The U.S. government’s call for restraint by Mideast autocrats and its support for democratic movements is quite ironic, since this government would never be as tolerant if a similar movement swept across America.
That realization hit me hard while watching the excellent, Academy-award-nominated documentary, Inside Job. It’s a fine piece of reporting on the what, why and how of the financial meltdown of ‘08-‘09. But there is plenty of great journalism around that.
Its achievement is the outing of specific people and institutions responsible for the catastrophe – and who likely will be again.
We are now learning a lot about Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (of Tunisia) enriching themselves in the billions by skimming proceeds from foreign investments. Government officials manipulating the system to make a killing.
But what about Hank Paulsen, Goldman Sachs CEO/Secretary of the Treasury making hundreds of millions by pushing financial deregulation and the non-regulation of the derivatives that wrecked the US and many foreign economies, bankrupted the US government for generations, and forced people out of their jobs and homes?
How was he able to walk away, when Mubarak and Ben Ali had to run away?
Paulsen of course, is just one small example.
In Egypt, they marched in the streets and camped in the square because they knew that the “democratic process” would never oust the autocrat.
Sadly, the situation looks similar here. Obama seemed to be the anti-Bush, but he kept essentially the same corrupt economic team, enacted only the weakest of reforms and handed out hundreds of billions in bailouts with barely attached strings.
So, the supposed democratic process didn’t work here, either.
Am I advocating a violent uprising? Absolutely not. Neither did the peaceful Egyptian protesters.
But I wonder if peaceful American protesters would fair as well as their African peers.
Build a tent city on Wall Street? Occupy the lobby of the Goldman or B of A headquarters? Who would dare do that? And how long would it last?
Remember when citizens tried to protest the Republican National Convention of 2008 in New York City? They were beaten and carted off to “Gitmo on the Hudson” en mass.
Not even the subprime refugees, literally living in tent camps, have organized like their foreign peers – despite having grievances as strong as the Egyptian’s and Tunisians’.
If American citizens somehow were to rise up and demand a more just, honest political and economic system, would the garner the epithet “terrorist” or foreign agent (Fascist, Communist, Europhile) as the protesters in the Mideast have been branded by their autocrats?
I’m not advocating rebellion, and I’m not an activist. Simply, I’m making what strikes me as a very interesting observation.