This article will appear on February 1st 2021 in the blog of Johan Galtung “Transcend Media Services”
While writing on January 27, the day elected in 2005 by the UN General Assembly as the Holocaust Remembrance Day Memory, I will draw a comparison. Historical comparisons are normally weak concerning details, but they are often meaningful about ethical conclusions.
Long before the horror of the camp Auschwitz–Birkenau became known in the world, people heard about discrimination against Jews and saw minor cases of injustice; it was easier to mind their own businesses. Then they saw isolated cases of violence, open proclamations of hatred and systematic destruction of properties; they did nothing for fear of retaliation. When a war of aggression started far away from home and also a systematic elimination of selected lives occurred much closer, it was too late for a concerted action to resume humanity. In those occasions the shallow morality and lack of courage of a large majority of people at all levels of society must hold much responsibility.
# Likewise, after the election of Donald Trump everybody in the world soon noticed his political immaturity, especially concerning the frequent dismissals of high-level staff that disagreed with him. The press agencies of the countries “allied” with the largest and only military empire in the world (circa 800 USA bases in 70 countries) limited themselves to factual information, as in a weather report, without the necessary political comments.
# Then the Western press, mostly controlled by industrial and financial interests, made not much fuss when Trump withdrew from the recent (2015) Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.
# When Trump withdrew from the agreements already made by Obama concerning Iran’s nuclear energy industry, prejudices against Iran and biased information made it acceptable to the general public and considered by the press not very interesting.
# Trump withdrew the USA from UNESCO in October 2017 and from the UN Human Right Council in June 2018. The general public in the West hardly knows about it, thanks to an appropriate discretion of the press (but see also about Rasmussen Reports, in 2004 re. public opinion about the United Nations).
# On December 6, 2017 Trump recognized Jerusalem as capital of Israel, which caused the Israel government to please but little interest in the Western press.
# During January 2021, in a full electoral campaign for the election of the President of the USA, supporters of Trump were marching in the streets exhibiting submachine guns. They appeared very briefly on television, while their photo should have been printed in the front page of all Western newspapers.
# Only on January 3, 2021 when Trump ordered the killing of Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani with a drone attack near Baghdad International Airport, the Western press woke up from its drowsiness and condemned that obviously illegal and destabilizing action for world peace.
Too late. Joe Biden won the election by a small margin, which allowed Trump to suggest for a long time the existence of irregularities in the voting system without providing any evidence. Only after his Vice-President, Mike Pence, began to preside over the final control of votes, some Republican members of Parliament began to recognise Biden as President, the scandal of Trump’s supporters attacking Capital Hill and the first calls for impeachment by Democrats, finally the crazy man kept quiet.
Too late. The formal nomination of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made Donald Trump a simple citizen, therefore theoretically safe from impeachment and free to continue disturbing the political life of the USA, unless somebody reports him to the police on incitement to violence (an exciting prospect for his lawyers).
Conclusion. As Johan Galtung said for a long time, complex social problems must be dealt with three levels of solutions (all to be started together): short-term, middle-term and long-term solutions (the latter being the resolving one). For short-term results, who writes is suggesting to stop buying the main daily newspapers, while the owners (or shareholders) decide what they want to support, besides their own wallet. For middle-term results, I suggest discussing the role of political parties (power politics vs. Service Politics) in order to promote transparency, efficiency and ethics in democracy. For long-term results, I suggest teaching at school ASAP Civil Education, Political Science and Active Citizenship in order to gradually reduce the role of official and hidden power systems within politics. Importantly, let us analyse the current initial signs of what is cooking now in our own country that could easily develop into a future tragedy.
Piero P. Giorgi – c/ National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Otago, Dunedin (New Zealand)