Tag Archives: nationalism

A Solomonic solution for Ukraine

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I am not an expert on geopolitics, or even on world history, but, as loath as I am to adopt the right wing’s concept of “common-sense solutions” (which, interestingly, almost always turn out to be right-wing “solutions”…), it seems to me that you don’t have to have a PhfuckingD to call some shots.

The best solution where Ukraine is concerned is, methinks, a Solomonic solution* — cut that puppy in two.

Crimea, the southernmost, peninsular area of Ukraine (see map below), according to Reuters is “the only part of Ukraine with a Russian ethnic majority, which has often voiced separatist aims.”

Reuters further reports today that

Russian President Vladimir Putin secured his parliament’s authority [today] to invade Ukraine after troops seized control of the Crimea peninsula and pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisted flags above government buildings in two eastern cities.

Putin’s open assertion of the right to deploy troops in a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest direct confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War. …

Yikes.

It seems most fair to me that Crimea go to Russia, since most Crimeans apparently want this. This past week I listened to a Crimean woman interviewed on NPR state emphatically that she and her fellow Crimeans do not want to be part of the European Union (or the West in general), but want to preserve their culture and their language, and thus want to remain with Russia. If she truly represents the majority of Crimeans, then it should be majority rule. That’s called “democracy.”

So Crimea seems easy to me: it’s pretty fucking Russian already, and forcing the Crimeans to remain with an increasingly Westernized Ukraine against their will would be just as evil and wrong as it would be for Putin to try to force Ukrainians who want a Western, and not a Russian, alliance to remain with Russia.

My understanding is that that river that runs right down Ukraine at least metaphorically roughly splits it into very different nations, a pro-Western half and a pro-Russian half. Indeed, a map of the 2012 parliamentary election results in Ukraine looked like this:

File:Ukr elections 2012 multimandate okruhs.png

My understanding is that the pink areas represent pro-Western sentiment, while the blue and orange areas represent pro-Russian sentiment.

Indeed, the major dueling parties in the 2012 Ukrainian election were the pro-Russian Party of Regions and the “Fatherland” Party, which now is headed by the recently-released-from-prison Yulia Tymoshenko (often pictured in her Princess-Leia-like hairdo). I’m pretty fucking leery of Tymoshenko, who, according to Wikipedia, “Prior to her political career … was a successful but controversial businesswoman in the gas industry, becoming by some estimates one of the richest people in the country.”

Hmmm. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had been heavily involved in the oil industry before they stole the 2000 U.S. presidential election, and usually when a filthy rich person (or at least a pro-filthy-rich-people person) rises to power, it smacks of fascism — a right-wing collusion between a government and corporations (usually with nationalistic overtones) — if it isn’t downright fascism, so I’m not hopping on the Tymoshenko bandwagon today.

I mean, “Fatherland” — I can’t help but think of the Nazis when that word is evoked. Indeed, Wikipedia notes of “Fatherland” that “the English word is now associated with the [fascistic] Nazi government of Germany [and usually] not used often in post-World War II English unless one wishes to invoke the Nazis… Prior to Nazism, however, the term was used throughout Germanic language countries without negative connotations…”

I have found the fascistic, unelected Bush-Cheney regime’s term “homeland,” as in “homeland security” and “the Department of Homeland Security” to be chilling enough, to be too close for comfort to Hitler’s “Fatherland,” and now here are Tymoshenko and her supporters touting their “Fatherland.”

Still, even though what admittedly little I know of Tymoshenko gives me great pause, if the northwestern region of Ukraine wishes to be free of Russia and (try to) join the European Union, as appears to be the case, I’m pretty OK with that, as you can’t advocate democracy only when the majority of the individuals in the situation at hand agree with you. (I see the wingnuts here in the United States do that all the fucking time, and I wish that phenomenon on no one else.)

It seems to me that the best solution for Ukraine, the solution with the least amount of bloodshed (including perhaps preventing a third world war…) and the solution that offers the best possible outcome for all parties involved, is for Ukraine to split into two nations.

Again, it is at least as outrageous for the United States and its European allies to try to force the pro-Russia portion of Ukraine to remain with a Western-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Russian individuals do not wish to do so as it is outrageous for Russia to try to force the pro-Western portion of Ukraine to remain with a Russian-bent Ukraine if the clear majority of those pro-Western individuals do not wish to do so.

