Friday, January 24, 2014

The Meaning of a Soccer Jersey.

The Meaning of a Soccer Jersey, by Dave Zirin

In 1920, Palestinian émigrés started a soccer club to rally around called Palestino. (The club's creation in 1920 is a rather inconvenient truth for a segment of Israeli hardliners who claim that a Palestinian identity did not exist until decades after Israel's founding.)

Over the last 94 years, Palestino has represented the Palestinian national colors, held moments of silence during periods when the Gaza Strip was being bombed and engaged in numerous charitable efforts to alleviate the suffering of refugees. It is a team that has consciously positioned themselves over the years as a symbol of historic remembrance. In line with this history, they changed the number 1 on their uniforms to look like the shape of historic Palestine and the uniting of the current Israeli and Palestinian territories.

So, their crime is that when they decided to honor the land that many of their club members and supporters had emigrated from, they didn't use the modern map of Palestine that show the land divided into zones of Israeli occupation. It doesn't show Zones A,B and C, which were declared by Israel after Israel occupied Palestine violently in an aggressive war begun by Israel. This occupation has of course been denounced as being illegal by the UN and almost all of the rest of the world. The map they used on the jerseys didn't show all the little lines that show which sections of Palestine are under control of the Israeli military, and which sections are under the control of an un-democratic Palestinian government that is supported by Israel and the US as long as it enforces Israeli "security" needs for Israel. The map they used on the jerseys didn't show the settler only roads connecting the settlements the world agrees are illegal, and it didn't show all the Israeli military checkpoints that make travel from place to place within Palestine a journey that's between slow and inconvenient and life-threateningly dangerous for a Palestinian to meet.

Chile bans Palestino football jersey -- BBC News
Personally, its hard to think that redesigning the jerseys to use that map of occupation, control and humiliation would improve their artistic design. Instead, I kinda like these jerseys, that show Palestine as it looked in the 1920's when the Palestino football club was founded. But, powerful forces want that image erased. Powerful forces that will try to tell you that Palestine didn't even exist at the time that Chilean Palestinian emigres founded a football club to remember and honor their homeland. They will try to tell you that Palestinians don't even exist as a people. That they never existed. That no one was there. That the land was empty before in 1947 a miracle occurred and God appeared and gave the land to the Israelis.

This jersey has been banned because it contains an image that cannot exist. A map of a land called Palestine that was there before a bunch of foreigners came in and stole almost all that land and gave it to someone else.

I think I have a new club to cheer for. Club Deportivo Palestino. Here's to a day when they win South America and Colorado wins Concacaf and I can see a game between the two at the World Championships. Or, I'd love to see a friendly between the two someday. Except here in modern anti-freedom America, it would probably have to be a game of shirts versus skins because they'd probably get arrested and thrown into Gitmo for wearing a jersey that contains an image that the Orwellian brain police have decided that no American can ever see.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Zapatista at 20

Zapatista at Twenty, by Laura Carlsen via Foreign Policy in Focus.

"What reporters missed as they snuck into celebrations closed to the press is the significance of “autonomy.”

Zapatistas say the word with pride, much as you’d talk about your children or grandchildren. These communities have moved steadily off the traditional power grid. Disappointment at the Mexican government’s betrayal in rejecting its own signature on the San Andres Accords of 1996 led to a decision to de-prioritize pressuring institutions and instead build from below."

Someone like Patrick Henry would understand that very well. This sounds an awful lot like what the Founding Fathers of America created. Early America was not a rich nation. Early America didn't wave foam fingers at the world proclaiming that they were number one. They weren't number one in anything except liberty.

Imagine communities where local officials rotate to avoid accumulating power, political parties have no role or presence, and state and government programs — long used to buy off advocates for a more equal society — are banned. Much of the food is produced by the community, cooperatives do buying and marketing, and decisions are made collectively rather than being imposed by a state. The Zapatistas have attempted to resurrect this model, practiced for centuries in indigenous Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest.

Easy to imagine. All we have to do is to look to history, and find that this is a description of the communities that Americans created when they were trying to find a way to create a free society in which to live. Town hall government, short terms of office, term limits, community decisions on important questions, these are all hallmarks of early American government.

Thomas Jefferson once said:

"Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things. And let us reflect that having banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered, we have yet gained little if we countenance a political intolerance as despotic, as wicked, and capable of as bitter and bloody persecutions." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. ME 3:318
So, look around you. Do you see these signs of freedom from early America in America today? Opponents of the US Constitution were shocked at the idea of sending someone off to Congress to represent them for two whole years without an election. I've heard at times arguments in the corporate media that every two year is too often to have these bothersome little elections and that Congress should be elected for four years. And of course term limits is one of those things that those out of power like to propose, but few if any have the integrity to actually try to pass once they hold the office themselves.

Why does this matter? Because rotating officials or term limits creates a society where those who would lead also return back into the society as regular citizens on a regular basis. Its at least harder for someone to become the sort professional politician where they do nothing but hold office and run for office. Thus its less likely to create a politician who is separate from the citizens.   Its more likely to create the ideal that early American citizens strived to create which was that of a citizen statesman. A person who never stops being a citizen, but who also serves the nation by holding office. Or at the very least, one who knows they will return to ordinary life in a few years. Which of course creates a different mindset from someone who for instance has been in Congress for a decade and who has no vision of any other life other than holding that or some higher office and being a politician until they retire and work as a lobbyist.

Modern American propaganda creates the vision of an America where the Zapatistas are extreme radicals with crazy ideas that can be labeled Marxist or Communist.  And thus their ideas are, by the very definition of the applied label, unwise, unsuitable and even unpatriotic to hold. And yet, when you get away from the corporate propaganda, you find that the details of what the Zapatistas want to create look a lot like what the founding fathers of America tried to create here after their revolution.

How is it that we've managed to somehow change the very meaning of "America" to one where these Zapatistas ideas are somehow considered dangerous and radical, when by and large the very same ideas were the very core of the freedom and liberty that America's founders tried to establish here? At some point, does a wise person start to consider that our current government of the bankers, by the bankers and for the bankers might not be the very core of the American dream like we've been taught? Is it possible that the American dream was something other than signing a mortgage with a bank? Is it possible that the American dream was something other than a car commercial tag line? Is it possible that you've been lied to?

These days, I can far more easily see people like Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson sitting by a bonfire in a Zapatista autonomous community than I can see them sitting in a modern American state or national legislature. And it seems like they'd be a lot more at home there.

This is a nice article about the Zapatistas from Laura Carlsen. Follow the link at the top and its well worth the read. Another world is possible. She visited that world, and came back with a story to tell.