It has only been a few days since Libya has been liberated from Gaddafi, after forty years of authoritarian rule, a staunch police state created to indulge the ego of an erratic leader. Long gone are the days when developing countries needed the helping hand of the West; the Arab Spring has proved that direct action and a nationwide thirst for freedom can also pave the way to democracy and individual liberties. Most western countries have watched in silent shock and admiration the steadfast rise to freedom in Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt. Many lessons have to be drawn from this seemingly unstoppable quest to free one country from the shackles of dictatorship: one, that the era of western-led colonialism is over, and that we must stand on a pedestal of equality. Two, that our foreign policies need to stop feeding blood thirsty tyrants in our quest for domination over national resources. A piece by Antonio Fernandez on heroes, monsters and men.

“Clearly, the narrative tells more about the corrupt nature of international politics than about Gaddafi himself”

Recent events in Libya point in the direction of the fall of 40 years of Gaddafi’s rule in that country. Witnessing the cascade of articles and editorials written on the subject not only these days but since the uprising began, it is difficult to say something original or add some new illuminating perspective on the conflict, how it began, how it might end and what to expect for the people of Libya who, after all, have been trapped in a mostly western-led geopolitical turmoil. What we have seen in most media as regards the escalating violence in Libya is yet another narrative of monsters and horror. In a peculiar turn of events, the one-time considered authoritarian despot by the West, Muammar el Gaddafi, became its ally in a so-called “war against terror”, to finally be turned overnight into a grotesque monster that bombs its own people. Clearly, the narrative tells more about the corrupt nature of international politics than about Gaddafi himself and the people of Libya; their democratic demands did not raise much interest in the West until Gaddafi the friend got out of control like a maddened Frankenstein. From this perspective, the Libyan uprising contains all the ingredients of a horror story, which is the very same story of colonialism, as Frantz Fanon described so well in his analysis of the psychological effects of colonial rule on Algerian people (1). It has monsters and grotesque creatures (Gaddafi), vampires (colonial bloodsuckers) and ghosts (the people of Libya represented through the  decorporealising lens of the media). Creating monsters has always been a useful strategy for colonial powers in order to legitimise the control and appropriation of natural resources out of their territory.

“The myth of Frankenstein is also a rich source of metaphors in the horror story of Western domination over foreign countries”
In the 19th century, the Palestinian population of what is now Israel and the West Bank was described by explorers and travellers with terms that made them resemble grotesque human creatures rather actual human beings; Mrs Mary Rowlandson, a colonial American woman, described the Indians that captured her for eleven weeks as children of the devil so, alas, we have another element in the horror story of colonialism. (2) I do not want to suggest that Rowlandson herself is responsible for the denigration of the culturally different other, but her views were certainly part of the zeitgeist as many pamphlets and caricatures of the indigenous found on those years do show. The British Empire did not fall short of creativity in their representation of Asians as dark, passion ridden creatures as Edward Said so cleverly describes (3). If we want more recent examples of horror stories, we just have to turn our eyes to the Nazi propaganda of the Russians during the Second World War or the North American propaganda of its own Gulf War, where Iraqis were said to take children out of incubators and let them to die in hospitals during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait. Years later the story was shown to be a bluff, like so many others, but as I said before, the end justifies the means and the US gathered massive support to their military adventure in Iraq. A horror story was instrumental.

The myth of Frankenstein is also a rich source of metaphors in the horror story of Western domination over foreign countries. There we find Augusto Pinochet, who was responsible for creating, literally, rivers of blood in Chile. His description certainly fits that of a monster in his lack of humanity and excess of cruelty towards a large part of the Chilean population he governed. He showed as much insensitivity and lack of empathy towards the suffering of Chileans just like a psychopath for its victims: none. Pinochet, like Frankenstein, can be seen as the monstrous creation of a lunatic who crosses all ethical thresholds in his pursue of power and glory. The CIA brought Pinochet (and many other tyrants in South America) to life in the laboratories of the School of the Americas. It was there that Pinochet and his army were trained to commit monstrous deeds against a part of the population whose dangerous demands for a better society caused them to be rendered by the military juntas as communist monsters that deserved to be killed. And let’s not forget Saddam Hussein, a monster “fed” and cared by the United States, who, in a quintessential Frankensteinian turn, rebels against his creators. Paradoxically, the only act of rebellion -invading Kuwait- makes his creators realise he actually is a monster; massacring an entire Kurd village with chemical weapons did not suit the creators’ definition of monstrosity while he was under control.

