Líshanah tovah and Happy 5762!
Ok, I feel that I owe you a reasoned response to your polemic. So
The events of last week have left me with a maze of thoughts, not all of
which are totally connected, many of which are simply fragments.
But isnít that what this type of tragedy is supposed to do - make one
ponder and tease out those ideas and concepts? Perhaps much
brighter minds than mine can make sense of them (or slam them into the
ground for being the worthless crap that they probably are).
One thing that immediately came to mind following the totality of the
coverage (you know itís BIG when the Cartoon Network is running a
newsfeed) - no more ďAll Chandra, All the TimeĒ. The poor
Levys have lost their spotlight, although Iím sure Condit is not
The other big story that should have gotten our attention but was
overwhelmed was the UN Conference in Durban. There were elements of
the conference that grabbed my attention, conflicts that arose that could
have led to reasoned discussion/debate but for the terrorist
attack. One point that I noticed was that the walkouts by the US
and Israeli delegations drew much comment, but that the Canadian threat
didnít. Now, partly thatís due to our ignoring of Canada since our
invasion in 1812, but partly itís due to the fact that it didnít
happen. One commentator in the Globe & Mail mentioned that this
was due to pressure brought by some Canadian groups, who apparently have
more power than similar groups in the US. Which groups? The
black and native populations.
The concept of racism was mentioned as a primary focus of the
conference. Now, I have no problem branding Israel racist (hell -
call it anti-Semetic, because Jews and Arabs are both Semetic
people). But donít just talk about the racism practised against the
Israeli Arabs. Talk about the racism of the Ashkenazim against the
Sephardim... or those svartzes, the Ethopian Jews. The
former have the Shas party to help, the latter suffer. Its
not like the leaders are even ďpure bloodĒ (oooh - thereís a nasty
term) - who heard of a Semite with Arikís blue eyes? But itís not
the only country - letís also brand China, for itís actions against the
Han and Tibetans; the Japanese (Ainu); the Brazillians (for preferring
the more clearly Spanish rather than the native features) - ditto most
Hispanic countries (especially the Mexicans and Chiapas). Racism
exists everywhere - itís not an isolated thing in Israel and the Arab
nations attempting to use this as an excuse to vilify Israel is, well,
silly. Particularly since they also dragged Zionism into the
equation, when Zionism is simply the yearning for a Jewish
homeland. Granted, this topic should have additional resonance
today given that the attacks on the the WTC and the Pentagon were
committed by Arabs but is it even mentioned? No. Not even as
a possible reason for any of their actions.
Reparations and the big Apology for Slavery were the other two main
issues. Letís deal with the latter first. Liberia has
declared that it doesnít feel that an Apology is necessary, mainly
because when it was founded it continued to practise slavery
itself. Also, who issues the Apology? America, Brittan and
France are the three most likely to... but what about the current chiefs
of those tribes that sold slaves? What about Sudan and the other
African nations currently practising slavery? Should they
Reparations are an even bigger issue. First of all, who receives
reparations? Do we hand over a sum of money to the descendants of
those from slave families? How do we deal with people that clearly
have Caucasian blood - do they get less? And those that are from
slave/Native American, or slave/African stock? What about Canadians
descended from escapees? Do we deal differently with those that
were freed before the end of the Civil War? How about the Caribbean
slaves? Or are we simply going to deal with nations in Africa?
Second, what form do these reparations take? A lump sum of money to
individuals? If so, how do we guarantee they spend it on what ďweĒ
think is best (education, housing, etc.) rather than what they want
(electronic equipment, drugs, etc.) - I know that if I were receiving a
lump sum I mightnít be inclined to bank it or do the sensible thing -
World Cruise, here I come. And then, when the money is spent, what
happens? If we pay it to the African nations in the form of debt
relief, how does that benefit the blacks in the Americas?
Another problem - my motherís family fled the Czarist pogroms. Can
we expect Putin to open the Russian treasury to compensate us? What
about Irish Catholics escaping the famine? Will the Hmong want
money for their suffering? Itís a never-ending spiral of ďyou owe
me for _________Ē that we just shouldnít begin to navigate.
On the other hand, debt relief could help. If we could guarantee
that it wouldnít go into the dictatorís pockets and bank accounts.
More appropriate might be a sort-of global Marshall Plan, helping Third
World nations begin to improve their quality and standard of life.
