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Thoughts & Views: Check your freedom to fly at the gate

7-23OP_web

Much has been made of civilian authorities abusing their statutory powers – and responsibilities to the constituencies they serve – by creating chaos at public transportation hubs.

We have heard the allegations about Gov. Chris Christie and his political associates allegedly seeking to disrupt local traffic flows on approaches to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, allegedly to zing the borough mayor for not endorsing the governor for re-election.

And, more recently, there were charges made by the police chief Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is seeking to demote that the city’s chief executive had ordered him to have his officers make an excessive number of needless traffic stops on the approach to the Holland Tunnel, reportedly to irk the Port Authority whom the city is suing.

Assuming the charges in either or both instances are accurate, those pale in comparison to the reckless downing of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine and the killing of its 298 passengers and crew.

Regardless of who did the foul deed – whether it was the Ukrainian rebels themselves, the rebels using rockets from Russia, soldiers from Russia or Ukrainian military – the perverse attack – accident or not – is nothing short of a war crime against innocent people.

Of course, officials from Malaysia and the Netherlands – the countries whose citizens took the brunt of the tragedy – along with Europe and the U.S. – are calling for an investigation but since the troops at the crash site have made access tough to negotiate, who knows how close we’ll get to finding out what really happened.

Not that it matters.

Because Realpolitik speaks louder than human concerns: European countries don’t want to antagonize Russia because they’re worried about getting enough oil from Gazprom; Malaysia is still trying to recover from the unexplained disappearance of its other jet.

In a world consumed with commerce, power and national chest-beating, we will soon forget about this latest example of indifference to the sanctity of life.

We will not remember that among the innocents who perished aboard Malaysian Flight 17 was humanitarian Joep Lange, the executive scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and a former president of the International AIDS Society, and several of his colleagues.

Similarly, it will not cross our mental radar screens that the U.S. is walling off much of its southern border as a deterrent to the influx of illegal immigrants from Central America coming up through Mexico and that Republican leaders are demanding that parent-less children be sent back whence they came, no matter the dangers they face.

Or that the Talban and extremist Muslim leaders insist that females are to be forever yoked to their homes, and, indeed, if a 10-year-old girl has been raped, it is her parents’ duty to inflict an “honor killing” on her for bringing “disgrace” to her family.

The list of injustices – resulting from men in power controlling our capacity to fully experience our world and enjoy its resources in freedom – goes on, relentlessly. And, unless and until we have the courage to rise up against that power, we will continue to be confined – physically and mentally – to the space we’re now permitted to occupy.

– Ron Leir  

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