Voting a Uniquely American Dilemma: Legality is not the Talisman of Moral people
“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane”
This quote from one of my favorite persons of antiquity has always been poignant and now as we veer closer to the edge the abyss of time that separate us now from the results of the 2012 election this quote means even more. I am registered to vote and I cannot help but every now and then take moment to pause and really reflect on how sincere I am being with myself and my own principles. This bout of self-reflection inspired me to talk about “complaining”.
The first thing I always heard when I shared with others that I did not vote was the sentiment that I shouldn’t complain when things didnt go the way I needed or wanted them to go. That sounded quite ridiculous to me. No one wanted to really know why I didnt vote, no one wanted to listen to my reason and converse about it. The first and foremost task in a majority of cases was to let me know that I had no right to complain. This in and of itself is interesting, in that it solidifies for me my assertion that we are no longer a culture where dialogue means much.
In the past dialogue was one of the main vehicle for learning and social change. Nowadays we are fed out news which is the surest signed of the epidemic of passivity that invests the land instead of being what we have read, learned or studied and exposing it o the light of day and have for the sake of leaning any vulnerabilities exposed. There is a difference between debating to prove a point and reinforce the ideologies we choose to follow and debating to learn about ourselves and the world around us so that we can make informative decisions that do not harm our fellow human beings. As I am seeing now voting is only the opening words to any serious socially progressive conversation which brings me to my point: Legality is not the Talisman of Moral people.
My dilemma was that by principle in a majority rules democracy there will be people whose needs will not be met or even addressed because of their marginalization in the realms of social affairs. No where is this seen more than in the technocratic use of technology and mass media to create reality.
According to Stephen Balkaran in his article Mass Media and Racism, “The media has played a key role in perpetuating the effects of this historical oppression and in contributing to African-Americans‘ continuing status as second-class citizens”. This has resulted in an uncertainty among white Americans as to what the genuine nature of African-Americans really is. Despite the resulting racial divide, the fact that these people are undeniably American has “raised doubts about the white man’s value system”. This means that there is a somewhat “troubling suspicion” among some Americans that their white America is tainted by the black influence.
Having your social image engineered for you is one of the consequences of marginalization. If one wanted to see the classic example of this we can look at how the Nazi propaganda machine depicted the Jews and the subsequent happenings. My point is that is very easy to fabricate reasons to dismiss someone who doesn’t follow the preset ideology we inherit by virtue of being born in a particular society without ever understanding why. Like if I didn’t vote and found that the government had slowly eroded not only my civil liberties but those of other should I resign myself to do and say nothing?
The Language use of the Word Complaining
The fact that we use the word complaining is significant. It is a charged word. To complain has been defined as expressing feelings of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment. If someone doesn’t vote they should not express their resentment or dissatification. There is a kind of pejorative insinuation in this that reminds me at least of children complaining about a parental decision to either grant or not grant a material or privilege. Kids complain because they don’t know better, people don’t vote because of a lack of not only knowledge but a maturity that comes with it and life experience.For me after I heard the “You can’t complain comment” I was offer a series of books to read. Each book recommended or in some cases given to me came with the assurance that I will be able after reading them to tell what’s really real. I would have access to the information that big government or big business doesn’t want me to know. But that’s was never the case, I just got another product to purchase.
In another post I wrote about the luxury of forgetting in the United States and how that luxury doesnt extended to everyone and I would like to give you a personal example:
- The US occupied the island nation on Haiti from 1915 to 1934. There was an uprising where the Marines put down 2000 Haitians. When it came to living conditions, the Americans inhabited the neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince in houses that the majority of Haitians would only dream of.
- During the Cold War era, the United States feared the spread of communism and, in some cases, overthrew democratically elected governments perceived at the time as becoming left-wing or unfriendly to U.S. interests. They also funded some dictators like Trujilio who killed In 1937, claiming that Haiti was harboring his former Dominican opponents, Trujillo ordered an attack on the border, slaughtering tens of thousands of Haitians as they tried to escape. The number of the dead is still unknown, though it is now calculated between 20,000 and 30,000 Haitian.
- US foreign policy and money helped keep Francois Duvalier in power who’s regime was considered one of the most repressive in the hemisphere. He used both political murder and expulsion to suppress his opponents; estimates of those killed are as high as 30,000. Many people fled including my parents who came to this country and became naturalized citizens in 1999. I was born here in 1981 my sister in 1987.
It is hard as a student of history to go from reading about the USA and to on the one hand be thankful for the education I received, being able to eat better than I would have if born in Haiti, the Wendy’s Classic Triple, better quality of life etc to reading about massacres to your people and family OK’ed by voting and paid for with money from the I guess your grandparents and great grandparents taxes. There is a reason why when America votes the whole world stops to see what will happen.
It’s All Good Though
But I’m voting in this election. And I’m the greatest patriot of my generation because I say I’m a Haitian American, I will live with that conflict and feeling like I have no real home or place where I can find both inclusion and acceptance. I still pay my taxes, I even started my own not for profit to address certain social ills I observed. I am a teacher and have helped in this economy 10 students find really great jobs spending of my own time and money and effort. But with all that said if tomorrow a cop wants to provoke me then beat me down the most I can do is take it and hope someone calls Al Sharpton or raises a protest.
These picture were taking from police brutality cases in Illinois, chicago, and LA. Police Brutality has been an issue since Reagan, George Bush Sr, Clinton. George Bush Jr, and Barack Obama. I want to just be clear in the point that voting didn’t change this for me. Maybe because I am defective in the head, I am deeply troubled by the innocent people the drones kill. Maybe I am fuck up to feel bad about those people in Louisiana that have lost everything from Hurricane Katrina , the fisherman who are loosing their livelihood because of the BP Amocco oil spill. Tax payer money and voting have paid for a lot of “morally challenging event”. Everyone else seems to be able to live with that quite easily much better with that than I am at east.
YUp I think that;s it