Catharsis - in solidarity with the Kurdish youth of Maidany Azadi - By Ali Tawfik-Shukor

What is happening across North Africa and the Middle East should be no surprise to anyone with any semblance of intellect, soul and empathy. The only people who seem to have been caught completely off guard are the intelligentsia of our modern age, those peddlers of fraudulent economic theories, preaching from the altars of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, and innumerable other such hubristic temples of hypocrisy. Perhaps that illiterate Saif al-Din Gaddafi should join them after being awarded a PhD from the London School of Economics.

For many years now, I have watched the slow destruction of my land, people, family, culture and history. Saddam poisoned people's bodies with chemicals. These so-called 'neoliberal' capitalists, and their client 'native' rulers, proceeded to poison people's minds, hearts and souls. They have the audacity to do so in the name of 'democracy', 'freedom' and 'progress'. It took that humanist, Jean-Paul Sartre, to most beautifully call them out: "You, who are so liberal and so humane, who have such an exaggerated adoration of culture that it verges on affectation, you pretend to forget that you own colonies and that in them men are massacred in your name."

Perhaps nowhere was this liberal hypocrisy exposed as much as at a conference I attended in Paris last year, at that Palais du Luxembourg, that Palais built off the theft and rape of the once-beautiful, prosperous and free Haiti. So many of our world's most beautiful facades have such rotten souls and foundations. Going to that conference, where the rulers of the "New Iraq" discussed the future of that ill-fated oil-rich city, Kirkuk - city of my father's birth - sickened me - soul, mind and body. My only catharsis and cure was to write something, and here it is, entitled "The White Man's Elephant":

I only chose to publish it now, after choosing to keep quiet, following the mantra "if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all". Yet, I could not keep quiet. I saw how 'becoming a spectator' - watching those very same 'neoliberal' thieves and hypocrites - turned that beautiful American genius, the late George Carlin, into a bitter, depressed and sad man. I will not be a spectator anymore. I have dedicated my life to improving the health of others, and it is my utmost conviction that the deepest-rooted disease afflicting humanity is hubristic pride and arrogance, manifested by contemporary neoliberal politics. Make no mistake, I have no illusions about these 'managed Facebook and Twitter revolutions' in the Mideast. But I believe that the human spirit is indominable, if only one has faith in Love.

I close with those immortal words of that legendary Kurdish freedom fighter, that True Lover of the Sufi Qadiriyah order, Sheikh Said Piran, whose last words before being executed were: "Ez dikarim bê nan bijîm,lê bê azadî nikarim bijîm". I can live without bread, but I can not live without freedom.


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March 10, 2011
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