happy with its fate than its GDP would suggest. The French are complainers and that's no optical illusion.


Translation: t r u t h o u t French language correspondent Leslie Thatcher.

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052307G.shtml

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

We're No. 1! : A Nation of Firsts Arms the World


By Frida Berrigan
TomDispatch.com

Sunday 20 May 2007

They don't call us the sole superpower for nothing. Paul Wolfowitz might be looking for a new job right now, but the term he used to describe the pervasiveness of U.S. might back when he was a mere deputy secretary of defense - hyperpower - still fits the bill.

Face it, the United States is a proud nation of firsts. Among them:

First in Oil Consumption:

The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in Carbon Dioxide Emissions:

Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion) and India (1.2 billion) combined.

First in External Debt:

The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in Military Expenditures:

The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: "Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies…. and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008."

Taking another approach to the use of U.S. resources, Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard Business School lecturer Linda Bilmes added to known costs of the war in Iraq invisible costs like its impact on global oil prices as well as the long-term cost of health care for wounded veterans and came up with a price tag of between 1 trillion and $2.2 trillion.

If we turned what the United States will spend on the military in 2008 into small bills, we could give each one of the world's more than 1 billion teenagers and young adults an Xbox 360 with wireless controller (power supply in remote rural areas not included) and two video games to play: maybe Gears of War and Command and Conquerwould be appropriate. But if we're committed to fighting obesity, maybe Dance Dance Revolution would be a better bet. The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in Weapons Sales:

Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That's a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

In this gold-medal tally of firsts, there can be no question that things that go bang in the night are our proudest products. No one makes more of them or sells them more effectively than we do. When it comes to the sorts of firsts that once went with a classic civilian manufacturing base, however, gold medals are in short supply. To take an example:

Not First in Automobiles:

Once, Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford ruled the domestic and global roost, setting the standard for the automotive industry. Not any more. In 2006, the U.S. imported almost $150 billion more in vehicles and auto parts than it sent abroad. Automotive analyst Joe Barker told the Boston Globe, "it's a very tough environment" for the so-called Detroit Three. "In times of softening demand, consumers typically will look to brands that they trust and rely on. Consumers trust and rely on Japanese brands."

Not Even First in Bulk Goods:

The Department of Commerce recently announced total March exports of $126.2 billion and total imports of $190.1 billion, resulting in a goods and services deficit of $63.9 billion. This is a $6 billion increase over February.

But why be gloomy? Stick with arms sales and it's dawn in America every day of the year. Sometimes, the weapons industry pretends that it's like any other trade - especially when it's pushing our congressional representatives (as it always does) for fewer restrictions and regulations. But don't be fooled. Arms aren't automobiles or refrigerators. They're sui generis; they are the way the USA can always be number one - and everyone wants them. The odds that, in your lifetime, there will ever be a $128 billion trade deficit in weapons are essentially nil.

Arms are our real gold-medal event.

First in Sales of Surface-to-Air Missiles:

Between 2001 and 2005, the United States delivered 2,099 surface-to-air missiles like the "Sparrow" and the "AMRAAM" to nations in the developing world, 20% more than Russia, the next largest supplier.

First in Sales of Military Ships:

During that same period, the U.S. sent 10 "major surface combatants" like aircraft carriers and destroyers to developing nations. Collectively, the four major European weapons producers shipped thirteen. (And we were first in the anti-ship missiles that go along with such ships, with nearly double (338) the exports of the next largest supplier Russia (180).

First in Military Training:

A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in Private Military Personnel:

According to bestselling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than sixty major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40 are U.S. based.

Rest assured, governments around the world, often at each others' throats, will want U.S. weapons long after their people have turned up their noses at a range of once dominant American consumer goods.

Just a few days ago, for instance, the "trade" publication Defense News reported that Turkey and the United States signed a $1.78 billion deal for Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter planes. As it happens, these planes are already ubiquitous - Israel flies them, so does the United Arab Emirates, Poland, South Korea, Venezuela, Oman and Portugal, not to speak of most other modern air forces. In many ways, F-16 is not just a high-tech fighter jet, it's also a symbol of U.S. backing and friendship. Buying our weaponry is one of the few ways you can actually join the American imperial project!

In order to remain number one in the competitive jet field, Lockheed Martin, for example, does far more than just sell airplanes. TAI - Turkey's aerospace corporation - will receive a boost with this sale, because Lockheed Martin is handing over responsibility for parts of production, assembly, and testing to Turkish workers. The Turkish Air Force already has 215 F-16 fighter planes and plans to buy 100 of Lockheed Martin's new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter as well, in a deal estimated at $10.7 billion over the next 15 years.

$10.7 billion on fighter planes for a country that ranks 94th on the United Nations' Human Development Index, below Lebanon, Colombia, and Grenada, and far below all the European nations that Ankara is courting as it seeks to join the European Union - now that's a real American sales job for you!

Here's the strange thing, though: This genuine, gold-medal manufacturing-and-sales job on weapons simply never gets the attention it deserves. As a result, most Americans have no idea how proud they should be of our weapons manufacturers and the Pentagon - essentially our global sales force - that makes sure our weapons travel the planet and regularly demonstrates their value in small wars from Latin America to Central Asia.

Of course, there's tons of data on the weapons trade, but who knows about any of it? I'm typical here. I help produce one of a dozen or so sober annual (or semi-annual) reports quantifying the business of war-making. In my case: the Arms Trade Resource Center report, U.S. Weapons at War: Fueling Conflict or Promoting Freedom? These reports get desultory, obligatory press attention - but only once in a blue moon do they get the sort of full-court-press treatment that befits our number one product line.

Dense collections of facts, percentages, and comparisons don't seem to fit particularly well into the usual patchwork of front-page stories. And yet the mainstream press is a glory ride, compared to the TV News, which hardly acknowledges most of the time that the weapons business even exists.

In any case, that inside-the-fold, fact-heavy, wonky news story on the arms trade, however useful, can't possibly convey the gold-medal feel of a business that has always preferred the shadows to the sun. No reader checking out such a piece is going to feel much - except maybe overwhelmed by facts. The connection between the factory that makes a weapons system and the community where that weapon "does its duty" is invariably missing-in-action, as are the relationships among the companies making the weapons and the generals (on-duty and retired) and politicians making the deals, or raking in their own cut of the profits for themselves and/or their constituencies. In other words, our most successful (and most deadly) export remains our most invisible one.

