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Lose sight of justice and society starves

Gerry Chidiac

BY GERRY CHIDIAC

Lessons in Learning

Amer Zahr, a teacher of Islamic law, points out that while eating pork is forbidden, it’s allowed out of necessity in cases of extreme hunger.

Zahr is also a Palestinian-American comedian, and in a recent monologue, he stated that in the 2020 presidential election he chose ham over starvation.

He has a point.

Much of what Donald Trump and his supporters say about Joe Biden is very true. Throughout his Senate career, Biden represented Delaware, the state with the most corporate-friendly laws in the United States, and Delaware Joe is a corporatist through and through.

He’s also at least partially responsible for the horrendous legislation from the Bill Clinton era that resulted in the obscene incarceration rates of visible minorities in corporately-run prisons.

Biden did little to improve conditions for the common person in the United States while he was in the Senate.

And when Biden was vice-president, Barak Obama gave corporate bankers a get-out-of-jail-free card and federal minimum wage increases came to a halt in 2009.

Concerning the rights of Palestinians, Zahr refers to Biden as a “triple bacon cheeseburger.”

There’s no doubt – Biden is ham.

But Trump is starvation.

Trump has not only poured gasoline on the flames of misogyny and racism, he has put the lives of millions of people at risk through his mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has damaged relations with many of America’s strongest allies.

While his predecessors and their Congressional cronies whittled away at the principles of the U.S. Constitution by allowing the executive branch to gain more and more power, Trump has virtually declared himself infallible.

Despite all of this, nearly half of the American people still think he’s better than ham. What’s going on?

The United States actually laid a groundwork for all modern democracies. Early Americans strongly objected to the constitutional monarchy imposed upon them by King George III and the British, so put together an amazing governmental system of checks and balances.

They enshrined their ideals in a constitution that’s still revered as one of the finest human rights documents of all time. While it’s true that these rights only applied to wealthy white men in the beginning, they expanded to embrace more progressive and egalitarian principles.

In recent years, however, these principles have been compromised, largely due to corporate and militaristic interests. The American Constitution, for example, states that the country can’t go to war without the approval of Congress. The last time that happened was in 1942.

As an educator in a democratic society, it’s my role to educate and empower young people to be informed and active citizens. The government of Canada isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be. The principles we embrace, however, are the ideals we must strive for.

As the Holocaust came to our consciousness, we said, “never again.”

When Canada’s residential school system was exposed to the truth, we said, “We’re sorry.”

Canada has a beautiful constitution, we signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we signed the Genocide Act, and British Columbia has even adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

It’s our job as Canadian citizens to hold our governments accountable to these ideals.

The United States has enshrined the same ideals of justice and equality for all. Americans have also signed many of the same international documents.

Let us hope their citizenry is finally waking up to the gravity of their situation. America will thrive when the citizens walk together and embrace the beauty of the international community.

Justice is a banquet. We don’t have to starve and we don’t have to settle for ham.

Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students. Check out his website here. Find him on Facebook. Or on Twitter @GerryChidiac

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