When I watch the news or presidential candidate speeches, I often hear about foreign affairs. But somehow, my knowledge of the world still seems incomplete, and what knowledge I do have is troubling. Perhaps you will think about the conflagration of riots and the deaths of Americans — including an ambassador — throughout the Islamic world. If you think harder still, you will remember the European Union is undergoing economic turmoil. China is doing something; China is always doing something. And then there is the campaign: the pivotal moment that defines the future of everything we know. But, perhaps it is this particular campaign that has been influencing the scope of our global knowledge.
It is horrifying to think that in a globalized world, where information and events are transferable in mere minutes the knowledge of everything is always within reach, that we are ignorant of others outside our communities. The strife and cries of the world seem to land squarely on deaf ears, and the world is blotted out save this little Middle East-shaped clearing on the map. But, assuredly, there are other events in the world, some that offer just as much cause for concern.
The Turkish government recently dodged a massive bullet as they have quelled a plan called Sledgehammer where more than 300 active and retired military officials sought to destabilize and lead a coup against the ruling party, the APK. This also brings to light the conflict between Turkey and the Kurdish Worker’s Party where more than 700 lives have been claimed in the last year alone. Egypt and Israel are relaxing the terms of their 1979 peace treaty as border violence has escalated within the last few months, allowing militarized troops to be stationed at the border. South Africa, an invisible powder keg, has exploded into a maddening frenzy with nationwide miner strikes that have been provoked by a former supporter of President Zuma. Police have opened fire on the crowds with massive casualties. And China is feuding over the purchase of the East China Sea islands by Japan’s nationalist Prime Minister with Taiwanese interference threatening to escalate the matter. Italy, Spain and Portugal are all threatening the stability of the Euro-Zone with protests directed towards the austerity measures they need to survive.
Why, then, does the American public and mainstream media refuse to acknowledge these global issues, begetting a sort of out of sight, out of mind mentality in the election? Because it is obvious in the election when people are constantly asking the candidates what they plan on doing about the Middle East, scrutinizing every glance towards the East, as though to report some subconscious concern. No one asks about South Africa, no one asks about Turkey, no one could care less about India’s protests over building a Wal-Mart. It offends the American idealization of itself — a romanticized view of the United States as an upholder of democracy and the free-market, bringing justice to her enemies.
Perhaps that is why we cannot talk about South Africa or Turkey: because they are flawed democracies and would beg the question as to whether democracies are universally effective. Maybe that is why we cannot bring up Nigeria or Somalia and their ravenous looters: because we are not strong enough to tame them. India and the EU are negligible because the public could not believe something as apple pie American as Wal-Mart is a controversy or that European corporations are shedding a new pension plan that relieves them of their burden. The United States refuses to surrender her ideals and to feel powerless so the election shifts our attention to where the virtues of democracy and the free-market are virgin ideas, to the Middle East, throwing the proverbial tennis ball that way, when really they are hiding it behind their back while we look away. A Middle East-shaped vision of the world is all we see, so perhaps that is what we should fix.
Nikolas Reda-Castelao is a contributing columnist. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Weekend Roam: Little Germany
- WSN Editorial Board reflects on spring semester events
- Strawberry Festival promises delicious, intergalactic fun
- Clive Davis Institute collaborates with DJ Swivel
- Best places to dine on dumplings
- 'Heroes' is not super enough for Xbox Live film program launch
- NYU SLAM sees victory through 'badidas' campaign
- Victoria Ettore elected student council president
- Hester Street Fair hosts diverse vendors, delicious food