EDITORIAL: Another New Year
Another New Year and we turn to optimism as a cure for the 2008 hangover that lays coiled tightly around many of our heads this morning. The last year, 2008, was much like the couple of thousand that preceded it. In terms of genuine human happiness or contentment, one can’t argue that there’s more around today than in 1953 or 1892 or 584; history is a flat line and as one gets older, one begins to suspect that for every angel that gets its wings a la “It’s a Wonderful Life”, another plummets to earth, clipped and dead. It’s not a pleasant idea given the uplifting narrative of ‘progress’ we’re all raised with here in the West.
And so, to shake such disquieting thoughts from our heads, we turn to the narcotic of optimism. Marx called religion an opiate; Optimism-ianity is just the new religion that replaced the old one.
2008 provided most of us with a dose of that drug with the election in the United States of Barack Hussein Obama. Here, it seemed, was something new. A black man with a funny name was elected leader of a country with a history of racism. Wasn’t that progress? Wasn’t that a tiny upswing in the old flat line? We’ll see.
Throughout the holiday season, right up until this morning, hundreds of people, including dozens of women and children, have been dying in Gaza as Israel attempts to ‘surgically’ remove Hamas, the chosen leadership of the people of Gaza.
The response from the president-elect? Silence, so far.
It is well within the powers of the US president to force Israel to negotiate a solution to the Palestinian ‘problem’. Will our new champion of hope do this? Will he risk his presidency to buck the vested, pro-Israel forces that dominate the US Congress and Senate to do so? Or will he ‘play ball’ and toe the usual American line as hundreds more die? The same could be said, in a secondary sort of way, for our own leadership here in Canada, of course. Stephen Harper is already on record lauding Canada’s ‘special’ relationship with Israel. What kind of relationship, exactly, is that? Did I miss something?
While one senses that Obama’s heart won’t be in, there’s a lot of reason to think he’ll play ball and sell out Gaza in order not to jeopardize his domestic health care and education reforms. He’ll tell himself it’s a tough decision and that, by Golly, tough decisions are what the people elect the leader to make. And blacks in America will do a little better and the Palestinians a little worse. And 2009 will pass into 2010. And Obama’s tarnished halo will eventually be tossed on the growing scrapheap of history.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am.
Does that qualify as optimism for the purposes of a New Year’s editorial?