Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Three-fer

This weekend's Watching America had some of the best articles I've seen there in quite a while. There were so many solid essays that I had trouble selecting just one for comment this morning, so this week I'm going to present three. There's no particular order involved in my presentation.

The first is from Columbia's El Tiempo and it examines the implications of WikiLeaks.

It seems that the Americans’ worst enemies are themselves; this is proven by the recent and immensely embarrassing public disclosure of hundreds of communications between the North American government and its different diplomatic relations throughout the world. In spite of all the attempts to minimize the importance of the rumors in which American diplomatic arrogance puts its most hallowed mantra, “freedom of expression,” on display — a mantra which they defend tooth and nail — in this case it works against them. Seemingly no one can detain the leaking of documents to WikiLeaks, nor can they detain one of its founders, the Australian Julian Assange, in London on charges of sexual abuse brought against him by Sweden. ...

With respect to the position of American society, that’s a problem that worries the government. Americans fanatically defend their First Amendment and one of its most powerful points: freedom of expression. Nevertheless, when referring to its national and political security, they find it problematic justifying the actions of their government. Whether Americans want it to, their government possesses enormous infiltrative power, which it has used at an international level, and whose level of use still remains unclear at the national level. It shouldn’t surprise us that in the future, it will come to light that the government has spied on many of its citizens, political opponents and businesses in an indiscriminate manner and without judicial authorization. This would present an enormous problem for the administration (or administrations) responsible for said actions. ...
[Emphasis added]

It is precisely that "enormous infiltrative power" which Wikileaks intended to expose, especially in its highly secretive nature. What this opinion piece does is to make the necessary and the obvious link to the government's use of that infiltrative power on its own citizens, something that should concern us all.

The second article is more timely: it has to do with air travel in the US under the new security measures. From Mexico's La Cronica:

Now that the Christmas season is here, the great dilemma for the four million people that will travel by air in the United States is deciding whether they should allow themselves to be x-rayed, with the possibility of being seen totally nude, or if they prefer having their most private parts touched in public. ...

Opponents argue that his administration seems committed to trying to stop what has already happened but is not focused on creating a new security system that might prevent further tragedies. Some experts refer to these measures as “theatrics.” They also say that the terrorists will simply change tactics while the administration diverts economic resources that might be used for better intelligence.
[Emphasis added]

That, of course, is an accurate reflection of what many of us assert, especially since those fancy new x-ray machines are being pushed by lobbyists who just happen to be former federal officials. Somebody is making a lot of money by literally exposing the flying public, while terrorists are merrily exploring new ways to torment their imperialist enemies. [Note: the picture accompanying the article is alone worth the visit to the site of the article.]

Finally, a rather snarky yet perceptive commentary on the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell appeared in Spain's El País.

This is a piece of legislation that both richens and updates the story of freedom in America, with its core values reinforced and then shown to the world. It’s even possible to conclude that this renewal confirms the exceptionalism of America — the idea that the United States is a nation apart, always destined to bring to reality the most ambitious dreams of humanity. But the entry of gays into the military will also raise a question, one which the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has already discussed in "A Gay Commander in Chief: Ready or Not?"

The Commander in Chief is the president. Two years ago, many American citizens still doubted that their country was ready for an African-American president. More than a few people interpreted the result of the primaries as an anti-feminist reflex, as if the country wasn’t yet ready for a female president. Nobody can doubt that it certainly is, both for the one and for the other. Now the question is whether it is thinkable for a self-declared homosexual to appear among the next candidates, and whether we would be introduced to a partner. And then, there's following doubt: Which is better, killing two birds with one stone and electing a lesbian president, or merely electing a gay man?

Now, I'm not real happy that the article refers to Maureen Dowd's rather immature column on the issue, but the fact is that this Congressional vote did move the US one step down the road to equal rights for gays and lesbians, making it possible to conceive of a time in this country when one's sexual identity is no more a basis for judgment of character than the color of one's skin.

All in all, a good week for Watching America. By the way, if you have any cash left over this holiday season, you might consider directing it Watching America's way. Of course, you might also consider sending it my way, because I can always use it, but Watching America is trying to raise funds to cover costs.

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