This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
The dog days of summer are upon us and my Facebook friends – yes I am back on Facebook after a long hiatus – are posting their vacation photos. Facebook provides an amazing perspective on affluent justice and peace activists. In my view it doesn’t encourage a sanguine view of the future of activism.
Having been on vacation from Facebook for a few years, I’ve noticed a change – for the worse. Whereas before there was interchanges on posts no matter how superficial, it seems that now Facebook is filled with bulletins to display a person’s interests. One bulletin post follows another in a steady stream of individualized statements that purport to speak about the world.
Perhaps one day Facebook will be medically classified as a form of autism. It is certainly symptomatic of our cultural – and political -malaise.
Meanwhile in the real world, I’ve been following the Japanese nuclear power plant catastrophe that continues to unfold. The New York Times reports that the situation is actually getting worse. Contaminated water continues to spill from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean at alarming rates. The “solution” to the problem has been treated in a localized, privatized, bureaucratic and corrupt manner.
Is this an issue that can be left to Japan itself? Government officials confirm that some 300 tons or about 75,000 gallons of contaminated groundwater is flowing – daily – into a man-made harbor at the Fukushima plant. This is overflowing a wall into the ocean. But the proposed national solution seems iffy at best.
The plan calls for freezing the soil around the buildings. This would shut off the flow of contamination into nearby groundwater and, if it worked, the leaks into the sea would end. Doing this would require an ice wall nearly a mile in length that would reach almost 100 feet into the ground. An ice wall of such a scale has never been attempted before. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that “there is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall with frozen soil on such a large scale. To build that, I think the state has to step in to support its realization.”
If there was ever a need for an international solution to a problem here it is. Yet the world stands silent while Japanese politics and pride plays out. The ice wall may do the trick but what if it doesn’t?
Meanwhile in Egypt, the John McCain odyssey – with Lindsey Graham as his Senatorial sidekick – continues. Their statement of American law and the Egyptian coup sound a lot like Japanese nuclear plant politics.
Both Senators argue that the coup was a coup, thus American aid should be cut off to the Egyptian military – with a caveat. If the behavior of the military regime improves the coup that is a coup will be forgotten. US relations can go on as usual.
That’s practical politics as the yardstick. The kicker though is the principle the Senators enunciate: “We share the democratic aspirations and the criticisms of the Morsi government that led millions of Egyptians into the streets” but the “circumstances of the former government’s president’s removal were a coup, and we have said that we cannot expect Egypt or any other country to abide by its laws if we do not abide by ours in the United States.”
Abiding by our laws – with the NSA surveillance flap and many other obvious violations of American law abiding– the Senators are stretching a bit. Then they add an international flavor of law-abiding. The stretch is too much. On the international front the US doesn’t have a law-abiding leg to stand on.
Talking about stretching the law-abiding theme, check out the New York Times article article on the enrichment of Cory Booker, the African American Senatorial candidate in New Jersey, whose pro-Israel views make him a favorite of Jewish enablers as the next, much friendlier, Barack Obama. It seems his “ideas” have landed him a company – Waywire – that others foot the bill for and may make him a dotcom zillionaire. Booker’s response to inquiries about his company which he seems to be absent from – except when the profits eventually roll in – is that he would “put it into motion, you know, but get out of the way.”
By his own account, Booker is a Twitter fanatic, a platform that makes Facebook autism appear retro. With Japanese ice walls and John McCain law abiding seminars around the world, is our political fate to be held in the hands of a future Twitter President?