Maybe the only way to break through this paralysis of analysis would be to stop talking about weapons exports as a trade at all. Maybe we shouldn't be using economic language to describe it. Yes, the weapons industry has associations, lobby groups, and trade shows. They have the same tri-fold exhibits, scale models, and picked-over buffets as any other industry; still, maybe we have to stop thinking about the export of fighter planes and precision-guided missiles as if they were so many widgets and start thinking about them in another language entirely - the language of drugs.

After all, what does a drug dealer do? He creates a need and then fills it. He encourages an appetite or (even more lucratively) an addiction and then feeds it.

Arms dealers do the same thing. They suggest to foreign officials that their military just might need a slight upgrade. After all, they'll point out, haven't you noticed that your neighbor just upgraded in jets, submarines, and tanks? And didn't you guys fight a war a few years back? Doesn't that make you feel insecure? And why feel insecure for another moment when, for just a few billion bucks, we'll get you suited up with the latest model military… even better than what we sold them - or you the last time around.

Why does Turkey, which already has 215 fighter planes, need 100 extras in an even higher-tech version? It doesn't… but Lockheed Martin, working the Pentagon, made them think they did.

We don't need stronger arms control laws, we need a global sobriety coach - and some kind of 12-step program for the dealer-nation as well.

---------

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Research Associate at the World Policy Institute's Arms Trade Resource Center

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052107F.shtml

Carter Criticizes Bush and Blair on War in Iraq


Reuters

Sunday 20 May 2007

Washington - Former President Jimmy Carter criticized George W. Bush's presidency in interviews released Saturday as "the worst in history" in international relations and faulted Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain for his loyal relationship with Mr. Bush.

"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history," Mr. Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said in a telephone interview with The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette from the Carter Center in Atlanta.

"The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me," Mr. Carter told the newspaper.

In an interview on BBC radio, he criticized Mr. Blair for his close relations with the president, particularly concerning the Iraq war.

"Abominable," he said when asked how he would characterize Mr. Blair's relationship with Mr. Bush. "Loyal, blind, apparently subservient."

Mr. Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his charitable work, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq before it was begun in 2003.

"I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world," he said.

In the newspaper interview, Mr. Carter said Mr. Bush has taken a "radical departure from all previous administration policies" with the Iraq war.

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," he said.

The White House declined to comment on his statements.

Mr. Carter told the BBC that if Mr. Blair had opposed the invasion he could have reduced the ensuing harm by making it tougher for Washington to shrug off critics, even if the British prime minister had not been able to stop the war. "It would certainly have assuaged the problems" that have arisen, he said.

He characterized one of the defenses of the Bush administration in America and worldwide" as "O.K., we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us."

Mr. Carter told the BBC that the combined support of Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair for the war "has prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted."

In the newspaper interview, Mr. Carter, who brokered the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel, also criticized Mr. Bush's Middle East policies. "For the first time since Israel was founded, we've had zero peace talks to try to bring a resolution of differences in the Middle East," he said. "That's a radical departure from the past."

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/052007Z.shtml

Monday, May 21, 2007

Don't Be Fooled by Propaganda



by Charley Reese


There is an ongoing slander campaign against Islam, claiming that it is a religion that promotes violence and hinting that it seeks world conquest.Before you buy the malarkey that is being produced by people with their own agendas or prejudices or who are just plain ignoramuses, follow these few suggestions:

Compare the history of Islam with the history of Europe, which for centuries was called Christendom. An objective look will show you that Christendom wins by a landslide when it comes to violence and wars. After all, Europe and its offspring did not come to dominate the world, including the Islamic countries, because they practiced the gentle virtues of Jesus.

As for the common practice of cherry-picking Scripture from holy writings and presenting it out of context, just check out what Christians call the Old Testament. There you will find God advocating a double standard of morality, condoning slavery, ordering the Israelites to commit genocide and committing infanticide himself on a mass scale. I don't believe you will find anything comparable in the Quran.

The word "jihad," which is so over-used these days, has, like a lot of words, more than one meaning. It means basically to struggle, but this can be personal or spiritual, or a peaceful political struggle. Only if Islam is attacked are Muslims required to defend it.

As for that obnoxious propaganda term "Islamo-fascist," just recall that fascism is a European invention by nominal Christians. To my knowledge, the only fascist governments ever to exist on this planet were all European and nominally Christian.

Another canard is that Islam promotes forced conversion. Not so. Even when the Arab empire was expanding, rarely were any of the conquered people forced to convert. The Quran even forbids it, as I recall. Naturally, once Muslims were in charge, a lot of people decided it was in their own self-interest to convert, but this is just one of the sleazy aspects of human nature.

I remember when Florida elected its first Republican governor of the 20th century. I saw plenty of people crawl out from under their rocks and convert to the Republican Party, drawn by the smell of patronage. With some rare exceptions, human beings always act in what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, to be in their self-interest.

It was Christian Europe that slaughtered the Jews, and nothing remotely resembling the Holocaust is to be found in the history of Islam. In fact, during the past, when Jews were being persecuted by Christian Europe, they frequently fled to and found sanctuary in the Muslim countries. Until Israel was established, practically every Muslim country had sizable Jewish populations dating back centuries. And there are still Jews and Christians in some Muslim countries.

A final suggestion is that when you hear some individual radical Muslim being quoted, just remember he is one of a billion people and speaks only for himself and his small following. And be wary of the quotations he uses, for they are often deliberately fabricated or distorted.

If Muslims really desired to conquer the world, don't you think it's strange that we've been living in peace with them for nearly a millennium and a half, except for those times when we attacked them (the Crusades, the European colonial movement and our invasion of Iraq)? Don't forget either that some of the countries the Bush administration calls allies are themselves Muslim – Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc.

You have nothing to fear from Islam. The al-Qaida movement is a tiny percentage of Muslims and wouldn't be the force it is except for the fact that the Bush administration has gone out of its way to make all of Osama bin Laden's propaganda become true.

May 5, 2007

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.

Source: http://www.informationliberation.com/?id=21857

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bullying Di Sekolah



Menyedihkan sekali ini:

The latest research by non-profit organization the Sejiwa Foundation, conducted in three cities, revealed that 27.5 percent of interviewed teachers considered bullying to be harmless to children's psychological wellbeing.

