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Illusion of Democracy

The Other Side of the Tracks: A Socially Speaking commentary

September 13, 2011

By Perry Redd


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 in its 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 (or Egypt or Tunisia) murder its citizenry on a daily basis.

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

The 112-page report detailed many examples of abuses by the Gadhafi loyalists, which included “mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced
disappearances, and arbitrary arrests.” Those same offenses were listed under the rebels as well. They also 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? Have we made the choice between the devil or 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 to sanction the State of Palestine as a member whose territory includes all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem this month, a move that could place Israel into a diplomatic vise. Israel would be occupying land belonging to a fellow United Nations member, land it has controlled and settled for more than four decades and some of which it expects to keep in any two-state solution. Though the United States says it espouses the principles of democracy, freedom and sovereignty, it has committed to veto any majority vote, if the U.N. votes to grant Palestine it’s state sovereignty. I was taught in Poli-Sci 101 that the majority rules. That’s how it works in American elections (save Gore v. Bush, 2000). But of course, that too was an illusion.

How can an American maintain confidence in a system, society and nation that contradicts its core principles; blatantly denies it own values? The expectation of loyalty is a tough row to hoe when its citizenry watches it renege on its word with others. One knows that the same will be done to him.

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

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