I thought this was a great graphic. Click on it for a better view.
Culture. Is. Power.
I thought this was a great graphic. Click on it for a better view.
But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.
I’ve heard waaay too many “why we did it” addresses from the executive branch about the necessity for war or military intervention. Every President seems to get their own spin on the same theme. “Why we had to spend the money there and not here.” “Why we intervened there and not over there.”
Perhaps no presidential call to arms has had more clarity or urgency than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war before the Congress after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Sixty years later, a clear and urgent call for aide and assistance is declared for the former “enemy” now friend.
The president’s weekly is not in the FDR category.
[And Note: I have seen 3 different spellings of Qaddafi’s name. This post is using the White House transcript spelling.]
What’s clear is Muammar Qaddafi’s greatest fans have been the folks on his payroll, his family’s party guests, and Libyans who are fighting to keep him in power or to maintain some sense of continuity (“the devil you know” principle). Let’s say, anyone who fills their gas tank or heats their home with oil is indirectly a fan as well. Are our hands clean?
What’s not so clear is the impact of the current military actions on the region. For some reason Qaddafi has been an easy target since the Reagan years. President Ronald Reagan ordered a bombing of Tripoli in 1986. [This was after the 1985 hijacking and terrorist attacks abroad claimed by a group called the Abu Nidal Organization which split from the PLO in the 1970s – not a Libyan organization.]
The difference here is President Reagan acted alone.
If not for Qaddafi’s own public and personal eccentricities, coupled with his “otherness” (read, “Does he own a tie?”), this would be a very delicate situation considering his associations in both his region, OPEC, and “the west.” Not bad for the son of a Bedouin. Had he gotten out while he was ahead, he’d have a best selling auto-biography, or a most popular read on WikiLeaks.
Here are the last words for this post — columnist Bob Herbert’s final op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times. And perhaps I would emphasize new ideas having a stronger foothold. What does new leadership stand on when the backs of so many sink slowly into the sand?
Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.
Years ago while studying the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911 for a cultural anthropology class, we held a kiddush in honor of and as a living interpretation of the young women, many Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who died when the 9th floor factory accidentally caught fire near closing time. It was the practice of the factory management to lock the doors to keep the workers at their stations. It was the “9-11” of its time as women leaped to their deaths from the windows – their only means of escape. (Just coincidence the last 3 numbers in the year echo a future New York tragedy 90 years later.) The fire was unanticipated, but 100 years later, the tragedy still remains a rallying cry for humane working conditions, better wages, and workers rights. Until now 6 of the 146 victims who died in the fire were unidentified. Historian Michael Hirsch was able to do extensive independent research and found their names. The names were read yesterday, March 25. 100 years ago to the day.
At the end of our classroom presentation, for some strange reason I wept.
You can view “Triangle Fire” on the website for the PBS documentary history series “The American Experience” at this link.
“Are My Hands Clean” recorded by Sweet Honey In the Rock on the “Live” album
Lyrics by Bernice Johnson Reagon
I wear garments touched by hands from all over the world
35% cotton, 6% polyester, the journey begins in Central America
In the cotton fields of El Salvador
In a province soaked in blood,
Pesticide-sprayed workers toil in a broiling sun
Pulling cotton for two dollars a day.
Then we move on up to another rung – Cargill A top-forty trading conglomerate, takes the cotton through the Panama Canal Up the Eastern seaboard, coming to the US of A for the first time
In South Carolina At the Burlington mils Joins a shipment of polyester filament courtesy of the New Jersey petro-chemical mills of Dupont
Dupont strands of filament begin in the South American country of Venezuela Where oil riggers bring up oil from the earth for six dollars a day
Then Exxon, largest oil company in the world,
Upgrades the product in the country of Trinidad and Tobago
Then back into the Caribbean and Atlantic Seas
To the factories of Dupont
On the way to the Burlington mills
In South Carolina
To meet the cotton from the blood-soaked fields of El Salvador
In South Carolina
Burlington factories hum with the business of weaving oil and cotton into miles of fabric of Sears
Who takes this bounty back into the Caribbean Sea
Headed for Haiti this time –
May she be one day soon free –
Far from the Port-au-Prince palace
Third world women toil doing piece work to Sears specifications
For three dollars a day my sisters make my blouse
It leaves the third world for the last time
Coming back into the sea to be sealed in plastic for me
This third world sister
And I go to the Sears department store where I buy my blouse
On sale for 20% discount
Are my hands clean?
This year’s national Cherry Blossom Festival will not have the same festive kickoff of Spring due to the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. But nevertheless, people will come to the Tidal Basin in DC. In times of great upheaval, the constant is treasured. This year the festival invited people to “Stand with Japan” and take a walk around the Tidal Basin in the spirit of hope and rebuilding. Here’s the announcement posted on the official Chery Blossom Festival website:
Beginning at 6:30pm on March 24, people will gather at Sylvan Theater (15th Street and Independence Avenue, SW) before walking the Tidal Basin. All donations received throughout the fundraising effort will go directly to the National Cherry Blossom Festival Red Cross Online Donation Site, benefiting the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund.
People are encouraged to gather to reflect and participate in the walk around the Tidal Basin, where the cherry blossom trees, gifted to Washington, DC from Tokyo in 1912, have stood the test of time for 99 years. Our relationship with Japan is at the heart of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Festival is uniquely positioned as a natural conduit to unite the millions of people who want to assist and express their support in a show of unity, and the evening of hope and perseverance occurs before the 16-day celebration begins on Saturday, March 26. The Festival’s diverse and creative programming honors the gift of trees each year and the enduring friendship between the two countries.
One of the most hopeful things I’ve done during the festival is joining a group to plant a cherry blossom tree in front of a public school. When I happen to pass by, I’m always amazed how big it’s grown.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival officially begins March 26.
It is still debated on whether the greatest damage and cause of death of the Great San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was attributed to the earthquake or the fire that followed. Perhaps it’s the fire that was remembered most as it burned longer than the earth shook (up to 60 seconds).
It is the tragic juxtaposition Japan faces. Was it the earthquake, the tsunami or the radiation as they try to cool and contain the — now up to 4 — damaged nuclear power plants. Though the news reports about the nuclear plants have been rather matter-of-fact, reading between the lines, one can gather that someone’s finger is poised to push the “panic button.” Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times (all the news that’s fit to print):
A day after an explosion at one reactor there, Japanese nuclear officials said Sunday that operators at the plant had suffered a setback trying to bring the second reactor thought to be in partial meltdown there under control. The operators need to inject water to help cool the reactor and keep it from proceeding to a full meltdown, but a valve malfunctioned on Sunday, hampering their efforts for much of the day.
Thousands of people have already been counted among the dead. There are thousands more missing. We will hear of more deaths from this tragedy in the days ahead. In years, we may associate it with the earthquake or was it the nuclear meltdown? Will another generation of Japanese see shorter lifetimes, a rise in disease, illness and birth defects, unintentional decrease in birthrates? The children will be on the front line.
Meanwhile here at home, who’s putting the breaks on the nuclear option?
Some people are already too busy counting the yen.
And just as a note – Japan has some of the most sophisticated and advanced nuclear energy facilities in the world.