POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY LAWRENCE DAVIDSON IN INTIFADA PALESTINE
An accurate assessment, but an unpopular one.
From the beginning I have explained and advocated the same view, the view of relatively powerless people taking violent action against great injustices.
But governments and the large mainline news media which invariably support them have filled the atmosphere with Islamophobic nonsense to such an extent that it is blindly accepted by many.
Being a humanist with loyalty to no religion, I have no special brief for Islam.
But I am a person who has little toleration for injustice, and American policies after WWII are nothing if not one long series of injustices.
A very wise woman once said, in answer to the question of what distinguishes a good, democratic society, that it was whether the people lived with a sense of justice.
I cannot agree more with that profound and simple observation.
But we see very little justice from the foreign policy of the United States. We see, quite to the contrary, the imposition, over and over again, of injustice, on an international scale being much as one would experience in an old society where deliberate injustice is maintained as the ordinary state of affairs.
Global affairs, if we are to support democratic values and humane dealings, must also feature justice. It is no less required.
But so many people recognize that that is not the situation, and they include not only people living in the artificial reality of the Middle East maintained by the United States but people in Europe and North America who find it difficult even to have good public discussions of the matter.
The United States through NATO and its tremendous financial and economic power is remarkably capable of keeping these issues off the public agenda.
Sometimes, as in Egypt, an eruption simply gets too big to suppress, and the U.S. takes great hypocritical noises about democracy and the people’s desires, but it never does this automatically, and at the same time it throws its support to inevitable change (really as a form of emergency measure and damage control) in a place like Egypt, it is bombing people and supporting repression of people with the same kind of demands for freedom in Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia.
And even in Egypt, what do we see now? Basically a military junta taking immense amounts of time to change anything meaningful, hoping to let people’s energy and dreams dissipate. And it is the United States supporting the effort.
So much for the land of the free, a slogan that always has been more slogan than reality. Free people do not enslave others. Genuine democratic states do not do deals with dictators and just wink at gross injustice. But America is a land where all the vaunted assertions of the Constitution end right at the shoreline. The horrors of Guantanamo, 90 miles off shore, are just fine. And increasingly, with terrible invasions of privacy and police-state laws about “terror” even on shore America becomes a less democratic place daily.
Terror has become a word very similar to what the ghastly Joe Stalin meant when he spoke of “wreckers,” one of his signal words for new waves of state terror in the Soviet Union.