Yes, my proposed solution smacks of East Berlin and West Berlin (although, of course, I propose no wall…) — or, at least, of a messy divorce, replete with the concurrent division of property and the custody battle — and while I’m probably oversimplifying the matter of Ukraine, again, from what I know of it, the best solution seems to be to create two nations from it, and to allow one to remain, if it wishes, with Mother** Russia, and to allow the other, if it wishes and if the European Union wishes, to join the European Union.

*Admittedly, this is an imperfect metaphor, since in the story of King Solomon and the baby, of course only one of the women could have been the infant’s biological mother.

I use the metaphor because Solomon has become a symbol of wisdom, including wise arbitration, and because, per Wikipedia, “The expressions ‘splitting the baby’ or ‘cutting the baby in half’ are sometimes used in the legal profession for a form of simple compromise: solutions which ‘split the difference’ in terms of damage awards or other remedies…”

**Admittedly, I’m much more OK with the term “Motherland” than I am with “Fatherland,” and while the term “homeland” is fairly neutral, because fascists coined the term as it is used in the United States today, I can only think of it as the equivalent of “Fatherland.”

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Wake me up on September 12

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AFP/Getty Images photo

The owner of an investment and public relations firm stumbles away from the stricken World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. While we are seeing plenty of images like this one these days, we certainly aren’t seeing images like this one, an Iraqi girl whose parents were blown away by American stormtroopers in 2005 (you know, because of 9/11) —

Chris Hondros/Getty Images photo

— or, of course, one of the many wonderful images that came out of Abu Ghraib (which I think is Arabic for “a few bad apples”) prison in Vietraq, like this unforgettable gem, circa 2004:

File:Abu-ghraib-leash.jpg

Seriously, though, no nation does rank hypocrisy and self-righteousness like the “Christian” United States of America does rank hypocrisy and self-righteousness. We! Are! Number! One!

So the 9/11 decennial already has begun, with cheesy (redundant…) 9/11-related retrospective pieces already having been appearing in the mainstream media, but the worst of it should come next week, as the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, approaches.

As Ted Rall points out, we Americans have learned virtually nothing from 9/11, and this is evident from the woe-is-us fest that we’re seeing now.

And as Glenn Greenwald (also) points out, of course part of the self-serving, mawkish 9/11 commemoration that we won’t see is any official mention of the fact that the U.S. government first supported (and armed) the likes of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden before it declared them enemies or any official mention of the tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis whom the United States slaughtered in the illegal, immoral, unjust and unprovoked Vietraq War, which the unelected Bush regime launched in March 2003 using 9/11 as a pretext, even though not a single one of the 19 9/11 hijackers was an Iraqi (15 of them, in fact, were from Saudi Arabia, as was Osama bin Laden, but the U.S. power elites and the Saudi power elites remain great oily buddies).

Greenwald concludes his piece by noting that

… the fact that victims of American violence over the last two decades have easily outweighed, and continue to outweigh, those of the Dictators and Terrorists whom we so vocally despise is nonetheless an extremely important fact that should shape our understanding of 9/11. But as usual, that’s another fact that will be “left unsaid” [in the 9/11 decennial commemorations].

What 9/11 signifies most for me is nothing like American victimhood, since the United States hardly can claim to be a victimized nation (9/11 was only blowback for longstanding U.S. oppression in the Middle East), or “patriotism” (which is just jingoism or fascistic nationalism), but it marks the lost decade of 2000 through 2009.

That decade started out swimmingly, with the blatantly stolen presidential election of 2000. What possibly could have gone wrong by just allowing a bunch of right-wing, pro-plutocratic, pro-corporate chickenhawks to steal the White House?

Then there was 9/11, then there was the Vietraq War, then there was Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 — which the unelected Bush regime was prepared for as well as it had been prepared for 9/11 (recall the August 2001 presidential daily briefing titled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.”, and forecasters had predicted Katrina’s landfall at least two days in advance) — and then there was Barack Obama promising “hope” and “change” to a weary, Bush-whacked nation in 2008.

In 2009, with the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate all in Democratic/“Democratic” hands — his best opportunity to push through a progressive agenda — what did President Hopey-Changey accomplish? Jack fucking squat. And in 2010? Ditto.

And now we are in 2011 and where are we? We are pretty much right back where we were back in 2000: the Repugnican (Tea) Party presidential frontrunner is the Big-Oil-ass-lickin’, “Christo”fascist-lovin’, dipshit governor of Texas, and the Democratic presidential candidate will be a reportedly intellectual (“elitist” in “tea party”-speak) but rather uncharismatic guy who has been in Washington for a little while now.

