Majority World: January 2011 Archives
U.S. support of dictators in Arab countries has for decades highlighted the contrast between America's words and its deeds on democracy. Now that system is under stress across the Arab world, from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen, as people take to the streets to protest their governments.
Youth organized online and then on the streets in Egypt, as tens of thousands of protesters in recent days have challenged the autocratic government of Hosni Mubarak. Al Jazeera in Tunisia broadcast user-generated videos of police abuse found on Facebook, which then inspired others to film and distribute their own content, which fed the cycle.
It is inspiring to see oppressed people take their futures back from a corrupt elite. One day the oppressed in Egypt or Yemen may find they have more in common with the dispossessed in Arizona or Guatemala than their own venal rulers. If so, it'll probably happen on Facebook or something like it.
As the GOP implodes in a fit of nativism (today's CNN headline says it all: "Immigration Foes Target Baby Citizens"), the binational human rights organization Breakthrough has introduced its "I Am This Land" video contest.
Here are the rules:
1. Make a video about diversity
2. Use the phrase I AM THIS LAND & tell friends to vote
3. Win $2500, Activision games, 1-Day internship at SPIN Magazine, and more by uploading your video
Three weeks ago, a group of Palestinian youth posted a manifesto on Facebook excoriating every internal and external political force at work in Gaza today. The manifesto begins:
Fuck Hamas. Fuck Israel. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!
The whole thing is worth reading, as well as this follow up by the Observer. I was struck by certain parallels between the situation of Gazan youth and undocumented youth in the U.S.
There are many differences, of course. War does not touch the borders of the U.S., while Gazan youth have faced invasion and occupation. Gazan youth are not at risk of exile simply because of the passport they hold, as Dreamers are. But rather than engage in the dread oppression olympics, I'd like to draw out certain similarities between both groups.
Both groups are physically trapped, unable to travel beyond the borders which confine them. Both have been jailed by their own governments. Both sit beyond many of the benefits and protections of the purported democracies in which they live. Both face depression, suicide, and other social maladies that come from living life without a future.
Both have started to raise their voices. From the manifesto: