28 April 2010

Juxtaposition: The Future of the Future is the Present

Two items caught my eye today and together, they portend a dismal future that has already begun. I had optimistically hoped that politics and public opinion would shift to a more reasonable tenor after the last US presidential election. Sadly, the elevation of a progressive, man of colour has seemed to polarize the public even more than the divisive policies of the GWB era, intensified irrational fears, and strengthened the cynical politics of ideologues and would-be demagogues, both in the United States and here in Canada. Without carrying on a thousand words of diatribe and polemic, allow me simply to direct you to the recent bill signed into law by Arizona Governor, Jan Brewer, that mandates at-will, racial profiling and harassment by law enforcement officials in the name of stopping illegal immigration. In a country in which the right-wing discourse has been most recently dominated by an irrational fear of so-called socialism and the zombie-like bogeyman of communism, it is beyond ironic to me to see such a retrieval of a totalitarian practice emblematic of the former Soviet Union (not to mention the Stasi of the former East Germany). Recent acts of civil disobedience recalls a no less totalitarian regime from the opposite side of the political spectrum.

The second item portrays a dystopian present that represents a direct translation of such policies, and those promoted by the likes of fear, uncertainty, and doubt monger, Glenn Beck, the poster child of simplistic populism, Sarah Palin, their promoters at Fox News, and their myriad followers in the so-called Tea Party. The video is not safe for work, and not safe for younger or sensitive viewers. It is, however, worth thinking about with respect to very real possibilities in the United States, in Canada under a continued mandate (or God-forbid, a majority government) of Stephen Harper, and most certainly in the UK, Australia, France, Italy, and many other Western, supposed democracies.

M.I.A, Born Free from ROMAIN-GAVRAS on Vimeo.

Yes, this is a pessimistic view, and I will admit to a certain amount of dismay over the regression of civil discourse among what used to be called civil society. It is long past time for us all to seriously query our fundamental values and the ways in which we enact effects in the wider social, material, natural, and spiritual environments.

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