Monday, January 2, 2012

A Word from the Wise Man


There are very few political priorities, if there are any, more imperative than having an actual debate on issues of America’s imperialism; the suffocating secrecy of its government; the destruction of civil liberties which uniquely targets Muslims, including American Muslims; the corrupt role of the Fed; corporate control of government institutions by the nation’s oligarchs; its destructive blind support for Israel, and its failed and sadistic Drug War.
Glenn Greenwald

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage"...When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11

As as the Christian calendar transitions into the season of Epiphany, on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, I highly recommend Glenn Greenwald's recent article on the hypocritical nature of most progressives' outright dismissal of Ron Paul's 2012 Presidential candicacy. Paul has deeply unfortunate convictions, most notably about race and poverty (yes, far too important to dismiss), but Paul has boldly addressed the unquestioned violence and economic unsustainability of American imperialist policy during the fall and winter Republican debates leading to the vote in Iowa. He's the only GOP candidate will speak candidly and courageously about these issues, and lo and behold, he is near the top or leading every poll regarding the Iowa Caucuses.

But alas--and this is really Greenwald's greatest gift to our broken American political conversation--no candidate in EITHER major political party is stepping outside of the mainstream and tackling these vital issues, except Paul. Certainly not Obama. American wars and torture and surveillance and secrecy and Israel worship and authoritarian obsession with drugs are the wardrobe that Obama now unfortunately wears.

Hypocrisy enters the room, for progressives, when Paul is cast aside as a lunatic and then Obama is blindly obeyed and endorsed in our coming electoral season (which has been upon us for the past half year). We progressives just need to have a different, more honest, conversation altogether. Greenwald succinctly puts it like this:

Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with racist views in a newsletter, and a more progressive Supreme Court.

None of us can afford to blindly endorse Obama this time around. On these crucial policies, he has been no different than Bush...and every other GOP candidate except Paul. Over the past 3 years, his transition from campaigner to commander-in-chief has been well documented. We must lament that there has not been a candidate to emerge that has Paul's critique of empire and corporate power, without all his white supremacist baggage. But our lamentations must not lead us down the dead-end routes of apathy or cynicism. We certainly cannot afford that.

During this Christian season, may we listen to the beautiully sarcastic and secular Greenwald as a wise man from the South, bringing gifts of journalistic excellence to illuminate our minds. Greenwald is gay and lives with his husband in Brazil because US immigration policy does not recognize same-sex marriage. His unique perspective "outside the beltway" is desperately needed. I consistently read his posts as a spiritual practice, prayerfully & meditatively. And like all spiritual practices, they are transformative for the mind and body, culminating in action, from personal habits to persistent advocacy. Remember, the gospel is a groundshaking proclamation that God is on the move, working through the most unlikely voices, calling us to join the healing of the world by committing our lives to dignity, discipline, wisdom & creativity and infecting our neighbors (and enemies!) with peace, justice and compassion. Watch out, these acts are contagious.

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