Let’s do a couple of thought experiments.
The former U.S. representative and Green Party presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney, leaves on a humanitarian mission to Iran alongside several other international activists. They are arrested, harassed, detained for several days, and their humanitarian aid, films, cameras, PCs taken away from them to leave no evidence behind.
Can we imagine Obama (not to speak of the warlike neocons, the hawkish Democrats, and the spineless media) remaining silent?
Well, this is exactly what happened when Israel not Iran acted in this manner just last week.
Governments of other countries with detained nationals spoke out, complained, and tried to put pressure on Israel, such as Ireland and England, but not a peep from the U.S.!
A young women peacefully protesting in Tehran demanding a fair counting of votes is cold-bloodedly murdered by state security thugs in the street. The sordid affair was caught on camera and instantly made available to millions around the world. Neda Agha Soltan became deservedly the icon of the Green Wave movement for democracy in Iran. Even Obama spoke movingly of her tragic death.
Who has heard of Bassem Abu Rahmeh, a young non-violent Palestinian shot dead in cold blood by an Israeli soldier while protesting the monstrous Apartheid Wall being erected illegally in the West Bank that further brutalizes the defenseless Palestinians by an occupying power that is bent on devouring the lives and the land of its victims?
And yes Bassem’s murder, just as gruesome as Neda’s, was captured on camera too. The same U.S. Media who helped make Neda into a martyr recognized by millions globally refuse to say a word on behalf of a fallen Palestinian Neda. The same Obama whose anguished face and words were heard around the world lamenting the tragic loss of Neda’s life is nowhere to be seen or heard on Bassem.
Now tell me, how serious is Obama about justice for Palestinians?
Gazans and their economy are crushed in a murderous U.S.-backed Israeli assault in Dec. 08-Jan. 09, borders are effectively sealed, humanitarian missions aborted, humanitarians jailed and deported, and not a peep from the Change-We-Can-Believe-in Obama, not as a presidential candidate when the assault took place and not now as the president when the Israeli atrocities go on unabated!
Should the people of the world believe the pretty words uttered in Cairo or his silence on familiar (to them) atrocities that continue to bleed the conscience of the world? Does anyone doubt that if Obama were to make a telephone call to the demented Netanyahu and tell him straight up that crushing Palestinians is no longer an option, all this would still be going on?
So long as 4 November 2008 was an election event in the U.S. and not a social movement for just foreign (and domestic) policies, we should expect Obama to not hear the calls of the Palestinian Nedas and do what justice and decency requires for Palestine.
The corporate media, the corporate state, and the apologists for state and corporate power in general, will continue with their selective application of attention and will display real or feigned anguish when power requires it.
Their silence kills.
As progressive cosmopolitans we must affirm the equal worth of all people everywhere by challenging the macabre silence of those with power.
Faramarz Farbod is a native of Iran and an adjunct instructor of politics at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, USA. He has been active in anti-imperialist, labor, feminist, environmental, and global justice movements over the years.