May Day

May 1, 2012. May Day. A celebration of labor, workers, unions, brotherhood. If the old Soviet Union were still chugging along on its creaky ideological tracks, there’d be a  May Day parade in Moscow, and then on May 9th, a “victory day” procession, with lots of imposing weaponry rolling down a street fronting a balcony from which fossilized Soviet leadership would gaze down and nod (barely) in approval.  This display of supposed Soviet military might was essentially an in your face jab at its Cold War rival, the U.S. of A.  But alas, no more Soviet Union. Back to being Mother Russia–for better or worse, and that’s depending on who one talks to who occupies the present Russia but clearly remembers its past as well. The Cold War is over. R.I.P. The U.S. has now replaced communism with terrorism for a new boogeyman, with 911 setting the table for some creepy, fear-mongering extremist views of how to make the USA safe from the likes of Osama bin Laden. I say “the likes” of OBL, since a year ago on May 1, 2011, American military forces found him and killed him (a tip of the hat to Navy Seal Team Six). However, we’re still, apparently, terribly afraid of his “organization” since we continue to spend billions of dollars and lose many military and civilian lives in Afghanistan in order to…uh…in order to…well fuck if I can figure why U.S. troops are still over there. At least the Cold War made sense in terms of the then Superpower status of the USA & the Soviet Union & the nuclear arms race that fueled foreign, military & diplomatic policy for the two countries. The USSR was a real threat,( as was the U.S. to the Kremlin) and the 1962 Cuban missile Crisis proved it. Khrushchev blinked first, and the rest of the world wiped the sweat off its brow. Our recent and ongoing military actions, on the other hand, lack clarity and distinct purpose. The U.S. is fighting a “war” against terrorism, but that amorphous enemy wears no uniform and is hard to locate.  Afghanistan now, and the absurd waste of life & money incurred by George Bush’s Iraq invasion (based on prevarication, deception & cynicism)  seem to serve little rational purpose in our post-911 world. Not that Iraq or Afghanistan were/are actual wars but military occupations. Regardless, the lies, deception & cynical motives remain even now with President Obama in charge. He won’t simply bring the troops home, although the majority of Americans want him to do just that. Obama may be a Harvard grad but he displays an inept knowledge of 20th century military history. The Red Army tried to muscle its will  & wrath on the Afghans through most of the 1980s, and finally bailed out after realizing its no-win reality.  Obama could even recall our own military failure in Vietnam as a history lesson, but noooo!  The more things change….the more they stay insane.

The Soviet Union, for numerous reasons, collapsed after 70 years of  “communist utopia” that was, of course utopian of, for & by the privileged few at the expense of everyone else living in a dystopia. But it did collapse without the U.S. having to set foot on Russian soil or put U.S. troops at risk. Now, we invade other countries that cannot possibly pose a serious threat to our way of life (just as we did with Viet Nam) while making U.S.citizens adhere to the fear-mongering precepts laid out by the Homeland Security Act & other draconian, constitution-bashing policies (who needs the 1st & 4th Amendments? we suspect everyone of being a possible terrorist equally). This post-911 strategy suggests, strongly, the late Osama bin Laden is still way ahead on points in this new “us vs.them” paradigm of the new millennium. He may be as dead as the Soviet Union, but every time a 5 year-old or a 85 year-old gets body searched at the airport, and more security cameras keep watch on average, unsuspecting  citizens, and warrantless wiretaps and over-reaching police powers are granted, his visage haunts and taunts Americans who are constantly being told to stay afraid, stay very afraid.

George Orwell & bin Laden might be somewhere in the next realm, each snickering sardonically over what has come to pass. Orwell’s Big Brother concerned a frightful future for England, not the United States, but his writings resonate bitterly with so much surveillance legislation having been passed by congress, the latest, pending a vote is called  CISPA . This nefarious piece of congressional tinkering would let the government snoop us via our cyberspace data. What right to privacy? Not in the War on Terror! Bin Laden sought to punish the U.S. for its perceived hypocritical arrogance toward foreign governments that it supports when convenient, then exploits as needed, such as bin Laden himself when he was fighting against the Soviet army in Afghanistan and getting subsidized financially in his effort, and Saddam Hussein in Iraq when he was fighting againt Iran and also supported in that effort by U.S. aid. George and Osama may not be friendos in the cosmos, but they do have a rather bitterly ironic common ground between themselves in light of what recent history has documented on this 2012 May Day.  Come another dozen May Days, I shutter to see where our current path may take the U.S. There’s a lot to be afraid of, for certain, but as far as I’m concerned, it has nothing to do with Islamic extremists anymore. I’d take the Cold War over this insidious fascism infesting American politics any day. Those who are willing to give up some freedom for security, deserve neither, as that saying goes.  The USA/USSR tensions ended well…for the US.  Now, there seems to never be an end in sight as far as current American military and domestic anti-terrorist actions go. Next stop, North Korea or Iran. May Day. Brotherhood. Labor. Let’s have a parade…

About jharrin4

mass communication/speech instructor at College of DuPage and Triton College in suburban Chicago. Army veteran of the Viet Nam era.
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