2017

Identity . . . or, Identity Politics?

We have many uber-serious issues to grapple with in these United States nowadays, don’t we? We have raging forest fires, vicious hurricanes, the tragic opioid epidemic, our own version of fascism and “antifa,” guns galore that are causing senseless murders, let alone all our wars and mischief throughout the world. Yes, there is more than enough on our American plate, and a deafening din of arguments accompanied by inane actions and reactions that are pretty dangerous to all of us!

One of the ridiculous arguments going around has to do with Identity and Identity Politics. How is that a problem some of you might ask? And what is this balderdash talk really all about? So, in order for my sometimes slow brains to try and understand, I began by looking up definitions.

“Google”-d Definitions:

Identity: who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group that makes them different from others.

Identity Politics: refers to political positions based on the interests and perspectives of social groups with which people identify.

Based on the above, some of the qualities that make me different from others, and thus form my Identity (which is not static and evolves with age) are that I am:

a female
a mother
a grandmother
old and retired
Palestinian-born

Whatever are its attributes, we cannot easily alter our Identity, but we always have the choice of changing our Identity Politics, examples of which, in my case, would be that I am:

Progressive

Anti-war

Writer

Independent Voter

Armchair Activist

There are numerous groups/organizations/associations with whom I share each of these social characteristics, and I can identify with many different political groups that address each, or some, of them. Hence, as a Progressive female, I could choose, as examples, to belong to a women’s political group fighting for women’s rights; a feminist organization fighting for anti-discrimination and equal pay; an anti-rape association etc. etc.

The above mentioned Identity Politics definitions can be altered depending on my will and inclinations. They can do so at any given time and based on any set of circumstances. Unlike my Identity, they are all theoretically more flexible, negotiable and changeable.

And this brings me to what the political “Right” in these United States is now saying about how the “Left” has been the cause of dividing us up based on the fact that they espoused Identity Politics i.e.: supporting organizations such as Black Lives Matter, for instance; or Muslim, Native American and/or other minority parties and their issues. Instead, they are calling for all of us to be united by being “Americans” first.

This begs the question: which Americans? Republicans? Democrats? Libertarians? Greens? Protestants? Catholics? Methodists? War-mongers? Capitalists? Confederate-flag-waving Rightists? Bernie Sanders Leftists? The list can go on and on. And aren’t these “divisive” in, and of, themselves according to the definition of the Right-ists? Moreover, aren’t Blacks, Native Americans and Muslim citizens inherently Americans? So what are they talking about when they say that we should all be Americans, or Americans first? Does my supporting Black Lives Matter, or Native American rights, or defending Muslims against those who wish to label them all as our “enemies” and “terrorists” make me un-American? How is that rational? And would there even have been such movements/organizations were it not for the absolute fact that flagrant discrimination and injustice exist in this country? Of course not!

What some in the US really want is for us to be the perfect “sheeple” and to simply go along with the agenda and hype of the current ruling class and with the platform of the ruling party, as well as to be constantly preoccupied with emotional side-issues that detract us from the real political shenanigans going on. And should we perchance criticize, protest, or dissent, then we are being divisive and disobedient and, therefore, not good “American” citizens. Isn’t this, then, the very description of an autocracy?

I finished reading an interesting book recently that my grandson passed on to me.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor by: Thomas C Foster.

I enjoyed the book, and Foster has an interesting, laid-back style. After I was done though, I began thinking of the approach he took on how to read between the lines of any book. He posits that All our literature stories are based on two sources: The Bible and Shakespeare. Hmm! And what a perfectly White, Christian, Colonist outlook that is (though the author might not have thought of it in this way at all)! I first recalled in my mind the “Biblical” stories: these have their counterparts in almost every culture and religion on the planet, and whether we look at Greek or Roman myths, Koranic stories, Indian, Chinese, African or other religious, mythological, cultural, folk or other texts. The same goes for all of Shakespeare’s tales. Their story-line follows hundreds of years of stories preceding those of The Bard and sharing the same characteristics. However, the White, Christian, Colonist outlook has consistently, consciously, or subliminally, sought to portray its literature as the basis of all civilization. Totally untrue, and historically inaccurate, of course! Yet, the unknowledgeable, inexperienced, manipulate-able brains of the non-thinking can easily accept this propaganda. Is it, therefore, divisive for me to be looking at this only through the prism of Identity Politics due to the fact that I am of that very old Middle Eastern civilization? The answer to that question is: of course, I am looking at this through my own prism, and whether it is the American Left, or the Right, they both look at things through their own prism of Identity Politics, and, therefore, picking on this topic (amongst others that are equally frivolous) in order to prove what has caused our “divisive” politics is quite absurd. Moreover, it removes the onus from the corrupt politicians themselves who are the primary cause of this “divisiveness, and lays it on “us” the diverse multitudes that make up these United States!

