Saturday, January 18, 2014

Deja Vu All Over Again


I’m waiting . . . still waiting . . .
Waiting for a high-ranking Muslim cleric to utter the words—“this is not Islamic. Those who perpetuate such acts are acting counter to every tenet of religious thinking under Islam. Islam is a religion of peace, and these people have converted it into a religious force of death.”
Yes, I am awaiting such a statement from any high-ranking Islamic cleric. But, no, it’s waiting for Godot, I think. Even worse than waiting for Catholic hierarchy in the bad old days to denounce priests for defiling little children, or their housemaids.
The latest (suicide??) bombing in Kabul killed many innocent folks, and the Taliban gladly claimed credit.  This would be like Charlie Manson announcing to the LA Times—“I just got my latest kill, folks. Still thinking about the next one”.
But the Islamic faith just keeps on truck’n, as though nothing is wrong with Islam. After a time, a religious order gets to be defined by onlookers, even especially, onlookers who do not belong to that faith. I understand that Muslims the world over really hate it when non-Muslims decry their faith and lump all Muslims as actual or potential terrorists.  But I have to say, until someone begins stepping up to the altar of public opinion and denouncing the fools who blow up innocents, so as to obtain their 72 virgins, the global denunciations will keep on coming.  It’s time for Muslim Clerics to denounce the Taliban and all the other Muslim terrorist groups who kill innocents, just to prove a point.
Which brings me to our year of 2014.  Why, well because of its resemblance to 1914.  Remember 1914? That was the year that someone shot and killed the Archduke Ferdinand and kick-started WW I.  Remember WW I? That was the war that killed some ten million folks and laid the groundwork for that other war, WW II that killed  way more than ten million—60-85 million, but who’s counting?
Are we in that same state of mind now? Well, almost the whole of the Middle East—let’s see Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, now routinely see folks blown up or otherwise killed by one ethnic cleansing agent or another. All in the name of religion (aka power). Now the thugs have extended their reach to South Sudan and the Central African Republic, again all in the name of ethnic cleansing of one type or another (again, really just power acquisition).
Then I observe the Europeans, who should know better, squabbling amongst themselves, with the British on the sidelines tossing darts at them. Some of the ideals are at least similar to 1914, similar enough to cause concern. Would the Europeans begin to cease squabbling and begin yelling, and then, as Europeans are wont to do, begin tossing inflammatory objects at one another? Well, we hope not, but hope is starting to get lost  here in the USofA, where squabbling has shifted to name-calling—lying, yelling and  corrupt moves to poison the well of democracy.  
The growing income inequality and the means by which the rich in this country attempt to subjugate the poor and the shrinking middle class are also reminiscent of the early 1900s. Listen to Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of a book on TR and Taft: “To be sure, Roosevelt had faced a pernicious underlying crisis, one as pervasive as any military conflict, or economic collapse. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution, an immense gulf had opened between the rich and the poor; daily existence had become more difficult for ordinary people, and the middle class felt increasingly squeezed.” She goes on to say, “Yet by the end of Roosevelt’s tenure in the White House, a mood of reform had swept the country, creating a new kind of of presidency and a new vision of the relationship between the government and the people.”
Sound familiar?? Two differences: 1) we don’t have a Teddy Roosevelt in office, nor is there a TR waiting in the wings; 2) we have a right wing press now—the Faux News Network-- that is not really a news outlet at all. It could best described as the PR wing of the royalty core of the GOP.  We also have a supportive unit within our Supreme Court—led by Tony and his houseman Clarence—that has declared that corporations are folks like you and me and that money is speech.  So, unlike the early 1900s, when TR began reining in the dukes of the land, our Congress now opposes any attempt by our president to enact any controls over the wealthy.  So, for the time being, the dukes of the land reign supreme—meaning the Koch’s and others of their ilk are free to despoil our fair land in any way that pleases them.
This separation of the rich from the poor, and the increasing attempts by the GOP to eliminate the middle class, strikes me as  at least similar to the ethnic wars that rage throughout the Muslim world. Theirs are based on religion. Ours are based on money (but maybe there is no real difference between religion and money).
I’m old, so it may not matter for me. But it will matter for our grandchildren, who are still trying to figure out their way in this world.  I worry for them, but worrying is fairly useless.  I suppose, it’s what grandparents do—worry.  I keep hoping (no hope is not yet dead) that the middle class and the poor will finally understand that they are not powerless.  They can vote and they can denounce the people on the right who are bent on destroying their future.  But will they?
We’ll see. Meanwhile, I wonder what’s happening in Sarajevo??
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