Click here to go to the Home Page The Illusion of Democracy - The Other Side of the Tracks By Perry Redd, Columnist

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This is all about the illusion.  An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people.  An example is: “America is a democratic nation that upholds the principles of democracy, freedom and sovereignty,” or “The United States is the bastion of liberty.”  Most Americans hold fast to this illusion and have been conditioned to believe it, regardless of what our federal government does - whether action or policy. 

These universally accepted statements bring us to a reckoning of the doublespeak that roots our country’s political paralysis and contradictory foreign dilemma.  Our relationship with other foreign nations is perilous, at least, and fatal at most.  Our interventions in Libya, for what we said were “humanitarian” reasons, fall into questionable waters when we stand by and watch Syria murder its citizenry on a daily basis.

Even worse, we (the USA) support the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in favor of what we have labeled “freedom fighters” as they undertake the identical conduct of the one we seek to displace. In a 112-page report released September 13, Amnesty International stated that the regime of ousted leader Gadhafi and the rebel government - the  National Transitional Council - have both committed war crimes during the current conflict and someone needs to take control to stop the abuses from continuing.

The report on human rights violations during the Libyan conflict details many examples of abuses by Gadhafi loyalists that include "mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests."  They shot their first appointed leader in the head in a mob-style murder just two months ago.  America never flinched.  The illusion of building a democratic Libya is what we’re selling.

The question here is how can we stand behind - with our money and military resources - a manufactured ally who contradicts the principles we purport to stand for?  Do most Americans believe an illusion?

Both the ousted leader’s regime and the National Transitional Council have committed war crimes.  Is the USA confronted with a Hobson’s choice - a choice between the devil and Satan?  Oh, forgive me: That’s what Christians think of Muslims anyway.

Let me share with you another illusion.  The Palestinian Authority has been steadily building support for the United Nations (UN) to sanction, this month, the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. This move could place Israel in a diplomatic vise. If the sanction is granted, Israel would occupy land belonging to a fellow UN member; Israel would occupy land it settled and has controlled for more than four decades and some of which it expects to keep in any two-state solution. Though the US says it espouses the principles of democracy, freedom and sovereignty, it has committed to veto any majority vote, if the UN votes to grant Palestine its state sovereignty. I was taught in Poli-Sci 101 that the majority rules. That’s how it works in US elections - save Gore v. Bush, 2000 - but of course, that too was an illusion.

How can we Americans maintain confidence in a system, society and nation that contradict its core principles by blatantly denying its values?  The expectation of loyalty is a tough row to hoe when we citizens watch the US consistently renege on her word to others.  One knows that the same has been, could be - and will be done to any one of us; it’s just a question of when. 

President Barack Obama said that a Palestinian bid for recognition next week at the UN was a “distraction” and would not result in viable statehood, as Arab foreign ministers agreed to gather support for the Palestinians at the UN.  Why would any people NOT want to be free of occupation?  Why wouldn’t the United States champion the thing she cherishes: sovereignty? 

In a roundtable with Hispanic journalists, Obama on Monday said that Israel would “hurt itself” if it retaliated against the UN vote by withdrawing resources that might harm Palestinian self-policing efforts.  Yet, The US has said it will work up to the last moment to avoid a Palestinian statehood bid.  Of course, the US wouldn’t dream of denying its own statehood or that of Israel’s.

Like the uprising at New York’s Attica prison 40 years ago, the media today is distorting reality, just as a magician does through illusion. Case in point: The media reported that the prisoners slit the throats of their hostages in a step for prisoner dignity, but television cameras showed that New York state police fired volleys of high-powered firearms - killing 39 people - 29 prisoners and ten correctional officers and civilian employees. 

The takeaway is this: We continue to believe the “stories” reported by the press. They’re more often than not illusion; a clear distortion of reality, yet shared by most people. Why do we so readily believe? I believe we’d rather believe the lie because believing the lie commands us to no nothing; it’s a balm, a soother, a comforter, a pacifier. Doing what we’ve always done will continue to get us what we always got (to do): struggle.  Gotta wean ourselves from the pacifier. Columnist, Perry Redd, is the former Executive Director of the workers rights advocacy, Sincere Seven, and author of the on-line commentary, “The Other Side of the Tracks.” He is the host of the internet-based talk radio show, Socially Speaking in Washington, DC. Click here to contact Mr. Redd.

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Sept 22, 2011 - Issue 442
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