Peaceful Democratic Revolution in the Middle East Calls for Regime Change
A popular post-World War II saying reminds us of the visceral power and heavy burden of individual responsibility in the face of evil: "Silence is Death."
It was also said by a German social activist in January 1946, Martin Niemöller:
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Problematically, the nations of Europe, North America, and South America have said very little or nothing at all, and have shown no tangible support whatsoever for the courageous protesters in the Middle East who are crowding the streets of Egypt, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, and Kuwait, demanding an end to thousands of years of oppression by hostile monarchies, military dictatorships, and fake democracies.
Right now, in February of 2011, protesters in Iran are marching in peace amidst violent attacks by police and military troops trying to shut them up, yet the protesters will not give up their fight. They, like their brothers and sisters in so many of the nations across the Middle East and North Africa, want what all human beings deserve - equal opportunity instead of aristocracy and oligarchy; fair trials and humane laws instead of iron-fisted oppression and kangaroo courts; freedom of speech, of the press, of the right to worship according to the dictates of one's conscience, rather than tyranny; and the end to the devastating pollution of their environment, the widespread abuses of the slave-labor force, and the stronghold over national economic policy by major global corporations and their local national political puppet leaders who turn over the "keys to the city" in exchange for a share of the profits.
Journalistic books such as Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater, and John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hitman document the collusion between global Western corporations and Middle Eastern and North African political leaders - a longstanding collaboration that has resulted in the oppression of the people and Whitewashing of the culture of this ancient and beautiful region.
It is against this very oppression that the protesters in the Middle East and North Africa are marching, and it is therefore no wonder that the West remains silent and passive in the face of what is clearly Democracy in action. So when our nation's leaders insist that they are waging wars in the name of Democracy, let us remember that Democracy is a god whose name is often taken in vain. Just as the US troops, for example, during World War II had impromptu patches on their uniforms stating that "God is with us," the Nazi soldiers' belt buckles noted the very same thing in German - "Gott mit uns."
I am dedicated to Civil Rights and peaceful democratic values, and thus in this time of hopeful regime change in the Middle East, we raise our voices in unity for the good protesters of that great region of the world on a day that commemorates the epitome of democratic leadership in the United States - President's Day, and in the week of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
And so let us remember a great speech made by Dr. King on April 3, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, in which he spoke words that resound even today in this historical moment in the Middle East:
"Something is happening in our world. The masses of people are rising up. And wherever they are assembled today, whether they are in Johannesburg, South Africa; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; New York City; Atlanta, Georgia; Jackson, Mississippi; or Memphis, Tennessee -- the cry is always the same: "We want to be free." . . . We aren't engaged in any negative protest and in any negative arguments with anybody. We are saying that we are determined to be men. We are determined to be people. . . .Now, let me say as I move to my conclusion that we've got to give ourselves to this struggle until the end. . . ."