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Bleeding saviors

By Nick Zeckets
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
April 18, 2000
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Washington has been host to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for the past several days as the two groups discuss institutional reforms. Participating outside the official ranks have been thousands of protesters, united under the umbrella group Mobilization for Global Justice. The activities of the demonstrators have been non-violent, yet the actions of the Washington, DC police have been frightening. Why is our nation's capital so afraid of the First Amendment? Our nation's leaders are elitists and the vocal citizens pose a threat to the "Evil Empire."

Each member group has a separate cause, whether it be in opposition to China gaining full trading rights, or for rainforest conservation, or proponents of Third-World debt relief; all are fighting against the IMF and World Bank and frightening US leaders. These two organizations hold the key to economic prosperity and stability for dozens of needy nations. Additionally, trade restrictions imposed by the IMF actually allow environmental devastation. IMF decisions have lowered trade standards because some countries wish not to pay to regulate.

To show disdain towards such practices and let the world know of the multitude of multi-national corporation atrocities, "radicals" the world over traveled to Washington and alarmed the American elite. Staging non-violent protests and stringing up banners does not justify billy club beatings, tear gas and pepper spray. According to The Associated Press, a crowd that came within one block of the IMF building was attacked by police with gas canisters and pepper spray. Upon running, police chased the protesters and beat approximately 90 of them with clubs.

Our government's approach to instances of true resistance seems to be very clear: quiet the masses and press on. These demonstrators came to voice concern and perhaps influence their indirect representatives to change policy affecting them as individuals in an increasingly tainted environment, and as citizens of poor nations in an increasingly global market. By some matter of grace, our nation's founding document allows those within our borders to speak their minds freely - a right not guaranteed to even half of the citizens of the 182 IMF member countries. Where else could their concerns be heard?

Unfortunately, Supreme Court indecision has led the United States government to believe that it can quiet those it needs to. Members of Globalisation for Global Justice, led by Mary Bull, were taken by the dozen until more than 1,300 were in jail. The process was peaceful, but still a muzzle on difference of opinion. Some reporters have tried to pass off the capture as humorous, noting Bull's foam tree hat and the flowers presented her by assistant police chief Terry Gainer when ushered off in a paddy wagon. Conspiracy is a devious chess game that the United States government plays like a modern-day Bobby Fischer.

Ronald Reagan delivered a speech on June 8, 1982 entitled, "The Evil Empire," attacking the horrors of the Soviet Union's totalitarianism. In that speech he found that, "optimism comes less easily today, not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracy's enemies have refined their instruments of repression." Reality now indicates that democracies like our own are creating their own instruments of repression. While billions starve the world over, the west-dominated IMF sits back and refuses debt relief for ailing states worldwide.

Indeed, tear gas, pepper spray, and clubbings were necessary in Washington, just as they were in Seattle at the World Trade Organization meetings, to suppress the truth as to the new "Evil Empire." Multi-national organizations are feeding off poor labor and weak nations while getting fat. Not surprisingly, a considerable number of these corporations find themselves headquartered here in the United States.

Incidents from these past two uprisings should teach the rest of us something. Our legislators are electing thieves to the IMF and World Bank, men and women who choose to ignore the needs of the helpless while at the same time exploiting them and their environments. As citizens of the world, as members of humanity, we cannot sit quiet and turn the news off. Become involved in what so many have sacrificed themselves for, what so many people our own age were beaten down with billy clubs for, our planet and lives. If we let the empire silence us, the helpless will be lost. Who's to say you're not next?

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