Wednesday, October 20, 2004
What I Believe (It's Not All About Criticism)
By Mickey Z.
Who on the Left has not heard the complaint that their writing is too negative and offers no solutions? Sadly, few readers can tolerate a critique unless it lays out a detailed alternative plan.
“We know what you’re against,” I hear over and over, “but what are you FOR.”
Of course, it would be impossible and illogical (for many reasons) to attempt listing everything I am “for.” However, in the name of turning the page—no matter which rich white male Yale-educated war criminal will run the American Empire for the next four years—I’ve compiled an admittedly ad hoc list of some of the things I do believe.
I believe it would not only be accurate, but also extremely relevant to start referring to the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy known as “the United States of America” as “the occupied territories.”
I believe someone needs to write a definitive book on the Tupamaros of Uruguay.
I believe the sellout of Dennis Kucinich in 2004 should serve as a permanent reminder of what it means to be “progressive” and a Democrat.
I believe it would not only be accurate, but also extremely relevant to start referring to George W. Bush as “President (sic) Bush.”
I believe it’s useful to remember quotes like this one from Malcolm Forbes: “Elected leaders who forget how they got there won’t the next time.”
I believe people on the Left should stop calling veganism an “elitist” lifestyle. Meat would cost $35 a pound if it weren’t subsidized by our tax dollars. A can of beans is better protein at one-tenth the price. Being a vegan makes sense economically, ethically, and health-wise.
I believe that anyone who fears their phone is tapped should answer every call with: “Fuck Ashcroft...hello?”
I believe that despite all the comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, there is one substantial difference: George W. Bush had a definite plan for getting out of Vietnam.
I believe Phil Collins, Dave Matthews, Huey Lewis, and Lionel Richie are all part of a vast CIA conspiracy to keep us comfortably numb.
I believe that landlords should lower rents once they have paid off their mortgage.
I believe all forms of authority must be questioned...over and over again.
I believe it would not only be accurate, but also extremely relevant to start referring to John F. Kerry as “the alleged liberal.”
I believe we should replace the words “chicken,” “pork,” “beef,” etc. with the word “human” and then see how appetizing those pork chops and chicken legs appear.
I believe there is much to learn from the examples of the Black Panthers, Puerto Rican Young Lords, and American Indian Movement.
I believe the land of the free cannot incarcerate its citizens at the rate of 1,200 per week.
I believe the home of the brave cannot carpet bomb civilians from 15,000 feet and call it “humanitarianism.”
I believe that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld can make this country what it once was: an arctic region covered with ice.
I believe all this talk about “preserving our way of life” gets to the heart of the matter. “Our” way of life is precisely the issue.
I believe the 85 million eligible American voters who stayed home in 2000 should come out in 2004 and vote for someone other than President (sic) Bush or the alleged liberal to send a message that what we want is not on the menu.
I believe that if those 85 million voted for me, I’d be like the bottle of pure spring water standing in stark contrast to the sugary, chemical-laden Coke and Pepsi being offer by President (sic) Bush or the alleged liberal.
I believe more votes will be cast for the winner of Iraqi Idol than for president once American-style democracy (sic) is imposed on that nation.
I believe the current patterns of dissent in America are long overdue for re-evaluation and overhaul. The powers-that-be have long ago figured out how to either marginalize or co-opt dissent. Unless our tactics evolve, they will become self-parody.
I believe Americans seeking change must help cultivate new, more realistic American Dreams (plural)...dreams not for sale to the highest bidder...dreams not based on material consumption or physical beauty. We need dreams that promote and extol unity and collective success while maintaining our individuality and independence...dreams that challenge humans to think for themselves AND about others.
Finally (for now), I believe that too many people imply that unless a critic expounds a specific strategy for change, the critique is worthless or too negative. The problem with this understandable retort is that it misses the crucial role critical analysis plays in a society where problems are so cleverly disguised. When discussing the future, the first step is often an identification and demystification of the past and present. In order to inspire and motivate humans to work for change and try new approaches, we must agree that we got it wrong the first time.
Mickey Z. is the author of four books, most recently “The Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda” (Common Courage Press). He can found on the Web at: www.mickeyz.net.Share