Thursday, February 03, 2011

Be A Grownup

A good friend of mine recently forwarded me a political cartoon he'd paid someone to draw. The cartoon portrayed Hillary Clinton talking to Egyptian president Mubarak, and made Ms. Clinton out to be a long-time supported of the Mubarak regime, using our taxes to support a repressive dictator.

This image seemed like a mistake to me; I wasn't sure why at first. After all, our taxes have been supporting "president" Mubarak's regime. Hillary Clinton's our Secretary of State. She's been involved in implementing this policy for a while now, although she certainly didn't invent it, nor did her husband. We've been supporting Mubarak my entire adult life, since Anwar Sadat was brutally assassinated in the wake of the signing of the Camp David peace accords.

What's wrong with the cartoon is, first, that it doesn't give the reader a clear picture of the problem. The cartoon implies that if we could get rid of Hillary Clinton, or if we could get her to stop behaving the way she is, that the situation would change. In other words, that Hillary Clinton is the problem.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Hillary Clinton is not responsible for the situation in the middle east. She didn't create it. She doesn't exist in a political climate where the situation *could* change. We aren't really even permitted to talk about what would have to change in order for her *not* to be supporting regimes like Mubarak's. If a serious person were to advance a serious solution to the actual problem of the U.S. supporting repressive regimes in the middle east, that person would be shouted down by people on all sides of the political spectrum.

THAT is the problem.

When we engage in political tactics that don't address the truth of the situation, it's like teenagers playing school politics. Who cares? Who cares if it's Hillary Clinton, or Henry Kissinger, or any of the Secretaries of State who've come between them who are implementing the broken policies that we see implemented? None of that matters. When we talk about personalities instead of issues, we are being ineffectual. We might as well do something else, like play golf, or read books, or watch TV. Our efforts will come to naught.

If we want to see the U.S. stop supporting repressive regimes, we need to stop allowing certain topics to be forbidden, and we need to stop our national obsession with gossiping about personalities. Discussing real issues honestly and seriously is never a bad thing. When we allow people—pundits, politicians, university professors, religious leaders—to tell us what we are allowed to discuss, we are behaving like children.

It is time to behave like adults.


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