Oct 9, 2008

I hardly know where to begin.



A friend introduced me to this website today via a link to the above video.

Bear with me, some of this will seem naive and all of it is definitely a rant but it's possible I'm headed somewhere.

First, the video.
How is the Kenyan election any different from what happened in America in both 2000 and 2004? In the former, did not one man also win the popular vote and another ultimately "win" the office? In the latter, did not the "winner" also do so by motivating an extremist religious sect to which he made promises of political and cultural dominance? Our disagreement was settled inside the Supreme Court instead of the streets and our participants were armed with legal nuances instead of machetes, but watching that video I couldn't help but notice more of the political similarities than the soberingly violent differences.

And then the website.
There are two tactics the Right uses more successfully than any other American entity: demagoguery and xenophobia. This website displays both in staggering proportions and I am utterly gobsmacked. Are there really American voters so insulated from global affairs as to make the Right believe it can win by connecting Obama to the rise (or reemergence) of Islam in a single African nation?

Of course there are. Because the Right raised them and taught them to be proud of their unwavering beliefs by encouraging their isolationist tendencies via limited sources of heavily doctored news and this is becoming so depressingly syllogistic that I'm getting a headache. Seriously. Perhaps I'm the isolated one -- how is it I've only just realized that there are grown human beings out there whose singular goal is to make American citizens believe that Barack Hussein Obama will unleash a tide of Islam on the United-by-One-Christian-God-States-of-America?

Where was I heading with this? Oh, right. There was an Atlantic cover story earlier this year that everyone, and I mean everyone who intends to continue living in our increasingly connected global society, should read. The article is specifically about Nigeria but I think it provides a great window into what has become a pan-African conflict between [insert the native religion of your choice here] and the Muslim world.
Here, then, is the truth behind what Samuel Huntington famously calls religion’s “bloody” geographic borders: outbreaks of violence result not simply from a clash between two powerful religious monoliths, but from tensions at the most vulnerable edges where they meet—zones of desperation and official neglect where faith becomes a rallying cry in the struggle for land, water, and work.
Were I undecided about my vote, I like to think I would be even more inclined to vote for Obama because he understands that as a people, Americans are not, in fact, isolated from the rest of the world. We may not experience the struggle for basic necessities (most of us, anyway) that has engendered the conflicts in Africa, but Obama has still managed to grasp the completely radical idea that terrorism does not equal Islam and vice versa. I don't know about the voters who have and will fall for the Hyscience scare tactics, but I want my next President to know all of these things and understand many, many more.

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