Racism and How We Discuss the Arab Revolution
The goals of those that have risen up against the oppression of tyrannical governance are fighting for the basic rights and needs of all human beings. They want access to sufficient food and clean water. They want to be assured access to a basic standard of living. They want a representative government based on democratic principles. They want emancipation from the rule of dictators.
These are human causes. These are not foreign concepts. These are not the strange needs of a strange people. These are not the strange and exclusive demands of an unreasonable population forcing others to bend to their will. These are our fellow human beings fighting for the same rights and protections that we fight for and attempt to maintain for ourselves. These are people fighting against the burdens placed on them by the same international economic system that is impacting all of our political institutions and trying to rob us of our wealth and basic rights. These people are fighting for the economic and social justice that we are all rapidly losing.
To qualify this struggle based on race, ethnicity, language, culture, or religion, demeans all of us, and empowers those forces that would prefer that we all have parity with the oppressed, rather than for the oppressed to achieve their goals of emancipation. To make an issue of America’s participation in the UN and NATO support of the revolutionaries in Libya as the third ‘Muslim country’ that America is involved in only serves this destructive agenda; especially since the other two involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan are illegitimate, illegal, and only serve the agenda of empire and oppression. To equate a United Nations action in support of human rights, democracy, and emancipation, with two illegal military occupations, simply on the basis of the race or ethnicity of the people involved, is an unconscionable demonstration of systemic racism and ethnocentrism.
These people just happen to be in Libya. It is not defining of their humanity. It simply describes their location, or the location of their birth, according to man made, often ill advised, and constantly challenged, geographical boundaries created by people that we have turned into labels and reasons to divide.
This Image Discovered at Marina Love Movement
If Scotland, Ireland, or Holland, were suffering the the same oppression and outrages at the hands of a MacGaddafi, or a Van der Gaddafi, would we be questioning the validity of involvement? Do we only reserve our reticence for Arabs and Muslims? Have we maxed out some sort of quota for military action in Arab countries that is blind to whether or not the military actions are in support of humanitarian aid or in the furtherance of Imperial agendas and resource exploitation? What legitimate difference does the race, ethnicity, or religion of the oppressed make unless it is only used as a reason to exercise callus disregard for their suffering by labeling them as somehow fundamentally different?
These same basic issues are being argued and fought from Tahrir to Greece, from Paris to Ireland, and London to Tripoli, as well as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the United States. The severity of the oppression varies, but the fundamental principles of economic and social justice, violated by the same international financial and corporate entities, is consistent. Keeping us thinking in terms of divisions, as reason not to help and unite with ‘them,’ is exactly what the powers that be would like.
I’m not saying that I didn’t get caught with this a bit myself. Although my conclusions and opinions were based on the support of democratic government, and the insurance of universal human rights, I still didn’t react, or think that i was hearing anything unusual, when the definition of the issues was being colored, and qualified, as Libyan in the general narrative, and the media, rather than simply as humans supporting the rights of other humans. It was always framed in the context of our divisions… political, geographical, cultural, religious, racial, ethnic. Should we get involved in ‘their’ problem?.
We are one as human beings; not separate creatures divided by race or ethnicity. The identity of human being is singular made up of the combination of all possible descriptions and combinations of the genetic possibilities of human beings. It is the unified combination of the 7 billion distinct possibilities existing on this planet. It is a dynamic singular identity that evolves with every birth and death.
The issues that rebels are fighting for are human issues, not Arab issues, or Muslim issues. To consider them such, or frame them in this way, is, by definition, racist and/or ethnocentric. This word is not being used to be inflammatory. It was chosen as the accurate word to describe the phenomena associated with an entire society, and all of its media, falling into this trap simultaneously.
If we are going to solve the global problems that face us, and overcome the global forces that would oppress and exploit us, we must start thinking beyond the divisions that have been imposed on us. Emancipation, social justice, economic justice, human rights, and democratic governance require a unified effort from a unified people. The next time any of us are asked for help, or assistance, lets try looking at the issues rather than the color of the skin, the language spoken, the religious or cultural labels, or the imposed geographical boundaries. The people of Libya and Egypt, as well as many others around the world, are fighting a struggle for human rights. To ignore it, or qualify it, based on any superficial differences, is to offend all of our humanity.