Oh wait - couldnít that smack of American hegemony all over again...
leading us right back to bin Laden and his complaints.
I remember back at (school) having a conversation with a bunch of classmates
from both (school) and (school). It was shortly after the hostages had
been taken, and Ab mentioned that his father now had even more to deal
with: first there were the Palestinians, trying to create a homeland out
of Jordan; now there were these extremists who wanted to export the
Islamic Revolution. Things havenít changed much for him, have
they? Iím sure that part of his support of US efforts against the
Taliban and bin Laden is based on his desire not just to stay in power
but to prevent a radical group from imposing their narrow views on the
rest of his country. Of course, heís not alone - Egypt, Algeria,
Saudi and almost all other nations are worried about that aspect of the
bin Laden movement.
In a strange way, itís amusing to watch bin Laden biting the hand that
trained him - our efforts to oust the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has
led us to this point. Itís not just American morals and values they
are against, itís our insistence that they have our political ideals as
well. One thing that many of the people Iíve been hearing and
talking to about all of this fail to understand is that American
Capitalist Democracy is not necessarily the best, or the most desired, or
the most effective way to rule and run a nation. Yes, itís served
us well, but that doesnít mean that itís appropriate for everyone.
Letís let countries evolve at their own pace, given their own culture and
Reading the various opinions and suggestions about what Americaís
response should be has been an interesting exercise in talking back to an
unresponsive television or newspaper or magazine. Your polemic
raised interesting points, few of which are being discussed. Our
overriding interest in that area of the world (unspoken, of course) is
oil - how much and how cheap. IMHO, we should tell the American
public that if we really want to keep gas under $2/gallon, Alaska is now
open for business. The hubris that we have about our need for cheap
gas is amazing; why shouldnít we bear the burden for our own
consumption. Perhaps an oil rig in every backyard is what it will
take to get us out of our car-based culture.
Backing Israel is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Failure to
use our leverage to communicate displeasure with Arikís little trek on
the Temple Mount is. Giving in to political pressure to elect your
wife by pardoning a bunch of Jewish crooks is. Considering
pardoning Pollard is. And failing to realise that these can lead to
displeasure on the part of Arabs already feeling marginalised by their
beliefs is simply stupid.
I doubt the American public, those people in the so-called ďredĒ states,
will ever think seriously about much of this. Have you noticed that
Bush is being called a Leader? Whether or not this is truly public
opinion or whether it is being pushed upon us by the media, he has become
the President. Not a bad thing, given that we are in a time of
crisis. But there are a notable number of people (some of whom are
knee-jerk Democrats who vote party line, not issues and people) for whom
Bush will never fill that role appropriately. One could say that
their position is a bit like a fundamentalistís - if youíre not one of
ours, weíll never accept you. People like this donít understand how
Bush won any votes, any state. Yet those that did support him also,
to some extent, support the ďAmerica FirstĒ position. Not totally
isolationist, but very wary of engagement overseas. Very wary of
allowing international interests to take over American ones (particularly
in terms of industry, jobs, defense).
These are the people that want the immediate Revenge, an eye-for-an-eye
(which reminds one of the old saying, ďan eye-for-an-eye leads to a world
of blind peopleĒ). Should we do that? If Vietnam and the
mujahadeen have taught us anything, itís that a ground war against
pissed off natives gets us nowhere. And we canít literally bomb
every mountain there.
So, where does all this leave us?
Iím worried. Worried about my kids - many of whom are doing the
resilient child thing and trying to get on with their lives (many of whom
are also finding comfort in that old adage that art is a good way to
combat anger and grief) and are running into overly protective adults
insisting that they talk about it. The number of websites and
counselors available with advice on how to cope is amazing, but I somehow
feel that it is to some extent more detrimental to them.
Worried about people that think that the timing of this was more than
coincidental Ė that bin Laden did it to hurt Jews during the Holy
Days. And yes, there are a number of Jews who really feel this
Worried about my aunt and uncle, who are returning to Jerusalem next week
(they have an apartment here but donít want to stay, despite the pleas of
their children and grandchildren).
Worried about people like myself, who have had other things to worry
about but havenít been able to really express them because itís
inappropriate to do so under these circumstances.
(personal details edited)
Seniors are scared that they
wonít get into the right college or conservatory, but somehow thatís
trivial compared to the death and destruction a few blocks away.
Thatís all for now. Edit, post or delete, as you will.