“Gaddafi came to power claiming the right to exorcise the colonial demons from Libya. The revolutionary rhetoric gave way progressively to 40 years of authoritarian rule”

The Arab world is replete with Frankenstein-like creatures who have been supported and trained by power-thirsty western (and other non-western) elites in order to help them extend and perpetuate their domination of oil and gas resources. Among them, Gaddafi excels in theatrical extravaganza. (4) He is a good example of the dangerous games played by Western elites in their constant fabrication or transformations of simple despots into monstrous creatures with the help, of course, of the media. Like Frankenstein, Gaddafi came to power rebelling against those whom he saw as colonial oppressors only to become a close friend and ally of those very same oppressors when he realised that large sums of money could be drawn by allowing them to vampirise the country’s resources. Perhaps, after all, monsters have a deeper and close affinity with each other that humans can’t understand. The Libya Gaddafi came to save from colonial domination back in the late 60’s had already experienced the vampirisation of its natural resources by Italy. It was in 1911, when Italy claimed that the Turks were arming Libya to justify the launching of a war and the occupation of the country. Needless to say, commercial interests and colonial envy (France took the neighbouring Tunisia, perceived by Italians as closer to their sphere of influence) underpinned Italy’s actions and, of course, the myth of liberating Libyans from the Turks rang high in the Italian war propaganda. A few years later Benito Mussolini considered Libya part of his new Roman Empire (again, like Viktor Frankenstein, infatuated by his own megalomaniac dreams of power) to extract resources and promote settlements for unemployed Italian workers and farmers. Libyan resistance was fierce, which prompted Mussolini’s reaction of creating a number of concentration camps where around 100.000 people were imprisoned; it is also known that Italy’s use of mustard gas against the Libyan population, deportation and displacement were strategies for subduing the population. (5) Monstrosity and horror is probably well embedded in the collective psyche of the Libyans. Gaddafi came to power claiming the right to exorcise the colonial demons from Libya. The revolutionary rhetoric gave way progressively to 40 years of authoritarian rule that showed its more amiable face to western powers as he took a series of steps seeking international acceptance. Little by little, Gaddafi’s well-earned reputation as a terrorist sponsoring ruler (the Lockerbie bombings are a good example) did not seem to matter that much as Gaddafi offered his collaboration in the war on terror in exchange of softening economic sanctions. Now, the friend of the West is portrayed by the same Western media as a grotesque, megalomaniac monster who massacres his own population, but the monster has been fed by the West when it served their geopolitical interests, in what could be called the opposite of vampirisation, namely, the flow of poison (namely european-made weapons) that keep the monster alive.

Another important ingredient in any horror story is the ghost and Libya is no exception in this case either. Seen through the Cartesian distance of the media, the few images of Libyan rebels or Gaddafi supporters that have reached the media appear like shadows, like decorporealised entities, with no trace of human density, like undifferentiated masses of bodies, just like high technology weapons of the NATO provide a surgical distance with the enemy, be it rebel or Gaddafi supporter. It is this surgical distance that dehumanises the inherent humanity of the fighters on both sides as they appear through fragmented pieces of news TV networks covering the conflict. At this point, it is difficult to know how many  thousands of Libyans have lost their life in this conflict; human beings with families, personal narratives, hopes, dreams…they are the ghosts that haunt the emergence of a post-Gaddafi Libya; these ghosts were human beings to whom political elites in Great Britain, Italy, France or Saudi Arabia (who has provided weapons to rebels on demand of the United States) have shown no concern or human empathy in their geopolitical calculations for the region: it is far more crucial for them a “stable” government that gently grants access to Libya’s natural resources, in another vampiresque turn. According to Alessandra Migliaccio, “Eni [the Italian oil company] rose 0.5% to close at 13.46 today in Milan. The shares have gained 7.9% this week after rebel fighters reached the capital, signaling a possible end to the six-month conflict”. (6) Migliaccio’s words point to the irrationality behind the West’s apparently “rational” discourse of humanitarianism and exposes the corruption of European (and some Arab) political elites. Like Viktor Frankenstein, megalomaniac political elites play God with the megalomaniac monsters they sometimes create, finance and destroy when they cease to be useful for their interests, as is the case with Gaddafi.

“in the context of the horror of colonial and neo-colonial history, the not-so-new song of humanitarian intervention used as a pretext for military operations in Libya sounds perhaps more cynical than ever before”

