What to Think Whenever You Hear "The Worst of the Worst"

A Black Agenda Radio commentatry by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There's “military intelligence,” and “humantiarian intervention.” There's “public-private partnership” and “public charter school.” Official criminals are nothing if not proficient at inventing deceptive language to stigmatize their victims, to conceal and excuse their misdeeds.

What To Think of Whenever You Hear “The Worst of the Worst”?

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

There are some phrases, mostly referring or belonging to government which frequently mean the opposite of what they say, or which are shorthand for entire libraries of lies promoted by the powerful to turn reality on its head. Terms like “military intelligence,” “public charter school,” “public-private partnership,” “extraordinary rendition,” “congressional oversight” and “humanitarian intervention” are among those that come readily to mind. We take this moment to focus on a current favorite phrase oft deployed by our masters of deceit to conceal their official crimes.

That phrase is “the worst of the worst.” Official spokespeople and corporate media apply this term to those unjustly confined for torture and indefinite sentences with no trial or formal charges, like those at Guantanamo, Bahgram, Diego Garcia and an archipelago of known and unknown prisons and surrogate facilities. It's been shown again and again that the so-called “worst of the worst” in such places are often completely innocent, and sometimes include children.

No matter. The “worst of the worst” label is an open invitation to invent even more lies, to dismiss their lives, their families and the rules of international law and human decency in their cases. One of the signal policy innovations of the Obama administration over the Bush-Cheney regime is said to be the simple murder of such persons with drones rather than locking them up.

The “worst of the worst” phrase is deployed by domestic officials as well, usually to refer to the United States' world-leading total of more than 70,000 in solitary confinement in thousands of federal, state and local jails and prisons. It has become standard procedure across the country to put prisoners in solitary confinement for years for such offenses as refusing to confess an alleged gang affiliation, engaging in anything that looks like unsanctioned self-help or self-improvement organizing, the possession of books that one's jailers disapprove of, having a history of political activism on the outside, or experiencing an awakening of political consciousness while a prisoner.

The assertion of jailers that the 70,000 in solitary confinement on any day in the United States are “the worst of the worst” is nothing less than cynical doublespeak to conceal their own crimes. Solitary confinement, when prolonged for more than a few days is recognized under international law as torture, and crimes always are doubly diabolical when committed anyone on a public payroll.

Hence whenever we hear media spokespeople, military or civilian officials on any level refer to those in their dungeons and their gunsights at home and abroad as “the worst of the worst” we should not let that stand. We should know, and let everyone in our reach know we and they are hearing the worst kind of calumny, designed to conceal official wrongs committed in all our names. It's our jailers and their official enablers, not our prisoners here and around the world who are truly “the worst of the worst.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Makes me cringe, as a human being and as an American.

Fancy words from liars to cover crimes = government of the U.S.A. in 2013 as we near the flag waving day of July 4th.  I heard a man on the radio (can't recall who) say last night, that he was on an airplane with a military person in uniform.  When it was time to exit the plane, (deplane - another American language innnovation), the military man stood up and everyone (really?) applauded and the man in uniform was escorted to the exit first before the other passengers.  The man telling the story was "moved"(emotionally)!

One more thing re solitary confinement: mentally ill/mentally disabled individuals are being locked in solitary confinement (and tortured) for minor infactions of rules - people who should not be in prison at all, but who are jailed as felons for things that have been misdemeanors for non mentally ill/mentally disabled.  (My sources are the American Friends Service Committee AFSC Prison Project and Legal Aid, NYC, from memory).  It is a topic I have followed, especially as my late friend, Joseph C., had written a letter to a woman home attendant asking her to marry him when he was in manic phase (note: He should have only been assigned a male home care attendant by the privatized - yes, it was because it was privatized- social work agency that took over his "care" after a private hospital messed him up with a drug treatment experiment in the mid1990s and threw him out of their outpatient services for asking to be removed from the study).  He was threatened with jail time for writing a letter of marriage proposal, which was considered as threatening.  No, the man had no history of every being violent in his many decades of manic depression treatment, which had been managed well, until he was urged to and volunteered for the drug experiment, which made him worse. He is one of many.



Some large companies, which can not be identified because of confidentiality agreements, have still not made any offers.

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