18.3 percent of respondents also said bullying was normal and should not be policed [= tidak perlu dicegah] by teachers. (Jakarta Post, 8 May, 2007)

Masa!!!???!!!

Bullying = mengganggu anak lain dengan cara mengejek, menghinakan, mengacam, memeras, mendorong, memukul, menganiaya, menyiksa, dan bahkan juga menghajar sampai mati. (Kata “bullying” ini tidak punya terjemahan yang persis sama dalam bahasa Indonesia)

27.5% dari guru yang disurvei menganggap bahwa bullying tidak mengganggu keadaan psikologis anak kecil????????!!!!!!!!!!!?????

Astagfirullah al adzim!!

Bagaimana anak bisa belajar kalau dia dalam keadaan tertekan? Bagaimana bisa berhasil kalau ada yang mengancam dan memukulnya setiap hari? Kok bisa dianggap “normal” atau “biasa” oleh ¼ dari para guru??

Kok guru bisa menyatakan bahwa ini bukan tugas guru untuk mencegahnya?

Kok orang dewasa yang mempunyai otak (guru) bisa melihat anak kecil yang diancam dan dianiaya, tanpa ada rasa kasih sayang atau kepedulian yang muncul di hatinya dan tanpa ada keinginan untuk membela anak yang tidak berdosa yang ditindas dan diteror oleh orang lain?

Bangsa apa ini? Bukannya penuh dengan orang Islam? Bukannya mayoritas dari guru ini beragama Islam?

"We have also questioned teachers and the principal but have found no indications of negligence," he added.

Benar? Atau barangkali lebih tepat mengatakan:

“Kita sudah memeriksa para guru dan kepala sekolah, tetapi mereka tidak siap mengakui bahwa mereka adalah orang lalai yang tidak pedulikan muridnya dengan cukup baik. Dan sekarang karena salah satu muridnya sudah wafat karena ‘bullying’, mereka tidak ingin disalahkan, padahal mereka sudah lama mengetahui bahwa ada geng anak yang suka mengancam dan menghajar anak lain yang lebih kecil. Tapi jangan salahkan para guru ya! Mereka lagi sibuk di ruang guru pada saat murid malang itu sedang dibunuh. Mereka tidak perlu bertanggung-jawab. Mereka tidak salah.”

Saya merasa sangat sedih sebagai seorang guru pada saat saya baca hasil survei ini dari orang yang juga menyebutkan diri “Guru”. Apakah mereka ini guru? Atau penjaga anak di suatu gedung yang kebetulan dinamakan “sekolah”?

Apakah ini yang terbaik untuk masa depan bangsa ini? Yang jelas, para guru ini yang tidak melihat ada efek buruk dari ‘bullying’ perlu training sehingga mereka bisa paham. Dan kalau mereka belum paham juga setelah training selesai, saya siap memukul dan membanting badan mereka sampai mereka mengatakan “paham”. Barangkali kalau mereka sendiri dipukul pada saat belajar, baru mereka akan menjadi sanggup memahami apa yang dirasakan anak kecil yang mereka jaga (atau tidak jaga) di sekolah.

Insya Allah mereka akan menjadi paham sebelum anak anda atau anak tetangga anda menjadi korban berikut.

Boleh kita minta Menteri Pendidikan baru yang peduli pada pendidikan, sehingga dia siap melakukan perbaikan dengan secepatnya….?

Kapan ya…?

*******************************

When it comes to bullying, ignorance is not bliss

City News - May 08, 2007

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Who is to blame when children become violent? Fathers often beam with pride when their sons show off their macho side while mothers react with joy when their brave daughters tell them stories of how they bettered a boy at school. Little do we realize that the smallest violence can lead to devastating loss.

"Ma, I'm getting beaten up, Ma. I'm getting beaten up," Edo Renaldo, 8, mumbled while taking an afternoon nap. What at first looked like a mere fever turned into tragedy for the second grader and his parents Theresia Leli and Yohanes last week. "When I checked, I noticed bruises on his neck, waist and on both of his thighs," Yohanes told the daily Warta Kota on Friday. After she insisted Edo tell her what really happened, the boy said he had been beaten up by four of his seniors at school.

On April 28, Edo, an unfit child, was exhausted after PE class. He went to the toilets where a boy a year older than him knocked him off of his feet while three female classmates stomped on him, Leli said. The bullying continued after Edo returned to the classroom, where he was pushed in the chest by one of the girls.

Edo passed away a week later.

No conclusive cause has been found for Edo's death. But doctors have said they found a 10-centimeter rupture to Edo's intestines during autopsy. East Jakarta police resort head Sr. Comr. Robinson Manurung said the final result of the autopsy would come out within the next two weeks. "We have questioned the four students as well as teachers," Manurung said. During questioning the students, who were accompanied by their parents, admitted having beaten up Edo, Manurung said.

"We have also questioned teachers and the principal but have found no indications of negligence," he added.

Meanwhile, Edo's parents said they were disappointed with the school's response to their complaints about their son's injuries. "They said it was normal for someone to have bruises after working out," Leli said.

A study from Plan International Indonesia indicated that such violence in schools ranked second after domestic violence. The latest research by non-profit organization the Sejiwa Foundation, conducted in three cities, revealed that 27.5 percent of interviewed teachers considered bullying to be harmless to children's psychological wellbeing. 18.3 percent of respondents also said bullying was normal and should not be policed by teachers.

Bullying by nature is a reaction to perceived difference: being too attractive, too fat, too shy or having different cultural background, psychologist Ratna Djuwita said. A private school principal whose institution mainstreamed bullying prevention efforts, Ratna's message has long been when it comes to bullying that "ignorance is not bliss."

National Commission for Child Protection chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said the Child Protection Law stipulated that schools be held responsible for any violence on their premises. "Whatever the form (of violence) and whoever does it, schools should be violence-free zones and should protect their students," he said. (01)

http://www.thejakartapost.com/yesterdaydetail.asp?fileid=20070508.C01

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Anak berumur 8 tahun masuk penjara…


Sungguh menyedihkan anak ini ada di penjara. Seharusnya tidak. Kenapa tidak ada peraturan atau hukum khusus untuk anak di negara ini? Dan kalau ada, kenapa tidak dijalankan? Sayang masa depan anak ini menjadi rusak, padahal di jelas2 pintar. Bisa nggak kita mulaikan sebuah petisi untuk mengajak pemerintah/Hakim Agung melakukan Judicial Review terhadap kasus ini? Bikin petisi: "Lepaskan Arif!"?

