Monday, February 28, 2022

They Look Like Us

When you identify with folks it's a good thing. You feel for them. You empathize and you sympathize with them. You can walk in their shoes. This is the driving force of support for things that happen in the world. If we can see ourselves in their shoes we can feel for them and with those feelings we may act upon them. Like donating to a cause, or traveling to a capital city and camping out for a month (because you don't want to wear a mask). I remember when a hockey players team bus was smashed to bits by a semi-trailer. The deaths of so many young men caused the world to react. A fund raising effort for those 16 souls killed in the accident raised 10.5 million dollars, a record amount in Canada. There are so many Go-Fund me causes taking place the world over but this specific cause touched people in their hearts and more importantly in their wallets and purses.  It really resonated in the hearts of people. People grieved collectively for the young men. People the world over could identify; "they look like us." 

Russia, under the orders of Vladimir Putin is using his military to invade the Ukraine. The news is constant with hourly updates of what is taking place. The United Nations is having emergency meetings, while Nations are imposing "economic sanctions" on Russia; Banks are locking down access to their systems, air-space is being denied around Russia, pipeline agreements are being cancelled, and personal assets of the rich Russians are being frozen. Lot of action behind the war scenes are taking place. Even the neutral, "we not see nothing" Switzerland has taken the step to keep Russian money for now. Some of the rich Russian's are starting to worry. They are worrying for their cash so much they have spoken out publicly against the war. One is even pleading in the press for Putin to reconsider his war. Yes, they have spoken out publicly against Putin, now that is something. They are so afraid of losing their деньги - bank roll, they will risk Novichok nerve agent poisoning; Putin's favorite method of getting rid of his pesky critics. The non-military attack by much of the "modern world" on Putin has been swift.  People are sending money, cryptocurrency to the Ukraine. In a few days 23 million had been raised. Individuals from other countries with no links to the Ukraine have volunteered to join military action. A young Canadian man left his wife and three children for the chance to fight for the Ukraine. When asked why, he said "they are Human Beings." There are calls for prayers flooding social media. If you can't fight well at least you could pray. Of course it is, after-all the people of Ukraine, "they look like us." 

While the world, the "modern world" is stressed out, panicking, suffering over the Ukraine invasion by Russia, there are some people who are not part of their empathy, their sympathy . European countries have a base of European people as their main population. There has been immigration by non-European (Black and Brown) countries into these European countries. The immigration has not been well received and is unwanted. Now there is an immigration movement erupting from the Ukraine. Poland is a border country of the Ukraine and Poland is going to open its country doors to those Ukrainians fleeing the war. The door is open but not to the African looking Ukrainians. Which is pretty sad and ugly, when they, the African Ukrainians are fleeing war. Poland border guards are aiming weapons and keeping the African Ukrainians from moving anywhere. The White Ukrainians are receiving preferential treatment from Poland security border guards because "they look like us." 

Prior to the Russian attack on the Ukraine, the Canadian (and some US) news stations were filled with stories of people shouting "they will never take our freedom." People are tired of the COVID virus and all the mask wearing. Groups of people were tired of restrictions.  A convoy of disgruntled truckers staked out city centers to hold their protests. I had visions of Mel Gibson wearing his blue paint, riding on his high horse making the glorious rousing speech being reported on by the CBC news channel and carried onto CNN and Fox News. Instead what I saw was a dirty looking bearded unkempt hippy looking Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson type talking about not wanting to wear a mask as he goes to bingo or something along those lines. They too, the trucker spokespeople, raised a whole bunch of cash in a short period of time. People identified with the "freedom fighters."  It strikes me as peculiar about those freedom fighter (as they are labeled in the news) is their appearance; they all look the same. 

The men for instance, look like they just came from a NASCAR truck tail gate party lasting for two weeks. Or from a hunting trip where they got lost for a month and finally found their way out of the wilds. The women seem to be carrying the same clothing style; baseball cap, fur cap, camouflage three quarter length military style coat, sneakers or black boots and a very crazed looking sneer.  They sound the same, a high pitched roar of a wild swine caught in a leg-hold trap.  The only thing missing from the female freedom fighter is the beard (we know they don't have beards because they won't wear masks). The freedom fighters went to the Capital of Canada and set up noise camping to cry freedom.  They blasted loud ear shattering horns all hours of the day and night. This didn't play out very well for all those living near the area. If they supported the freedom fighters to start with, it didn't take long before the noise erased the support. The freedom fighters also shut down the money route between Canada and the United States. The President of the US had to call the Canadian Prime Minister to say "Hey Dude, what the fuck?" In Canada the freedom fighters were attacked with hugs, back slaps, selfies, food delivery, fuel delivery by the police forces. These freedom fighters had so much police support the Prime Minister of Canada had to declare an emergency because his police weren't tasing anyone, using their batons, pulling out the military assault guns or heaven forbid, arresting anyone. The lack of police action could only be explained with "they look like us." 

You know it is quite something to know the level support you will receive is directly related to how people identify with you. Just today I viewed a video of a Palestinian girl, and judging by her size, was no more than eight years old, but yet she was injured by a police force, a military police force. I wonder what crime could such a small child commit to receive such a reaction? Saw another video of a similar girl, 12 years old, being beaten by military police. Four grown men in full tactical gear holding her and punching her for an unknown crime. A daily routine (if being beaten, shot at can ever be routine) in their country. The condemnation is nowhere to be heard from the "modern world" over the beatings, the removal from their homes, and the killing of people in this country. The situation is of course is very  complicated (as situations tend to be) but a bit of the silence can be attributed to those who don't look like them and the others; "they look like us." 

There is a scene pictured in my head: a snowy hill across a river and on the hill are armored vehicles, scores of people dressed in battle fatigues, armed with assault rifles. On the other side of the river are numerous Indigenous Tipis, Women, Men, Elders, some on horse back and many just standing, facing the armor vehicles, the military dressed people, and dogs. I see Men and Women in the river standing by the shore line of the hill, while Military style police forces, private security personnel spraying tear gas, pepper gas and shooting rubber bullets at them as they stand in the water. I seen them, the Native Women, Men, Elders and some non-Indian supporters being shot at with cannisters of tear gas. I see them, the Indigenous folk standing there to stop the destruction of the Earth and waterways. I don't see anyone in the modern world standing up to halt the military, the private security forces, the police force. I don't see them, the modern world folks using their voice against the violence by the military forces. I don't see the modern world folk denouncing the sheriff who is indiscriminately jailing folks. I don't seen the modern world folk using their voice to send financial aid to the people putting their lives on hold to save the water ways. I don't see them the modern world folk. I see those in the police, the military and private security with their dogs. I see them, looking at the Indians and saying "they don't look like us." 

Redhawk/Standing Rock Rising

“Apparently my photo below has gone viral. So happy to see the civil and human rights violations of indigenous and the threat to mother nature reaching far and wide,” Redhawk wrote. “…WE ARE RISING.”
Credit: Jason Patinkin, Reuters

Cassi Alexandra for NPR

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