January 20, 2009

President Obama!

Watching the inauguration today, it made me indescribably happy when I read the little thingy at the bottom of the screen that said "President Obama says farewell to Mr. Bush."

President Obama. Mr. Bush. How awesome is that? (Answer: incredibly so)
He's finally gone. After spending half of my life with him and all his idiotic, anti-science, anti-choice, warmongering, power-hungry, god-crazed, hypocritical cronies in charge of the country, it is just so great to have someone like Obama as president. He won't be a perfect president, and he will probably be more centrist than he should be, and he won't be able to accomplish everything he says he will, and he will make mistakes. But he's intelligent, diplomatic, and pretty liberal, so I admire and support him, and I'm glad he's president.

I really liked Obama's inaugural address. I liked everything he said about ending the war in Iraq and forging peace in Afghanistan, creating transparency, regulating the free market, utilizing alternative fuels, and reforming healthcare and education. I liked that, despite all the appeals to God to bless America, he at least acknowledged non-believers. Overall, I was impressed. Aretha Franklin was amazing. And while Lowery's speech didn't make up for Warren's bigoted "compassionate conservative" prayer, it was really cool to hear the Negro National Anthem. Even Rick Warren couldn't ruin the inauguration for me.

A great inauguration. And it's snowing! This is the best day of 2009 so far.

January 07, 2009

Gaza, Israel, and Blaming

It's easy to be blind to Western privilege, and the privilege of not having to live in a war zone. It's easy to try to diagnose the reasons why the "conflict," as the word "war" is so often sterilized, began, without once realizing that the atrocities of recent weeks will never really end. Violence is a sad, horrible cycle that I, or anyone else with tons of privilege, will never be able to understand, no matter how much we try to theorize about jus ad bello or political opportunism or whatever else we use to, intentionally or not, reduce people's death and suffering to a question of foreign policy.

It doesn't matter who started it. It really doesn't. It doesn't matter to the person who was killed by the airstrikes or the person who was killed by the rockets. It doesn't matter to their families. It only matters to people like me, rich, white Western kids who write speeches for their debate class. And not angry ones about the hideousness of war, but calm, emotionless ones with five or more citations, seven minutes long, about whether Israel was justified in attacking Gaza.

War is never reasonable. It is never proportional, and it should never be justified. People are dying. Where is the outrage?

So what can you do, if you, like me, are truly ignorant of this situation? Stop reading the New York Times or watching CNN for coverage. Western media tend to either oversimplify these wars or dehumanize and other the victims. So here are some links to news articles without that bias.

Gazans: 'We are living a nightmare'

Massive Israeli carnage leaves hundreds of Gaza victims
Palestine: Situation report in Gaza by UN humanitarian coordinator
Barak: If the ceasefire deal doesn't meet Israeli demands, Gaza operation will continue
25 Gaza rockets strike Negev over course of Wednesday
Special Reports: Confronting Hamas

And we all need to stop blaming one side or another for the attacks. Everyone, even the US, is responsible to some extent. Eventually, we can discuss reasoning or justification. But right now, the attacks have just happened. To speak so callously and with such detachment from the situation is insensitive. We can, and probably should, all be talking about what's happening. But we should spent less time blaming and more time discussing this from a humanitarian viewpoint.

Take a moment of silence for Gaza. And donate here.