Monday, January 21, 2019

Antisemitism: The Safe Hate

The Women's March has opened a rather large and crowded can of worms. Lots of people are upset about the national movement's apparent alignment with antisemitic rhetoric disguised as anti-Israel propaganda. Tamika Mallory made a feeble effort to proclaim herself not antisemitic the day before she declared Jews have no legitimate right to be in Israel. 

Before going any deeper into this topic, let me state in no uncertain terms that disagreeing with the Israeli government is just like disagreeing with the American government. You can criticize either without hate. It can be done. I do it every day and so, probably, do most Israelis and Americans. I will go on the record as stating I detest Netanyahu, his policies, and most of his coalition just like I detest Feckless Leader and his wacko cabinet, not to mention quite a few Republican and a few Democrat congressclowns. That does not make me anti-Israel; nor does it make me anti-American. In fact, not to voice an opinion would be a dereliction of my American civic responsibilities.

Are we clear on this? Good.

This episode deals specifically with antisemitism, the safe hate. 

If you've got 31 minutes be spare, listen to Tamika Mallory talking about how she is not antisemitic on The Breakfast Club. Then take a listen to her on PBS's Firing Line, less than 24 hours later; you can start at minute 16. She talks a lot about Jews of Color as if they are intrinsically different from Jews, and white Jews as white supremacists. There is some kind of wrong assumption that Jews are somehow racially categorized. That is patently not so. Jews are Jews. You can be any color you want. Color has nothing to do with being a Jew. What does have a lot to do with being a Jew is the understanding that Israel is our physical homeland. Jews are the indigenous people of that little slip of land. The historical record is pretty solid about that. Christians know Jesus was Jewish and lived there. Muslims know that Jerusalem was our holiest city and the Temple stood there long before their mosques. We didn't make the stuff up in 1948. We lived on that land for thousands of  years. We had governments rise and fall. We had currency. We had heads of states, revolutions, exiles, and returns to the land. One thousand years plus of liturgy focuses on Jerusalem as the center of our spiritual, historical, and economic world. This is not myth; physical anthropology demonstrates this is so. But that's not good enough for Tamika Mallory who believes only Palestinians are native to that area. In her language, not only don't we exist in the a historical record, the only Jews that should be included in her limited world view are Jews of color. I don't even know what that means. 

But the truth is, we are actually invisible. 

Kat Graham
We're not a race, we don't come in a single size, color, or nose shape, so even though you think you can pick us out in a crowd, you can't.  We aren't limited to a particular profession, so you can't just target pawnbrokers or landlords, or publishers, or movie producers, or doctors or lawyers, or even bankers. There's no guarantee any of those practitioners are Jewish. You can't even tell by a name: Whoopi Goldberg isn't Jewish, but singer Kat Graham is. We don't fit neatly into any slot, and there's a good reason for that: we're diverse. We're like the invisible friend, the one you blame stuff on. You can do that because you know there is no invisible friend and you know that a little diversion can buy you a little bit of time to bury the body.

The nice Germans peeked outside their windows and saw the roundups, but we weren't their problem, so they closed the curtains and pretended we didn't exist. They did, after all, profit from our disappearance, and who was to think anything of it? It was so easy to hate an amorphous group with no face, no identity, only a label, a little yellow star, with which to identify them. 

It's easy for the white supremacists to hate Jews because we're just a faceless clump. They don't associate us with faces, only innuendo, and if you don't know any Jews personally, well, the it's even easier to blame and hate.

It's equally easy for Tamika Mallory to hate white Jews because we're that same group of blank faces; we have no color, and we're not even the same color as most of the people in the Middle East. She cannot see we are the indigenous people who built that Temple Mount before it held the Mosque of Omar or Al-Aqsa. 

Mallory: The Palestinians are native to the land, you know? They were there for a very long time, and so they’re native to the land.

Hoover: Do you feel that the Jewish people are native, as well?

Mallory: I mean, I understand the history, that — that there are people who have a number of sort of ideologies around why the Jewish people feel this should be their land. I’m not Jewish, so for me to speak to that is not fair.

Hoover: But there are people who are concerned that the language, ‘native land,’ is used to delegitimize Jews from having a state.

Mallory: So, I’ve been very — Again, I’m not Jewish, and so I won’t speak to that. What I will speak to is that I believe that the Palestinians also need freedom in their land.

Hoover: But are Jews native people, also?

Mallory: That is not my call to make.

That's right, it's not her call; it's history's call. Despite overwhelming evidence of two successful kingdoms... an unbroken, constant Jewish presence on the land for over 4000 years... despite all that, she and her friends do not see us because we are not their call to make. Just like the Germans.

That makes us easy to hate. There is no single face, no individual, only a caricature, a cartoon, a meme. Just look at the text books from Gaza or Iran. We're nothing more than a badly drawn illustration. That's intentional. Show photographs, and suddenly we are real people. When you are the purveyor of hate, having your target appear human is not useful. 

