Yana Djin

  Dance A Little!
Moscow News
May,  2001


While Russia was engaged in the celebration of the May Day and the Victory Day, America has been dealt a humiliating blow by the world community. I am referring to the recent decision by the UN Council to vote America off the Human Rights Commission. Angry editorials and stunned speeches followed the above decision. The gist of it was: how can UN keep the likes of Sudan, Congo or Mexico on its Commission and dismiss the United States as an unworthy member?

Indeed, if I were given a choice to move to Sudan, I would less than gracefully decline it and stay in this country since here, if I steal a loaf of bread, I would still be left with both my hands intact. Perhaps, I’d spend several days behind the bars but at least I will have something to clutch at the bars with while I shout my protests.

Nevertheless, angry speeches and indignation aside, I believe it would be more beneficial for America to take a deeper look at this decision. The question for Americans to ask at this point is this: why does everyone hate us so much? And please let us not indulge in the hasty answer, according to which the blame lies with the envy and jealousy that the rest of the world is harboring for the US. Again, this simplistic explanation might hold water if our planet’s countries were all like Sudan. Indeed, if I were a non-Muslim in Sudan or Pakistan and I was opposed to democracy or tolerance which America is supposed to represent, I would either be a masochist or simply jealous. But there are also countries like Sweden and France, Netherlands and Denmark, to name the few, where life is no way worse than that in the US. It is very unlikely that an average Parisian, sipping his coffee during a two hour lunch break in the middle of Monmartre, wishes he were on an half-an-hour break in the middle of Washington’s Pennsylvania Avenue standing in line for a fast-food sandwich. In the miraculous event that there is one such eccentric, I would gladly swap lifestyles with him/her.

But to get back to the raised question: the less than favorable attitude towards America has nothing to do with the jealousy that the United States blames the rest of the world for in its unfounded narcissism and superiority complex. It has to do with the fact that no one likes bullies and hypocrites – not even on the grand scale. In its quest to become what it has become – a superpower – America has been behaving like nothing less than a neighborhood bully who doesn’t give a damn of other neighbors’ opinions only because he has bigger biceps. Eventually, the neighborhood is going to gang up and expel him. And that’s exactly what happened in the UN. Naturally, anyone familiar with history would not find this extraordinary: that is how all superpowers behaved and will behave if they wish to retain the status of a superpower. That is precisely how the former Soviet Union used to conduct its foreign policy – by swallowing lesser neighbors and advertising the notion that they are eating the smaller fish for the benefit of the latter. What differentiated America from the Soviet Union or the Roman empire, though, was the ability for self-criticism which was given its every citizen in the Bill of Rights.

This document, according to which every US citizen was guaranteed freedom of expression, is what made this country worthier place to live for an individual than the same Sudan. Trouble is, though, Bill of Rights has been greatly undermined here for a long time and as a result, any form of diversion in lifestyle from an average American is considered here as a threat. I would hardly call this democratic. In fact, one better-than-average-American, the writer and social critic Gore Vidal, finds this trend so despicable that he called America the “United States of Amnesia”. There are laws and regulations being enforced on a daily basis which undermine the simplest rights of ordinary citizens. For example, the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional to prescribe marijuana for medicinal purposes. Smoking regular cigarettes inside most buildings here carries a fine and/or jail time. Drinking beer on the street is a guarantee that the “thirsty” culprit is spending a day in prison and facing a court hearing. Having a dog that barks is illegal! Considering that the leader of the country has not learned the proper English, it is rather hypocritical of this justice system to expect the four-legged creatures to express themselves in more than monosyllables. A policeman can stop your car and arrest you for driving without a seat-belt. Are we to believe that the justices of the Supreme court care for us so much that they do not want us to take even slight risks? Then, perhaps, the homeless should stand in line and ask them to borrow some cash so they can get housing. Oh, I forgot! The justice system here is homeless-blind…

If you own a house here, it better look like all the other houses on that block or … you could be sued. Where is this strive for anal-retentive, all-enveloping order coming from in this country? Certainly not its founding principles. Are the legislators taking hints fromfrom the pages of Nazi Germany’s history which celebrated homogeneity? What’s worse, these laws are not even successful in achieving order: only more disgruntled, angry adults and children who blow up buildings and shoot in schools. And I have to diverge with the public opinion here and point out that capital punishment is not going to help the matters either. You can poke as many needles as you wish and try as many children as adults, there is still not going to be perfect order neither here nor anywhere in the world. And no order is worth having it at the price of individual rights and freedoms. What America should do in my opinion, is grow up and get off the banal horse of empty words like ‘family values’ and ‘eye for an eye’. If it is as Christian as it claims to be, it is worth reminding it that Christ did not advocate revenge and punishment as a means to any end. The Attorney General Ashcroft and President Bush did . The first, self-admittedly, never danced in his life and holds bible-studies each morning in the Justice Department making more rational employees there nauseous and disqualifying him from the ranks of fully sane people while Bush… Come to think of it that is a topic for another day.

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