Earlier this week I mentioned hearing Diane Rehm interview Jimmy Carter on her program. A Mensch with a capital M, and not just because it’s a noun. I also listened to an interview on Bob Edwards Radio (need to write about Bob too, another Mensch). This was about Carter’s so-called “Malais” speech: you can internet that phrase too. That speech did not contain that particular word, but team it with Reagan and recall “Morning in America” and you’ll get there from here.
Well, Jimmy was right on target and he has lived long enough to see us realize it. Selling off your valuable possessions such as your industrial base to those overseas places makes you look like a lottery winner in the short run. It takes you closer to Shirley Jackson’s Lottery in the long run. Also no wars during the Carter Administration. No solar panels on the White House roof after 1980. Jimmy Carter’s foresight was 20-20. And he has the courage to use words like apartheid in proper context: truth to power. Mourning in America.
I first read Bertrand Russell’s essay collection Why I am not a Christian In the early 70’s. One essay that affected me in particular, and that still intrigues me is Russell’s “Nice People.”
Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum excerpt:
— Quote from: “Mike Foster” —I’ve been reading Why I Am Not A Christian, And Other Essays by Bertrand Russell. In it, he launches a fairly sarcastic – even scathing – attack on ‘nice people’ in a c1931 essay called . . .’Nice People’! He talks about people who think they are nice as often indirectly selfish, unappreciative, aloof, deceptive and inclined to exercise power indirectly through gossip etc.
It’s been a few years since this essay was published, but I am quite humbled at its timeliness. A great touchstone indeed.
“Nice People” rather reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s bombastic apologist in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift’s finely pompous character is merrily describing the land of his birth. His pride at its prowess is figuratively exceptional: sufficient to pop his vest buttons, had he been wearing a vest. Let’s imagine they are gold buttons to polish the metaphor. So he extols the virtue of his beloved British Empire at considerable length. Russell waits, as did Swift, until the very end of his writing before telling us the salient distinguishing feature of these very nicely described Nice People. Unfortunately they have nasty minds.
Nice people may also be found among those affecting membership in “The Silent Majority.”
The word for today’s class is “inexplicable.” Let’s get some قهوة عربية (arabischen Kaffee) and try to understand why news stories should be read with discrimination and not with discrimination.
Hey man, look at this crazy crap. There’s a cow on the news right now and it’s walking down the expressway. Is that like something you’ve ever seen ever? It’s like a North Korean spotted anywhere outside North Korea: an escapee from an authentically horrible place. A possible location of said cow using Google Maps: buildings densely populated by bovines. You are responsible for finding two (2) similarly inexplicable matters.
Doctors make house calls in Cuba, infant mortality is low, education is free, something about literacy rates and a cartoon character. What do my fellow Americans know about Cuba, its culture, its history?
Time for a Google search, exact phrase: “most moral army in the world”. Find a sentence that incorporates all six (6) words. For example, here is one such result from Haaretz(March 3, 2014): “The most moral army in the world fired an anti-tank missile at the house in which a wanted young Palestinian was hiding. The most moral army in the world ran a bulldozer over the top of the house and destroyed it.” I subscribe to Haaretz, so this article may not be available to you. Now, to stay on task, consider usage: inexplicable or explicable.
Class assignment: clip stories from your local newspaper about police officer heroes. Compare to episodes of The Wire. Consult this database maintained continuously and meticulously by The Guardian:
You may also view the following video from Australian journalists that might pique your interest and provide examples of the “inexplicable.” It’s 53 minutes long. Remember that my quiz questions may come from anywhere in the video. If you are not a member of this class you do not have to view it. It’s here for its value; however images of gross child mistreatment are always disturbing:
Then a memory from Ferguson, MO. In the likely event of a possible misreading, the Nixon referred to below is Governor Jay Nixon. My excerpt is from the August 24, 2014 issue of the online article in BeMagazine.org original article on Ferguson is in Mother Jones.
JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE: ON MONDAY, HEDY EPSTEIN, A 90-YEAR-OLD HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, WAS ARRESTED FOR “FAILURE TO DISPERSE” WHILE PROTESTING NIXON’S DECISION TO BRING THE MISSOURI NATIONAL GUARD TO FERGUSON. SHE’S A MEMBER OF JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE, A NATIONAL GROUP THAT ADVOCATES FOR EQUALITY FOR PALESTINIANS AND ISRAELIS. “I AM DEEPLY, DEEPLY TROUBLED BY WHAT IS GOING ON IN FERGUSON,” EPSTEIN TOLD NEWSWEEK AFTER HER RELEASE. “IT’S A MATTER OF INJUSTICE, AND IT’S NOT ONLY IN FERGUSON…THE POWER STRUCTURE LOOKS AT ANYONE WHO’S DIFFERENT AS THE OTHER, AS LESS WORTHY, AND SO YOU TREAT THE OTHER AS SOMEONE WHO IS LESS HUMAN AND WHO NEEDS TO BE CONTROLLED AND WHO IS NOT TRUSTED.”
Israelis celebrate Independence Day with abandon on the 14th of each May. Remembering Nakba occurs the following day, but be aware: it is not permitted to mourn in Israel on Nakba Day, so it is forbidden to grieve ancestral family roots past, present and future. Many Palestinians lived on the Mediterranean coast. Certainly this would be my choice too, since the climate is that of Southern California. Californians also seem to prefer the coast, some prefer Sacramento. 700,000 Palestinians exiled in 1948. They left homes and lives rooted in many generations, many family trees. There is yet no legal option in Israeli law to a right to return. In the following video you’ll see a skeleton key on a sign: it signifies all the house-keys carried into the West Bank, Gaza or wherever a diaspora may take you.
Full disclosure: I am a card-carrying member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a soft-spoken person. I aspire to stand on the side of peace and social justice. I am also not antisemitic. To repeat, Jewish Voice for Peace consists of Jewish people and their friends and relations. It also does not imply that I question Israel’s right to exist.
Criticism of Israel is an exercise in free speech, it is not antisemitism.
I’ve just read an appeal by Rabbi Margaret Holub on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace: “The Wisdom To Love Well.”
When she talks about JVP she is often countered with questions: What about China in Tibet? Minorities in other Arab countries? Congo?
“Of course I want justice everywhere. And, also, I care personally and heartfully about Israel and Palestine because I love Judaism and I love Jews. I care about what is being done in our names…Love is not always easy, and the love JVP calls for is a difficult love. I wish it weren’t necessary. But since it is, I am so grateful that there is a Jewish Voice for Peace to provide community, the structure and the wisdom to love well.”
Many innocent and guilty bystanders in the US now know: wide availability of videos taken with electronic devices has changed the face of modern news reporting. Consider this graphic:
Corporate ownership of media threatens dependable, independent, dispassionate and nonpartisan journalism . Fortunately the internet allows each of us to see cracks in conventional wisdom. An increasingly militarized police does not soothe the downtrodden. Everyone should feel at ease when expressing deeply held beliefs, particularly when those beliefs speak truth to power . Lucas Koerner isan American from Philadelphia who has a close personal stake in Israel and he wanted to express his beliefs when visiting Jerusalem. Then, the unexpected.
Our planet can never have too many eloquent persons. I miss the voice of Edward Said as a thinking person and Palestinian who believed in a one-state solution. Listen to the oppressed. They have tragic tales to relate.
“Lucas,” a 19 year-old from Philadelphia, cut a rather different figure in the Jerusalem Day flag parade in the capital. Like many participants in the event, he wore a skullcap on his head; unlike the others, however, a Palestinian flag and a keffiyeh were also part of his outfit.