Antisemitism, then, becomes the safe hate, the hate everyone else can join together to share. We are the consummate outsider, the invisible minority, the ultimate other. Who easier to dismiss than a mass of non-individuals no matter how diverse they are. They are not us, ergo, get rid of them.

For the record, y'know who also falls into that same ghost world of delegitimization? The Indigenous Nations of North America. Indigenous Peoples have been living in what is tantamount to work/concentration camps for so long, we don't even see it any more. What do you think the res is all about? The only difference between the res and Manzanar is that the res still exists. We should be aligning ourselves with them; we have a joint grievance here. No one wants to admit either group has claim to their own lands. This is not news.

None of this is going away any time soon, and that it's not just on the far right, but on the far left as well. We can all keep sticking our heads in the sand, or we can start having serious discussions about what happens next. The choice is really ours. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Ostriches don't really stick their heads in the sand.
Only humans do that. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Collusion Means Never Having To Say You're Guilty

I spent a whole lotta years doing theater stuff. My MFA is in directing, I spent some 30 years as a working children's playwright, I've coached, done jury selection, and worked in a variety of performance media as extra eyes and ears. One thing I have always done well is actor analysis. I'm really good at casting and specialized coaching. Even though I don't do it officially any more, I get enough calls for assistance to keep a finger on the keyboard and my eyes on the stage. 

Kevin, Prince of Bad Acting
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I think Feckless Leader is, above and beyond all comparison, a bad actor. Not just on his television show, but any time he takes the mic. He cannot read from a teleprompter. He relies on his very small vocabulary when he runs outta rehearsed phrases. Huge, stuff, really-really, unbelievable, things...all non-specific, all general, all simplistic. He lacks the basic understanding of facts v. opinion, reality v. fantasy, and truth v. falsehood. In so many ways, we have become inured to this. We cluck our tongues and wonder when everyone else is going to figure out there is something clinically wrong with the guy who's supposed to be running the country.

The word aphasic comes to mind. The National Aphasia Association defines it this way:
Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections.
Symptoms include:
  • Speak in short or incomplete sentences
  • Speak in sentences that don't make sense
  • Substitute one word for another or one sound for another
  • Speak unrecognizable words
  • Not understand other people's conversation
  • Write sentences that don't make sense 
Now, I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I've been around a number of aphasic people, including actors. No joke, I've known a several of older actors who were decidedly aphasic and had excellent coping mechanism to deal with the issue. Our president is not one of them. He struggles at most public speaking events these days, and it seems to be getting worse.  All cofefe aside, his address from the Oval Office last week convinced me I'm can't be too far off the mark. 

Not only was he reciting in a flat, atonal, speaking voice, his cadence did not make sense. His pauses were not where pauses should've been. It was as if he was doing simultaneous speaking while being cued through an earpiece. The level of the language was significantly higher than the level of language he uses when speaking off-the-cuff. 

I cannot shake the sense that he is being fed lines. Watch his face, listen to his voice. Don't let the hands distract you. Whoever wrote the speech was trying to make him sound like an educated adult, but it didn't match how he talks in real life. He's been rehearsed, but only so far. Bad acting does not begin to sum up the danger of this performance. 

Look, if the guy has dementia or some kind of diminished capacity, it really should be addressed sooner rather than later. Although if you've never seen DAVE with Kevin Kline, you should. Instead of getting a benevolent, kind, and generous body double, this one is sounding increasingly like Steven Miller with each outburst. 

Maybe it's time to play Barack and Michelle's favorite parlor game:

WWTDIODT ~What Would They Do If Obama Did That?

Now, I happen to know I have a fair number of Republican readers, so you tell me, if Obama refused to turn over tax returns, or routinely spouted easily documented falsehoods and lies about taxes and immigration in interviews, or continually mocked the disabled, called fellow lawmakers insulting names, and discredited the free press, not to mention hid any and all records of private meetings with world leaders....what would your response be?  At what point is our president accountable for his words and actions? 

I think the most recent exposure of Iowa Congressclown Steve King is highly symbolic of the GOP. So long as no one figures out you're a racist, it's okay to keep on being one. Yeah, they stripped him of his committees and they made a bunch of statements abhorring his words, but who amongst them hasn't stood by silently allowing the same thing? King's fellow GOP members of the House and Senate have stood by this guy for 8 terms and never noticed? Now that the conservatives are "turning against white supremacists," that's supposed to solve the problem? Really? What planet are these people on anyway? 

Oh, yeah. Must be the same one Democrats supporting Tulsi Gabbard for president seem to be inhabiting. The air must be very thin.

The bottom line is that racism, anti-semitism, white supremacy, and isolationism are all part and parcel of a GOP-led government. There is nothing shocking, secret, or amazing about it. It's always been there, but it took a total asshole like Steve King to make it a public spectacle. This is not news, folks, and if We, the People, let it become a diversion calling out the widespread cancer in that party, then we really did get the government we deserve. 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the FBI revealed there was an investigation into the possibility that Feckless worked for Russia...well, let's see what conclusion Mueller draws. I kinda wish Ziggy was here....this would send him right over the edge. It's a John le Carré novel come to life. It would also give Ziggy the big one. I know how that mind worked; there would've been lots of yelling at the TV. 

