Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Great Disconnect

Every morning I turn on the TV while eating breakfast, hoping that by some far-fetched miracle, it will broadcast some of the news I saw yesterday on Aljazeera - or China News - or Indonesian News.
Alas, whether on CNN or MSNBC, the only thing going is the latest installment of the national soap opera.  How do those high paid anchors sleep at night?
Oh, there is talk here and there of America’s decline (by far the best of which is Adam Gopnik’s long, funny piece in the October 12th New Yorker, ‘Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat’). But most air time is taken up with convoluted calculations and analyses of ‘who’s on first, what’s on second’. In our on-going marathon, barely interrupted by a quadrennial election, there is a void:
'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
-And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
- And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
-And God saw the light, that it was good.' But alas: 'and God divided the light from the darkness.'
Many Americans seem to believe that God separated them (the light, the City Upon a Hill), from the rest of humanity (those of various shades of darkness). Hence they accept to be force-fed an endless soap opera instead of enlightening (sic) and ever changing facts about the rest of the world:
- The deadly floods in Pakistan, leaving survivors to sleep outdoors in the continuing rain (Pakistan is only mentioned when we have a bone to pick with its military);
- The attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo by Egyptians who have long disapproved of their government’s cooperation with a Jewish state determined never to allow the Palestinians a state of their own;
- The futuristic fair in China's far western region of Xinjiang, intended to placate the Uighurs, a Turkic speaking Muslim people, who feel neglected;
- The Guatemalan presidential election that pits an ex-general against a businessman, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Mayan activist Rigoberta Menchu polling little more than 2 per cent.
Not coincidentally, President Obama recently stated that Cuba is not doing enough for him to lift the decades old blockade, even as it turns toward a mixed (capitalist/-socialist) economy. The one that would enable us to have single-payer health care and decent support for the unemployed, as the world economy contracts (see Sarah Jaffe’s piece on the notion of jobs becoming obsolete on yesterday’s Alternet).
The more our airwaves are occupied with navel gazing, the fewer tools we’ll have to solve our own problems and cooperate with those at the bottom of the hill.

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