And yes, I can see another Texas governor going to the White House in January 2013, whether he steals it and Americans just fucking let him, a la 2000, or whether he actually wins the 2012 presidential election fairly and squarely.  Americans are that fucking stupid.

But can they — we — survive two lost decades in a row?

Fuck. Maybe I should have titled this “Wake me up in 2021.”

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Why the wingnuts’ Constitution fetish

Darrell Issa

John Boehner, Darrell Issa

Associated Press photos

Fascists John “Cry Me a River” Boehner and Darrell “Joseph McCarthy Jr.” Issa are pictured fetishizing the U.S. Constitution in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

It wasn’t very long ago that that wingnuts were fetishizing our “founding fathers.” The point of that exercise, of course, was to assert that only white men — the only true Americans, of course — should run the show here in the United States of America.

Maybe fetishizing our “founding fathers” was a bit too blatantly white supremacist and patriarchal, however, so now the wingnuts are fetishizing the more neutral, more impersonal U.S. Constitution.

Today’s jingoistic charade in which the new Repugnican majority of the U.S. House of Representatives led the recitation of the U.S. Constitution (instead of beginning to solve the nation’s serious problems) wholly was meant to give the impression that only the Repugnican Tea Party understands, values and follows the U.S. Constitution, as though the mere recitation of the document magically confers an embodiment of the document, just like mere recitation of the Bible is supposed to magically confer an embodiment of its contents.

“Republicans in charge of the chamber rattled [the Constitution] off with missionary zeal, as if in a school civics class,” The Associated Press notes,* and “missionary zeal” is appropriate, since the members of the Repugnican Tea Party claim to have the monopoly not only on patriotism and Americanism but also on Christianity.

I love the Constitution, but, just as we have wildly divergent versions of U.S. history, we have wildly divergent versions of the Constitution. Neither U.S. history nor the U.S. Constitution should be politicized, but, of course, they are. All the fucking time.

Where the U.S. Constitution is concerned, I fall in the “living document” camp. The document’s authors couldn’t possibly have known what challenges future generations would face, and I can’t see that the authors of the nation’s founding document intended to put future generations into a straitjacket — otherwise, they wouldn’t have provided for constitutional amendments and for a U.S. Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution.

Yes, besides constitutional amendments, there’s that little thing of U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The chief job of the nation’s highest court being to interpret the Constitution, constitutional law does not consist solely of the text of the Constitution, as the wingnuts allege, but also consists of a plethora of Supreme Court decisions.

For the wingnuts to claim to be The Keepers of the Constitution and to claim that only the Constitution itself comprises all constitutional law is not only inaccurate and propagandistic, but it’s dangerous as well, and their intention in falsely claiming so is to curtail, not to expand, freedoms and liberties in the United States of America.

The wingnuts want to drag us back to the “good old days” when, among other things, white men owned black slaves and women couldn’t vote. The wingnuts talk about freedom, but they intend that only certain people have freedom.

We allow the wingnuts to co-opt our Constitution (and our history) at our own peril.

Regarding their attempt to redefine what our nation is all about, we need to send the wingnuts this message loudly and clearly: Over our dead bodies.

*“Democrats pitched in [in the recitation], but with seemingly less ardor,” the AP immediately notes thereafter, and while surely the Repugnicans would claim that this is due to the Dems’ lack of patriotism, it’s actually due to the fact that most of the Dems know dangerous fascism, nationalism and jingoism when they see it. 

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American history wars

Cover Image

A Patriot’s History of the United States has Glenn Beck’s prominent endorsement on the cover. Gee, do ya think it’s fair and balanced? Why do I suspect that if the American fascists had their way, the book would be required reading for all Americans, perhaps especially in “re-education” camps? Below is the 1980 book that the 2007 A Patriot’s History apparently is a direct response to.

 Cover Image

Two very different versions of United States history are among amazon.com’s top-selling books as I type this sentence.

The late progressive historian Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present, first published in 1980 and current to 2003 in the revised edition that is available now, is at No. 27 on amazon.com right now, propelled up the list by his recent death. (It probably would be higher, but a lot of us “socialists” who voted for Barack Obama — which would be 53 percent of those Americans who voted in November 2008 — already have the book.) 

And at No. 1 on amazon.com right now, unfortunately, is 2007’s deceptively titled A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror — the title of which appears to be a direct response to Zinn’s tome and which tells you the slant that its two authors (one of whom wrote another book titled 48 Liberal Lies About American History) take and which indicates that if you disagree with the two white male authors’ version of American history, then you aren’t a patriot; in fact, you probably hate your country, hate freedom, and you probably want the terrorists to win!