Well, at least Feckless Leader has stopped talking about collusion. I suppose that's progress. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
Real liberals don't embrace racist, homophobic, anti-semitic leaders;
they distance and disavow themselves for Louis Farrakhan 
without be asked. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Losing America And Losing Chewie.

Recently, I was scolded for saying the United States was en route to becoming a Third World nation. 

How many of you actually know what the First, Second, Third, and Fourth World mean? I would venture to guess very few know the actual difference. And I wasn't really wrong when I said We, the People were heading in that direction. 

So, here's a little geopolitical history:
The First, Second, Third, and Fourth world designations are holdovers from the Cold War, and the phrase was probably coined by Mao Zedong: 
  • First World nations are the ones who allied with the United States after World War II and into the Cold War... a/k/a the original NATO allies: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, West Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The list has changed a bit, but this is close enough for government work. 
  • Second World nations were the ones that aligned with China and Russia a/k/a the old Iron Curtain/Soviet Bloc countries. 
  • Third World nations were ones who remained un-allied. However, now they are the "developing nations," classified by various indices: their Political Rights and Civil Liberties, the Gross National Income (GNI) and Poverty of countries, the Human Development of countries (HDI), and the Freedom of Information within a country. 
  • Fourth World nations, a comparatively new designation, were originally cultural entities. The fourth world refers to "nations", e.g., cultural entities and ethnic groups, of indigenous people who do not compose states in the traditional sense. Now, however, it's more commonly used to describe the most poverty-stricken, and economically troubled parts of countries in the Third World.

Since Feckless Leader is working hard to shred all our alliances, we are no longer closely tied to the other First World nations, making the US pretty much an outlier. Since we don't align (at least not officially) with Russia and China, the US isn't a Second World nation. As for Third World, well, draw your own conclusion.

Common parlance presupposed Third World nations to have high rates of poverty and maternal and neonatal death rates; lack potable water, comprehensive public education, and have a generally low standard of living. 

Approximately 14% of the US total population lives in poverty. This is a tough number  to reconcile because it doesn't accurately reflect households where income may be above poverty but expenses like health insurance, heat, and water may reduce that income to no discretionary spending for essentials like clothing and transportation. Nor does it take into account separate populations like Indigenous Americans still living in dire conditions on reservations, inner city minority populations, or rural/agricultural populations who continue to live in almost subsistence mode. Those are not only pockets of poverty, they are also often food and medical deserts where those services are unavailable to the local population. 

Potable water is problematic not only in Flint, Michigan, but anywhere where unregulated manufacturing and mining has polluted the ground water. Cancer clusters are not the anomaly they once were. People remaining in those areas are there because they could not afford to get out. Remember Erin Brockovich? She was right all along. 

The Maternal Death rate in the most developed nations: 

Pretty shocking, huh? How can we continue to deny health insurance to the local population? One would think an entire party that views a woman as an incubator would want to make sure women are healthy enough to bear children. But, NO! They may force a woman to carry a fetus to term, but they do  nothing to improve the chances of a live birth. And speaking of live births.....

Of the 27 most developed nations in the world, the US also had the highest infant mortality rate in 2014: 582 infant deaths per 100,000 live births. Both race and economic strata were significant contributing factors. Denying minority women access to health care is hardhearted and cruel to those children they were forced to carry to term. 

Public education is progressively underfunded. Class sizes are excessive in most school districts. Teachers are underpaid and undervalued and no one wants to be a teacher because it's a lose/lose career. Lousy pay, lousy hours, and no readily available supplies...unless you buy them yourself. If you don't love it, you shouldn't do it. You give everything you've got to the kids, and even then it's not enough. Our kids deserve better and they're not getting it. We're losing our competitive edge in maths and sciences. All too often, advanced education is simply unaffordable for too many talented kids making it just plain unattainable. Not much separates too many of our inner city and out-state rural kids from the kids on  streets all over the globe. 

No education, no jobs with upward mobility. We doom an entire generation and  significant segment of the population to low income, high poverty, and conditions that breed high crime rates. It really is a vicious cycle. 

The slide is no longer imperceptible; we feel ourselves swirling down into the maelstrom more acutely every day. We see it in the lies from the podium, we hear it in the hateful rhetoric from both sides, and we watch it in dog-whistle ads that are starting to show up on television. We, the People are not stupid; we get it. We are aware of what's happening. Now, the only thing left is to see if we can find a middle ground in which we can stand together to fight off the inevitable. 

Feckless Leader will be addressing the nation tomorrow night from the Oval Office. Addresses like that carry a certain gravitas, and are usually reserved for sorrowful events.  This one is of his own making. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

Losing a pet is akin to losing a person you love. 
They are beings. You love them, they love you.
Even if he's a grandpuppy.

May Chewie's memory be for a blessing.