By Nicholas Allanach
I woke up one day this week to the BBC telling me “the U.S. is not only in a recession, but that it’s not going away and will likely get worse.” As I brushed my teeth, I heard a report about Tibetan monks clashing with Chinese shock troops in Lhasa. Later, while on the 5 train, commuters flipped through newspapers full of stories about Governor Spitzer’s unfortunate resignation because of hiring a prostitute; others, read about a large crane that fell crashing-down from a construction site on East 51st Street; subsequently, crushing a building and killing 4 people. Meanwhile, I sat reading an article in The Nation connecting the current US recession with the amount of capital being wasted on the ruinous occupation of Iraq; unfortunately, I couldn’t get through a paragraph because I kept being interrupted by a woman with a severe case of Tourette’s sitting beside me.
“Tick…tick…You know what I could do to that baby you stupid bitch? ….That’s right, yeah you don’t want to hear about that, do you? NO…You already know….What?! I’ll fucking kill you!” She went on-and-on like this as the train slowly lurched its way through the tunnel (there was a lot of “train traffic” today because of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade); occasionally, she would stop and then start-in again singing a rather amusing and butchered rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
When I find myself trapped in such situations, I usually reach for my I-Pod and sooth my inner growling savage beast of irritation with a little Jay-Z; but this morning, I decided to sit, listen, and observe the reactions of those on the train. Predictably, everyone ignored the blabbering woman. As I sat and thought about cranes falling on buildings, politicians resigning, and a five-year war that showed no signs of slowing down, I felt the urge to give my own schizophrenic sermon. After all, there is something very sobering about insanity. Why not belt-out our inner frustrations to a world that so often panders to the stifled hypocrisy of polite social graces? I grow tired of being, as Emerson warned, “Timid and apologetic.” Thus, I shout-out my below rant “to the rooftops of the world” and anyone still reading.
First, regarding the “rooftop of the world”, or, more specifically, Tibet – it is deplorable, but not shocking, that a peaceful group of people must rise up against their brutal oppressors and that their pleas for help have not been met and thus, must use violent means to be heard. Unfortunately, the Chinese government, which continues its cultural genocide of the Tibetan people, will not be stopped, and is far more powerful than the unarmed monks and families with no military training that have for so many years watched their culture be erased by Chinese influence. It would be nice to think that Nancy Pelosi or Condoleezza Rice’s call for “restraint” would abate the Chinese aggressors, but they’re requests will not be granted. As I write this, the Chinese government has ordered a news blackout and demands all “protesters” throughout the Tibetan territories “turn themselves in” or face “greater punishment.” According to the BBC, Tibetans are currently being rounded-up and placed into overcrowded prisons. The only way to stop this brutal regime is if the governments of the West ceases trade on all Chinese imports/exports – not going to happen. So, say goodbye Tibet and enjoy the Olympics as your holy city of Lhasa continues to be turned into a resort. Maybe one day, Western tourists will be able to experience your culture through a theme park ride.
Now, the Eliot Spitzer “scandal”; okay, as someone who voted for Spitzer, I admit I’m a bit biased about the whole thing. Moreover, as someone who does not believe a politician’s sex life should play any role in determining how we vote or treat public officials (especially when such acts are consensual), again, I’m biased. Ultimately, what I find most interesting though about this whole ordeal is that it illustrates how a man who fought so aggressively to monitor bank accounts and busting-up prostitution rings would also harbor the same desires he once so vehemently rejected as "criminal". Also interesting, is the fact that the same monitoring procedures he implemented were ironically the cause of his downfall. Finally, Spitzer pissed-off a lot of powerful people; thus, it was only a matter of time before this gangster got “whacked” by the same gangsters he crossed and ultimately created.
What also (as Peter Griffin from "Family Guy” says) “grinds my gears” is the pathetic smearing campaign of Barack Obama in connection to his Pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “inflammatory anti-American” comments. First, I think it’s completely ridiculous for anyone to ask Obama to take-back the comments of another man from three years ago. True, Obama knows and is, likely, very close to Rev. Wright; but he is not responsible for an other's comments – only his own (which have been candid concerning this matter). Of course, when looking at the comments themselves, I don't see what the big fuss is about. In fact, this column may –for once- actually agrees with a Reverend. He’s right, “God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.” I also don’t think it’s such a stretch to blame America for 9/11 since it is what he said it is, “The chickens coming home to roost.” In fact, I’m so annoyed with anyone who still believes the United States is some perfect never-do-wrong Superman, when, in fact, we are (like the Chinese government) an aggressive, brutal, and extremely powerful empire that exerts its influence at gun point.
America is my home. I am an American and despite my country’s crimes –proud of what my country could be. But I also loathe that so many in my country are unable to recognize we’re not always the good guy. In fact, more often than not, the United States is the bad guy! What I love about my country and what I hate about it is a rant I’ll reserve for another day; for now, I’d like to close on the debacle in Iraq.
Five years ago, the United States began its occupation. Back then, I marched in the streets in opposition to the Administration's decision that I still feel was not only a terrible mistake, but one the United States will continue to pay for in human lives and capital. This year, the American people have a choice to make – who will be our next President? I sincerely believe the best way to begin repairing the damages caused by the Bush administration is to elect Barack Obama. I also urge anyone who has their doubts to please read Obama's five-year plan for Iraq before cynically renouncing his plans for change.
Okay, I feel a little better now that I let that all out. Back to the grind.