by James M. Wall
Works of film art endure when the underlying intent remain the same. One segment in John Ford’s film, The Searchers, reminds us that revenge is not a morsel best eaten when cold, but a morsel best buried with the dead.
Jesus said it best, “little children, love one another”.
I wrote a Wall Writings posting April 10, 2017, which featured The Searchers. It began:
A raid has killed members of a frontier family. Ethan Edwards, portrayed by an angry, unforgiving John Wayne, was secretly in love with one of the victims. The quick burial in a nearby hillside cemetery is conducted by a family friend, the Reverend Captain Samuel Johnston Clayton (Ward Bond).
Mourners sing, “Shall we gather at the river”. The Reverend Captain Clayton, formerly of the Confederate army, stands beside three wooden crosses. He prays.
Ethan Edwards abruptly ends the service with an angry shout, “Put an amen to it. There’s no more time for praying.”
An angry posse prepares to ride out in search of the raiders.
The scenes below from John Ford’s 1956 classic western film, The Searchers, begin a long search driven by the dark emotions of hatred and revenge.
The posting from April, 2017, was provoked by an angry President Donald Trump’s orders to fire 60 Tomahawk missiles at an airbase in Syria.
It was from that base the U.S. claimed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a deadly chemical attack on a rebel-held town in northern Syria.
It is now August, 2019, and this nation has just lived through two more mass shootings in Akron, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. We have once again had our mourning and our anger. Once again, we insist, this is not who we are.
We are wrong. Once again the hate and fear that divides us clings to hate not love. We put an end to prayers and in the spirit of a revenge-seeking John Wayne, we choose hate and denial.
This Is Us, as Mitchell Plitnick writes, in an essay of that title. Here is a pertinent segment from his essay that should be read in full.
Plitnick begins by sharing a brief speech he found on MSNBC, by Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., Professor of African-American Studies at Princeton. At the conclusion of his answer to a question Glaude noted that when we see these horrific mass shootings, we ask, “Oh my God, is this who we are?”
Glaude answered his own question. “What we know is that this country has been playing politics for a long time on this hatred—we know this. So, it’s easy for us to place it all on Donald Trump’s shoulders. It’s easy to place Pittsburgh on his shoulders. It’s easy for me to place Charlottesville on his shoulders. It’s easy to place El Paso on his shoulders.” But then Glaude resoundingly proclaimed, “This is us! And if we’re gonna get past this we can’t blame it on [Trump]. He’s a manifestation of the ugliness that’s in us. Glaude hit the nail on the head.”
Mirchell Plitnick continues in his essay:
No one should minimize the horror of the Trump presidency. We should not belittle the fact that with his every word and action, Trump is trying to create a nation where white makes right, where the poor increase in number and are increasingly unable to survive. He is trying to create a country that hates itself, directing that hate at the other, while he and his cronies laugh all the way to the bank.
Glaude is correct to point out that Trump is not inventing this, he is unleashing it, harvesting hate that has festered for decades, suppressed—but not defeated—by liberal ideals.
But as Americans so often do, we think of the Trump presidency in terms of ourselves, of what happens within our borders. For many of us, that doesn’t even extend to a place like Puerto Rico, which Trump was able to smugly neglect in a way he never would have dared to do to a mainland U.S. city. But what of our foreign policy under Trump and for years before him?
Progressive Americans are asking themselves every day how we can tolerate the separation of families at our borders, the incitement to violence frm the White House, the undermining of democracy by the Republican party, who either block legislation en masse or go meekly along with whatever the president and Senate majority leader say. How do we continue to tolerate police shootings of unarmed black men? How do we tolerate an enormous tax cut for the rich while the same people are trying to find ways to kick millions off of health insurance that they can already barely afford?
The list goes on and on. But we do far less introspection when it comes to foreign policy. Events in Gaza, Iran, the United Kingdom, Congo, Kashmir, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and other places do not exist in isolation from the United States. Sometimes by action, sometimes by inaction, the U.S. affects events all over the world. That’s hardly news. Most Americans know it. But too few of us take it seriously enough to let it influence our votes or political activity.
Mitchell Plitnick is a political analyst and writer. His previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, director of the US Office of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. His blog may be found at http://www.mitchellplitnick.com.
How may we best take seriously these words of urgency from Mitchell Plitnick and Eddie Glaude ?
