Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Right to Assemble & Speak & Distribute Information

From The Boston Globe, "SKorean police arrest 4 people over G-20 protests." (I'll try to get out and snag a few photographs of protests and other activities in the next few days and during the summit.)

The G20 looms in Seoul and Koreans will show up in thousands to protest.  There will likely be hundreds of arrests and as many news stories about the protests and arrests--as many as will be published about the political and corporate interests that are represented at the Summit itself.

I think we should remember what's at stake as Korea and Koreans continue to become more significant to the global capitalist market: Korean well-being. For me the highlight of this G20 Summit is the Korean people who have accomplished so much in the last 40 years yet continue to struggle with the cultural impact and realities that a fair and just democratic society imposes upon them as it promises to more or less liberate them. In my opinion, Koreans are at odds with the capitalist market and its ability to exploit democratic institutions to make a profit. Of course, foreign interests in Korea often get blamed and foreign laborers often receive the rhetorical force of the blaming rhetoric. We should not forget that conservative elements in Korea that are not Nationalistic but Corporate are at work behind organizing and disseminating the nationalist fear and rhetoric because it serves their purposes well: it makes the majority of Koreans, the working poor to working middle classes, look immature, petty, bitter, and unable to effectively lead. The resulting sentiment offers a slimy protection of Korea's ruling elite.

We should insist that the highlights of the G20 protests in Seoul, organized by Koreans, are the labor activists protesting cuts to social welfare programs. The Korean left is correct to be concerned and their early protests are a sign of their precise action rather than their often reported disorganization and vitriol.

Nevertheless, the conservative Korean press is likely to highlight any and all nationalist rhetoric within the Korean protests and amongst public Korean dissent. Such press serves an important cultural purpose: it protects Korea's elite. The unfortunate result is that the shitty expat blogging community will find further reason to hate on Korean activism via blogs regarding unfair treatment of foreigners by Korean bigots or regarding behavior non-Koreans find silly, stupid and offensive. It's always one or the other with foreign bloggers: criticize bigotry in Korea or illustrate their stupidity. Especially white bloggers: white folks love to illustrate others' bigotry. You know, it's white power's only effective use: Scapegoating.

Please support Koreans' right to organize, distribute information, protest, assemble and speak in public. Please celebrate that attempt to preserve their rights. In this celebration maybe we can find a little more energy to afford looking after our own back home, which are in fact in jeopardy. The democracy movement is alive and still struggling here. Without positive portrayals, like the Boston Globe's piece this morning, we cannot expect the remaining love of nationalist sentiment and protectionism to lose its popular appeal. And rather than the protests being about how the rest of the world envisions and represents Korea's nationalist sentiment, this should be about insisting Koreans are able to distribute information to shape policy and rhetoric.

Please do stop highlighting the minority nationalist interests as if those ideas are passively supported by the majority of Koreans. They aren't. It's about as silly as claiming the Tea Party represents the majority American sentiment regarding economic and social policies because the press pays so much attention to it. It's damaging to the progressive left (even the progressive right) who's image is often smeared in the right wing/corporate popular press.

1 comment:

John from Daejeon said...

How many Koreans will be from the "North" attempting to upstage the "South" and spoil the summit?