Harus dipertanyakan apakah dia adalah orang yang berbahaya bagi masyarakat? Sepertinya tidak. Kalau begitu kenapa masuk penjara? Allah sendiri tidak menghukum anak kecil disebabkan dosa2nya. Kenapa kita mau melebihi Allah dengan hukuman tersebut?


Ada pembunuh lari dari penjara menggunakan tape uli...

Posted by Reza on Apr 23, '07 10:10 PM for everyone

Terus terang, meski sudah beberapa kali mengadakan penelitian Kriminal di LP, pengalaman kali ini adalah pengalaman pertama saya ngobrol langsung dengan seseorang yang didakwa kasus pembunuhan berencana. Dengan jantung dag dig dug, pikiran saya melayang-layang mengira-ngira gambaran orang yang akan saya temui. Sudah terbayang muka keji hanibal lecter, juga penjahat-penjahat berjenggot palsu ala sinetron, dan gambaran-gambaran pembunuh berdarah dingin lain yang sering saya temui di cerita TV.

Well, akhirnya setelah menunggu sekian lama berharap-harap cemas, salah satu sipir membawa seorang anak kehadapan saya.Yup, benar seorang anak berumur 8 tahun. Tingginya tidak lebih dari pinggang orang dewasa dengan wajah yang diliputi senyum malu-malu. Matanya teduh dengan gerak-gerik yang sopan.

Saya pun membaca berkas kasusnya yang diserahkan oleh sipir itu. Sebelum masuk penjara ternyata ia adalah juara kelas di sekolahnya, juara menggambar, jago bermain suling, juara mengaji dan azan di tingkat kanak-kanak. Kemampuan berhitungnya lumayan menonjol. Bahkan dari balik sekolah di dalam penjara pun nilai sekolahnya tercatat kedua terbesar tingkat provinsi. Lantas kenapa ia sampai membunuh? Dengan rencana pula?

Kasus ini terjadi ketika Arif sebut saja nama anak ini begitu, belum genap berusia tujuh tahun. Ayahnya yang berdagang di sebuah pasar di daerah bekasi, dihabisi kepala preman yang menguasai daerah itu. Latar belakangnya karena si ayah enggan membayar uang ‘keamanan’ yang begitu tinggi. Berita ini rupanya sampai di telinga Arif. Malam esok harinya setelah ayahnya dikebumikan ia mendatangi tempat mangkal preman tersebut. Bermodalkan pisau dapur ia menantang orang yang membunuh ayahnya.

“siapa yang bunuh ayah saya!” teriaknya kepada orang yang ada di tempat itu.

“Gue terus kenapa?” ujar kepala preman yang membunuh ayahnya sambil disambut gelak tawa di belakangnya.

Tanpa banyak bicara anak kecil itu sambil melompat menghunuskan pisau ke perut si preman. Dan tepat mengenai ulu hatinya, pria berbadan besar itu jatuh tersungkur ke tanah. Arif pun langsung lari pulang ke rumah setelahnya. Akhirnya selesai sholat subuh esok paginya ia digelandang ke kantor polisi.

“Arif nih sering bikin repot petugas di Lapas!” ujar kepala lapas yang ikut menemani saya mewawancarai arif sambil tersenyum. Ternyata sejak di penjara dua tahun lalu. Anak ini sudah tiga kali melarikan diri dari selnya. Dan caranya pun menurut saya tergolong ajaib.

Pelarian pertama dilakukannya dengan cara yang tak terpikirkan siapapun. Setiap pagi sampah-sampah dari Lapas itu di jemput oleh mobil kebersihan. Sadar akan hal ini, diam-diam Arif menyelinap ke dalam salah satu kantung sampah. Hasilnya 1-0 untuk Arif. Ia berhasil keluar dari penjara.

Pelarian kedua lebih kreatif lagi. Anak yang doyan baca ini pernah membaca artikel tentang fermentasi makanan tape (ingat loh waktu wawancara usianya baru 8 tahun). Dari situ ia mendapat informasi bahwa tape mengandung hawa panas yang bersifat destruktif terhadap benda keras. Kebetulan pula di Lapas anak ini disediakan tape uli dua kali dalam seminggu. Setiap disediakan tape, arif selalu berpuasa karena jatah tape itu dibalurkannya ke dinding tembok sel tahanannya. Hasilnya setelah empat bulan, tembok penjara itu menjadi lunak seperti tanah liat. Satu buah lubang berhasil dibuatnya. 2-0 untuk arif. Ia keluar penjara ke dua kalinya.

Pelarian ke tiganya dilakukan ala Mission Imposible. Arif yang ditugasi membersihkan kamar mandi melihat ember sebagai sebuah solusi. Besi yang berfungsi sebagai pegangan ember itu di simpannya di dalam kamarnya. Tahu bahwa dirinya sudah diawasi sangat ketat, Arif memilih tempat persembunyian paling aman sebelum memutuskan untuk kabur. Ruang kepala Lapas menjadi pilihannya. Alasannya jelas, karena tidak pernah satu pun penjaga berani memeriksa ruangan ini. Ketika tengah malam ia menyelinap keluar dengan menggunakan besi pegangan ember untuk membuka pintu dan gembok. Jangan tanya saya bagaimana caranya, pokoknya tahu-tahu ia sudah di luar. 3-0 untuk Arif.

Lantas kenapa ia bisa tertangkap lagi? Rupanya kepintaran itu masih berada di sebuah kepala bocah. Pelarian-pelariannya didorong dari rasa kangennya terhadap ibunya. Anak ini keluar dari penjara hanya untuk ke rumah sang ibunda tercinta. Jadi dari Lapas tanggerang ia menumpang-numpang mobil omprengan dan juga berjalan kaki sekian kilometer dengan satu tujuan, pulang!

