Reject The Apathy Lie

This is vital, the stuff of political movements that shatters propaganda and reveals passion and change. Our Descent Into Madness:

In class today we were discussing the war in Iraq and activism and the failure of my generation to be a carbon-copy of the generation that protested Vietnam. And out came a story so familiar I have spoken it in my sleep.

Our generation doesn’t care. We just don’t give a shit. We don’t know what’s happening nor do we care to learn. We’d rather get high, we’d rather watch TV.

Bare in mind that we were speaking of a group of people who only this year gained the right to vote.

Bare in mind, more significantly, that these words were spoken with disappointment. Spoken by peers of mine who do, in fact, care. Who care desperately.

This plays into two central points (emphasis mine):

So this is my question: if I care, and all my friends care, and all my classmates care, where are these zombies? Show them to me. Show me the opiated masses, millions of kids glued to their TV screens. Where are they?

I don’t doubt that there are some. But I doubt with every fiber of my being that they are all of us, or that they should win.

I love that sentence. It is so perfectly crafted. We do care, and it is an oft repeated lie that our generation does not. It is a very useful lie, used to put down the importance of protests and political speech and the very meaning of Democracy. It deprives us of power and community when we have both in spades.

Even if the apathetic did outnumber the living, there is no fucking way we should lie down and be consumed. No, We fight. (Emphasis mine):

Reject this message. Reject it, reject it, reject it. It is wrong, it is bullshit, it is a lie. This story of the apathy generation is piece of propaganda, and a fucking effective piece at that. Reject it, spit it out, curse it with everything you are.

Burn through the myth. Write about young people who take action. Write about those who simply have opinions and care. Talk to strangers on the metro, on the bus, and in the street. A few of Edmund Burke’s words (MotherJones Blog via Johnathen Schwarz at This Modern World) are very apt here:

Whilst men are linked together, they easily and speedily communicate the alarm of any evil design. They are enabled to fathom it with common counsel, and to oppose it with united strength.

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

If we fail there is no one to pity us, no one to save us. What is evil in this country is gathering and striking, again and again, and innocence is paying daily in blood. And we care. We act. We have power (Our Descent):

I have stared into the soul of my generation, and I have seen power there.

We have, as a generation, already answered the call to action. In her post, Daisy has written a call to truth. Let’s answer it as loudly as we can.


Saudi Arabia, the UK, and US

We all share some things in common(Korova, MOA):

 Mr Howells told a conference ahead of a state visit by Saudi leader King Abdullah that the two states could unite around their “shared values”.

Well, we both take a rather lax approach to human rights, don’t we?

We could easily add the US in there.  And in Saudia Arabia’s frantic effort to be perceived as anti-terrorism, they’ve actually attacked the UK for their response to the July 2005 bombings.  Take a look at the language used (VOA, emphasis mine):

As to the global terrorist threat in general, King Abdullah told the BBC that it will take a long time to suppress.

“No, it has not been completely defeated and I believe strongly as I mentioned to you earlier, I believe and I have said so in my public comments, that it will take 20 to 30 years to defeat the scourge of terrorism with vigilant effort,” he said.

He’s following Bush’s rhetorical lead.  This will come in handy when he vehemently denies allegations of human rights abuse, that is if he even addresses them at all.

Identity vs Circumstance and Hate

I have an odd way of seeing myself in the world. How I fit in the larger picture, so to speak. I’d like to talk a bit about identity and circumstance, and how these two very separate ideas get confused.

I wish I could say an example of “self” hate like this was startling (David Neiwert, Orcinus):

I was on David Goldstein’s radio show last night and, in between segments, we wound up chatting briefly on the subject of anti-Semitic Jews. Not being Jewish, I’m not very comfortable wrestling with the issue — but Goldstein, being very Jewish, has no compunction about it at all. He said he’s looking forward to talking about them when the subject arises, and he thinks it will a lot in the coming year.

