UNIVERSAL amnesia, if one is to be afflicted by any disease at all, must be among the most satisfying to manage.  It allows the carrier to view (or, more likely, not even to look at) the world around and never have to make a judgement about anything at all.

And, of course, by its very name, being a disease of the universe, it is infinite (without end), and therefore not intent on killing the body it invades. One just lives with it.

Sadly, a side effect of this otherwise benign ailment is the mindlessness it induces — and this can be catastrophically dangerous to others. Witness, for example, the lunacy, and tragic consequence, in Italy last week outside a soccer stadium while a game was going on inside the stadium; witness the incessant, George W. Bush-inspired (with the help of UK and Aussie friends) carnage in the cities of Iraq; witness the defiant irresponsibility, and blindness, of John W. Howard through years of mounting and dire evidence of global warming and atmospheric pollution.

Now, predictably, in this election year, assailed by near irrefutable evidence, Mr Howard generously acknowledges he has moved from sceptic — I bet he spells it with a `k’—— to realist. (His apparent change of heart, of course, doesn’t mean he intends to do anything about the crisis our planet faces if there is even the slightest of chances that it might cost Australia a single short-term economic dime.)

That universal amnesia is pandemic there is no doubt, as evidenced by the astounding forgetfulness (I doubt that it is simply apathy) of, in the case of David Hicks, Australians, and, in the case of the origins of the ``war’’ that Bush inflicted on the Iraqis, most of the West’s Anglo population.

In the case of Hicks, even the impartial ABC has forgotten that, when Hicks was picked up somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, there were no laws anywhere that could possibly justify his being charged, more than five years later, with the offences the US military (on behalf of its dangerously intellectually handicapped commander-in-chief) has now laid against him.

Why is this? Because, in the intervening years, a cascade of misinformation, disinformation and what is now more commonly termed infoganda has numbed the senses of even those who think they are angry (and still care) about the Coalition of the Willing’s intolerance to even those aspects that are left of what once were called human rights.

We all know now that torture by anyone is bad as long as it isn’t being administered by the CIA (when using it themselves, CIA operatives have a more benign euphemism for it).

We all know that Saddam Hussein, even though he could not possibly have killed as many people in five years as the US and its allies have caused to be killed in Iraq in the same time, was a really bad bugger who got what he deserved.

“We all know — even though there’s barely a lawyer left who really thinks Hicks has anything to answer for apart from, possibly, a few nasty thoughts he entertained about what he would like to do with Uncle Sam and his supporters (since when have thoughts been crimes?) — that the US now has the legal right to try this man.”

We know all these things because we have had these “truths” poured on to us incessantly (a bit like water torture but without the leaking bucket actually visible over our heads).

This week, the ABC interviewer was asking simply about the charges Hicks faces. No longer were there questions suggestive of cynicism about the charges having any validity in terms of serious justice.

Even Hicks’ lawyer, when interviewed by the ABC, seemed to forget to question their validity. He was more concerned with accusing the US of more skulduggery in laying the charges the day after Hicks’ legal team had left Guantanamo and the hapless suspect was once again alone and deprived of access to any friendly contact who could give him some comfort from the torture he suffers 24-seven.

In the Sunday Tasmanian (February 4) there was, perhaps, just a hint — though oblique — that possibly one person had managed a moment of clarity through the mists of their universal amnesia.

The words in the headline on page 2 were nicely juxtaposed yet perfectly objective with just a hint of ambiguity: (`Hicks charged, Howard pleased’).

It was a comforting headline. But I’m a bit worried its author might come under investigation for suspected subversion (not of Australia itself, of course, but of the bona fides of the Federal Government, in particular its long-revered leader).

So, as happened, through a kiss, with the fairytale frog/prince, can this tiny act of defiance be seen as a sign of awakening; a national, perhaps international, possibility that UA can be beaten, and that there can be a revival of the long-stifled goodness that resides in every human soul?

Is there to be a widespread realisation of the ghastly confidence-tricksterdom inflicted upon us by leaders of so-called democracies in their desperation to entrench (or hang on to) their hold over the voters?

Nope. That headline was, more likely, just a manifestation of a mind desperately trying to see the light through the psychological straitjacket Bush and Co have managed to wrap around most of us this past decade.

Bush and friends are most concerned that all you UA sufferers out there do not fight the disease they have forced you to live with.

What is important is that you all simply remember the name of your ailment, the operative word being universal — because we all know, now, that, since September 11, 2001, the laws of the United States have been extended to the limits of our limitless universe.

As it expands, as science tells us, at an ever-more rapid rate, we must all remember that no one who defies the might of US and its allies will be beyond their reach.

George Bush and his mates will push on and out in search of their quarries.

As they say, you can run but … 

And, because of your UA, you won’t even know they are after you.

Bob Hawkins

In the case of Hicks, even the impartial ABC has forgotten that, when Hicks was picked up somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, there were no laws anywhere that could possibly justify his being charged, more than five years later, with the offences the US military (on behalf of its dangerously intellectually handicapped commander-in-chief) has now laid against him. Why is this? Because, in the intervening years, a cascade of misinformation, disinformation and what is now more commonly termed infoganda has numbed the senses of even those who think they are angry (and still care) about the Coalition of the Willing’s intolerance to even those aspects that are left of what once were called human rights.