Thursday, September 13, 2012

Duck and Cover!

Holy cow!  Better get under the desk.  Mitt Romney's got a gun and he's just shot himself in the foot while aiming at Obama.  Luckily, it's Mitt, so the President's unharmed.  But the blackboard sure took a beating. 

Yes, it's the Goon Show.  Funny, except for this:  Imagine candidate Mitt's muddled facts, shoot first propensity transformed into President Mitt with his finger on the nuclear button.  Not so funny.

But seriously unfunny is the average American's ignorance and unwillingness to come to terms with its own imperial history in the Middle East. There is a reason why the "Arab street" so often breaks out in rage against the US and it's this:  For generations, the US has backed theocratic/kleptocratic thugs who tortured, murdered, "disappeared" their own people, kept 'em barefoot and ignorant while the country's wealth (oil) went to benefit the oligarchs and the countries of the west.  When Iran, for example, revolted in the 1950s and elected a candidate of their choice, the CIA helped overthrow him and installed and backed the Shah, who went on with his dreaded Savak secret police to tyrannize  the Iranian people for years. And you wonder why, when the Iranian people and the mullah's revolted again, they took Americans hostage?  No surprise there.  We got history in too many of those countries and the history is often not good. So, enough with the Republican meme of "apologies."  We got much to apologize for and help set right.

And can we get a grip about "Islam."  The problem isn't "Islam," it's fundamentalism.  All fundamentalism. A literal mind-set can too easily make suckers and fools out of believers, whether Christian, Muslim or Jew, because it makes the true believers vulnerable to exploitation by cold-eyed sociopaths who would use these sorry naifs for their own ends. Combine years of civil/social injustice and anger, mix with ignorant fundamentalism and you have the making of street riots -- add al Qaida operatives or local political/militia organizations manipulating public sentiment for their own ends, and stir.  Whooppee, Death to America!  Wave the Black Banners.

And while we're at it, can we grow up about our place and role in the world?  Too many Americans (and their pandering politicians) have this third-grade notion of American exceptionalism (God has graced our nation alone, the best nation in the world!) and America's role as the light and beacon of the world.  Pluuueeze, people.  Get a grip. Yes, America is an amazing place, but so are other countries.  No country has cornered the market on God's grace.  Nations rise and fall, empires come and go, societies change and transform.  We're all involved in an ongoing process of figuring out ways to live on this earth.  It's an old, old process.

And carries with it, a large dollop of humility and irony:  When you encourage and support the transition of a country from dictatorship to "democracy," you have to be ready to accept the "democracy" that shows up.  If you give people the right to vote to govern themselves, you've got to be ready to deal with the governors they select. And deal with the blowback that may ensue.  Especially if you've had a "history" with the country you're helping towards self-governance.

Happily, we have a president who's calm and cool and waits to get the facts straight before shooting.  What he needs is a country that's equally calm and cool.  Unfortunately, what he's stuck with is an "American street" that's not that different from the "Arab street;" a mix of angry, ignorant fundamentalist crazies waving flags and crying, "Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." 

Better hide under the desk after all. 


No comments: