by Maniza Naqvi
The job entitled and wealthy are all set to win the election in November. And keep things exactly the same. Fool us again. Shame on us. The way things are run, it makes no difference who becomes President. It doesn't matter. And, either of them would oil the machinery churning out Gold Star families.
Mr. Trump voices banning Muslims. Mrs. Clinton voted bombing them. Mr. Trump questions why nuclear weapons are built. Mrs. Clinton doesn't. Mr. Trump would build a wall against migrants from Mexico. Mrs. Clinton was part of the Government that deported more migrants than any time before in the history of this country. Mrs. Clinton supports the wall built in Palestine. Mr. Trump opposed the war in Iraq. Mrs. Clinton voted for it. Words are cheap. Deeds mean death. And to think they will be voted in by people who have suffered most by these deeds, in this country.
Makes no difference who becomes President. Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Except that Hillary Clinton has more experience selling weapons and war. And all Trump does is talk about building stuff and he plagiarizes and distills the last fifteen years of State sanctioned and widely shilled hate speech. Yes he does. He simply repeats and champions the narrative and words already out there endorsing hate and selling of those wars. All he does is to shout out loudly all that's already been said, to make the case for endless war. He says it all unvarnished without nuance from podiums for a Presidential campaign. No, neither of these choices are Russia's fault. And yes, Bernie Sanders, by not choosing the path he pointed towards, and heading an Independent party, has missed a historic opportunity. No matter, because he has awakened millions of young people and they will not accept his choice or follow his lead to back away from this path. They will most probably vote for the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein.
This is what matters: This November 8h all 435 Congressional seats will be up for elections. Along with the Congressional elections both Senate and House of Representatives, there will be Gubernatorial elections in a dozen states and with them many of the local elections will also be held for local councils in cities and towns. If Americans want to vote for change, these are the elections to register for, to stand in and contest and to vote in. Here, Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein supporters can make a dramatic difference. These candidates can stop war. Stop Gold Stars being ever to be handed out to any grieving parent.
What does not matter is that on November 8th the United States will elect its next President in the White House. This election does not matter much. As there will be no change. The United States, as it typically does, will elect to this office someone who will serve the war industry well. A salesperson for the weapons manufacturers, who will in the name of foreign policy travel door to door to the Capitals of the World, selling weapons and war. And no matter which candidate it chooses to elect, it will elect a candidate who speaks of change but benefits from keeping things exactly the same. In November as always the United States citizens will elect a hypocrite. The American people will have to choose on the basis of a number of criteria, first, which hypocrite they most identify with on the basis of gender and ethnicity; whether they want to make American history on the basis of gender or in your face, suck my dick candidate; the least unlikeable candidate, and least perceived untrustworthy candidate.
Trump, if nothing else dares to speak from the electoral podium that which has been allowed freely on media news and talk shows, on popular TV series and films, books, in Congress, the Senate, on subway walls and on the sides of buses. In the name of the right to free speech. When Mr. Trump mouths it, this trash talk, sanctioned everywhere else, has been branded as being hate speech. Trump finally makes America feel ashamed of itself. Surely this alone deserves a Gold Star.
I tried to prevent Moms and Dads from becoming Gold Stars. I stood for hours in pouring rain, and in snow and freezing temperatures with hundreds and thousands of Americans to prevent mothers and fathers from earning Gold Stars. I stood shoulder to shoulder, with hundreds of thousands of Americans, feet and hands freezing, throats hurting from shouting No war! No War! To no avail. I tried my very best back in 2001 and 2003 and since then with only words to prevent Mrs. Khan from grieving. From having the ache that will never go away—just like the thousands of other mothers like her. And the millions of mothers in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Syria and so many other places invaded and bombed and armed by the very people who have turned Mr. and Mrs. Khan into a Gold Star.
Why isn't Mrs. Clinton a Gold Star mom? She voted for all these wars and selling and sending of arms to all the places already reeling and bleeding from violence. Why aren't the women and men whose sons are killed by gun violence every day in this country, Gold Star moms and dads? Instead we have a cynical unchanging political machinery parading out good Muslims—Gold Star Muslims. Mr. Clinton made it clear who was a good Muslim. If you sacrifice for this country, you can stay. Sacrifice, meaning, die for this country. The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.
Appropriating Muslims. Occupying and appropriating their grief to illustrate your goodness. Appropriating even their gestures of greetings to prove your sincerity. For your complexes. War. Endless war and its feeder industries.
Increasingly, alarmingly, all things military and war, are heroic, at the cost of all others, and are being presented as deserving of all of our emotional response, respect and adoration. Our terms of social and cultural engagement and value are increasingly becoming militarized. Gold Stars. Blood and treasure they call it here. The killing. The letting of blood. The political body gives it a report card, a grade as if everyone is a child in Kindergarten. Gold Stars. An A plus. You die for America. You sacrifice your flesh and blood for America and you are an American plus. A-plus for you. A gold star. No one and nothing else matters. Especially not if you die here, in this country, killed at the hands of police or your family or a neighbor or a deranged stranger. Then that's not death. It's a misuse of a product that came with specific instructions: To be used for sports and or only so that you may earn a Gold star. There is no Gold Star for those who struggle each and every day to live and make a living.
Americans, unlike many other countries of the world, haven't ever elected a woman head of Government. Like most of the poorest countries in the world who have elected women leaders way before the US, America is set to elect a dynastic leader. Another Clinton. Who, if elected, would be followed perhaps by her daughter Chelsea, and she in turn as the years of endless war continue, by her son or her daughter.
And then there is: Russia. Russia. Russia is responsible for Trump? Russia is responsible for the content in the DNC's emails which reveal the trash talk against Bernie Sanders? Russia? Russia is responsible for America's total political nervous breakdown? Russia is responsible for America collapsing under the weight of its own history? After decades of a building a system of military and other complexes devoted to the destruction of the Soviet Union, success in doing so happened. Now the Soviet Union is no more and its main component Russia has reformed. But not the United States and its machinery of taking down the Soviet Union. That stays intact. If cracks appear in its politics, it blames Russia. And that system is constantly searching and manufacturing new enemies to perpetuate itself and its pay checks. The Enemy Complex.
No need for introspection—just look for spooks and terrorists. That'll keep us all marinated in fear. Keep us quiet and acquiescing to the opiate fed us of ‘enemies who hate us for our way of life'. Our lives. American lives matter for these Presidential candidates only in so much that Americans vote for one of them. Otherwise, they don't matter at all. Witness, George W. Bush who danced drunkenly at the funeral in Dallas. He was applauded. In 2016. After fifteen years of useless, endless, shameful war, George W. Bush who is responsible for unleashing the countless deaths of millions of non-Americans at the hands of American soldiers and the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, is still applauded. In 2016 George W. Bush appears in prime time events. In 2016 prime time events remain a glorification of violence. Promising only endless war.
Lost lives don't matter. Only those that earn Gold stars for their families matter. Only the ones that keep the guns going matter. The bullets ending those lives matter, the prisons crammed full of black lives matter. Black lives were valued. Sure. They were. When they were a commodity. Bought and sold—then they mattered a lot. When they were a commodity and an input in production then they mattered a lot. Those two commodities, land and slaves—both property in need of protection and securing, by all means necessary, that mattered above all else. The industrialization of human beings. The industrialization of the system to protect this right to industrialize human beings. Guns and weapons. Is Russia responsible for that?
The lucrative business of war, the military industrial complex, the food industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, is Russia responsible for that? The need for a permanent enemy so that a permanent state of war to feed the war economy and keep it humming—-is Russia responsible for that?
The word hero is reserved for a killed soldier or a war veteran rather than for poets, doctors, scientists, writers and social activists? Heroic deeds seem to be only those associated with the weapons of war—bombs, drones, guns used on civilians. And yes, they are glorified by the idea of Gold Stars. Aren't the mothers and fathers in Baton Rouge, Baghdad, Falluja, San Bernadino, Dallas, St. Paul, Swat, Queens, Aleppo, Orlando, Mogadishu, Herat, Aleppo, Brooklyn, Brussels, Stockholm, Paris, all Goldstars?
War on civilians, by civilians, at civilians. All slaves and victims to war. Slaves to guns. It is endless war when everyone becomes a slave to guns. This is a war when police chiefs wear designer suits and ties, while ordering their policemen to wear military equipment and use weapons of war against civilians. Use drones to kill. This is war when everyone's labor is devoted somehow to the manufacture of guns. This is war when everyone is somehow beholden to the manufacturers of guns. This is war when it is justified if the commander justifying it or calling the shots is the same color, ethnicity or creed as the victims of his commands. This is war when the news you watch is brought to you by the manufacturers of weapons. This is war when Opiates are a necessity to calm the nerves, dull the senses. This is war when drugs are weapons needed to keep the peace. This is war when calling it war is considered an act of war. This is war when people are divided by bullets which rip through all bodies but not equally and the depth of mourning the dead is based on the hue of the epidermis of the target or his faith.
You earn a Gold star when you die for the State. You are an enemy if you reject that death as heroic. This is war when calling it war is considered dancing like the demon over the pain of a wounded nation. Yet, George W. Bush, danced like a demon at the memorial in Dallas.
America is in a critical moment, of its own making, war veterans are coming home, and the Police is fitted with the equipment and weapons and the ammo that the military did not use over there, the army's surplus, sold to the cities. They will use it in America's cities. They are using it here in America cities.
America is at a critical moment of its own making of unmaking and its own unmasking and reckoning. This can only be good for the country. But there are too many guns in this melting pot. The country is melting under the heat of gunfire, crushed under the weight of that steel. I'm not sure that the weapons will ever be melted down and their metal used to steel spines and build the girders for a strong good structure—instead of for killing. As always conversation is always trumped by bullets and now robot drones replace a kind of lynching–an end to any questioning, any need for habeas corpus. And while people clearly see the connection to slavery there is still a hush on the connection to war.
These are the complexities of maintaining and sustaining the industry of war. And American voters are finally mobilizing—instead of seeing red they are seeing Green. They are mobilizing around issues that matter to them: Staying alive. Staying out of prison. Staying healthy. Staying employed. Staying. Changing the system that keeps them locked out and locked in.