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View, 11-2: The Stakes
It's Time to Repudiate Bush and Change Course
(Editor's note: The
following originally appeared in the author's e-mail newsletter.)
By Daniel Trenner
Copyright 2004 Daniel Trenner
I am a dancer, and this
has inadvertently made me an international diplomat. I have spent
much of the last 20 plus years overseas, in 13 countries, more than
100 cities, teaching American Jazz, Tap, Improvisation, Technique,
and bodywork to people of other cultures; and, bringing home what
I learned overseas, have helped seed the revival of, and nurture
the growing community of social dancing in the US. In the last years
of the Clinton administration I co-created a Tango, Swing, and Salsa
intercultural exchange in Havana, Cuba, under a US Treasury Special
License. Our program was a model of the "people to people" diplomacy
encouraged during the last Democratic administration. (Our license
has been terminated under the Bush administration.)
Received overseas as
an ambassador of "the best" of American culture, selling Jazz not
hamburger, Contact Improvisation not corporate exploitation, I brought
back an awareness of the cultures overseas in which I had immersed
myself. Through my network of contacts, I maintain a "pulse" on
the impressions of America formed by conscious people in allied,
like-minded, nations. There is so much support for us. They accept
that our "Empire" (for they do think of us so) has produced some
of the most inspiring aspects of community development, social change,
environmental stewardship, artistic exploration, peace, etcetera.
I have personally experienced the power of this good will directed
at Americans. It is a honor and privilege to receive it. This unofficial
ambassadorship of American culture has become part of my life's
work, and it compels me to speak out in this way.
There are Americans
who create "laboratories of light" for people overseas. As one who
has tried, I feel personally threatened, as never before, by the
neo-con philosophers in charge at the White House. They are wasting
the good will, sown over generations, by American thinkers, artists
and activists overseas. Allow me to give you an unassailable reason
why we need a change of political leadership in the US.
A situation is coming
into being in which an American thinker, artist or activist will
be boycotted before one could ever share an evolutionary idea, or
attacked before even introducing oneself. All of us lumped into
one hateful Empire, intent on exploiting and threatening their,
foreign people's, lives. All of us are becoming targets. This is
dangerous and unacceptable. It is derailing generations of do-gooding
by Americans, and it is driving our friends from us.
The temptation to see
the world from a sheltered perspective is a long time problem for
Americans of all political persuasions. It has taken more than 20
years of prodding from friends from other cultures for me to see
this with clarity. The American tendency to see things in black
and white, right and wrong, is an aspect of our insular upbringing.
It is arrogant, even if unintentionally so. My plea is that we find
the will to look beyond ourselves. We are truly just one of many
nations, albeit the most powerful, and the most blessed. The subtle
nuances of our domestic politics are really never seen that well
from the outside. We need to send a simple, straightforward, and
united American voice out to the world community, saying that we
can and will change course when we are wrong. That we can disavow
the policies of our never-popularly-elected president, his entire
executive team, and his never-mandated foreign policies.
My impression is that
free thinking people overseas will forgive us our four-year aberration,
but that they will not forgive us a choice that returns such forces
of international injustice to power.
John Kerry will not
easily solve our problems. Even as John Kerry takes office we will
need to remain vigilant. A change in political power will not diminish
the growing threats to the human rights of peoples everywhere; to
the rights to live in peace and safety, to the right for justice
for all, to access to modern healthcare for all, to clean water,
to stop the wasting of our planet's resources and the militarizing
of economies, to stop the masses from being driven into poverty....
But the message a Kerry
election will send to the people of the world will be striking,
and may save the day for every American, from activists to tourists,
traveling overseas. The label "American" must include "good willed"
and "peace loving." Bush talks about the march of freedom. Freedom
does not march (except in the non-violent, Gandhian, sense, which
is not what Bush means). What is freedom without peace? And without
peace, and good will, then we will have to march, arms at the ready,
to go anywhere. Don't accept this doublespeak about freedom. It
is control, our control, that marches. And most everyone living
outside of our borders is aware of that. When we march with our
military we make war, not peace.
The message of electing
John Kerry is a message of peace to the world, regardless of how
well he eventually does as president. It is the change of course
in and of itself that will be compelling to other peoples. Consider
Spain. Spain changed course, even after, especially after, its own
terrorist tragedy, even and especially in the face of the wrath
of Bush. While we know little about the workings of Spanish government,
and whether the new government is different from the previous one,
the message of change was strong.
Imagine how compelling
our message will be, now, especially now, in this climate of fear,
that we repudiate Bush and his policies, and change course. It would
be Spain times a thousand. And, I believe, the most important message
we will ever send to the rest of the world. As your unofficial ambassador,
with hundreds of thousands of miles logged, and thousands of interactions
with real people overseas, I know this to be true.
Thanks for listening.
Please participate in the electoral process, please communicate
with your friends and loved ones, and anyone else you can reach.
Volunteer, watch the polls, turn out the vote. This is a unique
moment in history. I hope and pray that we rise to the challenge.
PS: There are many reasons to support a Kerry presidency. Here are
two of the best articles I have read recently:
First, I have yet to
read a more complete and thorough rational than this one offered by The Nation
magazine. Share this with an undecided voter.
Second, here is an endorsement of Kerry
by Scott McConnell, an editor of The American Conservative. This
one is for a Republican, and, I suppose, for the undecided as well.
Daniel Trenner has been dancing for almost 30 years, and spent
20 of them on the road. He has mainly worked as a dance teacher,
teaching American Jazz, Tap, Improvisation, and bodywork to his
students overseas; and bringing back Tango and Salsa to the USA
where he continues to support their revivals here. He has also created
a dance tour business, leading more than a thousand people on overseas
dance adventures during more than ten years of operation. For more
information visit Daniel's Web site: www.danieltrenner.com.
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