Keep the hope alive
Keep the hope alive, by Mazin Qumsiyeh
When I first came to the US 25 years ago, everything seemed larger: cars, streets, farms, food servings, offices, homes, bathrooms, salaries, and people. In 25 years, much has changed. Now I reflect on this Orwellian age of mass surrender where there are larger lies, larger egos, larger arsenals of weapons, larger corporations, larger televisions, larger special interests effects on government, larger multinationals, larger coffers of lobbyists, larger cars (SUVs), larger military budgets, larger corporate subsidies, and larger talking heads.
We work harder for less, less financial security for the old age, less time for fellow humans, less interest in reading or in the rest of humanity, less honor, less investigative journalism, less personal communications, less democracy, less educational resources (relative to purchasing power/inflation adjusted numbers), less health, and less compassion for the miseries inflicted by our corporations on people of Iraq and Palestine and elsewhere.
Americans are being misled away from full citizenship participation with empowerment (civic involvement, real control of their government). They are being told to be merely consumers who are disempowered. It is no coincidence that President Bush told us after 9/11 be afraid of terrorists, trust his government, and go shopping. Power, afterall, is easier to concentrate if people don't excercise it for themselves. When people are made to feel afraid and look up to the government to provide them with a sense of security (the same government that repeatedly instill fear in them), then citizens will willingly give up their citizenship rights, their freedoms, their power, their taxes and hand it all to those in power. Those in power meanwhile rotate between lucrative positions in government, think tanks, corporations and back. They escape answering to such questions like why do we violate humanitarian laws by holding hundreds in Guantanamou or by torturing people in third countries.
The ultimate anti-democratic danger was and still is what a founding father of the US called the risk of the "moneyed interests" getting their hands on levers of power. These has reached an epidemic proportion today and indeed explains why the winner in this election cycle will be the same "moneyed interests" (corporate and special interests especially of Zionism) whether it is Democrats and Republicans who end up getting more votes. It is precisely why getting ballot access to third parties is made so difficult in most states.
The reduction of citizens to the role of fearful consumers is done with calculated efforts aided by corporate controlled media. Just watch Fox for 5 minutes to see the flickering images intended to scare people into total submission and into buying things they really do not need (bigger cars, gadgets of all sorts etc). The combination of this strategy with the two party duopoly on discourse explains why over 50% of Americans do not vote. It explains why tens of thousands die because of lack of access to proper medical care while the US per capita expenditure on health care is one of the highest (just look into where all the money goes). The US remains the only industrialized nation without nationalized healthcare. Neither party is willing to address this issue seriously. Instead, the differences are reduced to differences over which special interests to serve (trial lawyers or the HMOs) or the nuances of dealing with Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq violated international laws and violated the U.S. Constitution's limit on the deployment of armed forces to immediate protection of U.S. borders (Article I, Section 8). The Democratic and Republican leadership do not care what the rest of the world thinks including the US public. A majority say it was a mistake to launch a war on Iraq but Kerry can only speak about the way this war was conducted (needing to "win the peace"). 70% of Americans say they want an even handed foreign policy on Israel/Palestine and two thirds support the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands. Yet, the duopoly through its propaganda outlets (otherwise known as "mainstream" media), keeps emphasizing how Israel is defending itself and is the only "democracy" in the Middle East. The rest of the world does understand that Israel is no more a democracy than South Africa was a democracy under apartheid (a democracy for white people). Israel is actually worse in some aspects than apartheid South Africa: Palestinians are now being jailed in ghettos with walls and fences (something that never happened in South Africa). Israel is the only country which recgnizes members of a particular religion (including converts) living anywhere in the world as nationals of the state (part of Am Israel, the people of Israel). They are given the "right" to automatic citizenship which is denied from millions of Palestinian Christian and Muslim refugees who are rejected simply for not being Jewish. The discourse Americans face is a continued consolidation of power and wealth in the hands of fewer and fewer people. Those fewer people have agendas of continued human rights violations, endless war on terror, and domination of other people.
Human rights and peace advocates are deemed by these "moneyed interests" to be the biggest threat. Demonstrators in Boston at the DNC were asked to confine themselves a "free speech zone" surrounded by picket and razor wire fences. There were unjust arrests, harassments, and other intrusions. But activists say no and we continue to resist despite the odds. Anywhere we stand is a free speech zone! But resistance becomes a way of life. Giving-up is far worse an option than death or living as a slave to the moneyed interests. We draw strength from the simple observation that all good social changes were produced by people demanding it. Examples include ending slavery, women suffrage, civil rights, ending the war on Vietnam, ending apartheid in South Africa etc. This is why in this era of mass surrender and mass delusion, activists hold their head straight and work to a better future.