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I Am a Ukrainian

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How can you not stand up and cheer at what we've just witnessed in Eastern Europe? To see an entire populace rise up against injustice, autocracy and the armed lackeys of a corrupt police state reminds me of what real courage looks like, especially when it's bolstered by the adrenaline of outrage and moral authority.

I couldn't watch this impoverished proletariat fighting so valiantly -- and risking so much -- for their rights, their country and for the future of their children's children without thinking about how far we Americans have drifted from our own revolutionary and democratic ideals. So far that we would allow George W. Bush to twice steal the presidency of the United States (see here.) staring impotently with our mouths open, too afraid of the consequences that might come from shouting out the truth and fighting for our rights. Too comfortable, in all likelihood, with our material possessions and modest success to risk any of it by standing up and shouting "Fraud! Thief! Liar!" as we should have done -- as we have an obligation to do as legatees of our revolution and its democratic values!

And so we turned over in bed, having taken a sleeping pill to deal with any discomfiting after-effects of watching our country hijacked by these lackeys of disgruntled billionaires.

Yes, we've fallen so far from our American ideals that we would allow almost every state legislature controlled by Republicans to institute laws designed to deprive citizens of their voting rights in the name of preventing voting fraud. A fraud admittedly non-existent and clearly invoked as a fig leaf to conceal the pathetic conniving of a fastly-shrinking political minority.

Where is our outrage? Where are the barricades we would mount to fight for the democratic ideals our forebears died to secure and preserve? Where indeed! Instead of mounting barricades we sit docilely in front of our TV sets while this minority band of politicians gerrymander themselves into the power of the majority and attempt to dismantle every right and protection built up to protect the poor, the weak and the elderly.

Why do we allow these cynical enemies of democracy to determine the national conversation? Why do we allow them to first dismantle our economy under Bush, raid the treasury to protect the banks and tycoons who created the crisis, then block almost every attempt made by Obama to prevent the poor and the middle class from falling off the game board entirely?

Once I was proud to say "I am an American." Admittedly it was a time of innocence. A time before Vietnam. A time before we unnecessarily declared war against Iraq. A time before banks and bankers were allowed to destroy our economy with impunity. A time before Republicans and their billionaire puppeteers were allowed to dictate the national agenda. And, yes, a time before drones were sent to foreign skies to kill enemies and civilians alike without due process.

It was also a time before the events of this last week: a week when I was able to watch breathlessly -- with equal measures of hope and trepidation -- as a country of 46 million people shook off the chains of corruption and domination that a small group of tyrants had imposed. This was what a fight for democracy and freedom really looked like. It was a week where true-life heroes, brave enough to challenge bullets and riot police, were arrayed before the world in a laughable contrast to the Olympic "heroes" who captured most of the media's attention.

There was only one international event truly worth watching this week. One event where the human species was shown to reach its most brilliant and most memorable heights.

And it didn't take place in Sochi.