It is time politicians (or politishams as South African poet Seitlhamo Motsapi describes them) (7) stop behaving like zombies (alienated and unaware of the world that surrounds them and of the damage, pain and suffering their decisions create) or, like Viktor Frankenstein, stop playing God with dictators that ultimately pretend to grant political elites absolute control over entire countries. The consequences, as we have seen in Iraq and in countless many other examples, can be catastrophic. Nobody know where Libya is heading now; whether the rebel factions that have been supported by the NATO will split in the absence of a clear and identifiable enemy or how Gaddafi supporters (in the event of a likely and imminent defeat) will fit in the new political scenario. Also, rumours and fears of Al Qaeda cells infiltrating the country begin to spread, casting a shadow of unpredictable violence. In the context of the horror of colonial and neo-colonial history, the not-so-new song of humanitarian intervention used as a pretext for military operations in Libya sounds perhaps more cynical than ever before, as if western leaders did not even have to make the effort anymore of masquerading the real geopolitical motivations behind the military intervention. To finish with one more horror note, oil in Libya is a curse more than a blessing and it needs to be added to the three traumas suffered by the Arab world, according to Marc Ferro (8),  the creation of the state of Israel and the partition of Pakistan. As I write this, Al Jazeera is reporting evidence of mass execution by Gaddafi troops. Again, the price to pay to keep Libya’s veins open to foreign vampirisation is too high and unacceptable form an ethical perspective, but for how long will horror be manipulating the democratic aspirations of Arab peoples? For the Arab spring to grow, the former colonial elites and allied Arab regimes must stop interfering in the internal affairs of these countries and respect the right of these countries to manage their natural resources with the freedom they deserve. Continuing the narrative of horror (destabilising the countries with dictators or supporting the most convenient side for geostrategic interests) will not be conducive to democracy and stability as western powers claim, but will only perpetuate the cycle of horror and monstrosity we have witnessed for decades.      .

 

(1) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, Penguin, 2006.

(2) Mary Rowlandson, Narrative of the Captivity and restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, Nu Vision Publications, 2007.

(3) Edward Said, Orientalism, Penguin, 2003.
(4) Ronald Bruce St john, Libya: from Colony to Independence, Oneworld Publications, 2008.

(5) Ruth Ben-Ghiat and Mia Fuller (ed.) Italian Colonialism, ed., Palgrave-Macmillan, 2005

(6) Alessandra Migliaccio, “Eni Lobbies to keep oil dominance in Libya after Qaddafi
(7) Seitlhamo Motsapi, “soffly soffly nesta skank

(8) Marc Ferro, El Conflicto del Islam, Catedra, 2004.

Further reading

Michael A G Bunter, The Geopolitics of Libya, Maris BV.

Simon Rogers, “EU arms exports to Libya: who armed Gaddafi?

What is citizenship and what does it mean? What does it entail and imply besides voting, paying your taxes (hopefully on time) and getting mildly interested in the news? What does citizenship mean for you besides your passport and the fact you are – or aren’t  – a patriot? Definition borderlining from hardcore nationalism to unabashed globalism has flooded our brains ever since the door of coporate politics have somehow marginalized political activists as crazies with a side note of 1917 nostalgia. They managed to redefine key terms, key definitions, reword their own Constitution and their own belief so they could sell it to the mass of consumers – the citizens – without them ever questioning what’s really written in the small print at the back of the package. Why put on your reading glasses when the package itself is so flashy?

But being a citizen doesn’t only involve rights, it also involves duties, and that is something I am afraid my generation has lost sight of a while ago. Citizenship does imply getting away from your PS3 every 2, 4, 6 years to elect a local or national official, and sometimes evokes the nasty memory of using a calculator in order to pay taxes “to the man”, those same taxes that have been at the heart of a controversy ever since the Republicans did not find any other topic besides abortion to filibuster about. The idea of citizenship is entirely tied to the idea of state and it seems the very concept, Montesquieu or Tocqueville or Rousseau as you can be, is disappearing, melting away, fading in the distance. It is dangerous. It is dangerous because with a fading state comes fading citizenship, directly involving fading responsibilities… and fading rights.

Being a citizen is a full time job. It requires of you to be informed and to do research. It requires a minimum amount of education and the courage to know you can bring down a wall if needed be. Being a citizen means being in charge. The past eight years, the United States has been telling the masses their citizen passes had been revoked and that Big Daddy was going to fix it all for them while they’re finishing that pack of Cheetos. Well, a real citizen would have raised a very skeptical eyebrow. Right now, we are told that a big state, a state that controls and a state that legislates is a state that oversteps the boundaries of the United States Constitution, and that Rick Perry wants to take off and take Texas with him. But what happens to citizens? I mean, all of them, every single one of them? The black one, the white one, the latino one… the gay one?

Yes, this is where I am going. All men and women are born equal. Every single detail is just a part of the fabric that makes it a whole. I am talking stupid, Hallmark-crafted melting pot here. I am talking about the values of citizenship being destroyed by a part of the population who believes citizenship is about controlling other citizens by voting on other citizens’ rights, therefore destroying the balance of equality created – and supposedly protected – by the state. People voted for Obama because they wanted hope, they wanted change, and they were sick and tired of the lax attitude Bush showed to the CEOs swallowing $500 bills with their Cheerios. By voting for Obama, they somehow reclaimed some of that control: they showed up in massive groups, the young voted like they never did, Obama was given a mandate, for a very long time in American history, we felt like we had a representative that actually realised he was just this – a citizen, a citizen given a mandate by other citizens, to do what citizens wanted.

