Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Random Thoughts

Some interesting things have been happening lately both in my world personally as well as the world at large. Since I don't often comment on my own life here, we'll work on the world at large.

I found this story to be interesting along with some of the views of people who both supported and opposed Byron Thomas's view on hanging the Confederate flag from his dorm room at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. What truly piqued my interest was one quote from a story on CNN relating to this (can't find it right now or I'd post it here) that quoted an activist (who is black) saying that while he didn't support Mr. Thomas's views he did support his right to hang the flag if he felt so inclined (which Mr. Thomas now says he won't do). I wonder if that same activist would support whites who wanted to hang the flag from their dorm rooms at the university - or anywhere else, for that matter. If not, I then wonder if he (or anyone else, for that matter) would interpret that as being racist? Somehow, I doubt it. After all, hanging the flag (if you're white) is racist but opposing it is virtuous. And for the record, I'm not stating my views on his hanging the flag or not, merely pointing out both an irony and what I perceive as a hypocritical point of view by some on this issue.

Next, while listening to NPR (National Public Radio) the other morning and they were discussing the Arab Spring  that has spread across several nations in the Middle East, I started to wonder about the impact of GW Bush's presidency and the impact of his actions in Iraq, in particular, and whether there was some relation to the Arab Spring. Seeing as how US combat troops (you'll note that many news media will omit the term "combat" and simply imply all US troops) will be removed from Iraq by the end of the year and people have seen how Iraq went through a very rough time but is progressing along the front of independence, sovereignty and nascent forms of democracy - not to mention the fact that it has all been broadcast in bright, vivid colors by Al-Jazeera - did those activists who stood up and overthrew several regimes feel that the time for change had come now that the US had precipitated it in Iraq with their 2003 invasion? Was there any inspiration by US actions that spurred young people (who make up a large majority of those countries where the Arab Spring occurred) to take to the streets and overthrow dictators who, in some cases, dominated their countries for much of my own lifetime? Did they take heart in the fact once the first one fell, the others could be similarly dislodged as a sort of domino effect (ah, the old domino effect from the halcyon days of the Cold War)? For that matter, if the US had not gone into Iraq to "establish" democracy, would the uprisings still have occurred? Yes, I know that this is pure conjecture and mostly useless in the real world, but it is still interesting to ponder for those who have the time to do so.

And speaking of uprisings, what about the situation in Wukan (in Guangdong, China)? It has been ongoing for a little while, though the West only recently caught wind of it and started reporting upon the situation. Unlike some who feel this may be a turning point in China that could lead to a greater uprising with those unhappy with the government, rampant corruption and growing economic and social inequality, I do not feel this is the likely outcome. Instead, I think that pressure will slowly be pushed until the people are left with no food or medicine and will likely surrender. Then, the government will quickly round up the leaders, punish them severely and put their followers into a situation that will appease their most immediate concerns for the time being until they can be dealt with later (after the Western media has gone onto the next story elsewhere). Local government officials will suffer no more than a wrist slap - if that - and any news relating to it will continue to be kept away from the rest of China. The one curious thing that I wonder is whether the people will follow that same script. Thus far, they have held together and stood firm in the face of the local government (not to mention they have barred the local government from the area - something that I do not immediately recall occurring in similar situations) pressure, mainly because they hope for a reprieve from the national authorities. While this is a misplaced hope (see the stories of those who have suffered in black jails after attempting to petition the federal government), could it spur the people to realize that they cannot afford to be split apart because they know that, once divided, they will all fail? And if so, will it result in a situation similar to the spring of 1989 in Tiananmen Square and a massacre that could truly explode nationwide? Again, I do not think so but the thing about the future is that people and situations evolve and only time will truly tell. Heroes and villians are never apparent at the outset and a bad ending today can result in a good ending tomorrow. I only hope that the situation is resolved in the most positive manner possible. An impossible hope, I know, but still...

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