Sometimes when we keep hearing things said a certain way, over and over again - somehow certain untruths or unwanted logic find homes in our brains and influence our perspective. Even if we had attempted to reject the ideas outright the first time we heard them. You know what I mean?
This week, I'm taking a look at a few of those. I am appalled at how much I've observed around me without reacting effectively. It is as if I've suffered from reaction fatigue - that is, the sheer number of outrages have worn me out.
Or, maybe I'm a little slow sometimes. It's important to react, though. Forgive me for my delay in reaction! It just dawned on me that I have a blog! I can speak! So, now, please humor me.
Somehow lately I have been filled with renewed strength and a renewed intolerance for the harmful hypocrisy in our world. Please allow me, now, this opportunity to respond to some things I failed to adequately react to before. And allow me to permanently and publicly reject a few ideas that have become permanent residents in our world.
An old African proverb correctly states,
"Beware of the naked person who offers you clothes."
What are examples of naked folks trying to give away clothes?
Example 1: George Bush demanding democracy by threatening citizens with loaded automatic rifles.
Example 2: George Bush modernizing oil refineries in Iraq while folks died of starvation, thirst, and neglect in the New Orleans Convention Center.
Example 3: Missionaries traveling to African countries with bibles to distribute but without offering rice to the hungry, garden seeds to the willing, HIV medicine to the sick, mosquito nets, schools, or even condoms.
1. George Bush Demanding Democracy with Gun-Barrel Diplomacy
When George Bush invaded Iraq, he said it was for democracy! Do we really believe that an invading army can require its subjects to pretend like they are free when they are not at all free! People of color know something about that pretense.
During the Jim Crow years, my ancestors were expected to relish in their freedom when they did not at all feel free. Will the conscience of my great grandparents visit us today as we reflect upon our expectations for the Iraqi people?
Yes, I know there were guns during the American Revolution and that the American Revolution led to the establishment of democracy in the US. But, c'mon, in that case, American citizens had the guns and were using their guns to fight off the oppressive foreign power!
In Iraq, George Bush does not refer to those Iraqi citizens as freedom fighters even though they are using guns to fight off the oppressive foreign power. The so-called "insurgents" are the ones that are fighting for local control and to take control away from the invading foreign power. We are the invading foreign power. Our guns do not belong in Iraq.
When we finally pull out of Iraq, whether its this year or ten years from now, I hope we are honest with ourselves. Let us be honest about what we did in Iraq and drop the pretenses. George Bush's "model democracy" is really more of an autocracy - or a loose confederation of three separate autocratic states or tribes. They do not feel free. They feel invaded. They feel sad. They are angry.
They are afraid. And, they may be on the road to nowhere - not on the road to democracy. I can only pray that we will be forgiven for the damage we have done - and that as a country, we will reform ourselves in an active restitution and amends for the myth we promoted.
Let us begin that atonement now by agreeing that you cannot install democracy by pointed a loaded gun at the citizens of a foreign country.
Let's begin by being honest and rejecting George Bush's idea that we are can give democracy to people while we point our guns at them. Democracy is not given. And, it is not given with the barrel of a gun.
First, Bush and our previous Congress did not keep the levies in New Orleans in proper repair. Second, they didn't properly prepare for disaster response. And, most devastatingly, when the levies gave away and the disaster fell on New Orleans, George Bush did not use the resources under his control to save lives in New Orleans. Meanwhile, during all of this, Bush continued to pour our tax payer money into Iraq.
In 2004, as the occupation of Iraq intensified and became more costly, George Bush proposed spending less than 20% of what the Army Corps of Engineers said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain and the strengthening of the levies. Bush wanted to reduce funds to the New Orleans levy system, despite what the Corps' project manager Al Naomi said in June 2004 (Times-Picayune):
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement," he said. "The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."
So, when you think of New Orleans, think of Iraq. When you see your stranded brothers and sisters, in your mind, without water and food at the Convention Center in Iraq, think of George Bush relaxing at his spacious well stocked "ranch" in Texas.
Finally, I ask you to consider this - many thousands if not millions of children and women are dying, starving and struggling in Africa.
If you know of missionaries that travel there with bibles but do not take rice or beans - beware.
Please forgive me for my tirades.
I just do not feel tolerant of hypocrisy anymore. I don't know what's come over me. I guess maybe I've just had enough. I'm sick and tired of hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy does not nurse the sick, feed the hungry, strengthen the weak or give atonement for dishonesty.
Hypocrisy is wrong.
Beware of the naked person that offers you clothes!
(Cartoon courtesy of Vanity Fair here)