The Revolution Is Televised

As others wage revolutions, we watch. The revolution is televised after all, we say with a sigh of relief. Between Dancing with the Stars, American Idol and college hoops, we can watch a bit of revolution tonight for a change of pace.

There are basically two kinds of mass protest overseas. Those that are orchestrated by America, as rigged by our CIA, or those that are supposedly against us. I say supposedly because a protest or coup d’etat against one of our dictators may usher in yet another one of our dictators.

America has so many dictators up her sleeve. Whichever shell she flips over, there’s a dictator underneath. Though America always trumpets democracy, she always, and I mean always, prefers dictators for her client states. A dictator guarantees “stability,” which is good for (American) businesses. He can also be bought. This tyrant will enrich himself while selling out his country to the USA. To wipe out domestic dissent, this evil “strong man” will send his soldiers to America to learn how to torture and conduct “counter insurgency.”

The year I was born, the CIA orchestrated a coup against South Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem, whom it had propped up in the first place. That same year, Abdul Karim Kassem of Iraq was killed in a Ba’athist coup engineered by — guess whom? — the CIA. Out of that mess would rise CIA asset, Saddam Hussein. Ruling Iraq for 24 years, he was one of America’s favorite sumbitches, until he got a few ideas of his own, like trading oil for Euros, for example. That’s when we had to invade his country and string him up. John F. Kennedy was also killed in 1963, but, ah, the CIA is not to be blamed here. Kennedy was simply blown away by a lone, supernaturally gifted sniper.

Our domestic leaders are similarly homogeneous. Our so-called Presidents are remarkably uniform in how they deal, or rather, not deal, with the Pentagon, Wall Street, and Israel, etc, with how they never disturb that awful moloch, our military industrial complex.

The job of White House Press Secretary is rather superfluous, don’t you think? I mean, the President is already a voluble spokesman for the power that be. Our President is a White House Press Secretary. He doesn’t lead or decide so much as talk, talk, and talk. Every four years we throw out the bum, to bring in another hobo. (My apologies to actual bums and hobos everywhere.) We expend so much energy and hope into this merry-go-round that there’s nothing left for real changes, not that we’re really inclined. Life is good as long as Kobe is running back and forth, the corn syrup overflows, and there’s some jive meat in our tacos.

There are six political parties represented in the French Parliament. In the Italian one, there are seven. In the Japanese diet, there are eight parties. These numbers are typical of democracies worldwide, but in the United States, supposedly the beacon of democracy, only two parties dominate all political power and discourse. Moreover, these two parties are two faces of the same corrupt, by now more than worthless coin.

Sharing the same rotten substance, Obama and Bush are both apologists for endless war, torture and massive corruption. Bush found the Department of Homeland Security. Obama increased its budget. Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, fired missiles into Pakistan. In two years, Obama has killed more Afghans and Pakistanis than Bush in five. Obama has increased Bush’s war budget. The only differences between Obama and Bush are their faces and diction, yet when Obama was elected, even our radicals wept tears of joy. Is there any specimen more pitiful, clueless and impotent than the American so-called progressive?

On a California campus long known for its supposed radicalism, I talked to a highly regarded young professor. “You can talk about Fascism nowadays, but if you criticize Communism, people still cringe,” I observed. “Who’s talking about Fascism?!” she responded.

We watch the foreign protests and think, Damn, that’s dangerous! People actually get killed! Our protests, by contrast, are civil displays of brief durations. They threaten and disturb nothing. We ask permission beforehand to be allowed to parade down the street, carrying cute signs. Our protestors vie with each others to come up with the cleverest signs. Though seen by almost no one, they are dutifully photographed by their makers to be posted on FaceBook.

Recently, some of our leading progressive thinkers chained themselves to the White House fence for an hour or so. Though no one noticed, it was considered a success by the organizers. The protestors were demanding that our White House Press Secretary cum President withdraw all American troops from Iraq. Of course, no one expected our military occupation to end simply because two dozen Americans briefly detained themselves, so this action was strictly symbolic.

In fact, all of our protests are strictly symbolic these days. Since we’re reluctant to threaten or even inconvenience the system, or even ourselves, for that matter, nothing can come of our dissent. To press our demands, we don’t even dare to call for a general strike. It’s true that with little union activity, it’s difficult to organize workers, but since our factories are mostly gone, the unions are kaput.

Nowadays, Americans are constantly urged to be vigilant of suspicious activities. Even taking photos in a public place can draw attention from the authorities. I myself have been harassed in several states. Citing the Patriot Act, a bike-riding private security guard threatened to arrest me in Kansas City, KS. In Cleveland, a Greyhound bus driver kicked me off his bus because I refused to store my expensive camera and lenses in the luggage hold. Stories like these abound. With so much hysteria drummed up by Homeland Security, one would think that bombs are constantly being planted all over America, but, in fact, the exact opposite is true. When a bomb plot is actually discovered, more often than not it is the work of the FBI!

