Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Personal is Political

I've tried really hard to just talk about me in this blog. MS has fundamentally changed every idea or dream I've ever had for myself, and I wanted to keep this blog about that. It seems that the time has arrived where my personal struggle with MS and what that means to my future has transected the political.

I am quite cognizant that the United States of America is probably the most sovereign nation on the planet and they (in the broadest sense of that word) really, really don't care what people from other countries think about them or their life, liberty and the way they pursue happiness.

That's what makes this post so hard to type. The love of my fucking LIFE is a born, raised and militarily-served American citizen. He also lives in Canada, and has for almost exactly 4 years. Together we've been watching/reading everything going on in the US as it is filtered through the Canadian media, as well as how it is filtered through CNN, MSNBC, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. I think it is driving us both nuts.

(Fox News Network is available in Canada by subscription only on digital cable. My access to what is going on on that network is limited by what gets posted to youtube and any commentary offered up by the aforementioned media sources)

I've read that there is some concern that advertisers pulling their ads from television "news" shows under threat of boycott gives those corporations control over the news content. I'm not sure that's exactly what's going on. Sure, there is the immediacy of a boycott, but I also have to think that those companies don't want to be seen as being on the wrong side of the issues brought up by the likes of Glenn Beck. I remember seeing a PBS documentary about the history of the Coca-Cola company. In their quest for worldwide market domination, they didn't want to be seen as "Georgia hicks" and were among the first companies in that state to hire black sales people. When Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated they knew the world would be watching, and provided much of the transportation needs of the King family during their period of public mourning. I'll bet that few people in the US or around the world know that MLK once called for a boycott of Coke. I think this speaks to the power of being on the right side history.

I've been reading that people like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and even Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) are openly comparing a mixed race man to Adolf Hitler (the mind boggles, Rush), who's a racist who doesn't hate white people (for realz, Glenn?), who then spend hours of a national broadcast outright lying, misrepresenting and purposely misquoting anyone who disagrees with them, (but that's okay when you're on FNN, right Sean?) or suggesting that states who disagree with the current administration could secede the union if it was in their best interests (don't mess with Texas, right Governor?). Gun nuts have been encouraged to bring side arms and assault weapons to public meetings, including those held by the president. Dissent is manufactured by health insurance and petroleum companies and anyone with a tin foil hat is encouraged to "put the fear of god" into their elected officials. This includes death threats and veiled threats of other personal harm, if need be.

All the while I'm watching this, I can't help but reminded of this:
In the ongoing International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the individuals behind Kangura (Kangura was a Kinyarwanda- and French-language magazine) have been accused of producing leaflets in 1992 picturing a machete and asking “What shall we do to complete the social revolution of 1959?” - a reference to the Hutu revolt that overthrew the Tutsi monarchy and the subsequent politically orchestrated communal violence that resulted in thousands of mostly Tutsi casualties and forced roughly 300,000 Tutsis to flee to neighboring Burundi and Uganda. Kangura also published the infamous "10 Hutu Commandments," which called upon Hutus to massacre Tutsis, and more generally communicated the message that the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front) had a devious grand strategy (one feature article was titled "Tutsi colonization plan").
"There was an FM radio on every roadblock, there were thousands of roadblocks in Rwanda," a police investigator said. He told the court that in prison interviews "many people told us they had killed because the radio had told them to kill."

At the same time the "Birthers" are using "Kenyan" as code for "nigger". Jon Voight is wondering aloud if the president is purposely trying to start a civil war as if wanting to take the country in a new, fairer, more just direction is tantamount to treason or some race-based conspiracy to get back at "the man".

Then I hear that "holy men" can inform their flock that "The same God who instituted the death penalty for murderers is the same God who instituted the death penalty for rapists and for homosexuals - sodomites, queers!" and "God... commanded it and said they should be taken out and killed." And these people can do that because of the 1st Amendment to the constitution of the United States of America. If one of this man's "followers" kills someone, I hope that he is prosecuted for murder the same way Charles Manson was. In my opinion they are both men who are a danger to society.

The world is watching, America. I know that a lot of people don't know or don't care, but they are watching. And if the country explodes in violence or even additional, needless crazy-making behaviour, the rest of the world is going to throw their hands up and just write America off as a place where the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Why does this matter to me? As I said, I'm married to an American citizen who would like to again live in the country of his birth, and so far he says he's committed to having me, his Canadian wife, live with him.

But as the days pass and I watch all this seething resentment, racism, classism and white privilege run amok, I'm skeptical that I would like living there. See, on the surface, I'm exactly the kind of immigrant almost all Americans could live with. I'm white, of European ancestry and a born English speaker without a "hoity-toity" accent. But I'm also far more liberal than just about any American I have met (my husband included), I'm a pro-choice, sex-positive, anti-death penalty, childfree feminist, a homophile and an atheist with a disability who believes that government is what we call it when we decide to do something together for the greater good.

Not very American, huh?

What gets me right in the throat, every single time, is when I see footage on youtube of the people who attend these town halls is that they seem to think that they're advertising to all of America how great it is to be American and what is great about America.

In truth they're just showing the world the worst and most ugly side of what used to be an amazing nation of innovators, social progressives and statesmen. I used to think that President George W. Bush was an aberration in American politics, but it seems that at this time and place President Barack H. Obama is. Right now, what is right about America is seriously being eroded, undermined and beaten to a pulp by what is wrong with America.

If I do move to the US with my husband, I want it to be with hope and positivity, not with me kicking and screaming and then just doing it because I can't afford the divorce. When I was a kid, the US of A was a magical place. I'd like to feel that sense of wonder and excitement again. I know that in the grand scheme of things the complaints of one little Canadian "don't amount to a hill of beans in this world" but I felt compelled to say something. I also don't imagine that I have access to an audience that will care two minutes after reading this.

I'm saying this because I love my husband because of who he is and because of the kind of person where he was raised made him. He loves his country and wants to live there again and I want to want to live there as much as he does. I now realize that this whole post could've been summed up in one single sentence.

Get your shit together, America.

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