Karena itu pula pada pelarian Arif yang ketiga, kepala Lapas yang juga seorang ibu ini meminta anak buahnya untuk tidak segera menjemput Arif. Hasilnya dua hari kemudian Arif kembali lagi ke lapas sambil membawa surat untuk kepala Lapas yang ditulisnya sendiri.

Ibu kepala Arif minta maaf, tapi Arif kangen sama ibu Arif. Tulisnya singkat.

Seorang anak cerdas yang harus terkurung dipenjara. Tapi, saya tidak lantas berpikir bahwa ia tidak benar-benar bersalah dan harus dibebaskan. Bagaimanapun juga ia telah menghilangkan nyawa seseorang. Tapi saya hanya berandai-andai jika saja, polisi bertindak cepat menangkap pembunuh si ayah (secepat polisi menangkap si Arif) pastinya saat ini anak pintar dan rajin itu tidak akan berada di tempat seperti ini. Dan kreativitasnya yang tinggi itu bisa berguna untuk hal yang lain. Sayangnya si Arif itu cuma anak pedagang sayur miskin sementara si preman yang dibunuhnya selalu setia menyetor kepada pihak berwajib setempat. Itulah yang namanya keadilan!

http://rgardino.multiply.com/journal/item/28

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Survei Tentara AS: Tidak Keberatan dengan Penyiksaan


Washington Post melaporkan bahwa tentara AS di Iraq telah mengikuti survei resmi dari Pentagon. Hasilnya:

· 2/3 dari tentara di Iraq percaya bahwa penyiksaan diperbolehkan kalau akan menghasilkan informasi yang penting tentang “insurgent” (penyerang).

· 4/10 akan setuju dengan penyiksaan bila dianggap bisa menyelamatkan nyawa prajurit lain.

· 2/3 dari Marinir [termasuk pasukan paling terlatih dan elit] dan 1/2 dari tentara biasa menyatakan tidak akan melaporkan rekan yang sengaja menganiaya/mengganggu orang sipil atau merusakkan barang milik orang sipil tanpa alasan yang benar.

· Kurang dari 1/2 dari marinir dan prajurit biasa percaya bahwa orang sipil [“non-combatant” = orang tua, ibu, anak, lelaki tidak bersenjata] harus diperlakuan dengan kehormatan dan kesopanan.

· 10% dari prajurit mengaku telah memperlakukan orang sipil secara tidak benar, dengan menendang mereka atau merusakkan barang milik mereka.

· Petugas menegaskan bahwa semua pengakuan ini atau hasil survei tidak sesuai dengan peraturan dan etika tentara AS yang melarang penyiksaan terhadap tahanan perang dan pengangguan terhadap orang sipil.

· Hasil studi ini juga menerangkan bahwa makin lama prajurit ditugaskan di daerah perang, dan makin sedikit waktunya di rumah di AS, makin mungkin prajurit itu akan mengalami gangguan mental seperti trauma kombat, stres, dan depresi. Belakangan ini, Pentagon telah mengirim pasukan yang sama ke Iraq berkali-kali [berarti masing2 prajurit kena “tour of duty” beberapa kali] dan juga memperpanjang durasi tour of duty tersebut menjadi 15 bulan dari 12 bulan sebelumnya.

· Tugas ini lebih berat daripada yang dialami pasukan AS di Perang Dunia II. Sekarang, ada Marinir dan prajurit yang harus melakukan “combat operation” setiap hari, dari 10-12 jam per hari, untuk berbulan-bulan. Ini pertama kali dalam sejarah tentara AS bahwa prajurit dan marinir harus menghabiskan waktu selama 6-7 bulan di garis depan.

· Dari hasil survei, 20% dari prajurit dan 15 % dari marinir sedang menderita dari depresi atau stres. 40% dari pasukan melaporkan “low morale” (perasaan tidak semangat) di dalam unitnya.

· Gangguan terhadap keluarga militer juga muncul. 20% dari prajurit melaporkan ada niat untuk cerai atau berpisah dengan isteri. Jumlah ini meningkat dari jumlah 15% tahun kemarin. Isteri dan anak sering memberikan komentar “Bapak sudah berubah dan tidak sama dengan orang yang berangkat ke Iraq.” [maksudnya, telah terjadi perubahan mental/sikap sebagai hasil dari keterlibatannya di dalam perang.]

· Sersan Scott Shore (Pensiunan) mengaku sering mengalami mimpi buruk, dan itu salah satu faktor dalam perceriaannya. Dia mengaku tidak suka berada di keramaian orang, tidak suka membawa mobil dan banyak hal yang lain karena selalu merasa takut akan diserang secara tiba-tiba (padahal sekarang dia berada di AS).

Mau berkomentar apa lagi? Hasil usaha sendiri! Selamat deh.

Sumber:

Troops at Odds With Ethics Standards

By Thomas E. Ricks and Ann Scott Tyson

The Washington Post

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/050507Z.shtml

Friday, May 04, 2007

US to Make History Trying Alleged Child War Criminal


By Mark Tran
The Guardian UK

Wednesday 25 April 2007


A human rights group today attacked a US decision to file murder charges against a Canadian national and alleged Taliban fighter who was captured in Afghanistan when he was 15.

Omar Khadr was wounded by US soldiers during a battle near Khost, Afghanistan, and taken into US custody in July 2002. He has spent most of the past five years in the US military prison at Guantánamo Bay.

During his capture he was shot three times and is nearly blind in one eye as a result of his injuries. The US military says Mr Khadr threw a grenade that killed a US Green Beret sergeant, Christopher Speer, and wounded another sergeant, Layne Morris.

Mr Khadr's Pentagon-appointed lawyer, Marine lieutenant colonel Colby Vokey, said the US would become the first country in modern history to try a war crimes suspect who was a child at the time of the alleged violations if a trial went ahead.

Mr Khadr has been charged with murder, attempted murder, providing support to terrorism, conspiracy and spying under rules for military trials adopted last year. The conspiracy charge is based on acts allegedly committed before Mr Khadr was 10, according to his defence team.

Amnesty International strongly criticised the decision to subject Mr Khadr to a military tribunal.

"To have held a 15-year-old boy in the harsh and lawless conditions of Guantánamo for five years has already been a travesty of justice - and to put him before an unfair 'military commission' trial simply adds to a disgraceful record in his case," said the Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen.

Ms Allen said the US authorities should transfer his case to a civilian federal court on the US mainland.

