Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Super Tuesday diversion: An Iraqi blogger on American politics

Raed Jarrar, an Iraqi/Palestinian now living in America, publishes Raed in the Middle, which strongly advocates for the US to leave Iraq immediately.

He is rough around all the edges, writes with passion, and gives you a glimpse of the non-American, non-Western world living here looking at us through different lenses.

Here's what he has to say about Moveon.org

we have a proverb in Arabic that says: "after a difficult labor, the mountain gave birth to a mouse". After years of working to help "concerned citizens to find their political voice in a system dominated by big money and big media", moveon.org chooses to endorse Obama !!!!

what a shame! what a joke!

obama is as awful as clinton, and they're as bad as the rest of the so-called "main steam" republicans and democrats. The two ruling parties have the same interventionist foreign policy, and different versions of a horrible domestic policy.

Choosing the "least worse" and "least evil" is not a good enough for me.

moveon.org, I'm moving on.

Here's Raed on his conflict with the TSA over boarding an American airplane:

I had a life-changing incident in 2006, when I was stopped at an airport in New York and prevented from boarding to my airplane because my T-shirt had the words "we will not be silent" in both Arabic and English printed on it.

A TSA [transportation security officer] told me that coming to a US airport with Arabic words on my T-shirt was equivalent to visiting a bank while wearing a shirt that read "I'm a robber".

After making me cover my shirt, the officers changed my seat from the front to the back of the airplane.

This incident opened my eyes and led me to learn more about the long history of racial discrimination and about the shrinking space for individual freedom in the US.

I came to realise that the same government that had bombed my neighbourhood and destroyed my freedom in Baghdad was now attacking my freedom in New York City.

He is almost as cynical about our never-ending series of presidential debates as I am:

I learned a lot of other new things about the US political system during the last two years and, the more I learn about this system, the more I realised how closed and exclusive it is.

For example, millions of US tax payers - including myself - spend long hours watching the presidential candidates' debates.

We then watch yet more hours of media pundits debating the debates, then spend even more hours with friends and colleagues debating the media debates on the debates!

But not everyone knows that the US presidential debates are administrated by a corporation called the Commission on Presidential Candidates, which is led by former leaders from the two ruling parties.

And they make sure no third party candidates can ever be admitted to use their megaphone.

They even try their best to exclude Republicans and Democrats who are not parroting the establishment's line.

But even after understanding these and other unfair limitations, I still followed the primaries' debates hoping to find decent candidate.

So who does he like for President?

As it stands now, all the "frontrunners" or "mainstream" and "electable" candidates from the two ruling parties have exactly the same interventionist foreign policy and different versions of horrible domestic policies.

They fight over different tactics of the same strategy. Some of them want to stay in Iraq to "kill the bad guys", and others want to stay there to "save Iraqis from themselves".

There is not even minor discussion about restoring the US's deteriorating individual freedoms.

Unfortunately, the 2008 presidential elections will not bring anything new to US foreign or domestic policy.

We will see a continuation of the old strategies, with some minor differences in marketing them.

Someone like me who was in Baghdad while the first Bush, then Clinton, then the second Bush dropped bombs on our neighborhoods realises that there is not a "dime's worth of difference" between the two ruling parties and their one foreign policy.

But in the middle of my frustration, the last few weeks gave me hope that a better future is still possible - should a third party emerge.

The growing support for principled leaders such as Ron Paul and Ralph Nader is a great sign that non-interventionists from the "right" and "left" do exist, and a sign that changing the US regime through a strong third party is possible.

I see light at the end of the tunnel and I see an achievable goal of getting five per cent of the general vote that would qualify the third party for federally distributed public funds in the next general elections.

That way, a third party can have a foothold that might be the space for a political revolution to take place, one day in the future.

Sonofabitch... is he actually a Libertarian?

1- listen to this great speech by dr. king. This was exactly one year before his assassination.

2- I'm sure you've heard of the breaking new about Ron Paul coming second in the Nevada primaries, but have you heard of Paul's plans for another "money bomb" on Monday, which is MLK's day?