This is why the issue of gay rights is a federal issue, an issue Obama has to take care of, not a grassroots, state-by-state decision to be made. Inequality prevails within each state between those who can afford to lobby for their cause, and those who have only ideologies and books to distribute. There are those with the money, and those with the only excuse of being citizens. The first ones are using their tools against the second ones. This is precisely the reason why states exist: because human nature forces the majority to restrain the minority against its natural strive towards freedom. Man is a selfish animal, that somehow knows about empathy and solidarity through only damage, trauma, and profound dismay. Man has shown his wonders when faced with complete and utter horror. Man has moved with each other with man had no choice but to link arms with other men in order to make it out alive. In times of peace and of general, even if relative, rest, man will only tend to his own lawn. This is a sad story that we have been told by the New York Senate today as it followed into Maine’s footsteps by withdrawing rights from gay couples to marry.

Someone on Twitter – aurosan not to name them – had a very good point. “I haven’t seen any secular argument against gay marriage”, he said, “which is in itself a civil ceremony. This is not about whether we should marry in Church, this is about we should marry in the town hall”. Indeed, there are no secular arguments going against the perpetual inequality and double-standards that are rife in this country. Manipulated by the religious rights and caught at the throat by those who decided citizenship was nothing more than a beautiful word a horrible lie, the Congress is not moving forward, and Obama remains mute, despite the Human Rights Campaign starting to get angsty. Citizenship has disappeared for as long as there will not be thousands in the streets deciding that no one should have their rights taken away from them. There is a time for a national parade, a time for revolution, a time when citizens of all walks of life, color and sexual orientation decide that their citizenship means more to them than the right to pay taxes and be an impersonal number on a Governor’s file. The issue of equality has already been debated in this country and it had been decided that no one should ever be deprived of the rights some have. This was right for women, this was right for black people; it is now time, at the eve of a new decade, to decide the LGBT people are Americans before they are LGBT; that they are citizens before they are LGBT; and what that means, is that their LGBT tag should be removed or pushed aside, because nothing else matters.

You won’t push Americans out of America’s land. The hatred you might feel will be reflected by the shame of your sons and grandsons’ eyes, as Sean Penn so beautifully put, when they realise you took part in a pogrom against your own people and your fellow citizens, that those who once were your equal are now a sub-par of the community you think you built. The better days you are claiming are ahead of you in this economy will not be shared by those who could have helped rebuild and rebenefit what has been lost. On this path we will turn around to realise we are alone.

Citizenship ties people together and gives them an unbreakable bond. Citizens must protect each other. Once they stop, the citizen that has been called to order the other citizens to rest should put them back at peace. One doesn’t compromise with equality. Only with equality can a country feel wholesome enough to fight any obstacle in its path.

My morning headache had a name (as they always do), and beyond the nightmare that is swine flu, this one is named Stupak.

Stupak is also one of those Democrats belonging to the blue party for reasons that are beyond our comprehension (he’s fiercely pro-life, much in the likes of Sarah Palin currently hosting fearfully successful pro-life rallies in the South). The Stupak Amendment is an amendment to the current healthcare bill that considerably reduces the federal funds given to abortion. Basically, if you need an abortion, please pay out of your own pocket, thank you. Considering the fact that women in need of abortion are generally mostly of lower to poor working classes, this is not going to help women at all. But this is 2009 and Maine has already given us our federal quota of legal gay-bashing for November; so who else were we going to stump on this time? You’re right, the <i>other</i> second-class citizen: poor women.

The Stupak Amendment, which real name is Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Smith-Kaptur-Dahlkemper Amendment, is already mirroring the Hyde Amendment asking for the complete refusal of federal funds for abortion under health care policies, and the removal of abortion from government-funded health care programs. Planned Parenthood was just about to shoot itself in the head before it heard the news, and is now considering committing itself to the nearest government-funded mental illness program created just for women who have no other choice in life but to turn to the 19th century literature already condemning the use of underground abortion. Guess that a teenage Austrian Jew knew more about women than Democrats do.

As per Republican custom – which once again makes me question Stupak’s allegiance to the Democrat Party – at the moment of voting, Stupak called to the “conscience” of Congressmen, in order to secure the place of his amendment on the bill. The proposed health-care reform, already the product of a severe compromise and the dismissal of anything that would be actually historical and life-changing in the history of healthcare in the United States, is now crowned with the title of the first health care program that completely ignores women’s rights and women’s health in it. I am talking about western countries obviously since we have already stated that the United States has a healthcare record placing them behind Cuba. According to Stupak,

“Passage of the Stupak Amendment does not impose a new federal abortion policy; it simply continues what has been the law of the land since 1977 and I am pleased that with the addition of this amendment the House health care reform bill will continue that policy.”