Start by studying and sharing Mitchell Plitnick’s essay and Eddie Glaude’s MSNBC speech. Then find the role you may play in helping others and yourself, grasp the reality that revenge and hate must give way to love.
by James M. Wall
On Sunday, June 16, leaders of the nationalist bromance between Israel and the Trump government took one small step for tyranny and one huge step for “in your face” diplomacy.
In case you missed it, UPI circulated the story that Israel had ceremoniously named a small Golan Heights future settlement, “Trump Heights”, to honor the best friend Israel has ever had in the Washington, D.C. White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was joined in the naming ceremony by U.S. Ambassador David Friedman. (The picture above is his.)
The UPI story received scant attention in U.S. media outlets.
It deserves further attention. As anyone with even the slightest grip on reality is aware, the as-yet-undeveloped settlement of “Trump Heights” is not in Gaza or the West Bank, where Israel has spent decades developing settlements on stolen Palestinian land.
It is on occupied Syrian land. UPI quotes President Trump as he ignores that reality: “Trump said the United State’s recognition of Israel’s sovereignty of Golan Heights ‘was a long time in the making’ and should have occurred decades ago.”
The Golan event is just the latest “in your face” diplomatic step Trump has taken. He also recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 2017 when he moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a step Democratic and Republican candidates routinely promise but never implement.
The 2020 reelection of Donald Trump would result in many more such perverse diplomatic steps that would further spiral down this nation into nothing less than a dictatorship of the rich riding on the ignorant prejudices of white nationalism.
What other option awaits us in 2020?
This moment in the political calendar, when the Democratic National Committee is putting on a series of debates to showcase more than 20 candidates for the nomination in 2020, we have another option.
On the issue of Israel’s wholesale theft of Palestinian (and Syrian land), our choice at the ballot box in November, 2020 is between Trump’s “in your face” ignorant Zionist-dictated diplomacy and the 20 plus Democratic presidential candidates whose street creed is built entirely on “weasel words” designed to protect vote-seekers.
First. we need to explain how we are using “weasel words” to define political evasiveness.
With due respect to one of God’s creatures, the weasel follows its instincts to survive and exist from generation to generation. A weasel does what a weasel does. If a hungry weasel enters a hen house in search of sustenance, it will steal eggs.
Google offers this definition:
“Weasel words” are a colloquial term for words or phrases used to avoid being forthright. Weasel words are used when the speaker wants to make it seem like they’ve given a clear answer to a question or made a direct statement, when actually they’ve said something inconclusive or vague.
The Times asked many questions. Israel’s human rights question was answered by most of the candidates in “weasel words”. Click on this link and watch, at the very least, how your favorite candidate dances around the issue of human rights and Israel.
The attitudes of Democratic voters toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have become decidedly more balanced in the past two decades. Favorable attitudes toward Palestinians are up while attitudes toward Israel appear to be in decline. While, overall views of Israel remain positive, substantial numbers of Democrats are opposed to Israeli policies – namely settlement construction and violations of Palestinian rights. Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, is also viewed negatively by most Democrats.
These shifts in opinion have placed many Democratic presidential candidates in a bind – especially those who have served in Congress or as Governors. As conscious as they may be of their base’s changing mood, they have also been schooled not to alienate pro-Israel donors or cross Israel’s lobbyists, who can, if aroused, distract their campaigns with a barrage of protests.
It was against this backdrop that I watched the results of a months-long New York Times’ project in which they interviewed 21 of the Democrats running for president on a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that will confront the next president. There were questions on Afghanistan, handguns, health care, immigration, and the death penalty.
Most intriguing to me was question #4: “Do you think that Israel meets international standards of human rights?” because it was deeply revealing about each of candidates’ principles, their understanding of, and readiness to deal with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Beginning in Iowa in February, 2020, voters will have a choice: Vote on the issue of Israel and the Palestinian occupied people for the “in your face” candidate now in office, or the “weasel words” candidate who emerges with the nomination.
Trump is currently in power and he uses that power to satisfy Zionists. The absurdity of his current economic plan, designed to buy off the Palestinians’ quest for freedom, was a non-starter. That is the best we are going to see from his “in your face” diplomacy.
The other option for Palestine will be the Democratic “weasel word” nominee. We know what we get from Mr. “in your face” Trump.
The “weasel word” Democrats have until November 2020 to give us their best. Maybe they will surprise us. We can only pray, work and hope.