Toronto-born Mr Khadr faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The Pentagon said Mr Khadr must be held accountable.

"The defence department will continue to uphold the law and bring unlawful enemy combatants to justice through the military commissions process," it said.

Mr Speer's widow and Mr Morris filed a civil lawsuit against Mr Khadr and his father. In February, a judge awarded them $102.6m (£51m).

Dennis Edney, a Canadian lawyer for Mr Khadr's family, said the new tribunal system, which allows coerced and hearsay evidence, "provides Mr Khadr with almost no chance of proving his innocence.

"The aim is to provide a showcase to justify the US administration decision to arrest Mr. Khadr and other men like him in the first place," Mr Edney told the Associated Press.

Mr Khadr's attorneys urged Canada and the US to negotiate a "political resolution" of the case to spare Mr Khadr a guaranteed conviction by "one of the greatest show trials on earth".

Several of Mr Khadr's family members have been accused of ties to Islamist extremists. His Egyptian-born father, Ahmad Said al-Khadr, was killed in Pakistan in 2003 alongside senior al-Qaida operatives and Canada is holding Mr Khadr's brother Abdullah on a US extradition warrant accusing him of supplying weapons to al-Qaida.

Mr Khadr will be the second prisoner to face terror charges under new military tribunals after the US supreme court in June struck down the previous military tribunal system at Guantánamo as unconstitutional. Congress then passed a law establishing a new system, which is also being challenged.

In March, the military tribunal at Guantánamo sentenced an Australian, David Hicks, to nine months in prison after he pleaded guilty to supporting terrorism - the first conviction at a US war crimes trial since the second world war.

Under an agreement with the court, he will serve his sentence in an Australian prison, but must remain silent about any alleged abuse while in US custody. Prosecutors say they plan to charge as many as 80 of the 370 men held at Guantánamo on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.

"We are increasingly concerned that with 80% of Guantánamo detainees now held in solitary confinement, there is mounting evidence that some are dangerously close to full-blown mental and physical breakdown," Amnesty said.

Source: Truthout

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps


Interesting Article....


Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

Tuesday April 24, 2007
The Guardian

Last autumn, there was a military coup in Thailand. The leaders of the coup took a number of steps, rather systematically, as if they had a shopping list. In a sense, they did. Within a matter of days, democracy had been closed down: the coup leaders declared martial law, sent armed soldiers into residential areas, took over radio and TV stations, issued restrictions on the press, tightened some limits on travel, and took certain activists into custody.

They were not figuring these things out as they went along. If you look at history, you can see that there is essentially a blueprint for turning an open society into a dictatorship. That blueprint has been used again and again in more and less bloody, more and less terrifying ways. But it is always effective. It is very difficult and arduous to create and sustain a democracy - but history shows that closing one down is much simpler. You simply have to be willing to take the 10 steps.

As difficult as this is to contemplate, it is clear, if you are willing to look, that each of these 10 steps has already been initiated today in the United States by the Bush administration.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognise the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realise.

Conason eloquently warned of the danger of American authoritarianism. I am arguing that we need also to look at the lessons of European and other kinds of fascism to understand the potential seriousness of the events we see unfolding in the US.

1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

After we were hit on September 11 2001, we were in a state of national shock. Less than six weeks later, on October 26 2001, the USA Patriot Act was passed by a Congress that had little chance to debate it; many said that they scarcely had time to read it. We were told we were now on a "war footing"; we were in a "global war" against a "global caliphate" intending to "wipe out civilisation". There have been other times of crisis in which the US accepted limits on civil liberties, such as during the civil war, when Lincoln declared martial law, and the second world war, when thousands of Japanese-American citizens were interned. But this situation, as Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda notes, is unprecedented: all our other wars had an endpoint, so the pendulum was able to swing back toward freedom; this war is defined as open-ended in time and without national boundaries in space - the globe itself is the battlefield. "This time," Fein says, "there will be no defined end."

Creating a terrifying threat - hydra-like, secretive, evil - is an old trick. It can, like Hitler's invocation of a communist threat to the nation's security, be based on actual events (one Wisconsin academic has faced calls for his dismissal because he noted, among other things, that the alleged communist arson, the Reichstag fire of February 1933, was swiftly followed in Nazi Germany by passage of the Enabling Act, which replaced constitutional law with an open-ended state of emergency). Or the terrifying threat can be based, like the National Socialist evocation of the "global conspiracy of world Jewry", on myth.

It is not that global Islamist terrorism is not a severe danger; of course it is. I am arguing rather that the language used to convey the nature of the threat is different in a country such as Spain - which has also suffered violent terrorist attacks - than it is in America. Spanish citizens know that they face a grave security threat; what we as American citizens believe is that we are potentially threatened with the end of civilisation as we know it. Of course, this makes us more willing to accept restrictions on our freedoms.

2. Create a gulag

Once you have got everyone scared, the next step is to create a prison system outside the rule of law (as Bush put it, he wanted the American detention centre at Guantánamo Bay to be situated in legal "outer space") - where torture takes place.

At first, the people who are sent there are seen by citizens as outsiders: troublemakers, spies, "enemies of the people" or "criminals". Initially, citizens tend to support the secret prison system; it makes them feel safer and they do not identify with the prisoners. But soon enough, civil society leaders - opposition members, labour activists, clergy and journalists - are arrested and sent there as well.

This process took place in fascist shifts or anti-democracy crackdowns ranging from Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s to the Latin American coups of the 1970s and beyond. It is standard practice for closing down an open society or crushing a pro-democracy uprising.

With its jails in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, of course, Guantánamo in Cuba, where detainees are abused, and kept indefinitely without trial and without access to the due process of the law, America certainly has its gulag now. Bush and his allies in Congress recently announced they would issue no information about the secret CIA "black site" prisons throughout the world, which are used to incarcerate people who have been seized off the street.

Gulags in history tend to metastasise, becoming ever larger and more secretive, ever more deadly and formalised. We know from first-hand accounts, photographs, videos and government documents that people, innocent and guilty, have been tortured in the US-run prisons we are aware of and those we can't investigate adequately.