“I have long been an advocate of health care reform. My goal has always been to ensure that the voices of the majority of Americans who oppose federal funding for abortion were heard in this important debate. Now that those voices have been heard we must move forward and pass a bill that provides quality, affordable health care for all Americans.

“I thank Speaker Pelosi for allowing this important vote to occur and I appreciate the hard work and perseverance of my pro-life colleagues in Congress who held strong and stood with me over the past several months as we worked to find a way to allow this vote against all odds.”

Against all odds, indeed, since Nancy Pelosi is herself a woman and should vote in her conscience with the hundreds of thousands of women she is now condemning by allowing Stupak to use all his manly force to restrict women’s rights a little bit further, in case we weren’t already worried with our situation. Melissa Harris-Lacewell, a teacher at Princeton University, twittered this morning: “So angry about Stupak last night that I had to practice meditation at 2:30AM to finally get to sleep.” Then: “It’s Sunday morning and I am seeking more balance, greater optimism, and the courage to move in a new direction.” We do, actually, and proponents of women’s rights such as Rachel Maddow and Planned Parenthood have already geared up their responses for the bill that passed with a bipartisan vote of 220 – 215 (thank you, Anthony Weiner!)

“Planned Parenthood serves three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care. On behalf of the millions of women Planned Parenthood health centers serve, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America has no choice but to oppose HR 3962. The bill includes the Stupak/Pitts amendment that would leave women worse off after health care reform than they are today, violating President Obama’s promise to the American people that no one would be forced to lose her or his present coverage under health reform.

It is strange, a bit eerie, and terribly confusing that this health care reform, so long promised, so long talked about and so long decried by a Republican Party afraid to lose its homophobic, women-hating and gun-toting base, finally became exactly what the Republican Party expected it to be: expensive for sick people, unaffordable for minorities, reducing women’s rights, denouncing equality, and finally going back to square one, all of that without having mastered a single debate yet. We had been encouraged to look toward European countries and favor systems such as La Sécurité Sociale in France and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, without ever using this said inspiration to anything progressive, productive in useful. In times of recession, only government-based means of social security are saving societies from decrepit downfalls of epic proportions. It is only because of health care and welfare that most European countries managed to keep their level of conumption to a degree that kept their economies somewhat afloat. What will happen to the United States now?

One question: what is the use of Congress – and most importantly, the use of a majority in Congress – if we are not using it to bring about the ideas and the reforms propulsed by said majority? It’s not as if the Republicans had ever hesitated to press with all their weight when they were in Office. Why, all of a sudden, must everything be bipartisan, to the point it’s not even a question of balance, but a question of pleasing the minority? Barack Hussein Obama wanted to bring the United States into the third millenium after George W. Bush had run it into the ground and hit reverse – now we are retreating further back into the Dark Ages of feodal rule, and I am not so happy about the future of women, of gay people, of minorities, and of low incomes anymore. If anything, brace yourselves, because this future is indeed a bleak one.

By the way, Stupak, please do leave your Democrat Party card at the door when you leave, thank you.

It is becoming harder and harder to maintain something resembling innocence in this world; every victory is tainted by cynism and every hope is being trashed by disappointment, every change held back by rampant conservatism. In the aftermath of Barack Hussein Obama’s election, divided forces of the United States are shaking the benches and tables of the Senate, slamming their fists and creating even more turmoil and chaos than the overwhelming electoral victory would have led us to believe. It is all acceptable, as leading through ideology is often faced by those less inclined towards progress.

Barack Obama has been telling the Human Rights Campaign that his willingness to end the absurdity of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is still vivid, but didn’t mention any timeframe during which he is planning on putting the end of this legislation to a vote. Barack Obama has been meaning to uphold a diplomatic vision on the extremely belligerent US foreign policy history, but is sending more troops to Afghanistan. Until then, most of us Obama supporters have been biting the insides of their cheeks understanding the complexity of governance and hoping that the compromises made during the first year of his term would be softly removed as the years went by in order to bring about change.

One thing we certainly did not count on would be the spite that we had become accustomed to by the far right. The “internet left fringe” to which this blog belongs, and which has solidly, steadily and successfully carried President Obama to a positive end to his national campaign, is now being dismissed in the most patronizing and condescending manner by Obama’s advisers, none the wiser when it comes to understanding the way new media is emerging onto the social and political scene. Sadly, it is to our own detriment that we have to teach those who should take the opportunity of having a flexible and opinionated base when FoxNews’s ratings are doubling ever since the election.

