Sunday, February 27, 2011

Uprisings in the US?

According to the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, yes, they will occur.  Of course, he also believes in UFO's and claims to be Muslim so hopefully I will be forgiven if I have a difficult time taking his words at face value.  This is, after, the same man who admitted that his incendiary rhetoric "may" have led to the assassination of his former mentor, Malcolm X - though he has been often accused of a far more complicit role in the murder.  And this does not even mention his relationship to currently embattled Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.  Yes, it would seem that Brother Minister Loius Farrakhan has a slightly twisted relationship with reality so, while I will not argue that an uprising similar to what is currently engulfing many states in the Middle East is impossible in the United States, I will certainly have a difficult time believing that Mr. Farrakhan has any prescient (and unbiased) views on the issue.

But can uprisings like those in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and others occur in the US (or even in Western Europe)?  Absolutely they can!  Note that I said they can occur, not that they *will* occur.  The reality, as difficult as it may be to admit, is that no nation is impervious to the types of internal strife and difficulties that are now striking the Middle East.  They can, however, be sublimated or hidden from general view until they explode into the open.  Much as western analysts failed to predict the actual failure of the Soviet Union (though they had predicted ad nauseum that it would fail eventually?!), so, too, did they fail to understand and predict the massive changes now occurring in the Middle East.  What had been a relatively stable, if autocratic social and political structure has begun to show just how fragile it truly was.  Tunisia and Egypt fell without the sort of repressive crackdown that had been expected.  Iran, Libya and Syria have all felt the tremors and moved to crack down either before it could begin in earnest (Iran and Syria) or in a massacre of protesters whose crime was to speak out against the ruling tyranny.  Similar protests have occurred in Jordan, Bahrain, Oman and Yemen, among others and the response has been varied between seeking to placate the protesters and simply killing them in armed responses.

Some of these nations were stable and educated while others were poor and not as educated.  But the one thing that they all hold in common is the lack of accountability on the part of the government.  All operate under a form of dictatorship - whether by a singular, titular leader (Qadhafi, Mubarak, Assad), a group (Bahraini Sunnis) or even faux electoral processes (Iran).  None operated under the idea of Western electoral democratic ideals where leaders are held accountable to the people under whose name and authority they allegedly rule.  Yet, in spite of the many variations that existed within each nation, all now experience the tidal wave of frustration that has risen up in the form of revolutions that seek to improve the lives of the protesters.

It is also worth noting that more than a few countries and organizations throughout the world are also taking note of these protests and their successes and failures.  China is very worried about protests there and is clamping down hard on noted activists at the hint of any sign of discontent - even though it seems that they are not leading any charge in that direction.  And it seems likely that nations in Central Asia (including Pakistan and other former Soviet republics) are very wary of such a tidal wave of revolution spreading to them.

And this leads us back to the question of whether a similar uprising can occur in the US.  While there is certainly a possibility of such a level of discontent that could threaten to erupt into a revolution, it does not yet seem to exist in the US.  This does not mean to imply that it could not change but there is not the same level of discontent within a majority of the population that would stimulate such a revolution - however much Mr. Farrakhan may hope to proclaim or incite one.  This does not mean there are not problems that cause anger, angst, frustration or other responses as there most certainly are.  However, there are other recourses available to the citizens that allow them to vent their feelings without building up to the point of a revolution.  In the US, life may not always be perfect or even comfortable all of the time, but pushing down on people until they rise up and explode in anger is not a better solution and that is certainly clear in the Middle East today.

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