I share in David Goldstein’s enthusiasm. The very thought of so many inconsistent brick heads makes my rhetorical karate chops water in anticipation. But that’s not the only reason. This kind of hatred for one’s own group provides an excellent opportunity to take a peek into the logic behind affirmative action, immigration policy, hatred, peace, and a number of issues that revolve around how we see ourselves and others.

First there is the matter of my own identity. I was born into the culture and faith of Judaism. How I got to where I am now is a bit of a story, so I’ll be brief. A combination of exposure to various philosophical traditions and my own intellectual curiosity have left me something of a theist. That said, there is still this ingrained sense of identity with the Jewish tradition. A love of humor and stories as a way of understanding and interacting with the world, and a sense of familiar and comfortable logic when traveling through the words of those who came before me.

But that is not how I view myself. I see myself purely as a human being, and I understand my heritage in those terms more with each passing day. I am every bit the heir to Gandhi, hitler, pol pot, MLK, FDR and Rumi as I am to any other luminary or dark stain upon history. I share in the shame and guilt of the German people, and in the pain and suffering in Darfur. Every tyrant shares my blood, as does every revolutionary.

This view cuts at one of the core components of hatred. Exclusive Identity: Here is where we get into one of the driving misunderstandings of the right wing movement. I’ll start with an example: Affirmative Action.

Affirmative action is viewed on the right in terms of Identity. You have a certain identity, and you get certain privileges. Whereas on the left it is viewed as a response to circumstance. In other words Affirmative Action was a response towards inequality generated by identity based hate, to address the circumstances created. It was also a rhetorical slap towards that hatred. So in one sense, switching to a economic based set of criteria is entirely natural. On the other, we are losing that rhetorical punch packed by group based affirmative action.

What we have is a gulf in how we see each other. When it comes to immigration, we see individuals responding to circumstance. Conservatives see a group of “permanent criminals” or “invading hispanic hordes”, depending on how far down wing nut lane you traipse.

Which brings us back to the example of the Conservative Jew (not to be confused with religious conservatism within Judaism) who is so caught up in the culture of hate that she engages in a flimsy defense of her new friends on the far reich:

The rapid Islamisation of Europe must be fought. In order to fight it, political parties must be engaged. If not, how then to effect change?

I will make the case for the Europeans desperate to save their country(s). I did research (and continue to) and see the ghosts but VB or more particularly the Swedish Democrats have done nothing in recent years that I need to worry about. The Swedish Democrats have had their purge a few years ago and are now clean. I see a pattern of such transformations in several European countries. If they want to become respectable, pro-Israel, I am thrilled to be part of the process.

I can’t be held captive to past associations. That’s like the left repeatedly running the pic of Rumsfeld and Saddam back in the 80s. Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now. Hell, I was once a Democrat.

Hell, why not join the KKK? They had their purge years ago, and are now clean. This kind of convenient douche logic never holds up to even cursory examination. It fails in a spectacularly instructive way now.

Take another look (emphasis mine):

Every party, every person, everywhere has past associations that are irrelevant to what’s happening now.

This is absolutely the crux of the problem with the right wing today. They do not understand that the relationships and histories we built in the past are driving world events in the present. A group of neo-nazis that once attacked the Jews are now attacking Muslims. This is very relevant. The whole mess we call the Middle East is a hotbed of past grudges being played out day after day. Those “past associations” are what keep the Middle East burning.

We absolutely must understand and grapple with those associations, just as we must understand how the hatred in our own past has made efforts like affirmative action and the civil rights law necessary. What we must be careful of is falling into the trap of exclusive identity politics. In the Middle East, we are on the side of both the Israelis and Palestinians, the Sunni and the Shiite, Turk and Kurd. Here at home, that applies with the same urgency.

Our identity is shared. Our circumstances are not. If we want to make the world a better place, we can start by recognizing our shared past, and offering our help to those who are, quite literally, our people: humanity.

Status, OMG!

I’ve been horribly gone the past two weeks or so, and light posting shall likely be the norm.  I’ll try to tear myself away to post, but other parts of life are revving their engines, bouncing around and saying “let’s go!” in a very excited voice.

I’ll aim high, but relating expectations is essential.