According to advisers, bloggers are children in their pajamas with a free blogger dot com account and parading their pseudo-knowledge of political science as a means to express their teenage rebellion. The subsequent protests taking place all over the country as we speak are no more than hormonal surplus and boredom, all swallowed whole by the monster that is internet access without parental control. It has somehow failed to occur to those “advisers” than most of the bloggers they are referring to are academics, journalists also taking part in the print media world, college graduates, and media-savvy adults. Most of them even wear clothes as they are typing.
From John Knefel to Jay Rosen, from Naomi Wolf’s internet platform to Allison Kilkenny, bloggers hardly are the same crowd that had entered the internet  in the late 1990s and merely used the platform as a public journal. Blogs are now a democratic and open-minded source of information, opinion, often more reliable and inclined to fact-checking than some respectable news sources (I am looking at you, New York Times). The contempt displayed by supposedly “mature” writers such as Maureen Dowd who, although she despises bloggers, does not mind plagiarizing them, and White House staffers who, despite seeking their help desperately when in need of fundraising, are treating bloggers like attention-whoring children, is becoming not only frustrating, but also insulting.

Is it a vain and naive misunderstanding of the emerging technologies impacting the media world, or is it deeper propaganda aimed at killing the embryo of an inner-Democratic Party revolt against promises unkept? The United States, for long denounced for their political apathy benefiting conservatism ever since the Reagan era, are now waking up and paying attention to the dire situation they are in; they feel empowered enough to express themselves through the democratic means at their disposal, protest movements included. If the internet is allowing a faster dissemination of the information so be it, and let’s be glad it is happening: this is exactly what Barack Obama had referred to when asking his younger base to engage into the sort of community organizing that did not exist when he was himself working on the South Side, but is for sure helping movements grow and expand their possibilities of outreach.

Bloggers certainly do not deserve such scorn. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you – and then you win. Ignoring the blogosphere can only last so long, especially when said blogosphere constitutes the majority of your audience. Journalism may be the fourth power, but the street belongs to the people, the only place when democracy takes real action. When both forces mingle, compelling action is required. Ball’s in your camp, Barack.

After a winter and a spring marked by the rise of racism and gay-bashing, six months in a so-called post-racial world where instinctive and primal social conservatism is threatening to tear down the thin fabric of national cohesion, the House of Representatives passed a Hate Crime Bill, systematically vetoed under the Bush Administration, yet now a reality.

A hate crime is an attack – verbal or physical, assault – sexual or physical – or even murder based on the victim’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or mental/physical disability. A hate crime is exactly what it is: it is a crime, a severe threat and violation of one’s integrity, based on pure, unabashed hatred for what is different. Until today, a hate crime was not recognized as such in the United States, unlike most western countries; a specific intent on the defendant’s part could only contribute to a tougher sentence, but did not constitute a separate crime in itself.  If the law has to mirror the society in which it is developed in order to provide a more efficient protection, then there is no doubt the United States desperately needed the Federal Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.

Because hate crimes are dividing a nation and respond to different stimulus than a ‘regular’ crime, and because it is often symptomatic or a deeper social issue, Obama urged the House of Representatives to sign the bill into law. “I urge members on both sides of the aisle to act on this important civil rights issue by passing this legislation to protect all of our citizens from violent acts of intolerance”, he said. But as it often appears to be the case in the recent american political rhethoric, the question of equality seems to raise a serious concern for inequality on the part of opposing Republicans, who firmly convinced themselves that giving people rights would take theirs away. As if Proposition 8 was not enough to prove that civil rights still have a long way to march in the nation of Freedom, a handful of elected officials raised their concern: Lamar Smith, on the Representative Judicial Committee, believes the Hate Crime bill undermines the very core concept of US Justice. “Unfortunately, this bill undermines one of the most basic principles of our criminal justice system — ‘equal justice for all.'”

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

John McCain is simply upset that the Hate Crime Bill does not cover attacks against the elderly.

In an argument that seems to defy all logic, “”Justice will now depend on the race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or other protected status of the victim. It will allow different penalties to be imposed for the same crime.” Following that logic, creating a longer and tougher sentence for acts of pedophilia would make adults lesser than children, teachers lesser than students, and male lesser than women under the law. Following that logic, affirmative action would make white people lesser than black, hispanic, or asian people. Strangely enough, we have already heard that before, and it certainly feels as if whenever one part of the population finally accesses to what is duly and properly theirs to be reckoned with, the privileged pundits are jumping to their feet in an attempt to defend oligarchy.

