Thursday, December 29, 2011

Irrational national belief and grief

Propaganda. That's what Hugo Chavez uses to cover his ugly tracks when he imprisons judges who don't rule the way he wants. That's what Fidel used for decades of enslaving the Cuban people and making them feel happy to be in chains. Josef Goebbels was the master of propaganda, turning an otherwise educated and cultured nation into goose-stepping genocidal maniacs who would cheerfully machine-gun crowds of civilians who tried to flee the Nazi clutches.

Of course, we would never engage in such lowlife practices here in the beacon of liberty's light, the United States of America. We know how to criticize our politicians (well, except for Dear Leader Ronald Reagan and other Founding Fathers).

Seriously, what is up with the North Koreans? Grown men and women gnashing and wailing in public as though their infant daughters had all suffered cruelly before succumbing to some dread plague--how can we humanize these nutbars?

In truth, we share much more with them than we do with some other people from other cultures.

Watch Fox News. As Stephen Colbert so ham-handedly spoofs it, the rippling American flags, screaming eagles and hagiographic idolization of all aspects of all Dear Leaders who embrace corporate-friendly postures is Just So North Korean.

And look at poverty caused by, amongst other factors, military spending. North Korea has the highest rate of militarism in the world. The DPRK spends a higher percent of its gross national product on its military than does any other nation and it has for years, even though various lists omit them or have incomplete data for their budgets. They have followed the Songun policy since the end of the Soviet Union, that is, military first. During famines those in the military suffered much less and officers not at all. Here in the US, we have the world's largest military budget and while unemployment remains high and home foreclosures stay rampant, we hold our military expenses as sacred--that budget dips last. Songun. It doesn't even need translation. Criticizing military expenditures is like dissing Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-Il. Just wait until the 2012 election campaign really heats up and you'll hear it beaten daily.

Watching the poor schmucks in North Korea now just breaks the heart. They live in a Stalinist totalitarian state. When else do they have a chance to express how much grief they feel about everything? Crying for Kim Jong-Il? Please. They are crying for themselves. They are left out of the world. They work hard and they just suffer and must remain silent. This is their rare opportunity to express themselves and let out all their pent-up grief about their wasted lives and ruined nation--and while it seems like unity behind their tyrannical leaders, it also looks like about an inch from a flip to a Pyongyang Spring. Let's not be too smug. As we continue to ruin our economy with massive military overspending we are given many more opportunities to express ourselves and our grief cannot compare--yet--with the impoverishment and iron-fisted enslavement of North Korea. They should be teaching us many lessons right now. Lessons that help us overcome our own vulnerability to propaganda.

Speaking up once is the first and last act of nonviolent resistance in a nation like North Korea. They each have an excuse for suffering in silence. If we fail to speak up, we who have so many more rights and so much more access to the goods of life, what is our excuse?

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