But Americans still assume this system and detainee abuses involve only scary brown people with whom they don't generally identify. It was brave of the conservative pundit William Safire to quote the anti-Nazi pastor Martin Niemöller, who had been seized as a political prisoner: "First they came for the Jews." Most Americans don't understand yet that the destruction of the rule of law at Guantánamo set a dangerous precedent for them, too.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offences, and were subjected to show trials. Eventually, the Special Courts became a parallel system that put pressure on the regular courts to abandon the rule of law in favour of Nazi ideology when making decisions.

3. Develop a thug caste

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorise citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

The years following 9/11 have proved a bonanza for America's security contractors, with the Bush administration outsourcing areas of work that traditionally fell to the US military. In the process, contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been issued for security work by mercenaries at home and abroad. In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution

Yes, but that is in Iraq, you could argue; however, after Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security hired and deployed hundreds of armed private security guards in New Orleans. The investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill interviewed one unnamed guard who reported having fired on unarmed civilians in the city. It was a natural disaster that underlay that episode - but the administration's endless war on terror means ongoing scope for what are in effect privately contracted armies to take on crisis and emergency management at home in US cities.

Thugs in America? Groups of angry young Republican men, dressed in identical shirts and trousers, menaced poll workers counting the votes in Florida in 2000. If you are reading history, you can imagine that there can be a need for "public order" on the next election day. Say there are protests, or a threat, on the day of an election; history would not rule out the presence of a private security firm at a polling station "to restore public order".

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbours to spy on neighbours. The Stasi needed to keep only a minority of East Germans under surveillance to convince a majority that they themselves were being watched.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny.

In closed societies, this surveillance is cast as being about "national security"; the true function is to keep citizens docile and inhibit their activism and dissent.

5. Harass citizens' groups

The fifth thing you do is related to step four - you infiltrate and harass citizens' groups. It can be trivial: a church in Pasadena, whose minister preached that Jesus was in favour of peace, found itself being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, while churches that got Republicans out to vote, which is equally illegal under US tax law, have been left alone.

Other harassment is more serious: the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in its category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organisations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists. A little-noticed new law has redefined activism such as animal rights protests as "terrorism". So the definition of "terrorist" slowly expands to include the opposition.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

This scares people. It is a kind of cat-and-mouse game. Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the investigative reporters who wrote China Wakes: the Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power, describe pro-democracy activists in China, such as Wei Jingsheng, being arrested and released many times. In a closing or closed society there is a "list" of dissidents and opposition leaders: you are targeted in this way once you are on the list, and it is hard to get off the list.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticised Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

Professor Walter F Murphy is emeritus of Princeton University; he is one of the foremost constitutional scholars in the nation and author of the classic Constitutional Democracy. Murphy is also a decorated former marine, and he is not even especially politically liberal. But on March 1 this year, he was denied a boarding pass at Newark, "because I was on the Terrorist Watch list".

"Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that," asked the airline employee.

"I explained," said Murphy, "that I had not so marched but had, in September 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the constitution."

"That'll do it," the man said.

Anti-war marcher? Potential terrorist. Support the constitution? Potential terrorist. History shows that the categories of "enemy of the people" tend to expand ever deeper into civil life.

James Yee, a US citizen, was the Muslim chaplain at Guantánamo who was accused of mishandling classified documents. He was harassed by the US military before the charges against him were dropped. Yee has been detained and released several times. He is still of interest.

Brandon Mayfield, a US citizen and lawyer in Oregon, was mistakenly identified as a possible terrorist. His house was secretly broken into and his computer seized. Though he is innocent of the accusation against him, he is still on the list.

It is a standard practice of fascist societies that once you are on the list, you can't get off.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

Academe is a tinderbox of activism, so those seeking a fascist shift punish academics and students with professional loss if they do not "coordinate", in Goebbels' term, ideologically. Since civil servants are the sector of society most vulnerable to being fired by a given regime, they are also a group that fascists typically "coordinate" early on: the Reich Law for the Re-establishment of a Professional Civil Service was passed on April 7 1933.

Bush supporters in state legislatures in several states put pressure on regents at state universities to penalise or fire academics who have been critical of the administration. As for civil servants, the Bush administration has derailed the career of one military lawyer who spoke up for fair trials for detainees, while an administration official publicly intimidated the law firms that represent detainees pro bono by threatening to call for their major corporate clients to boycott them.

Elsewhere, a CIA contract worker who said in a closed blog that "waterboarding is torture" was stripped of the security clearance she needed in order to do her job.

Most recently, the administration purged eight US attorneys for what looks like insufficient political loyalty. When Goebbels purged the civil service in April 1933, attorneys were "coordinated" too, a step that eased the way of the increasingly brutal laws to follow.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says arrests of US journalists are at an all-time high: Josh Wolf (no relation), a blogger in San Francisco, has been put in jail for a year for refusing to turn over video of an anti-war demonstration; Homeland Security brought a criminal complaint against reporter Greg Palast, claiming he threatened "critical infrastructure" when he and a TV producer were filming victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. Palast had written a bestseller critical of the Bush administration.

Other reporters and writers have been punished in other ways. Joseph C Wilson accused Bush, in a New York Times op-ed, of leading the country to war on the basis of a false charge that Saddam Hussein had acquired yellowcake uranium in Niger. His wife, Valerie Plame, was outed as a CIA spy - a form of retaliation that ended her career.

Prosecution and job loss are nothing, though, compared with how the US is treating journalists seeking to cover the conflict in Iraq in an unbiased way. The Committee to Protect Journalists has documented multiple accounts of the US military in Iraq firing upon or threatening to fire upon unembedded (meaning independent) reporters and camera operators from organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to the BBC. While westerners may question the accounts by al-Jazeera, they should pay attention to the accounts of reporters such as the BBC's Kate Adie. In some cases reporters have been wounded or killed, including ITN's Terry Lloyd in 2003. Both CBS and the Associated Press in Iraq had staff members seized by the US military and taken to violent prisons; the news organisations were unable to see the evidence against their staffers.

Over time in closing societies, real news is supplanted by fake news and false documents. Pinochet showed Chilean citizens falsified documents to back up his claim that terrorists had been about to attack the nation. The yellowcake charge, too, was based on forged papers.