Former presidential candidate John McCain, a seemingly permanent Washington DC resident and unsuccessful in the race to political credibility, objected to the Hate Crimes Bill on FoxNews.  According to McCain, the Hate Crimes Bill is stealing the spotlight of the Defense Budget discussion, a topic very close to his heart, the belligerent watchdog believes that bipartisanship, that Obama claimed to have owned during votes on the health care reform, is nowhere to be found and will not support another attempt to promote civil rights. Well, no one ever said that the Defense Budget was not worth a national debate, Mr. McCain. No one even believes that cookie-cutter clean cut bipartisan ship really exists, Mr. McCain. No one would ever deny the possibility of discussion among the Representatives of the people, Mr. McCain, and I do believe it took place before the vote. But here is the thing. Young Americans have been dying at the hands of other Americans, Mr. McCain. How long are we going to discuss this for?

For the longest time the premisces of revolution have been attributed to left-wing extremists, communist extraordinaires and anarchist ideologists alike wishing to destroy oppressive governments in the name of equality and liberty. The other side of the political spectrum was reserved to military coups, endangering the civilian population with militia patrols and the downfall of democratic elections. Novelty has come to us from the land that has brought us everything the modern world is currently using: no, not Hong Kong – the United States is now not just embracing the renewal of white supremacy. After bringing a progressive candidate to the utmost position of leadership in a landmark democratic victory, the right-wing neoconservatives, safely positioned during eight years when one of their ilk managed to scoop the White House have decided they had enough.

It was indeed refreshing and somewhat entertaining to see those self-proclaimed “teabaggers” return to the very foundations of their State and claiming independance from a regime they consider restrictive. The conservatives’ support to the oppressed people of Iran has been just as surprising, considering their previous leader had propulsed himself to the Oval Office in suspicious circumstances. Far from us crazy liberals, dirty socialists and useless progressive to take a bit of joy away from the privileged white male population leading the North American continent.  Far from us to tell the neoconservative press to take it down a notch in order to honor what was a safe, uncontested landmark victory by opponent Barack Obama – let alone tell them that they should sit down and cooperate for the next three years and a half. We are upholding their freedom to express their opinions, and my, am I glad they are.

Jim Robinson (left) with another one of our famously idiotic political commentators, Ann Coulter.

Jim Robinson (left) with another one of our famously idiotic political commentators, Ann Coulter.

For anyone not familiar with the wonderful piece of political writing that is the Free Republic, this internet forum, using the American logo with the words “freedom, equality, justice” emblazoned around the victorious eagle, is full of what the internet is generally full of – random strangers posting random commentaries on random topics, under not-so-random screennames so as to never be identified as the author of those ideologies. A veteran website – it opened in 1997 – its articles have always been a delight to read and its creator, Jim Robinson, hailing from North California, became notorious for the website’s campaign to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998. Things remained relatively tame until their “no censorship” rule (it’s a free website!) started increasing its hatred through bigotry, racism, and overall attacks on civil rights, during the Bush years, that Robinson and his peers never necessarily spared either. All was well, both camps were reeled into the unviable corners of the Free Republic.

But Robinson is wanting more than an internet forum in which everyone can express their point of view. In a Twitter era when every opinion has to be reduced to 140 words or less, Robinson has penned a fine piece of socio-political commentary that the blogosphere has truly been missing since the invention of the Facebook statuses. See, Robinson is issuing a call to overthrow the government. Jim Robinson, from Fresno, California, and head guru of a neo-conservative internet forum, believes the United States are in severe danger and that democracy is pointless to the extent only revolution can serve the interests of the Constitution. If you find this sentence confusing, it’s normal. Here is an extract of his statement:

[…] Therefore, We the People of America choose to exercise our right to throw off and alter the abusive government by peacefully recalling and removing from office the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States and all U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives effective immediately.

An interim provisional Chief Executive and congressional representatives will be established as follows: The Secretary of State shall immediately assume the office of interim Chief Executive. The Chief Executive shall appoint and the interim Senate shall confirm an interim Vice President. An immediate election shall be held within each state legislature to appoint two interim senators to represent each sovereign state. A special election shall be held by all states within 30 days to elect interim members of the House of Representatives. Elections for regular government offices shall be conducted in November, 2010 as previously scheduled, except that elections will be held for all elective offices, including President, Vice President and all U.S. Representatives. U.S. Senators will be elected per class schedule by the various state legislatures.

Emphasis mine. In short, Jim Robinson wants to “peacefully” remove Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and all members of Congress in order to temporarily nominate Hilary Clinton so she can organize new Senate and House elections.

Right.

