By Patricia Nell Warren
Originally published in 10/12 Echo Magazine
As November nears, public apathy about the campaign is a worry. We need to make intelligent choices at the polls-for President, Congress and local offices. To do that, we need to know what's really going on.
More American homes than ever are equipped with high-tech media, yet most people focus on entertainment, not news. Major media often don't tell the real news. So we're told (for example) that convention demonstrators were a "handful of anarchists" who deserved rough handling by police. What we weren't told is that demonstrators are driven by outrage at the dark side of globalization.
Even in the gay world, mergers mean that our own major media are increasingly controlled by outside corporate interests who tell us only what they want us to know.
America didn't learn much from the Sixties and Seventies. Too many people still harbor the same beliefs that damaged human rights and tore our country apart during those times. Too many people believe the rhetoric and ignore the realities. And they still believe what they're told, instead of thinking for themselves.
As a result, Americans who prefer a Fifties kind of world have us veering into an eerie retrograde. Hey, I remember the Fifties-I was a teen during the McCarthy hearings and Hollywood blacklistings.
Well, what's really going on? That big Fifties cause-fighting communism -has been replaced by globalization. Our government champions the new cause with all the old flag-waving. International "partnerships" between governments and corporations hammered out details at the recent UN Millennium Summit in New York. These partnerships create deadly conflict of interest, and they impact Americans' lives in everything from prices to public health.
To the government, anyone who disagrees with globalization is "the enemy" -which explains why Americans who publicize the dark side of globalization (sweatshop labor, etc.) are viewed as the new "pinko commies". To silence dissidents we now have SWAT teams trained for space-age war, instead of old-style cops with fire-hoses. Plus we have a new willingness to use U.S. troops against our own citizens.
Most major media support the "cause." After all, most are owned by transnational companies. Which explains why only the so-called "independent media" tell us what's really going on.
When enough Americans get fed up with that black-and-white global Pleasantville, we'll have the Technicolor freedom-seeking uproars of the Sixties again. Except this time it will be harder to change things, because government has developed space-age technology to snoop and repress. Meanwhile we can still vote for the President and Congresspeople who appropriate funds and approve legislation for America's participation in globalization. We can still hold them accountable-but only if we know what's going on.
I'm repelled by the Republican platform, but I'm not thrilled with the Democrats' performance either. Why does Al Gore continue to do the knee-jerk thing of blaming Hollywood for youth violence when many violent kids may be driven by overdrugging with Ritalin and Prozac? It's nice that Gore supports gay rights, but will he do it globally, and criticize nations where gays are still executed in public?
Yes, this time it's not enough to vote. It's not enough to write our Congresspeople and participate in democracy. Americans need to get informed for real. Gay Americans need to know how globalization affects our rights. As persecuted Iranian author Salman Rushdie said recently, "The only rights we have are the ones we actually fight for."
Bestselling novelist Patricia Nell Warren also writes provocative commentary for gay and mainstream publications. Her editorials are archived at www.wildcatpress.com. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2000 by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.