At the end of the day, none of us, not on the Left, or on the Right, not those in the Middle, and not Any American, or, for that matter, any decent human being accepts to be taunted, diminished, marginalized or berated for espousing the Identity Politics of our choice. We all came from somewhere, we are proud of our culture, history and ancestry, and in this country, especially, and per our Constitution, it is our right to do so, and it is a quintessentially American virtue.

We need to stop ranting and raving about our Personal or Political Identities, Skin Colors, Religious Affiliations, Sexual Inclinations and all such matters. We simply need to accept and respect the Other-ness of all our citizens, hear their grievances out, and reserve our individual right to support those individual Identities, and/or those Political Identities of our choosing. Perhaps that’s when we can all become real Americans!

Being simply a “sheeple!” and allowing the dishonest political parties and the corrupt mainstream media to herd us into thinking this, or that, or the other regarding the trivial drivel that they’re so good at disseminating is pathetic. So, can we be both “different and diverse,” as well as American? Definitely we can! And, are we capable of thinking independently and intelligently, or aren’t we??!!

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2017

Negotiation, Not Dictation

There was quite a lot of real news – not the MSM version of news, which is almost always corrupt, biased, selective and dishonest propaganda – going on these past two weeks and about which I can write volumes. However, I will stick to discussing a few of the items concerning the most beleaguered region on our planet today: The Middle East.

To begin with, let me mention that it is not porous borders that encourage “jihadis,” as some in Europe and the US are saying, because there is no border on the face of the planet that can be entirely sealed.  What utter nonsense!

Secondly, “radicalization” needs new approaches, and it cannot simply be more violence, occupations, interrogations and torture, because the more of that we are doing, the more “terrorism” our actions will engender.

Lastly, it is very clear that the nations of the world have to make a concerted, intelligent and synchronized effort to eradicate all forms of extremism on all levels, whether within, or without, their borders, and whether it is from their own citizens, or from citizens of other nations. And, while it may be true that Israel, the US, Saudi Arabia et al, created, supported, trained, financed etc. some of the Arab and Middle Eastern ideologues (some of them pseudo-Caliphs, fake Muslims, criminals, rapists, kidnappers, profiteers, vengeance seekers) to begin with, we now must put an end to their atrocious crimes. The US and the European Nations have been viciously Blundering – and Plundering – in the Middle East for centuries. We occupied and destroyed that region, now we own the aftermaths of our criminal actions. The usual knee-jerk responses and haphazard racist ideas will not stem this ideology, or the anger, frustration, dispossession and misery that we have deliberately caused. Our trillions could be used much more wisely, effectively and peacefully! Moreover, this is not a problem that is going to be solved by snapping our fingers, or shifting blame onto those whom we have savagely warred against, even though we cannot be so naïve as to believe that the regional powers, the sectarian interests and the depraved nature of many politicians, arms dealers, drug peddlers et al in the Middle East have been above the fray. They have all contributed to the chaos and bloodshed. The biggest onus, though, is on us, the United States of America, and our constant wars irrelevant of who is President and what their campaigns promise. Disastrous!

All that being said, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I read what Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Vice President (and former Prime Minister), said after a visit to Moscow: “We are grateful to you for the role Russia is playing in the region . . .” He also said: “Our interest is that friendly Russia should be present in Iraq, thus creating political balance.”

I must reiterate here that there is No Arab who looks at the devastation of Syria and Iraq without shedding tears and crying out: Woe unto the Abbasid and Umayyad genuine Arab Caliphates of yore! The totally unnecessary, and avoidable, destruction of these two countries has wounded the region in its entirety.

But to go back to Maliki’s words: Political Balance, or Balance of Power, is reminiscent of the Cold War years, isn’t it? However, the theory posits that national security is enhanced when military capability is distributed so that no one state is strong enough to dominate all others. So what Maliki seems to be saying is that the US has not really been Negotiating a resolution in Iraq (or elsewhere), but that, rather, it has been Dictating the rules that have proven their abysmal failure. Hence, will more cooperation between the powerful nations of the world, and a return to the Balance of Power, help in resolving the crisis in Iraq and Syria especially, as well as the rest of the Middle East? I don’t know, but it does sound sensible, and may offer a glimmer of hope that the bloodshed could begin to dry up IF we are serious about this. So far, we have not been, because war is profitable supremacy.