In 1969, 93 bombs exploded in New York City. Half were politically motivated. Even in Seattle, 33 bombs went off. Back then, radical Americans targeted military recruiting offices, police stations, government buildings, homes of officials and sometimes banks. Most of these explosives only blew out windows, knocked a few doors of their hinges, but on May 11, 1970, the Atomic Energy Commission in Rocky Flats, CO was bombed, causing $45 million in damage. Rocky Flats was where they made components for nuclear weapons. Now Americans no longer bomb symbols of militarism or crooked finance. We only try to torch and blow up abortion clinics.

Most Americans, left or right, are now opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, yet our troops are still there, and will remain for a long time. Most Americans opposed the bank bailouts, yet our government bailed them out anyway. After Americans became enraged by the invasive airport scanners, Washington ordered more of these privacy violating, cancer inducing machines. The sex abuse airport groping also continued. When the Pentagon failed to account for $2.3 trillion, that’s right, when $2.3 trillion have been stolen in full view, our political leadership didn’t bat an eye. Our President can now declare anyone a terrorist, and order him locked up without trial or even shot, without anyone knowing. If that isn’t Fascism, stupid professor, what is?!

These televised revolutions are already becoming old hat. What do these pissed off people have to do with us? Where’s that remote control? Let’s switch channels.

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on February 17th, 2011 at 10:33am #

    where r causes for it? is it some people? god? devil? or goddevil? goddevil is definitely a factor or if of biota of some kind, then also an actor in what happens on and for-against us on this– by now– very tiny planet.
    [too tiny for supremacists; thus, much ethnic cleansing is in order]

    but isn’t devilgod or nature infinitely valued; of which we humans r an integral part?
    we, thus, act on goddevil monoply-nature and, in turn, the monopoly acting upon us?
    the lesson to me is: if we don’t postulate causes for what we do to one another, biota, planet and then do not go look for them, we will never discover them.

    thus nothing changes for better –while expecting only changes for worse for most people and animals. some as always before wld do just butifully! tnx

  2. Angie Tibbs said on February 17th, 2011 at 3:10pm #

    Mr. Linh Dinh, I quite liked your article — what you said and how you said it. Well done!

  3. Keith said on February 17th, 2011 at 4:28pm #

    There is a lot of truth in this article, however, I would suggest that there is a simple, yet effective way forward. Voting and political activism. Stop laughing, I’m serious, although it may already be too late. Anyone even remotely interest in progressive change should vote religiously for either a third party or write-in candidate. Voting for either Republicrat is supporting the system. Not voting is acquiescing to the system. Only voting for a true alternative is opposing the system. And it is so easy to do! But since the minor parties and write-ins don’t stand a chance, isn’t this just a protest vote? You’ve got it, and it should have occurred long ago, however, it is better to start protesting late than never. Will electing a few progressives have any real impact? No, of course not, and I don’t suggest spending a lot of time on this. The point is that this simple act can send a message to your fellow citizens concerning the strength of the opposition to business as usual, and can be the catalyst for subsequent events. Lets put it this way, until people perform the simple task of protesting at the polls, what hope is there that they will participate in more radical forms of protest? True change will require a more radical commitment, however, until I see a revolt at the polls, I see no evidence that efforts in this area will be other than a waste of time.

  4. mary said on February 18th, 2011 at 1:10am #

    Supply of arms and weapons of mass repression.

    Our national shame could not be greater.

    Britain under fire for selling arms to Bahrain
    Government accused of ‘providing tools for repression’


    Think of that little s*** Foreign Secretary Hague who has visited the Bahrain regime three times in the last year and the Duke of York (Queen’s second son) who goes there as our trade ambassador.

    The hypocrisy continues on the day that the funerals of the four protesters take place attended by thousands of mourners.


    Hague says that the arms sales are ‘under urgent review’. A vile member of a vile government and the same as Blair’s and Brown’s before.

  5. Don Hawkins said on February 18th, 2011 at 2:42am #

    Got home yesterday and turned on the tube and tear gas and dead people in Bahrain and saw a picture of the King in Bahrain and his advisors and they looked like real sweet heart’s. Then the pictures out of Wisconsin in the State House reminded me of the Star War’s movie at a meeting of the high Council. Then read where the heaviest snowfall in more than a century on South Korea’s east coast is causing widespread chaos just another hundred year storm and the high council here in the States well;

    “Read my lips: We’re going to cut spending,” Boehner declared. Democrats immediately charged that Boehner was maneuvering Congress to the precipice of a government shutdown.