(Hey, at least Sarah Palin-Quayle’s book has dropped to No. 56; it was at No. 1 for weeks…) 

Now, a wingnut might come back with the “argument” that Zinn and/or his supporters would say that if you disagree with his take on U.S. history, then you’re not part of the “people,” but I don’t think that was Zinn’s intent. His intent, I believe, was to tell U.S. history from the viewpoints that usually are ignored, including from the viewpoints of the downtrodden and the conquered. Well, hell, in his own words, Zinn said:

…[Ours] is a beautiful country, but it has been taken over by men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties. Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says that all of us have an equal right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The history of our country, I point out in my book, is a striving, against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make those ideals a reality….

Agreed. Our nation is a long way from fully living up to its stated ideals — we’re still arguing whether or not it is OK to discriminate against non-heterosexuals, for fuck’s sake, and while we are a nation of immigrants, the wingnuts for some time now have been on an anti-brown-skinned-immigrant kick, and what happened not long ago enough at Abu Ghraib was not, as Sarah Palin-Quayle might put it, very American-y, was it? — but to the wingnuts, just having stated those lofty ideals centuries ago is enough.

The Glenn Beck-endorsed A Patriot’s History, I am sure, tells the viewpoint of the powerful and the conquerors — the viewpoint that always has been taught in our schools (as it’s the conquerors who get to write the history), the viewpoint that if a public elementary or high school teacher were to challenge, he or she very well might find him- or herself in hot water.

Did we really need yet another white man’s version of U.S. history? We don’t have enough of the white man’s perspective? Fuck a duck.

I have read much of Zinn’s account of American history, and far from being some foaming-at-the-mouth, anti-American screed, it seems to tell the historical accounts and facts that the wingnuts don’t want to be taught in our schools because they’re not flattering.

Didn’t the Nazis — I know you’re never supposed to bring up the Nazis, but fuck it, I’m going to — teach their young a whitewashed, hypernationalistic version of German history? What’s the fucking difference between the Nazis doing that and Americans doing that?

It is too bad, but perhaps inevitable, that history should become so politicized, that is has become about indoctrination rather than about telling, to the best of our ability, the truth.

The telling of history was a central point of George Orwell’s 1984, with the totalitarian government of the novel rewriting even recent history to suit its political desires.

History, and how it is told, matter.

I wouldn’t read A Patriot’s History first and foremost because I wouldn’t read anything endorsed by Glenn Beck, who, I am fairly certain, is the anti-Christ. I mean, isn’t that how the anti-Christ is said to be? Able to sway the masses with his talk of purity and piety even though his soul is as black as pitch?

And again, I wouldn’t bother with something like A Patriot’s History because it’s the version of U.S. history that we’re all already familiar with: White Americans are God’s chosen. They’re all about courage and bravery and independence and freedom and liberty and democracy and puppies and kittens, they can do no wrong, blah, blah, blah, hand me something in which I can vomit, please.

Traditional U.S. history is, in a nutshell, feel-good history. It isn’t about reaching the truth of what actually happened; it’s about feeling good about oneself and one’s nation. Worse, it’s about brainwashing the sheeple about how great their lupine overlords are and is part of the long process of beating the sheeple into submission to their overlords.

Nor do I believe in, as we progressives are accused of by the right, feel-bad history.

Problem is, anything that contradicts the traditional myths that are passed off as American history is labeled, immediately, as “anti-American” or the like. 

I believe in acknowledging what the United States of America has gotten right and what it has gotten wrong. Declaring independence from the British monarchy, for instance: right. Smacking down the pro-slavery South in the Civil War: right (but we Northerners should have finished the job…). Defeating Hitler and his allies hell-bent on world conquest in World War II: right. Decimating the Native Americans and stealing their land in violated treaty after violated treaty: wrong. Slavery: wrong. Interning Japanese Americans during World War II: wrong. The Vietnam War: wrong. Allowing the White House to be stolen in 2000: wrong. The Vietraq War and the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors: wrong. The election of the nation’s first non-white-male president in 2008: pretty cool.

We weaken, not strengthen, the nation by continuing to pass off jingoistic lies and half-truths and whitewashing as American history. You can’t fix weaknesses whose existence you won’t even fucking acknowledge.

A Patriot’s History: More of the same.

A People’s History: At least you get another view, a more complete picture, an idea of the nation’s weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Which is the more patriotic? To work to improve one’s nation, especially to ensure the expansion of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and liberty and justice for all, or to claim that the white-male geniuses created a perfect nation and that there is no more work to be done?

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