these news items from the past month:
rallies in Indonesia...
of people took part in huge and emotional demonstrations in various
Arab countries, and others with large Muslim populations, from
Morocco to Indonesia, to protest the cartoons in a Danish paper,
Jyllands-Posten, and sundry European publications.
* Huge protests
greeted President George W. Bush during his visit to India, People
marched in New Delhi and Hyderabad, cities he visited, but also
in other major cities including Madras, Calcutta, Bombay and Bangalore.
in Pakistan, which had commenced with the Damadola bombing where
the US drones bombed civilians while targetting Ayman Al Zawahiri,
melded with the subsequent cartoon controversy and then morphed
into anti-Bush gatherings during his short visit to Pakistan.
Here too, the rallies were not only in places Bush visited, but
throughout Pakistan, including Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar.
2005, China had 87,000 protests, demonstrations and other "mass
Herald Tribune, March 6, 2006).
In Venezuela, "President Hugo Chavez's supporters and opponents
were out in force, taking advantage of the holiday and their freedom
to demonstrate." (from the Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon)
* The massive
anti-cartoon protests in the Muslim world invited the derision
of many of our wise men, who pooh-poohed the saps who would expend
so much energy over something so silly. The anti-Bush protests
in India were dismissed by commentators as an unholy combination
of muslims and communists. Every protester was debunked as blind
followers led by tinpot leaders, false ideologies, or plain backwardness.
that it is wasteful to spend the day standing in the sun shouting
slogans against a faraway newspaper, let's also ask: are there
ever worthy reasons to protest? And if so, what might they
of liberties, you reckon? The nation being committed to a criminal
military adventure, would you say? Falsehood fed to the people
to gain support for secret agendas, perhaps? Illegal surveillance
of citizens, possibly? The death and devastation of tens of thousands,
maybe? Outing a secret agent in jeopardy to settle personal scores,
by some chance? The consigning of entire generations of Americans
to the shackles of debt, do you think?
seems to be standing around
waiting for someone else
to do something. The Congress
and the media are favorite
(and deserving) targets of much
of our ire, but doesn't each of us have
the duty to ask what we are doing?
What could be more cynical than
diagnosing a problem in great detail
and then sitting back to do nothing?
So, how many
demonstrations against the above atrocities have you seen in the
US? And what, exactly, do you suppose are we saving our protests
seem that the people in all those foreign parts hold the liberties
enshrined in the US Constitution in far greater esteem than do
its own citizens, even as Americans look down on others for their
lack of freedoms. Imagine
that for a second... We who have, without demur, countenanced
members of the public being thrown out and harassed for no greater
crime than wearing the wrong T-Shirt, while attending a public
meeting addressed by their president, a putative 'servant' of
John Conyers (Why We Act) writes
of this phenomenon, "For some time, I have opened some of my speeches
with a fairly standard line about how great democracy is because
hardly anyone votes but everyone complains. There is a new variation
on this problem among some in the progressive community and it
goes like this: nothing we do matters, nothing
we do changes anything so why bother doing anything..."
seems to be standing around waiting for someone else to do something.
The Congress and the media are favorite (and deserving) targets
of much of our ire, but doesn't each of us have the duty to ask
what we are doing? What could be more cynical than diagnosing
a problem in great detail and then sitting back to do nothing?
we are really serious about our outrage, we can start by helping
roll the impeachment ball up the (Capitol) Hill: Rep. Conyers
has a resolution calling for a select committee to explore impeachment,
complete with subpeona powers. Twenty-eight House members have
signed on. Has yours? Why not knock on your Representative's door
to ask that s/he join Conyers in this effort?
Thomas Jefferson held that the tree of liberty needed to be watered
from time to time with the blood of martyrs. Gandhi's book, "Satyagraha",
begins with him recounting how associates approached him saying
they were willing to follow him to the gallows. He told them
that it would be good enough if they followed him to jail. Poor
John Conyers is only asking for a phone call.
Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast. His writings
can be found on http://www.indogram.com.
He can be reached at [email protected]
or visit http://njn-blogogram.blogspot.com