    My fellow American’s people of Earth if we wish to survive we will need a substantially new manner of thinking. King’s and Queen’s, labor and management just to mention a few somewhat a thing of the past well if we wish to survive. Not so much what you want but what you need and that’s from the top to the bottom I know shocking when you first hear this and this read my lip’s stuff mere child’s play some might even call it bullshit and the problems we all face that type of thinking with known knowledge of course on a scale between one and ten is about .05 and that could be pushing it. Read this John Boehner then cry us a river and many will come over and put there arms round you and tell you nice thing’s and then we will all feel better. Here’s a few thought’s John reason, known knowledge working together the real thing John not illusion and lose the suit dude it’s not needed anymore. Ok then let’s get started do you like math John Boehner?

    When we think of pyramids we think of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
    They are actually Square Pyramids, because their base is a Square.

    Square Pyramid Facts
    Notice these interesting things:
    It has 5 Faces
    · The 4 Side Faces are Triangles
    · The Base is a Square
    It has 5 Vertices (corner points)
    It has 8 Edges

    And for reference:
    Surface Area = [Base Area] +
    1/2 × Perimeter × [Slant Length]

    Volume = 1/3 × [Base Area] × Height

    Where’s that remote control? Let’s switch channels. Anybody know someone in the New York City area with a flat bed truck and after John Boehner said that make a great sign for the first of many rally’s but could read, “read our lip’s”, that’s plural John more than one or a few then many.

  6. mary said on February 18th, 2011 at 3:04am #

    These are the headlines on today’s BBC Middle East webpage which I have aggregated. You can sense the building turmoil. The Zionist project from which all of this repression (and the opposition against it) has a lot to answer for.
    18 February 2011 Last updated at 09:26

    Thousands attend Bahrain funerals
    Thousands of people in Bahrain voice their anger against the government as the first funerals of victims of Thursday’s unrest are held.
    Middle East unrest
    Live In pictures: Pearl Square stormed
    Foreign capitals wary of unrest
    Bahrain unrest: Your stories
    UK reviews arms sales
    Mid-East protests: Country by country Special report:
    Cairo braced for ‘victory march’
    Egyptian pro-democracy leaders urge their followers to celebrate a week since Hosni Mubarak’s fall with a giant march.
    The challenge facing the army Egypt arrests three ex-ministers
    Libyan protests ‘leave 24 dead’
    At least 24 people have died in anti-government protests in Libya over recent days, rights activists say.
    Picasso work bound for West Bank
    Palestinian art lovers are to get a rare chance to view a Picasso painting on loan from a museum in the Netherlands.
    Iran warships Suez trip ‘back on’
    Tunisia’s Ben Ali ‘seriously ill’
    Dozens injured in Yemen clashes
    Two dead in northern Iraq protest
    Egypt arrests three ex-ministers
    Israeli troops kill Gaza suspects
    Car bomb blast kills 13 in Iraq

  7. mary said on February 18th, 2011 at 3:06am #

    The Zionist project from which all of this repression flows (and the opposition against it) has a lot to answer for.

  8. Don Hawkins said on February 18th, 2011 at 5:55am #


    Somebody better tell these yahoos that private homes are off-limits, and to stop making it personal. Examner

    Read the comment’s then go to Linh’s blog

  9. aldobaldo said on February 18th, 2011 at 10:11am #

    Very much enjoyed this article. Thank you, Linh.

    One quick point – I read articles on here all the time and I must say the two most frequent commenters I usually see are bozh and Don Hawkins…

    Don, you seem to be intelligent and sometimes have some very interesting thoughts, so I’m wondering why you always choose to comment in rambling run-on sentences in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way? I usually get what you’re trying to get across but at first glance it looks like madness. I assume maybe this is because you don’t speak English too well (if that’s the case, forget what I said you’re doing ok!) but it seems like you grasp the language just fine so I wonder why you don’t comment in a way that’s a little easier to understand for the rest of us who may want to engage in a discussion. No offense at all intended, just curious. Thanks.

  10. Don Hawkins said on February 18th, 2011 at 5:05pm #

    At first glance it looks like madness aldobaldo you have found me out and I tried so hard to keep it a secret. Maybe I can redeem myself. Mr. John Boehner why can’t we tax carbon we are destroying the home planet called Earth and we are also running out of the stuff. John in a mad World only the mad are sane why not come join us a few who are nut’s well we are not really nut’s but the sane who are mad tell people we are nut’s. A quote;

    “[The skeptic community overwhelmingly embraced what they formerly dismissed as] New Age claptrap … We give up! The nuts were right.”