I love the US for so many things, mostly for its creative prowess and the capacity to think big, dream big. For me in many ways it has been the land of the free and the home of the brave. It has such a reputation for preserving freedom of speech and for honoring human rights; for the fact that a person can work hard and get ahead, for the success of capitalism.
There’s a kind of entitlement underpinning all of that and it’s a beautiful thing. But it has a permissive element and that’s the bit that’s got out of control amongst the powerful, as it always does. And now everything that’s great about the US is being overshadowed by lawlessness, greed, megalomania and total absence of accountability masquerading as healthy, responsible capitalism.
In some countries, abuse of human rights and the despots who perpetrate those abuses, are obvious, easy to identify. It’s not been quite so easy in the US, where capitalism seduces and public opinion is easily swayed by media and charismatic politicians who are very good at misrepresenting truth and playing on the fear that dominates conservatives. Politicians who have an agenda to preserve the corrupt status quo.
It’s not just the US, it’s the whole West, it’s a kind of “civilized” abuse of human rights. But it’s a slippery slope from that into the kind we’ve seen in the Middle East. Bruce Horst shared a short film uploaded by Corey Ogilvie on Oct. 10 2011 that illustrates this beautifully. It’s the stuff that documentary films receive awards for.
It shows Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton speaking passionately, at different times, of the various unconscionable abuses of human rights and encroachments on freedom in the Middle East, and calling on the Egyptian and Iranian governments to abide by their international obligations and respect the rights of their respective peoples. These clips fade into scenes of human rights abuses that are happening, not in the Middle East, but in the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Over and over again Clinton and Obama speak about the right to freedom of speech and protest and the right to preserving human dignity – and then we see people being beaten and unjustly arrested in the US for acting on these rights. The juxtaposition is shocking. Then scenes of human rights abuses in the US in the form of police aggression are alternated with those in the Middle East which are much more violent and life threatening.
It’s no use believing “civilized” countries won’t descend to the animal level of human rights abuses we’ve seen in the Middle East. It’s an inevitable progression and it’s already happening. Hard to get my head around the fact that people are being beaten and arrested for protesting – in America??