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[col. writ. 1/17/08]
(c) '08 Mumia Abu-Jamal
As the 'election' of the ruling party of Kenya fades into history's rear-view mirror, the state unleashes its own brand of legalized violence against opponents of the regime, by shooting protesters, not just with the occasional tear gas canister, but with live bullets. Making protest against a deeply flawed, rigged presidential election, a capital crime.
So much for democracy.
For generations now, the elites of the West, that is, those alleged human rights and democracy proponents from Europe, the UN, and the US, have given their blessings to the barest caricatures of democracy, by applauding the outward forms, such as multi party elections, voting, and all the processes of external observance.
Yet, because they and their constituencies have traditionally benefited from the savage inequalities of these post colonial arrangements, they have not cared to look too closely, for they cared little to see what lay beneath.
These quasi-democracies are often jury-rigged set pieces, the height of scene-setting, to allow the monied elites among various societies to shake hands, smile for an occasional photo op, and go their merry ways, while the looting, exploitation, and rape of the poor continues unabated.
Thus, we see Kenya, lauded as the jewel of East Africa, as long as its rich agricultural and mineral wealth flows out of Kenya to its traditional consumers.
As in the United States, democracy has become a cheapened coin in the realm of politics.
In Pakistan, Kenya, and in other parts of the world that we used to denote as the 'Third World', democracy is seen as something to fight for. It is so serious that people take to the streets to be beaten, shot and killed by the uniformed defenders of dictatorial 'order'.
Here in the States, stolen elections are papered over, sent to robed sycophants who proclaim that 'the king can do no wrong', while democracy dies in self-imposed silence.
Should it surprise us that, among the first countries to offer congratulations for a successfully rigged election in Kenya was the U.S.? After all, it takes one to know one.
While that initial kudo was later withdrawn, it signaled to the ruling elites that the Americans wouldn't be much of a problem with a stolen election (as long as it's our guys who do the stealing!).
Meanwhile, if present counts are to be trusted, at least 1,000 Kenyans have perished in this latest convulsion of conflict, with at least 100 shot to death by police.
Here, as in Rawalpindi, as in Karachi, as in Birmingham, people are literally bleeding for democracy -- an on which side does the U.S. stand -- the people, or the dictators? The people, or the election-stealers?
Democracy is more, much more, than a phrase to be thrown out to justify a war for profit, or an imperial project. It is far more than the presence of a ballot box. It is either democracy, or it ain't.
In this historical hour, we see time's echo of the now - past Cold War, where the U.S. invariably chose the most blood-drenched dictators it could find, to support in struggles against their own people.
Generations have passed in that interim, and only the labels have changed.
Generals, strongmen, princes and bullies remain America's best 'allies', no matter what they do to their own people.
--(c) '08 maj