Sadly, Robinson is not done with his complete overhaul. He believes amendments 16 and 17 of the Constitution (respectively the suppression of federal income tax, and no more direct election to the Senate), refuses the IRS, and believes all federal buildings and military aid should return to what he believes is the “rightful owner”, ie. the State. Less government, more local independance: this sounds like a call for secession. Texas Governor Rick Perry must be so proud his idea is finally taking root in the minds of the neo-con puppets firmly intending to destroy the last remaining bits of modernity and credibility the United States have left ever since George W Bush left the Office.


I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow.  Maybe they will turn violent.  Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed.  I’m listening to all my favorite music.  I even want to dance to a few songs.  I always wanted to have very narrow eyebrows.  Yes, maybe I will go to the salon before I go tomorrow! There are a few great movie scenes that I also have to see.  I should drop by the library, too.  It’s worth to read the poems of Forough and Shamloo again.  All family pictures have to be reviewed, too.  I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye.  All I have are two bookshelves which I told my family who should receive them.  I’m two units away from getting my bachelors degree but who cares about that.  My mind is very chaotic.  I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure.  So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them.  So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism.  This note is dedicated to tomorrow’s children…

These words are from a courageous Iranian blogger, struggling against Ahmadinejad’s willingness to shut down internet access to rebels; defying the very rationality that is supposedly an inherent ingredient to political, social and human apathy; challenging his very life by fighting for the only life is worth living for: freedom.

UN Resolution 1540, pertaining to the rights of colonial people – and technically not applicable to Iran’s case – is however universal in its call for independance, uncompromising freedom and as a hidden, half-secretive call for rebellion: All peoples have the right to Self-Determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. any have called international law and the subsequent humanitarian and human rights legal branches utopist, ideological, and completely unpragmatic. What is happening in Iran right now is proving that whenever a population is vehemently, violently and obnoxiously denied their rights of expression, they rebel, and would fight with all their might to prove that they exist, that they deserve to exist, that their voices deserve to be heard. If you are, by any sort of complex and cynical stretch of the soul, unconvinced that revolutions can reach their goals, keep in mind that the goal is not necessary the focal point of a revolution. The point is to revolt.

is it safe to ignore that many peoples plight?

is it safe to ignore that many people's plight?

Revolutions are bloody. They are also often unplanned, chaotic, and often become historically embellished over the years, depending on which side have won over the flesh and limbs of the nation to form the government forcing it to return to relative peace. Revolutions are progressive. They are driven by a force that goes way beyond national interest, and appeals to the very core of a population that had often been divided and isolated in the past. Revolutions are collective, they call to the heart of empathy, of community, and of solidarity. They’re a fantastic means of social upheaval. Iran is revolting because they believe their votes have been hijacked, and that the election has been stolen away from them. They believe Ahmadinejad is attempting a coup to stay in power despite a relatively democratic regime, and they want him to leave. All they want are for their votes to be counted.

In the meantime, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is flaunting his racist rhetoric, anti-semitic speeches and bragging about his hatred for the western world. Giving Samuel Huntington a little more than he’s asked for, he’s build nuclear weapons faster than India even did, once again showboating to the greatest dismay of the United States, unnerved, afraid and aggravated by such a mental, unstable presence a little too close from the hot spot that is Palestine. Ahmadinejad has been running towards a war with the United States in the last few years, begging for it, calling for it, praying for it, hoping that a strike from the long-standing ignorant and revengeful enemy will give him the legitimacy he’s always waited for. Unable to bring his country back into the light it once was for its surroundings, Ahmadinejad chose the path of the religious crusade to the Ayatollah’s greatest delight. Now that a more moderate candidate is claiming victory, Ahmadinejad sees his martyrdom dream vanish in front of his eyes.

But that’s not what matters here. What matters is the spontaneous, willing, and sudden outburst of a young, motivated, and fearless population, claiming the core values of democracy, marching for the respect of their human rights, and re-establishing what we in the western world had taken for granted, then entirely forgotten about: by the people, for the people, and for this precise reason, people are killed. People are being targeted by a governmental police for being patriotic. They’re being dragged away and beaten to the pulp for having a political conscience. Their legitimate electoral winner has been placed on house arrest for simply defying the leader of the coup. Now, shamelessly, in front of the whole wide world to watch, in front of our bewildered eyes, murder is taking place for one simple ideal: freedom.

Ahmadinejad wanted a war. It may not be the one he had been longing for, but he’s got one. Civil wars are shameful and their long-lasting effects are devastating. The outcome is not known yet, but here’s the bottom line: anyone marching in the streets of Tehran with a piece of green fabric tied around their arms knows what they’re here for. And we shall take lessons from them.

Be informed: Twitter #iranelections,  ontd_political Iran Elections Watch. Also keep in mind that Iranis are being refused Internet access: bloggers and twitters can be arrested for giving out info to the rest of the world. Find more about how to become a proxy server for the Iranis (thanks to mr_spivens)