We are all deeply disturbed by the 911 events and many of us by our governments reaction to them. Many of us have been personally affected by the events. Many of us are equally appalled at the bombing of Afghanistan, the refugee crisis it has created, the CIAs ascendancy to power (after helping to get us into this mess in the first place), our loss of civil liberties and the jingoist, pro-vengeance, right-wing climate the events have created in the US.
What we have witnessed globally is a sudden and dramatic shift of the prevailing zeitgeist, a change in the dynamic of world discourse. The struggle is not between the US and evildoers, is not between the West and Islam, (as the two sides are trying to frame it), but between the Wests right-wing military-corporate aristocracy and right-wing fundamentalist militant Muslim religious fanatics. "Youre either for us or against us", claims the leadership.
We artists and left-wing activists have become disempowered overnight. The rug has been pulled out from under us; our complacency is gone. We want to be patriotic, but we dont want vengeance. We want to help, but we dont know what to do. We despise the terrorists, but we have no great respect for the CIA, who trained them, either. Choosing sides in a right-wing vs. right wing conflict is a losing proposition for us. The current conflict more resembles the Hatfields vs. McCoys feud than it does a crusade or jihad against evil.
We must create a third way to change the dynamic. What we as artists, as communicators, as thinkers, are good at is disseminating ideas. We need to steal the spotlight from the hawks and show the world, especially the Islamic world, what our values are. We must forge connections between like-minded, peace-loving people world-wide. We must create great and novel art that captures the imaginations of young people more than the military recruiting commercials on television. We must NOT BE EMBARRASSED to be making the art and music and websites and performances that will change the discourse. This art we make must have a world-wide audience.
This is a war for us, alright, a war of ideas, values and propaganda. We need to make it clear that no one who is advocating revenge has a moral leg to stand on. We need to embarrass the people who are content with three-quarters of the world living in poverty, who are content with supporting dictatorial regimes and medieval monarchies as long as we get their oil, who secretly feel that third-world people should not have the same rights and privileges as us. These are the folks that are creating the problem.
Every time a child dies from hunger, or a refugee wastes years in a camp, or some security force or bombing raid terrorizes a village, a terrorist is born. Our tax dollars are sowing dragons teeth. Violence will not solve our problems.
What we need for our nations security, and the worlds, is a new civility. We in the US, and especially in San Francisco, can be examples for the rest of the world of multiculturalism and tolerance. We are ahead of much of the world in overcoming divisions of class, race and gender, we are ahead of many in our great diversity and our artistry. If we are going to be world leaders, lets lead in this and not in force of arms. The US has become a global policeman. Face it ~ though police are necessary, most people dont like to be policed, and everyone despises corrupt cops.
So what is the alternative? We need to follow the examples of two wonderful international organizations ~ Doctors without Borders and Clowns without Borders. We need to keep well informed and educated by deconstructing the corporate media ~ and share our understandings with others. We need to set up cultural exchange programs world-wide, but especially with the Islamic world.
We need to understand Islam.
We also need to understand our enemies ~ fundamentalist militancy and corporate greed. We need to co-opt them, to subvert and embarrass them. We need to use satire to show them in their true aspect. We need to create art of irresistible beauty and depth to show ourselves and others who we are, what we stand for and what we are fighting for.
Thank you for your attention!
10:22am ~ 10/22/01 ~ S.F. ~ Larnie Fox ~ http://www.infoflow.com/larnie
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