Whose Truth matters Most?
Do Christian lives matter more than Muslim lives?
Does U.S. on Muslim violence matter more than Muslim on Muslim violence?
Does your Person of Color identity matter more than your identity as a Worker?
Does the success of Capitalism matter more than the success of Democracy?
Does the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s matter more than the assassination of Benazir Bhutto?
Do Target Populations matter more to non-profit organizers than Friends?
Does Hip Hop Now matter more than Hip Hop History?
Is it Talk or Walk that distinguishes Dictatorship from Democracy?
Does the President matter more than the Citizenry?
Does What Happened to You matter more than What Happened to Me?
Whose Truth matters Most?
It’s the day after Ohio and Texas rang in their votes for Senator Clinton. The presidential primaries are heating back up. I might even keep watching past half-time. Did you know that, according to the New York Times, Clinton and Obama each ran around 1400 political ads a day in Ohio and Texas? What does it mean to “choose” in this candidate-as-product atmoshphere?
See if the candidates are product, then we are consumed consumers as usual, legal labyrinthed from perceiving the corporate producer-sponsored-candidate as a person to whom real questions can be and must be posed. As a coveted citizenry (“citizenry,” here, defined open and broad like a good, wood handled umbrella over all those who work to keep this country and its under-liable corporations and its over-liable people afloat), what are our most important, least asked questions?
How bout these: In this hot, watched race, who is Not an establishment backed candidate? Which candidate is willing to cede the overly accumulated power that most agree, currently lies greedily in the executive branch?
I’ve just begun reading Benazir Bhutto’s last work, a political work of non-fiction called, “Reconciliation: Democracy, Islam, and the West.” She emailed her final edits to the book the morning of the day she was assasinated. It is a must read. In “Reconciliation,” Bhutto takes a look at brother on brother, sister on sister, Muslim on Muslim violence, violence within the religious family, “sectarian” violence.
Bhutto’s stunner analysis of sectarian violence takes it in from multiple angles, from the murdermurdermurder-killkillkill kind of violence, to the state led “i Said, are you down with Us or Them” silencing of cultural acheivements kind of violence, to the we the people are too raw and too afraid to look at ourselves in the mirror kind of violence. She acknowledges the divide and conquer influence of colonization, *and* moves on to ask that folks be less concerned with the conquering other and more concerened about how we are conquering ourselves.
Applying her multi-layered analysis of the under-reported, detrimental affect of sectarian violence to the American discussion of Black on Black crime helped me appreciate the depth of what Bhutto is getting at.
One, it’s hard to get down with the Black on Black crime discussion because it’s a sensitive issue, over-reported on by outsiders, generally divorced of any divide and conquer, the intended legacy of domination context.
Two, Black on Black crime is generally housed in physical violence terms and rarely talked about in economic terms (an economic violence discussion would include the corporate modeled aquisition of wealth by some powerful members of the Black elite at the expense of the Black working poor), or cultural terms (a cultural discussion would include the appropriation of culture emanating from the streets by the elite for purposes of profit and consolidated power), thereby underreporting on issues that matter to the community.In “Reconciliation,” Bhutto flips the lens on her own people, the Pakistani people, the Muslims of the world.
You decide for yourself if her words make sense to you. Here’s an excerpt of her book that lays out her stance better than I can;
(Excerpt from Benazir Bhutto’s last book, “Reconciliation:Islam, Democracy, and the West.”)
“And now there is Iraq. One billion Muslims around the world seem united in their outrage at the war, damning the deaths of Muslims caused by US military intervention without UN approval. But there has been little if any similar outrage against the sectarian Iraqi civil war, which has led to far more casualties.
Obviously (and embarrassingly), Muslim leaders, masses and even intellectuals are quite comfortable criticising outsiders for the harm inflicted on fellow Muslims. But there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.
Even in Darfur, where there is an actual genocide being committed against a Muslim population, there has been a remarkable absence of protests, few objections, and no massive coverage on Arab or south Asian television.
We are all familiar with the data that show an increasing contempt for and hostility to the West in Muslim communities from Turkey to Pakistan. The war in Iraq is cited as a reason. The situation in Palestine is given as another reason. So-called decadent western values are often part of the explanation. It is so much easier to blame others for our problems than to accept responsibility ourselves.
The colonial experience has obviously had a major impact on the Muslim psyche. But what outsiders did in the past does not exclusively account for the quality of Muslim life today.
There is a rush to condemn foreigners and colonisers, but there is an equally weighty unwillingness within the Muslim world to look inwards and to identify where we may be going wrong ourselves.
It is uncomfortable but nevertheless essential to true intellectual dialogue to point out that national pride in the Muslim world is rarely derived from economic productivity, technical innovation or intellectual creativity. Those factors seem to have been part of the Persian, Mughal and Ottoman past but not the Muslim present. Now we see Muslim pride always characterised in the negative, derived from notions of ‘destroying the enemy’ and ‘making the nation invulnerable to western assault’.
Such toxic rhetoric sets the stage for the clash of civilisations between Islam and the West every bit as much as do western military or political policies. It also serves as an opiate that keeps Muslims angry against external enemies and allows them to pay little attention to the internal causes of intellectual and economic decline.
Reality and intellectual honesty demand that we look at both sides of the coin.”
(End of excerpt from, “Reconciliation,” authored by the late, great Benazir Bhutto)
Thank you for tuning in, come back soon, I post at least once a week for your political poetry viewing pleasure.