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Denouncing Hugo Chavez
(And other sports of the rich, infamous and just plain stupid)
Nancy Pelosi apparently has so much time on her hands, and so few other issues to address, that she saw fit to unload on Hugo Chavez following his appearance before the U.N. in New York. Most readers are familiar by now with Chavez' provocative swipes at "Devil" Bush and his comment that the titular head of U.S. empire had left the place reeking of sulfur from his earlier appearance.
Is this run-of-the-mill Pablum of the Poor that angered Democratic Party leaders so? It could hardly have been the more substantive complaints in Chavez' brief address: the observation that the permanent veto of a few mega-powers is an undemocratic throwback that taints the entire mission of the U.N. (Gasp! What insolence!). Or that the refusal to issue visas to several members of Chavez' staff reeks of political payback thoroughly inappropriate for the geographic host of an international organization (ingrate!).
No, denunciations are issued primarily because they are cheap and easy political currency, a convenient distraction from events, issues or problems the denouncer might otherwise be compelled to address. Outrage is seductive; with the world burning around them, the leaders of the system and the war machine fed by both parties have nothing else to say and nothing to offer, either to their own people or the citizens of the world.
Denunciations, repudiations and other useless gestures have long been a substitute for real action and a smokescreen to reassign proper targets of outrage. When Nelson Mandela visited the US as the apartheid regime was crumbling beneath his lifelong struggle, it was demanded of him that he "repudiate" Mohamar Khadafi and Fidel Castro. Pictures were circulated of the supposedly embarrassing hugs that would make such "repudiation" necessary.
Mandela refused, of course, clearly seeing the absurdity of bowing to pressure from the erstwhile funders of his oppressors to denounce those who had supported his struggle for decades. Black protesters of the Vietnam War, urged to patriotic duty to kill communists and children halfway around the globe, demurred with a similarly poignant retort: "No Viet Cong ever called me 'Nigger.'"
But there is a disturbing lesson in the pattern of those our politicians love to hate, and especially in our toothless "opposition's" complicity with the real forces colluding to turn back human progress on an unprecedented scale. There is something unconvincing about the party of Hiroshima and Nagasaki being outraged by war crimes, either by the current administration or around the world. And ringing even hollower is the self-righteous drivel from the lips of the heirs to one of the most nearly total successful genocides in human history. Three centuries of slavery, apartheid and racist terrorism came to an end (sort of) under their watch. Democrats love to absorb these "struggles" and "victories" into their legacy, conveniently forgetting not only that racism was the founding tenet of huge sections of their own party, but that their desire to claim credit is ill-deserved. Until the very sunset of official American apartheid, even those most sympathetic in power resisted, demurred, watered down, mitigated and counseled caution and yet more patience among the oppressed. Some heroes.
And now, despite all historical evidence that reliance on change from the leadership down is an exercise in futility, rank-and-file democrats are nearly giddy at the prospect of gains to be made in the coming biennial farce next month. Let's keep our eye on the ball: Democratic leaders have more to say about Hugo Chavez than the problems he is attempting to address.
Even in opposition they have almost nothing to say about the hugest issues of the day: the near total inability of our society to address virtually any of our actual problems caused by the bloated and counterproductive war machine. So stuffed with our money that the machine hemorrhages billions with barely anyone noticing, war waste dwarfs all other items and all other budgets on the planet. Government on all levels is completely paralyzed by this fear-induced blackmail, even as it has more money than any other on earth. A crisis, of course, met largely with silence from Bush's "friends across the aisle." Likewise with support for the ongoing slaughter and colonization of Palestine, a festering injustice so obvious that even the sleepy US public is starting to wake up to the atrocities.
A million cluster bombs lay scattered over southern Lebanon, a million little ambassadors for the truth behind the US agenda in the region. There is no timid or incremental solution to problems that scream for radical change. Yet the Democrats with few exceptions, right beside their Republican collaborators are so engorged on corporate money, so beholden to interests diametrically opposed to our own, so convinced of the rightness of their collusion with these forces, so full of...well, shit, to be perfectly honest...that they expect us to believe that something basic will change when they take power. And if they have nothing to say now, will they miraculously have more to say once the Made in USA SKU labels on all those cluster bombs trace directly back to their own purse strings? Don't hold your breath.
© 2005 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint
permission granted with credit and link to danielpwelch.com.
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Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The
Greenhouse School. Some of his articles have been broadcast on radio, and translations are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at