You won't have a shutdown of news in modern America - it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it's not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can't tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalise certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor". When Bill Keller, the publisher of the New York Times, ran the Lichtblau/Risen stories, Bush called the Times' leaking of classified information "disgraceful", while Republicans in Congress called for Keller to be charged with treason, and rightwing commentators and news outlets kept up the "treason" drumbeat. Some commentators, as Conason noted, reminded readers smugly that one penalty for violating the Espionage Act is execution.

Conason is right to note how serious a threat that attack represented. It is also important to recall that the 1938 Moscow show trial accused the editor of Izvestia, Nikolai Bukharin, of treason; Bukharin was, in fact, executed. And it is important to remind Americans that when the 1917 Espionage Act was last widely invoked, during the infamous 1919 Palmer Raids, leftist activists were arrested without warrants in sweeping roundups, kept in jail for up to five months, and "beaten, starved, suffocated, tortured and threatened with death", according to the historian Myra MacPherson. After that, dissent was muted in America for a decade.

In Stalin's Soviet Union, dissidents were "enemies of the people". National Socialists called those who supported Weimar democracy "November traitors".

And here is where the circle closes: most Americans do not realise that since September of last year - when Congress wrongly, foolishly, passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 - the president has the power to call any US citizen an "enemy combatant". He has the power to define what "enemy combatant" means. The president can also delegate to anyone he chooses in the executive branch the right to define "enemy combatant" any way he or she wants and then seize Americans accordingly.

Even if you or I are American citizens, even if we turn out to be completely innocent of what he has accused us of doing, he has the power to have us seized as we are changing planes at Newark tomorrow, or have us taken with a knock on the door; ship you or me to a navy brig; and keep you or me in isolation, possibly for months, while awaiting trial. (Prolonged isolation, as psychiatrists know, triggers psychosis in otherwise mentally healthy prisoners. That is why Stalin's gulag had an isolation cell, like Guantánamo's, in every satellite prison. Camp 6, the newest, most brutal facility at Guantánamo, is all isolation cells.)

We US citizens will get a trial eventually - for now. But legal rights activists at the Center for Constitutional Rights say that the Bush administration is trying increasingly aggressively to find ways to get around giving even US citizens fair trials. "Enemy combatant" is a status offence - it is not even something you have to have done. "We have absolutely moved over into a preventive detention model - you look like you could do something bad, you might do something bad, so we're going to hold you," says a spokeswoman of the CCR.

Most Americans surely do not get this yet. No wonder: it is hard to believe, even though it is true. In every closing society, at a certain point there are some high-profile arrests - usually of opposition leaders, clergy and journalists. Then everything goes quiet. After those arrests, there are still newspapers, courts, TV and radio, and the facades of a civil society. There just isn't real dissent. There just isn't freedom. If you look at history, just before those arrests is where we are now.

10. Suspend the rule of law

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and its citizens.

Even as Americans were focused on Britney Spears's meltdown and the question of who fathered Anna Nicole's baby, the New York Times editorialised about this shift: "A disturbing recent phenomenon in Washington is that laws that strike to the heart of American democracy have been passed in the dead of night ... Beyond actual insurrection, the president may now use military troops as a domestic police force in response to a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, terrorist attack or any 'other condition'."

Critics see this as a clear violation of the Posse Comitatus Act - which was meant to restrain the federal government from using the military for domestic law enforcement. The Democratic senator Patrick Leahy says the bill encourages a president to declare federal martial law. It also violates the very reason the founders set up our system of government as they did: having seen citizens bullied by a monarch's soldiers, the founders were terrified of exactly this kind of concentration of militias' power over American people in the hands of an oppressive executive or faction.

Of course, the United States is not vulnerable to the violent, total closing-down of the system that followed Mussolini's march on Rome or Hitler's roundup of political prisoners. Our democratic habits are too resilient, and our military and judiciary too independent, for any kind of scenario like that.

Rather, as other critics are noting, our experiment in democracy could be closed down by a process of erosion.

It is a mistake to think that early in a fascist shift you see the profile of barbed wire against the sky. In the early days, things look normal on the surface; peasants were celebrating harvest festivals in Calabria in 1922; people were shopping and going to the movies in Berlin in 1931. Early on, as WH Auden put it, the horror is always elsewhere - while someone is being tortured, children are skating, ships are sailing: "dogs go on with their doggy life ... How everything turns away/ Quite leisurely from the disaster."

As Americans turn away quite leisurely, keeping tuned to internet shopping and American Idol, the foundations of democracy are being fatally corroded. Something has changed profoundly that weakens us unprecedentedly: our democratic traditions, independent judiciary and free press do their work today in a context in which we are "at war" in a "long war" - a war without end, on a battlefield described as the globe, in a context that gives the president - without US citizens realising it yet - the power over US citizens of freedom or long solitary incarceration, on his say-so alone.

That means a hollowness has been expanding under the foundation of all these still- free-looking institutions - and this foundation can give way under certain kinds of pressure. To prevent such an outcome, we have to think about the "what ifs".

What if, in a year and a half, there is another attack - say, God forbid, a dirty bomb? The executive can declare a state of emergency. History shows that any leader, of any party, will be tempted to maintain emergency powers after the crisis has passed. With the gutting of traditional checks and balances, we are no less endangered by a President Hillary than by a President Giuliani - because any executive will be tempted to enforce his or her will through edict rather than the arduous, uncertain process of democratic negotiation and compromise.

What if the publisher of a major US newspaper were charged with treason or espionage, as a rightwing effort seemed to threaten Keller with last year? What if he or she got 10 years in jail? What would the newspapers look like the next day? Judging from history, they would not cease publishing; but they would suddenly be very polite.

Right now, only a handful of patriots are trying to hold back the tide of tyranny for the rest of us - staff at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who faced death threats for representing the detainees yet persisted all the way to the Supreme Court; activists at the American Civil Liberties Union; and prominent conservatives trying to roll back the corrosive new laws, under the banner of a new group called the American Freedom Agenda. This small, disparate collection of people needs everybody's help, including that of Europeans and others internationally who are willing to put pressure on the administration because they can see what a US unrestrained by real democracy at home can mean for the rest of the world.

We need to look at history and face the "what ifs". For if we keep going down this road, the "end of America" could come for each of us in a different way, at a different moment; each of us might have a different moment when we feel forced to look back and think: that is how it was before - and this is the way it is now.

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

· Naomi Wolf's The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot will be published by Chelsea Green in September.

The Guardian