Friday, January 29, 2010

On Obama and Blair

I feel I must say something about two recent events which have been causing quite a stir. The first is a clip on Youtube where a courageous Arab student in the United States challenged Obama on why he continues to support the Israeli state. His answer in the video clip is clear. He unequivocally supports the Israelis, end of discussion. The second is the "interrogation" of Tony Blair about the Iraq war inquiry.

In both of these recent events, people are holding up the words of these two leaders as examples of "hypocrisy". They linger on every word Blair will utter in the (currently ongoing) interview and then shriek with delight when he drops them another quote they can sarcastically distribute. This is all ridiculous.

Most of my criticism is directed against these people rather than Tony Blair or Obama. I know that these two men support Israel to the hilt, and I know they don't like Arabs or Muslims, as do the majority of American or British people. But at least I know where they stand, that's fine. So do I. To behave the way some people are doing, sarcastically quoting Obama or sneering at Blair on TV for his "hypocrisy" or lies, is to follow a narrow and very naive view of the world and of politics. You do not blame a fox for being a fox, or a lion for being a lion. If they are hungry they will eat your chickens, or they will eat you. What the so-called leftists and progressive movements are doing in many Western countries is effectively asking the lion to only eat sushi or to be a vegetarian. This view is now implanting itself in the newly emerging so-called Arab civil society.

There is a name for this view, in fact there is even a film which expresses it. A cartoon called Madagascar. Yes, a cartoon. Because this is the approach to politics and the world that many activists and progressives approach the world from. They are children who have been given some clever books to read at school and think that qualifies them to go out to the world and make it a better place. Yet they can barely walk before trying to run. They buy all the revolutionary paraphernelia, the obligatory Che Guevara poster, and the Arabic sulok. The sulok is the Syrian name for what is popularly known as a kuffiyeh. Many of these people will think it is Palestinian, because it has been popularised by them, that's if they even know it is Palestinian and haven't just imitated fashion. This group of people includes many Arabs, particularly those who can't speak Arabic whether they live in the Middle East or not.

In Syria, the only people who wear a sulok (kuffiyeh) are labourers, farmers and peasants. "Excellent" I hear the leftists say, they now have an addition to the uniform different from the Communist-party style khaki or dark blue plain suits or combat gear. But the Soviets or the Chinese communists were never worried about what 'look' they had, the Palestinian fighters wore the kuffiyeh because that was just what they wore. Because many of them were farmers, labourers or peasants. Today there are many farmers, labourers or peasants who wear jeans, old t-shirts with brands names on them, and trainers. But no self-respecting "radical" revolutionary will be seen wearing anything like that. No, they have all the essentials for the revolutionary, they even have arm bands and colour coordinated media campaigns (the latest of which is the joke which is Iran's "Green" revolution), but you don't see them wearing fake Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts, their dodgy made in China Sceetchers (instead of Sketchers) or perhaps the garish and ostentatious Versace imitations with matching cheap jeans. So I guess not all the downtrodden are worthy of imitation. We can only be in solidarity with them when they dress cool.

Ex-Soviet t-shirts with CCCP are now retro-fashion. Red stars on green military style jackets. Kuffiyeh's and Palestinian flag armbands, more Che Guevara paraphernelia, maybe a copy of Das Kapital or the Communist Manifesto. These are the people who want to free the world today, just as soon as the high from their marijuana fades away and their hangover clears up. Pathetic.

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