Friday, January 21, 2005

Look Out World, Here Comes "Freedom"

Yesterday, as Bush 43 was inaugurated, I attended a jazz funeral for democracy/a wake for peace here in New Orleans. I asked that my students who regularly meet on Thursdays for my Intro to Biblical Studies course come along with me. I thought they could learn more about the Bible and biblical authors by attending an event such as this than they could simply from hearing me talk. My point was that biblical authors wanted to change the worlds in which they lived, much like people at this rally, and that the students ought to be the change they seek to see in the world, to paraphrase Gandhi. I also wanted them to hear Howard Zinn, the keynote speaker. In the end I probably would have been better off simply holding class as usual. This was because of two reasons. First, not one student showed up, even though many promised. There were about 1,500 people there, so there is a small chance that some did show up and I didn't see the. I did see other faculty from Xavier there. Second, Howard Zinn had to cancel because his wife was ill. It might have been worth it for selfish reasons. I heard some great live New Orleans music from the Treme Brass Band, and met a lot of people who share an interest in improving our world and community. I really do want to be more active in our community. I even got to share a couple of turbodogs with my friend Bart, and besides, it was a beautiful day.

Then I got home and started listening to the press coverage of the inauguration speech. I found it ironic that a speech so full of words like "freedom" and "liberty" was given during a time with unprecedented security, with snipers on every roof, with massive fences and metal detectors everywhere, with very few protestors given a chance to voice their opinions, with people being held in prison without being charged of crimes, etc. Bush said that "All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know the United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors. When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." What does this mean for our "allies" like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia? And with Cheney and Rice in other recent interviews directly linking Iran to tyranny, are we about to invade yet another country? To me the speech was arrogant, and typified this administration's binary view that you are either with us or against us. And if you are against us, and don't subscribe to our type of oligarchic "democracy," then our guns are on the way. I additionally believe that this whole idea about spreading freedom is a result of no WMDs found as promised in Iraq. That is to say, first the war was about preemptive strike to remove Sadam before he attacks us with the smoking gun mushroom cloud we heard so much about. But then no WMDs, so now that war was about spreading freedom.

Finally, I just received an email from my mother that contained the following joke which I found to be appropriate:

CONSTITUTION

They keep talking about drafting a Constitution for Iraq. Why don't
we just give them ours? It was written by a lot of really smart
guys, it's worked for over 200 years and we're not using it
anymore.

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