Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Relevance & Relativity of Context

Repression, authoritarianism, patriarchy, domination, control of others -- it all exists along a continuum. Excerpt from "How to Lose Your Job at a Saudi Newspaper" by Fawaz Turki:

...What Arabs have yet to learn, in addition to that, is that newspapers are not published to advance the political preferences of proprietors, or the commentary of subservient analysts who turn a blind eye to the abuse of power by political leaders running their failed states. [me: oh really? Wonder if most of the ones here know that.]

Democracy may be a political system, but it is also a social ethos. How responsive can a country be to such an ethos when its people have, for generations, existed with an ethic of fear -- fear of originality, fear of innovation, fear of spontaneity, fear of life itself -- and have had instilled in them the need to accept orthodoxy, dependence and submission? [ready for American Theocracy anyone?]

The Arab world today, sadly, remains a collection of disparate entities ruled for the most part by authoritarian regimes that rely on coercion, violence and terror to rule, and that demand from their citizens submission, obedience and conformity. And that includes those citizens who call themselves "journalists," to whom, by now, responsibility to truth and logic has become irrelevant.

Well President Shrub, are we gonna invade Saudi Arabia for not being a gun-slinging, macho casually swaggering democracy?

I'm in no way belittling Mr. Turki -- just pointing out that there's plenty of room for improvement here at home -- recall all the sundry and sordid ways the USA has over the years endorsed, assisted, propped up, funded the demagogues, dictators and murderers of similar regimes. Iraq and Saddam Hussein, for instance.

And let's not forget that workers in any job or profession here in the 'land of the free (and cheap labor)' have no more rights (unless in a union) than what Mr. Turki experienced.

Mr. Turki's must-read first-hand account here at the WaPo.


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