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Mr. Obama, Tear Down That Wall!

by RODOLFO ACUÑA

The word trust is linked to belief. It is almost impossible to trust a person if you do not believe him. The negation of trust is a lie that evokes a sense of betrayal.  In personal relationships, you can love a person, but if you do not believe him, you don’t trust him, so there is no basis for a relationship.

The erosion of trust takes time; it does not happen overnight.  Many historical upheavals have come about from the erosion of trust.

For example, the Black Death Plague of the 14th century caused the death of an estimated 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. As with most crises, society found scapegoats. In this case, it was the Jews who the rioters massacred by the thousands.

Often the rioters were agitated by the Church Fathers. You can get the sense of this fear by watching the docudrama CANOA (1975) about the 1968 lynching of students in San Miguel Canoa in Puebla.

In the end, the Plague undermined the authority of the Catholic Church. Losing almost their entire families many lost trust in the Church’s ability to intercede with God; their prayers and their faith were of no help; and they felt betrayed. Once the trust eroded the working class was not blinded by faith, and they saw that Church supported the aristocrats in keeping their wages down even at a time when there was a scarcity of labor.

In my last essay I raised the question of foreclosures, and how government was in collusion with the bankers and the hedge fund managers to capitalize on the misfortune caused by the real estate bubbles that brought on the Depression of 2008. Instead of blaming the bankers, many blamed homeowners for accepting the usurious loans.

We believe we live in a democracy, and that we can correct imperfections. However, in order to do this we have to put aside myths such as that our government is the best of all governments.

We cannot ignore Gore v. Bush (2000) where the Supreme Court stole the election from Gore. We cannot ignore Citizens United (2010) that once again made corporations people, and increased the likelihood of the superrich buying electoral races.  Whether we want to believe it or not, Congress is in the pay of the one percent of the population.

The system is destroying itself. Washington was come to a standstill. Yet there are still those who believe they are equal to the one percent. Maybe they still believe in Santa Claus. I wonder if they are as trusting as of their partners.  But that is why we have the word pendejo in our vocabulary.

It is disturbing to listen or to read the news. Barack Obama is trying to cater to McCain’s vision of this nation, and is preparing to lead the country into yet another war.  Similar to Bush and Cheney, President Obama is using the redline argument of the Weapons of Mass Destruction –his proof is his word.

How far can we trust President Obama? I am sorry but I am concerned about the erosion of our constitutional rights via the tapping of telephone records and the internet.  It is not okay just because it supposedly makes us feel more secure. For me, Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old whistleblower who leaked the history of the NSA (National Security Agency) and its spying operation is a hero. If and when they catch him, Snowden is going to do hard time for protecting us against ourselves.

I feel betrayed by the government on the issue of GMOs. I rely on the government to make certain that my family’s food is safe.

Western Europe has banned GMO foods produced by corporate giants like Monsanto. I am concerned that Congress just passed a law that was signed by President Obama. The Monsanto Protection Act or HR 993 forces the USDA to approve any new GMO seeds, and shields Monsanto and other GMO/biotech companies from liability if the seeds turn out to be harmful.

Was I paranoid when President Barack Obama appointed former Monsanto VP and head lobbyist Michael Taylor as Deputy Commissioner to head the FDA? The board regulates Monsanto.

And, I am concerned about the growing inequality and lack of opportunity for Latinos and other Americans. We fought hard to gain access to the colleges and universities. Today this access has been severely limited by the rising cost of tuition, housing and books –to the point that it threatens the gains of past 40 years.

The Arizona betrayal killed any trust that I had that government could or would correct the inequalities there. The Tucson schools have been under a desegregation order for 40 years. Mexican Americans have fought courageously to end segregation. However, even if we win, those years will never be returned to the students who have suffered the effects of racism and unequal schools.

The State of Arizona with the complicity of the Tucson Unified School District destroyed a Mexican American Studies program that had produced proven results.  After three years the federal courts finally intervened, and has ordered that culturally relevant classes be implemented. However, we who have been involved in constructing MAS programs –know that MAS is more than a collection of courses –it is a pedagogy. This makes us doubt whether Humpty Dumpty will ever be put back together again.

It is another instance of money wasted, time lost, and lives destroyed. Can this be fixed? Can the playing field be leveled? I don’t want to sound cynical, but “I don’t think so!”

Arizona has been taken over by special interests, and is ahead of the nation in the privatization of the public sector, ranging from the prisons to the schools. Like the nation as a whole, Arizona is run by feudal lords.

The United States has entered a twilight zone. While courts in the past sometimes supervised the gerrymandering of congressional districts to equalize voting rights, today they are getting rid of voting rights enforcement, and replacing it with districts designed to protect Republican Party rule. Congressional Districts are being redrawn to make certain that incumbents are elected.

Even in California, Latinos have allied themselves with Republicans to preserve their districts. But, the truth be told, the abuse has been most glaring in Red states. The result is that a small sectarian group is in control of Congress whose members are in the pay of lobbyists.

Compounding this inequality the red states hold the larger states hostage; no matter that the blue states pay for the cost government and fight the nation’s wars. It would take a constitutional amendment to restructure government, and correct this flaw. But, as many have frequently pointed out, the Supremes are products of the ivy leagues and hardly independent.  Judges Scalia, Thomas and their gaggle of right wing judges thrive on honorariums and favors from Wall Street.

The only hope is a Black Plague scenario that will force the masses to revolt. We must remember that the Berlin Wall did not come down because President Ronald Reagan in 1987 yelled ” Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”

The Wall came down and the Soviet Union imploded because of a universal loss of trust. The people felt betrayed by their government.

There is intelligent capitalism and just plain stupid capitalism. Henry Ford made the decision to pay his workers $5 a day in wages. Ford realized that if he wanted to sell his products that he should pay the workers so they could afford to buy cars.  In other words, Ford had to create a middle-class—the same middle class that Wall Street is wiping out

Today’s capitalists are stupid because they do not history, and as we speak are killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

My only hope is that the proverb, “No hay mal que dure cien anos, ni cuerpo que lo aguante, (there is no harm that lasts a hundred years, nor a human body that will resist them) proves prophetic.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

 

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

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