Monday, 28 June 2004

American misconceptions of a greater world

Nations and identities
It is with interest that one observes the way the general American public thinks about world issues.
At first is the anomaly of calling national sports finals the World Series, though rightly or wrongly, the provenance of World is probably related to some other function rather than the world itself, however, on first hearing it one would wonder what other countries are involved in a game primarily played in the Americas.
It might be something fundamentally wrong with the American education system that allows them to see American as a country and then every other grouping of people in terms of geography, race, religion or affiliation is pigeon-holed into an equivalent entity.
This gives rise to comparisons like America and the World, America and Europe, America and the Middle East, Democracy and Terrorism, Christianity and Islam and so on.
Yet, America only consists of just about 300 million people out of the 6.2 billion of the global population, a twentieth of human kind.
Them and Us
The way the present American regime has played up this issue is unfortunate, desperate and radically unethical. For all the goodwill accruing to America in the advent of the terrorist attack of September the 11th 2001, they managed to convert that account into an amazing deficit, just as they have the economy.
First was the pledge by the president to be a uniter and not a divider only to make the American society the most polarised along all lines of debate from the congress through to basic everyday issues.
Then allies who were unceremoniously challenged and riled in the UN with the view that only support for whatever America had in mind was the right way and any opposition was in favour of terrorists at best and made the UN irrelevant at worst.
The Rumsfeld theory of old Europe versus new Europe was interesting, considering it was the so-called old Europe that created the entity into which the new Europe had striven for years to join.
Old in some cases tempers the feisty with recognition of insight, wisdom and caution - all of which were lacking in America’s pursuit of its unilateral aim of deposing Saddam Hussein.
Them and us almost sounds like them and US (The United States of America), united they might be in name, and only in name as an entity.
Spain had the unfortunate situation of a terrorist attack perpetrated by Al Qaeda operatives which the then government tried to pin on local terrorists.
As the truth of the situation broke out, people for once reacted to the fact that a democratically elected government out to blatantly cajole and deceive its people is not worthy of the prize of government and leadership.
That lie was suppressed in favour of accusing the Spaniards of timidity, more so because the new government promised to withdraw their troops forthwith from Iraq and they did what they promised.
Everyone knows that Spain has suffered terrorist attacks for over 30 years, well before 9/11/2001 was hatched in the mind of Al Qaeda.
It was the most disingenuous thing to suggest; more places in the world have suffered harrowing terrorist attacks that the one in America was probably the biggest does not make the sufferings of others less significant.
America had thought themselves immune to attacks because of the Atlantic Ocean and the removal of weapons of mass destruction.
Well, the fact is that the terrorists trained in America for up to a year, and used nothing of the sort expected by the expert analysts that review terrorist activities.
Tom Clancy probably has more to say about hatching terrorist plots from what one can read in his best selling books.
Islam is neither a nation nor a people
This misconception is compounded by references made by supposedly intelligent commentators who have decried the lack of condemnation from the Muslim world about 9/11 whilst the Americans expressed revulsion at the events in the Abu Ghraib prison.
Just as there is no clear entity to identify a Christian world, Hindu world, Atheist world or some other belief system world and I can clearly state that the Muslim is not an existential entity of reference.
Rather it is simply people of the earth, scattered around the globe though more concentrated in some areas that adhere to the teachings of Mohammed.
Whilst the Pope in the Vatican is at times mistakenly considered the head of the earthly Christian religion, his remit is primarily the Catholic branch, there is the Anglican, Evangelical, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Coptic and so on; branches of Christianity, and so we have many branches in Islam, the more prominent being the Sunnite and the Shiite, leaders of these branches in the various countries are not a few.
However, we can clearly say that countries that are predominantly Muslim like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco or even Pakistan can speak through their governments about their revulsion of these attacks, but America having alienated Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan as terrorist supporters or part of the Axis of Evil; silence or glee might as a consequence replace expected commiseration.
You cannot make public enemies of states and then expect them to sympathise with your plight, no matter how heinous. It is a standard human emotion and quality.
No single country is a representative of global Islam, just as America is not a representative of global Christianity. There are more professed Christians in other parts of the world than America.
Whilst Al Qaeda has tried to create the notion of a global Islam through their pronouncements and activities, America has helped foster that view by lumping each regional terrorist event as a synonymous Al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism threat and event, they in turn have promoted this view as a Islam versus Crusader conflict.
I have my doubts about America being the leader of the free world, each nation is free according to what its people allow. More so, the nations of Europe have lesser impediments to their freedom than America, where their freedoms have lead to more restrictions through the surreptitiously named Patriot Act.
As we all have seen with communist states, the People’s Democratic Republic of Bantustan is never about the people, hardly ever democratic, republican for eliminating a monarchy but still having a corrupt ruling class, and surely, every country needs to have a name - in this case - Bantustan.
American has much to learn about the world; the geography is easy, but the people and their cultures are an entirely different matter; a lack of commitment to educate, inform and enlighten from their educational system and their press is what has failed the many who if they knew better might express better and intelligent opinions and vote objectively after good consideration of the issues at hand.

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