Rabat, Morocco 2/9/09: Last month in Morocco hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets waving Palestinian flags to show solidarity and demand action; many even brought their children to foster a deeper sense of solidarity with the more than 300 Gaza youth victims. Lahcen Haddad, a professor of Cultural Studies in Rabat, said he “had never seen anything like it in Morocco.” Although the second Intifada drew a million Moroccans to a single protest, last month’s response was a more channeled resistance to the war in Gaza. Much of this took the form of action over the net as petitions and letters circulated to charge involved Israeli officers for war crimes and to pressure action from world leaders.
Home to roughly 10% of the Arab-Muslim world, a long time host and friend to Jews the world over, and the Western most country in the Muslim world, Morocco’s internal response and subsequent mobilizations reflect a growing sense of concern in the region over the “Palestinian Question.” As new president Obama and the U.S. formulate policies aspirant of respect internationally, historically moderate Morocco’s internal response offers a case study of insight towards that goal.
I have been thinking about fear and hope lately. In fact, I bounced between the two feelings for quite a long while in the months leading up to the election and I am still caught between them. But maybe that is as it should be. It seems that the bipartisan politics that I watched at play this autumn came to represent, at one end of the spectrum, FEAR, and at the other, HOPE.
There wasn’t much middle ground this election season. With fear and hope, this played out on two levels. The first was within me: one agenda or set of thoughts represented the way I did NOT want the world to continue to unfold (scared me shitless) while the other represented a particular set of ideals and practices that I hoped would be engaged to get us on the right track (filling me with a great sense of hope). The second level on which the fear/hope dichotomy played out was the ways in which fear and hope were used by the two campaigns as the central emotion upon which to gain votes: one candidate ran on a platform of FEAR (we must defend against terrorism, economic insecurity, protect democracy, etc. – everything is at risk); the other candidate ran on a platform of HOPE (Yes We Can; heal this nation, create the world we need and want – everything is at a stage of potential/possibility which we can capitalize on).
HOPE won. Yes We Can.
But what does this mean?
I keep hearing from both sides that this election should not be about race. It should be about the issues. Well, where I come from, race is an issue. And I’ve just had a terrible thought about this whole thing.
Since it has gotten down to Obama and McCain as our two choices, it’s always seemed obvious to me who the better candidate is. If their skin colors had been green and pink the choice between these two men for president would not be hard for me. Iraq, the economy, health care, the environment… it seems that wherever they have divergent opinions, my own ideas and hopes fall far closer to Obama’s camp (I don’t agree with either of these guys on capital punishment or Israel policy, among others). Anyways, ostensibly this election has got nothing to do with race for me. Throw in their running mates and I can’t even hear an argument from the other side without literally laughing so hard that my eyes water. Then I get an awkward feeling in my gut.