Thursday, January 14, 2010

Catching Up

Well, I need to get some thoughts out quickly before I forget. So much I want to comment on keeps happening, and I can't seem to keep up sometimes.

Haiti, of all places, has been hit with an earthquake. I've always said the political situation in that country needed a severe shake-up, but this isn't quite what I meant. One can only hope that as an accidental consequence of this disaster, we can find out why the hell Haiti has over ten thousand charities working within it, yet the country remains one of the poorest on earth. Meanwhile, the news media has apparently decided that this is the only news story, and that nothing else is happening. Granted, this happened once before when Michael Jackson died, but this time, it's actually a news story worth reporting. And, for once, the media has actually decided to report a disaster where thousands of brown-skinned, poor people get killed. Ordinarily, that's not even a back-page news story. Hutus and Tutsis can massacre each other, Mogadishu can go completely tits up, and the media doesn't seem to care. This time, it's news, perhaps because it's so close to Florida.

Or perhaps because the Carnival Cruise Lines can no longer park cheaply at Port Au Prince, or, as the brochures call it, "The Lovely Island of Hispaniola." Quick! Somebody call the Coast Guard!

Oh, wait, somebody DID call the Coast Guard. Okay, how about this: Quick! Somebody pass health care reform with a public option! Now, while the media's distracted!

Does anybody else feel like early-term presidencies repeat themselves? Early into George W. Bush's presidency, we were right back in Iraq just like with George Bush Sr. About a year into Obama's presidency, we're having a crisis in Haiti, just like in Bill Clinton's first term. Jeez! Deja Vu all over again! Okay, granted, the Hatian crisis during Bubba's first term wasn't brought about by an earthquake. Rather, it was brought about because the election process down there was only slightly worse than Florida in 2000. (Har, har!) But still, eerie parallels!

So let's examine the news items the media has decided no longer need covering because Haiti should eclipse everything. First, Harry Reid commented that Obama was electable because he didn't have a "Negro dialogue unless he wanted one." Republicans are crying for his resignation, calling a parallel with Trent Lott when he supported Strom Thurmond.

This is screwy on so many levels. What, precisely, was the offense? Was it because Reed pointed out that Obama didn't talk like some inner city gangsta? It can't be that, because it's true! Or maybe white politicians simply aren't allowed to use the word 'negro' in any context? Nah, even politicians can use the word in an academic setting. No, I think the true offense is that Reed called inner city slang, "negro dialect," in spite of the fact that so many "wiggers" talk exactly the same. What he meant, of course, iz dat u cant win no damm elecshun if u tawk lik sum fuhl uvva luzer. True dat! You CAN'T win if you talk that way! At anything, much less a presidential election. But that's not a 'dialect,' nor is it exclusively for inner city blacks. It's disturbingly spoken by an increasing number of suburban white kids and rednecks in trailers.

But is it the same situation as Trent Lott? Hardly, because of who was offended. In Reed's case, the offense was against Obama, and he's forgiven him. End of story. In the case of Lott, the offense was agaisnt the entire black American populace, and they didn't forgive. And let's not forget just how big a DICK Strom Thurmond was -- a man who built his political career on being a segregationist asswipe. Anyone who would defend that old shit deserved to get fired. There's no double standard, there.

Next up, the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in New York. Conservatives have been calling this a miscarriage of justice because he's going to receive a civilian trial instead of a military tribunal as though he represented a specific country in a time of war.

Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? Timothy McVeigh was a terrorist. Arguably, he was even worse that Khalid Mohammed, because he was raised in the U.S., enjoying all its freedoms and privileges, and still took up arms against it anyway. That rat bastard was given, yes, a CIVILIAN trial! He was tried, sentenced, and given the death penalty. And we had less of a case against him than we do against Khalid. So to those who think it's a travesty to try this 9/11 mastermind in a civilian court in the city which suffered his actions, all I can say is, WHAT THE FUCK!?! You really think someone like Timothy McVeigh gets a civilian trial, but someone like Khalid Muhammed doesn't? You really think it's realistic to say that this guy could get off? Or maybe you're one of the few damned fools who think that CHRISTIAN terrorists get a fair trial, but Muslim terrorists dont?!

This all ties in to the terrifying notion conservatives have had lately of presuming people to be guilty before trial has begun. Oh, maybe not necessarily in Khalid Muhammed's case, but certainly in the case of Guantanamo Bay. The repeated mantra I hear is a presumption that just because someone's detained at Gitmo, that person must be guilty. Why? Well, they were detained, weren't they?

Honestly, we don't fully appreciate just how close the Bush administration took us towards George Orwell's 1984. Presumption of innocense is a vital safeguard that's present for an overwhelmingly important reason: Without it, it's mob justice!

So, as our trophy president, Obama, seeks to rebuild the democratic freedoms we nearly lost, let's all of us help "rebuild" Haiti. (As if it were all that "built" to begin with. You know, with all the buildings knocked down, the city of Port Au Prince looks rather much the same.) But it's certainly interesting that the Obama administration seems to have already done more for Haiti in a day than the Bush administration did for New Orleans in a year.

Eric

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