Tuesday, September 13, 2011
In my limited contact with some of those on the Right and self-proclaimed Tea Party members, I've sometimes wondered, Where the hell did you come up with that? Despite what some who know me may think, I readily admit that I don't know everything. However, I am a mild political junkie. Yet, sometimes someone on the Right will say or post something or share an article that leaves me absolutely baffled. I have no clue what they're talking about and oftentimes can't even find out where what they're saying is actually coming from.
This happened a couple of weeks ago when a Tea Partier I'm following on Twitter posted an article about "Obama's Rule," which, according to the article (which, unfortunately, I can't find a link to now), is currently strangling the Congo. Now, there was actually a new regulation placed on the electronics industry in the Dodd-Frank Bill, forcing them to provide proof that their gold, coltan, tungsten, and tin ore have neither come from conflict regions within the Democratic Republic of Congo or has been provided by the "warlords" in that country. While intended just for certain regions of the Congo, the article I read (and many self-interested business leaders and Republican politicians) asserted that this new regulation is strangling the entire country.
This may very well be the case, but, as far as I know, all the regions that provide these minerals are actually run by these brutal warlords. And the West's obsession with our electronic gadgets have funded one of the most brutal wars Africa has ever seen. Our iPods and cell phones have been brought to us through the systematic rape of women and children, countless mutilations and genocides, and the heated rash of child soldiering.
Of course, the perpetual curse of the Congo is that it's constantly been blessed with whatever the West has needed. When the West (and East) needed slaves, Congo had the black bodies. When the West became fixated on ivory, they slaughtered all of Congo's elephants. When they wanted rubber, Congo had rubber trees growing out the wazoo. And now they have gold, coltan, tungsten, and tin ore, which has led to some of the most grotesque tales of horror that would make the Taliban blanch.
Critics often talk of the "Oil Curse," where damned near every oil-rich country outside of Norway has suffered nothing but dictatorship, repression, and brutality. Well, the Congo has been "Resources Cursed" that has led to centuries of misery, mutilation, and death. I'm actually glad that "Obama's Rule" existed to try to at least temper the brutality that has constantly afflicted that poor country.
The problem is "Obama's Rule" isn't Obama's rule at all. In fact, apparently, there weren't too many politicians who really wanted that new regulation placed in the Dodd-Frank Bill. But one politician snuck it into the bill. And no, it wasn't some bleeding heart Liberal trying to impede business, progress, and the "free market." In fact, it was one of the most conservative Christian Republicans in the land: former Republican Senator and now current governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback.
Why Brownback has been concerned about the Congo and has been so concerned that it compelled him to throw that regulation into the bill, I don't know. But I'm glad that he did.
Why business leaders, Conservatives, and Tea Partiers want to blame Obama for the Congo's plight is easy enough to surmise. Business leaders just want their money because, as they like to tell us, "corporations are not moral entities." Conservatives and Tea Partiers simply hate Obama. They think that he's the worst President this country has ever known. That he's destroying the world.
Hey, opinions are like assholes, right? And assholes' opinions are allowed to be expressed just like everybody else's. My problem is with those who masquerade as the Fourth Estate. We have so many folks out there parading around, calling themselves "the press" or "journalists," yet they have no concern for the primary reason for the press's existence ... to tell the citizenry the truth.
The "Obama's Rule" article mentioned nothing of the Congo's horrific history. It spoke nothing of the butchers who rule that country's gold, coltan, tungsten, and tin ore. How they butcher entire villages, rape little girls and forcibly abduct them to continuously rape them until they're bored with them, force people to rape their own family members, how they dismember people willy-nilly, and abduct little boys to become drugged-out child soldiers. And, of course, they neglected to mention the fact that "Obama's Rule" is actually "Brownback's Rule."
Instead, they wanted to portray Obama as destroying yet another country that was going along perfectly fine (just like America) until he got his hands on it. And, just like America, now that country is ruined because of him.
It is stories like this--lies like this--that contribute to the chasm that our country now suffers. Even those hallowed "Founding Fathers" believed that a democracy could only work if the electorate were educated and properly informed. But these so-called "journalists" don't care about their civic duty. Whether it be for lucre or fame or some ideological bent, they've eschewed their responsibility to objectively inform--or even slightly skew in the name of "muckraking"--and have just decided to portray any lie they can come up with as Truth.
As a result, we Americans are more divided than I've ever seen in my lifetime. Congress probably hasn't been this divided since America was itching for a Civil War. We Americans no longer just not see eye-to-eye, we're looking at completely different facts. We're not just talking past each other, we're speaking completely different languages. Reading from the same rule book? Fuck it. One side's playing basketball while the other's playing football.
I have no clue how we get on the same page. How we can somehow narrow the chasm to just be a simple, civil divide. But clearly we somehow have to get to a place where the truth is the truth and we can continue squabbling about what that truth means. Because this country's spiraling out of control, and we need to figure out a way to right the ship.