We need to learn how to listen to different voices.


hube said...

While I sympathize with his POV to a large extent, especially about our foreign policy, he still contradicts himself. He says

I came to realise that the same government that had bombed my neighbourhood and destroyed my freedom in Baghdad was now attacking my freedom in New York City.

Freedom? In Saddam-controlled Iraq? What kind of hallucination was he having? He calls that "freedom," yet laments having to merely change his t-shirt because he wanted to be Mr. Provocative and to make a supposed "point" about "losing" freedoms in the US. Sorry, he's gonna have to make a much better case than that to get my sympathy in this regard.

Brian Shields said...

I bet it I, a nerdy white guy, wore a t-shirt with Arabic writing on it nothing would happen.

He has a point, hube, and you missed it.

Steve Newton said...

Hube, I think you raise exactly the question that Raed makes me interested in: What is his definition of freedom? It is obviously different from mine. But HOW is it different, and IN WHAT WAYS does that difference throttle attempts at conversation or diplomacy?

I said we needed to listen to other voices; not that we needed to agree with them.

Anonymous said...

It is part of the unfolding tragedy that we have all forgotten how to listen to one another. Everywhere in the world. We listen to others, we listen to "experts" we think of short term interest, but we do not care about anything other than ourselves. We have in essense been conditioned to do these things, so it is no one persons fault, and we will sacrifice our children to Moloch, just as the Philisitnes did. It is inevitable and we will do it willingly or unwillingly, but we will do it and as we die, you will all lose out on the promises you had for the future, becuase all of our energy, ideas and hopes are gone. The immigration department motto should read: Abandon all hope ye who enter here.

Hube said...

Brian: On the contrary. I knew precisely what he was talking about. Unfortunately for him, there is a very big danger of terrorism from radical Islamists, and thus he is subject to a certain degree of profiling. Again, I ask: Why did he feel the need to wear that shirt? The answer is found in his writing -- to somehow "prove" how racist the US is. That's bullshit. Profiling occurs all the time in law enforcement, and if you believe it shouldn't, then you might as well hang said law enforcement altogether. And you, Brian, as a nerdy white guy, fit the profile for the typical serial killer. Would you wear a t-shirt that said "Jeffrey Dahmer had a point" in an area that was suffering serial killer attacks, and then bitch about it when the cops came to question you?

Steve: I can appreciate that. I lived abroad for some time and my in-laws are in another country so I'm far from an ethnocentrist. What I find interesting is how Raed complains about being inconvenienced (loss of freedom here in the US) for deliberately being provocative, yet at the same slams the US for his losing his freedom in a land run by a sadistic dictator. I'd find it a lot easier to sympathize with him if he just said that we had absolutely no business going in there in 2003, period. (But not necessarily in 1991, which he also mentions, especially since his own country was actively denying that "freedom" to its neighbors in Kuwait.)

Anonymous said...


I think I would not, but I would prefer not to have to deal with that at an airport. I think the airlines should be in charge of security. I do not like the idea that the government is in charge of security for the profit on an airline company. I think in order to secure passangers airlines should do the lifting and the security. They did before 9-11, many still do after 9-11 in addition to all the government stuff. To me it seems like an extra and intrusive layer that can be verified easily enough through Interpol and by having AIRLINE security check someone through. I do not want my tax dollars going to hassle someone with benign intent. I would prefer a fee be added to my ticket.

Also we should never think just becuase something is in arabic it indicates a lack or excess of potential for being a bad guy. What we need to understand is that people at least some people know that the reasons for violence are more complex as this story points out: http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20080128/wl_time/terrorismschristiangodfather

so it it better to give the airlines responsibility to ensure that their passangers are not terrorists. I do not think the government should be involved in the level that it is. It seems to be just a window dressing anyway.

Finally, I would not give people from countries we are hositle with visas. Until they stop all hostilities. But more importantly, if folks from hostile countries did have to come here for business and work or school I would make sure they are not going to harm our people before issuing any visa and after a good background check.

This is not always the case at our embassies. We have a really serious problem with our embassies in some countries in my opinion that is what we need to work on.