Moving on to Afghanistan. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said that the Taliban whose main opposition to the US (as it was to Britain, the Soviet Union and any occupier) is the occupation of their country and the refusal, so far, of the US to Negotiate, rather than Dictate any agreement – which we have tried and failed at on numerous occasions. If Tillerson is really serious about negotiating with the Taliban, then there is a ray of hope that Afghanistan may begin to mend its deep wounds, because I don’t think anyone wants a radical, criminal extremist government parading as a Muslim Caliphate to exist in Afghanistan, or anywhere else. And, yes, the cooperation of Pakistan and India in the Negotiations will have much more lasting effects than should we, as usual, simply Dictate our swaggering, absurd, double-standard terms on All.

President Trump said that we are not into “nation building” anymore, and that our only objective in the Middle East region is to end terrorism. That is historically incorrect. Our main objectives in the entire region have always been control of the oil and all resources. Were it not for that “lofty” goal, we wouldn’t even have terrorism! Therefore, for the US to continue usurping the resources of these countries, whether they are oil or minerals, and expecting that its military power will overwhelm any opposition to this extortion is fantasy. At some point or another, people will demand what rightfully and legally belongs to them. And, it has to be through Negotiation, and not Dictation and more wars if we are to have long-term goals for that devastated region and not to continue our power-play in order to reign supreme, and enforce our interpretation of what is best for them!

Libya, it seems, is slowly – very slowly – regaining itself, and, from what I hear, it seems that Benghazi is coming back to life. Let us hope so! Let us also hope that the likes of France’s Bernard Levy and America’s Hillary Clinton – the two main culprits for the destruction of Libya – will not ever again go on the totally unnecessary rampage of bludgeoning that country, or any other! That was such an unconscionable invasion!

Also, according to Xinhuanet’s website, it seems that China has proposed a four-point proposal in order to facilitate peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. President Xi Jinping proffered his suggestions to President Abbas during the latter’s visit to Beijing in July. Russia, as well as the European Union are also keen on advancing this intractable dilemma. What will the US deal proposal be? Could Jared Kushner, who according to the White House is to “focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combatting extremism, the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there” be successful at the core issue that is tearing up the Middle East? I will not hold my breath as long as Emperor Bibi and his radical, extremist, criminal cabinet are in charge with their ability to twist and warp every proposal so that it appears that it is the Palestinians who are not cooperating – an argument that is stale and factually untrue. We have seen this false scenario, and all the delaying tactics, time and time again, which the Israeli Government will make sure America’s Legislature, its politicians and media will buy into hook, line and sinker. Tragic! Is Jared that naïve? Could he, too, like all those before him be swayed by Bibi’s false narrative? Maybe he should ask the many Israelis who can see right through Netanyahu and his shenanigans. They are ex Generals, Mossad operatives, writers, activists, bloggers and thinkers who have Israel’s best interests at heart. Yet, their voices, like the many sensible and honest voices, get drowned by Israeli extremists and their American choir. I’m afraid that this effort too will have the same dismal fate we have been witnessing for decades unless Jared and Trump are willing to Negotiate (that is Listen to both sides, as well as to include ALL the Palestinian factions, the Russians, Chinese, Europeans, Arabs) rather than simply and arrogantly Dictate, and, in this case, dictate Bibi’s demands. If we are really serious about a resolution and not playing games again, it might happen.

As for that totally pointless war on Yemen, suffice it to say that it is most disconcerting, criminal and heartbreaking. There seems to be no serious effort to end that either. Simply appalling!

I think we all know the saying: what goes around, comes around. And what comes around might be a worse “terrorism” than what we are now experiencing. We should not allow it to get to that. We cannot afford it. Neither can the world. Negotiating in good faith will benefit everyone. Dictating our terms may produce short-term gains, but in the long-run it is a losing proposition. What will it be? My hopes have been diminishing by the day: with every innocent dead person as a result of wars and terrorism; with every architectural relic destroyed; with every displaced human; with every migrant fleeing in terror; with every girl and woman being raped in a tent city; with every kidnapped migrant child. I am really tired of inept, corrupt, self-serving politicians everywhere who cannot sit down and Negotiate us out of these catastrophic disasters. It cannot get worse than this, or . . . could it?

PS: Sorry RB that I could not end on a positive note!