As others wage revolutions, we watch. The revolution is televised after all, we say with a sigh of relief. Between Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and college hoops, we can watch a bit of revolution tonight for a change of pace.
There are basically two kinds of mass protest overseas. Those that are orchestrated by America, as rigged by our CIA, or those that are supposedly against us. I say supposedly because a protest or coup d’etat against one of our dictators may usher in yet another one of our dictators.
America has so many dictators up her sleeve. Whichever shell she flips over, there’s a dictator underneath. Though America always trumpets democracy, she always, and I mean always, prefers dictators for her client states. A dictator guarantees “stability,” which is good for (American) businesses. He can also be bought. This tyrant will enrich himself while selling out his country to the USA. To wipe out domestic dissent, this evil “strong man” will send his soldiers to America to learn how to torture and conduct “counter insurgency.”
The year I was born, the CIA orchestrated a coup against South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, whom it had propped up in the first place. That same year, Abdul Karim Kassem of Iraq was killed in a Bathist coup engineered by, guess whom, the CIA. Out of that mess would rise CIA asset, Saddam Hussein. Ruling Iraq for 24 years, he was one of America’s favorite sumbitches, until he got a few ideas of his own, like trading oil for Euros, for example. That’s when we had to invade his country and string him up. John F. Kennedy was also killed in 1963, but, ah, the CIA is not to be blamed here. Kennedy was simply blown away by a lone, supernaturally gifted sniper.
Our domestic leaders are similarly homogeneous. Our so-called Presidents are remarkably uniform in how they deal, or rather, not deal, with the Pentagon, Wall Street and Israel, etc, with how they never disturb that awful moloch, our military industrial complex.
The job of White House Press Secretary is rather superfluous, don’t you think? I mean, the President is already a voluble spokesman for the power that be. Our President is a White House Press Secretary. He doesn’t lead or decide so much as talks, talks and talks. Every four years we throw out the bum, to bring in another hobo. (My apologies to actual bums and hobos everywhere.) We expend so much energy and hope into this merry go round that there’s nothing left for real changes, not that we’re really inclined. Life is good as long as Kobe is running back and forth, the corn syrup overflows and there’s some jive meat in our tacos.
There are six political parties represented in the French Parliament. In the Italian one, there are seven. In the Japanese diet, there are eight parties. These numbers are typical of democracies worldwide, but in the United States, supposedly the beacon of democracy, only two parties dominate all political power and discourse. Moreover, these two parties are two faces of the same corrupt, by now more than worthless coin.
Sharing the same rotten substance, Obama and Bush are both apologists for endless war, torture and massive corruption. Bush found the Department of Homeland Security. Obama increased its budget. Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, fired missiles into Pakistan. In two years, Obama has killed more Afghans and Pakistanis than Bush in five. Obama has increased Bush’s war budget. The only differences between Obama and Bush are their faces and diction, yet when Obama was elected, even our radicals wept tears of joy. Is there any specimen more pitiful, clueless and impotent than the American so-called progressive?
On a California campus long known for its supposed radicalism, I talked to a highly regarded young professor. “You can talk about Fascism nowadays, but if you criticize Communism, people still cringe,” I observed. “Who’s talking about Fascism?!” she responded.
We watch the foreign protests and think, Damn, that’s dangerous! People actually get killed! Our protests, by contrast, are civil displays of brief durations. They threaten and disturb nothing. We ask permission beforehand to be allowed to parade down the street, carrying cute signs. Our protestors vie with each others to come up with the cleverest signs. Though seen by almost no one, they are dutifully photographed by their makers to be posted on FaceBook.
Recently, some of our leading progressive thinkers chained themselves to the White House fence for an hour or so. Though no one noticed, it was considered a success by the organizers. The protestors were demanding that our White House Press Secretary cum President withdraw all American troops from Iraq. Of course, no one expected our military occupation to end simply because two dozen Americans briefly detained themselves, so this action was strictly symbolic.
In fact, all of our protests are strictly symbolic these days. Since we’re reluctant to threaten or even inconvenient the system, or even ourselves, for that matter, nothing can come of our dissent. To press our demands, we don’t even dare to call for a general strike. It’s true that with little union activity, it’s difficult to organize workers, but since our factories are mostly gone, the unions are kaput.
Nowadays, Americans are constantly urged to be vigilant of suspicious activities. Even taking photos in a public place can draw attention from the authorities. I myself have been harassed in several states. Citing the Patriot Act, a bike riding private security guard threatened to arrest me in Kansas City, KS. In Cleveland, a Greyhound bus driver kicked me off his bus because I refused to store my expensive camera and lenses in the luggage hold. Stories like these abound. With so much hysteria drummed up by Homeland Security, one would think that bombs are constantly being planted all over America, but in fact, the exact opposite is true. When a bomb plot is actually discovered, more often than not it is the work of the FBI!
In 1969, 93 bombs exploded in New York City. Half were politically motivated. Even in Seattle, 33 bombs went off. Back then, radical Americans targeted military recruiting offices, police stations, government buildings, homes of officials and sometimes banks. Most of these explosives only blew out windows, knocked a few doors off their hinges, but on May 11, 1970, the Atomic Energy Commission in Rocky Flats, CO was bombed, causing $45 million in damage. Rocky Flats was where they made components for nuclear weapons. Now, Americans no longer bomb symbols of militarism or crooked finance. We only try to torch and blow up abortion clinics.
Most Americans, left or right, are now opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet our troops are still there, and will remain for a long time. Most Americans opposed the bank bailouts, yet our government bailed them out anyway. After Americans became enraged by the invasive airport scanners, Washington ordered more of these privacy violating, cancer inducing machines. The sex abuse airport groping also continued. When the Pentagon failed to account for $2.3 trillion, that’s right, when $2.3 trillion have been stolen in full view, our political leadership didn’t bat an eye. Our President can now declare anyone a terrorist, and order him locked up without trial or even shot, without anyone knowing. If that isn’t Fascism, stupid professor, what is?!
These televised revolutions are already becoming old hat. What do these pissed off people have to do with us? Where’s that remote control? Let’s switch channels.
LINH DINH is the author of two books of stories and five of poems, and the recently published novel, Love Like Hate. He’s tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union.