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None of the Above

Fred A. Wilcox • 14 October 2004

Watching the “debates” between John Kerry and George W. Bush was like traveling into the pages of Alice in Wonderland. I did derive a certain pleasure from watching Mr. Bush squirm and scowl and, in the final session, smirk like a child whose successfully raided the cookie jar. I found Mr. Kerry’s verbal dexterity and ability to think on his feet quite impressive, and I don’t think anyone was really surprised when the resident in the White House tried to overwhelm his opponent with political rhetoric, misinformation, and not-so-clever story telling.

After each debate, pundits and commentators chatted about the candidates’ demeanor, their style of delivery, and how they might have differed on important “issues”. They then went on to speculate who might have won, and to flash instant polls across the screen showing, they said, how viewers felt about the candidates’ performance. No one bothered to ask why these two men, vying for most powerful political office in the world, failed to talk about the Israeli government’s attacks on Palestinian refugee camps during the past two weeks, killing more than one hundred people, including thirty children. No one demanded to know why the candidates didn’t talk about the threat global warming poses to our planet. No one asked how the United States of America intends to export “democracy” to the Middle East, when there are more people in prison per capita in the U.S. than any other country, with the possible exception of Russia, when 45 million Americans do not have health care, millions more live in impoverished crime-ridden ghettoes, and the gap between the rich and poor in the U.S. is greater and growing faster than any other western nation.

Mr. Bush and Senator Kerry were not asked about Northern Ireland, which saved the candidates from what might have been an embarrassing moment. Neither man has demonstrated that he knows much about the struggle to create peace and social justice in N. Ireland. Nor do they appear to think that part of the world is all that important. After all, Exxon-Mobil isn’t rushing to explore for oil in downtown Belfast. The Pentagon may not think that residents of Derry would welcome a star wars missile silo near their city. American companies scouring the world for cheap, read slave, labor are not about to “outsource” manufacturing jobs to N. Ireland.

Neither candidate mentioned a bill recently introduced in Congress that will have serious implications for Irish immigrants. This bill, designed in part to intimidate political opposition in the United States, expands the draconian Patriot Act. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Republican-sponsored bill will make “mere association or membership in the [designated terrorist group] a crime, even if no money or resources are provided. It would apply even to a person that has nothing to do with the group’s violent activities and even to a member that is trying to persuade the group to give up violence and join the political process.” Translated, this means that Irish immigrants who may have belonged to or supported a group deemed “terrorist” by the United States government can be jailed and deported, without judicial review of immigration deportation orders. Whether the deportee’s life might be in danger if he or she is ejected from the United States will not matter. “Practically,” says the ACLU, “a refugee from the genocide in Sudan who arrives without proper documentation could be sent back without a hearing.”

For 90 minutes, on three occasions, the two men who believe they are best suited to be president jousted over the war in Iraq, each man claiming that he alone will lead the United States to victory over Iraqi “insurgents”; each candidate insisting that he alone knows how to fight the war on terrorism, he alone will lead the United States to victory over evil. For 90 minutes, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush danced back and forth over the same rhetorical ground, repeating the same accusations and the same promises, conjuring the same grandiose schemes for making the world a kinder, gentler, place for ordinary people.

Neither candidate would admit that the war on Iraq is a calamity for the people of that battered nation. Neither dared to say that occupying Iraq is not the way to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and that bombing Iraqi cities is not the way to convince people in the Middle East to embrace American-style “democracy”.

Undoubtedly, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Bush will continue to claim that they have a plan for winning the un-winnable war in Iraq, They will talk about spreading democracy throughout the world, and they will insist that they intend to win the war on terrorism. They will profess their admiration for the Irish people, while refusing to demand why the United States Congress may soon pass a bill that will further undermine the United States Constitution and threaten Irish immigrants--even if they have lived here for years, opened businesses here and raised their families here—with jail and deportation.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

21 October 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Think Tanks, Reunions and Medals
George Young

Tribute to George
Bernadette McAliskey

Aspects of British Propaganda during the War of Independence
Mags Glennon

Born Iron, Living Free
Marc Kerr

Arise Ye Bored and Read Again
Anthony McIntyre

Blame Orange Order But Buck Stops with British Crown
Father Sean Mc Manus

Capt. Kelly Campaign Update
Fionbarra O'Dochartaigh

None of the Above
Fred A. Wilcox

Reflections On Swift Boats and Slow Wits
Peter Urban

Street Seen, Making the Invisible Visible
Press Release

Paying Our Condolences in Salem
Daphne Banai

The Israeli Invasion of North Gaza
Jennifer Loewenstein

15 October 2004

Intimidation Continues in Rathenraw
Anthony McIntyre

Mick Hall

Choosing the Green
Liam O Ruairc

Anti-Racism Network Rally
ARN Steering Committee

A Coversation with Gerry Adams
Paul de Rooij



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