Waiting for American Godot!
Can it pull us out of the mess we are in
FREEZE FRAME BY SYEDA AFSHANA
History books say that the presidency of Richard Nixon ended America’s innocence. No longer did people believe that their leaders were men and women of character who served in public office to help the nation. Instead a new mood of cynicism and anti-government sentiment set in, which portrayed government as a corrupt bureaucracy managed by criminals.
Indeed, this skepticism alone, illustrates the magnitude of the major issues confronting America (read world) and lack of a perspective: one based on morality. It lays bare the impracticality of solving political problems without sacrificing the ethical ideals. And that’s what the upshot of 9/11 events has actually been. A global consensus was out: A self-indulgent nation excessively obsessed with its own suffering knows no confines.
During Afghan war, many cried that Bush was not only losing ground in the Muslim world but that he also was slipping in Europe. Bush’s actions showed he agreed. In many of his harangues, he compared the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to the “fascist totalitarians” of the Soviet Union and the Nazi Germany. The, goal was, as several White House observers later put it, to ‘demonize Osama bin Laden’.
Robert Schmidt in his article ‘Dubya-Speak: Justice means killing people’ revealed that rapid response centers were opened in Washington, London and Pakistan to counter Taliban reports. As per him, the chief political strategist of Bush, Karl Rove, was deputed to Hollywood to meet studio execs and discuss what the flic-folks can do to bolster America’s war-time image. And it was reported that he hired Charlotte Beers, an advertising honcho, once dubbed as the queen of Madison Avenue, to pull together Message Operation to pitch the war partly, via television and advertising campaign to influence Muslim opinion. Interestingly, Beers at that time served as Undersecretary of state for public diplomacy.
The feeler was that people elsewhere have pegged America wrong. That’s why ads with Michael Jordon attesting to the goodness of America (the slogan Be like us) and intensifying of Operation Demonization wherein Bin Laden was alluded to as anti-Christ, kicked up the talk of ‘reselling’ the war. Why American President had such a tough time justifying, the query propped.
In this backdrop, the notion that the United States is all up for human rights and liberty comes across as laughable to anyone with a sense of history. With Washington having a long record of supporting all those countries which deny freedom to all their citizens, expecting anything substantial from it is preposterous. The economic interests and strategic gains have been its only priority. A close relationship with Israel, which denies freedom to non-Jews within its borders, is a brazen negation. An honest depiction of what is underway might carry more resonance than the phony rhetoric of the new brand of ‘forward-looking’ leaders.
The continuous crackdown on ‘extremist elements’, smacks of doublespeak. But what renders it more upsetting is that it is carried out under a false flag. The hypocritical chasm between deeds, past and present, is disturbing. In recent days, pundits and commentators have asserted that Washington needs to promote Islamic voices that can present the case for the so-called moderation. Perhaps, this has already made a visible beginning with Obama’s new overtures with the Muslim world. With the inclusion of some Muslim names in Obama’s administration, many people have been constrained to spout ringing endorsements, ignoring some poignant realities: one of the harsh being that it’s damn impossible to capture the hearts and minds of people unless the issues closest to their heart are not tackled honestly. That United States has so far wretchedly failed to convince people of the integrity and fairness of its policies renders it’s supposed intervention in any issue farcical. American Godot can’t deliver unless it is so!
The ‘fair play and justice’' is as eagerly needed for those who swear by it as for those labeled as ‘uncompromising’ in some other parts of world. And above all, morality whether in life or politics, ought to be the only benchmark.
(The author teaches at Media Education Research Centre, MERC, Kashmir University.)
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Oct 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 23 Oct 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 24 Oct 2010 00:00:00 IST
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