brotherpeacemaker

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April Fool’s!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 Posted by | Life, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Crimes Of Omission

I see a crime and a sin as two starkly different things.  A sin is a matter of conscience.  I shouldn’t be having those thoughts about my wife’s new best friend or I shouldn’t have cheated on my final exam.  Yes if I got caught there would’ve been hell to pay.  The wife would probably get a new diamond necklace or I would’ve been expelled from school or automatically flunk the class.  But there are ways to fix things that doesn’t really impact our ability to recover and keep on with our lives.   These violations are more of a failure of ethics or morality.

On the other hand, a crime is a violation of law and some government agency will probably get involved in order to set things straight.  A crime might include a fine or some jail time or both for the perpetrator.  But make no mistake, if a crime is proven to have been committed without any mitigating circumstances to justify the act, or a good pricey lawyer to come to the perp’s defense, somebody’s going to pay.

Recently there’s been a lot of discussion regarding the pedophiles that have become all but synonymous with the Catholic Church.  The public press has been pretty harsh against Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican.  There have been a number of high profile accusations concerning the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests in Wisconsin, Germany, and Ireland.  All the stories make the suggestion that the church leadership has been criminally negligent in handling the many charges of abuse brought to its attention.  There has even been some accusation that the Vatican has been an accomplice in covering up crucial details in some of the cases.

The New York Times reported that from 1950 to 1974, Reverend Lawrence Murphy worked as a counselor at an acclaimed school for deaf children in Wisconsin, where he molested at least two hundred boys.  Church bishops alerted the Vatican that Mr. Murphy had been accused of molesting children at the school, though his behavior was never brought to the attention of local law enforcement.  Instead of allowing the investigation to come to its natural conclusion and allowing Mr. Murphy to face potential criminal prosecution, he was quietly transferred to another parish.

From 1981 to 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was later elected to become Pope Benedict XVI, headed the Vatican department responsible for investigating and acting on such allegations, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  When the bishops in Wisconsin finally initiated disciplinary action against Mr. Murphy, the accused priest wrote a letter of protest to Cardinal Ratzinger citing his failing health and his earlier repentance for his actions.  Shortly after Cardinal Ratzinger received the letter, the trial was halted by one of his subordinates.  Mr. Murphy died in 1998 as a fully decorated priest.

In response to this accusation and similar ones from Europe and the United Kingdom, the Vatican has gone on the attack accusing the media of an attempt to smear the Catholic Church.  The fact that there is a paper trail that implicates Cardinal Ratzinger and the Vatican in a cover up of monumental proportions within the church is inconsequential.  The real crime is the smear campaign from people who simply refuse to let all the dust flying around this story settle down and eventually die.

Like many fraternal organizations, priests are sworn to secrecy.  And so any investigation by government authorities is seriously compromised by the mentality of the church authorities who want to take care of the matter quietly on their own.  Breaking the priestly code of silence that prevents a more open discussion of the implications surrounding these scandals is a critical first step to breaking the far deeper conspiracy of silence that permitted these heinous acts and their subsequent cover up to happen in the first place.

To add insult to injury, some people actually feel, or at least at one time felt, that priests were above reproach simply because of their occupation.  No priest would ever abuse anyone.  You couldn’t possibly get the job if your character was that immoral.  We simply trusted the church to do the job of policing their own.  To some, the whole affair is something for the church to handle.  We view these acts as if they were nothing more than sins easily rectified with a rote recital of a rosary or something similarly trite.

But these aren’t sins.  What we are talking about are crimes.  And when we take into consideration that these were crimes against children, you damn skippy the law needs to get involved.  If a priest is accused of assaulting someone then that priest may have committed a crime.  And if a crime has been committed then there’s a chance that there were accomplices to that crime.  No where else would we be willing to make the sin of leaving an accomplice to the crime determine the punishment of the main perpetrator of the crime.

Monday, March 29, 2010 Posted by | Faith, Life, Religion, Spirituality, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Who Knew Polticians Used Dirty Words

My youngest sibling is getting ready to turn forty.  The next youngest turned forty either last year or the year before.  With all the brothers and sisters I have it’s pretty hard to keep track of my own birthday and year, let alone theirs.  But one thing I know for sure and you can trust me on is that we’re pretty old.

But I can remember as clear as day how they would respond to the occasional dirty word they heard when they were little.  About thirty five years ago give or take a year or two, if they were to hear something relatively benign like “pee-pee”, meaning piss, or “doo-doo”, meaning shit, they would howl with laughter.  They would spend the rest of the day making references to their new favorite word, getting on everybody’s nerves until somebody did something to inspire them to move on to bigger and better things.  Like mom slapping the shit out of them because she had finally had enough.

However, in the hour or two or three or four, after they had their vocabulary expanded, if at least only temporary, my little brother and sister would act like a dirty word was the funniest thing they ever heard.  One would be like four and the other would be about six.  They would walk up to each other, say “doo-doo”, and then fall out laughing over and over again.  They’d do this until mom would say something like, say that shit one more time and I’ll knock you into the middle of next week.  Most intelligent people would heed the warning and make the necessary changes.  Not my little brother and sister.  You could count the seconds on your fingers before you’d hear something like,

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Doo!
Doo who?
No!!  DOO-DOO!

Next thing you know while they’re running around yucking it up as if they discovered the funniest thing known to man, mom’s got one of dad’s belt or his razor strap that would hang on the back of the bathroom door and is going through the house like a Tasmanian devil going after Bugs Bunny.  My little brother and sister might have regretted the end result.  But ‘til then, they would be having the best time of their life.  But that’s what you can expect from a four and six year old.

Last week, Vice President Joe Biden used a dirty word.  Right after the introduction of his boss, President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden tried to whisper in Mr. Obama’s ear a private comment.  But the microphone caught wind of Mr. Biden’s private statement for the world to hear.  In reference to the just passed healthcare reform bill, Mr. Biden said it was a big fucking deal.

For some, it was not as big a fucking deal as the Vice President using the term big fucking deal.  This weekend, on one of the talk shows, somebody put together a montage of video clips from various news reporters referring to the Mr. Biden’s latest oral gaffe.  Some of the stuff was funny.  Initially it was something that would cause a snicker or a smile.  But really, is this the gaffe of gaffes heard ‘round the world?  Judging by the media attention I think even my little brother and sister from thirty five years ago would’ve tired of hearing about this nearly a week later.

I know adding my two cents to the subject only adds fuel to the fire in some people’s eyes.  But I have to ask, who honestly didn’t think our national politicians dropped four letter vulgarities like the best of them?  There was a video of George Bush junior trying to insert himself into a line of military personnel in Afghanistan or Iraq.  The soldiers weren’t happy about being so close to the President and were trying to avoid standing next to him.  There was one soldier who was actually trying to push Mr. Bush out of the line.  Mr. Bush looked her in the eye, made a quick statement, and a whole opened up as if he was Moses and the line was the Red Sea.  Now I don’t read lips and I never talked with anyone who was actually there.  But I’m willing to bet my twenty against a five Mr. Bush said something similar to, you’d better fucking move.

Politicians use salty language.  I wouldn’t put it past a single one that makes it to the national stage.  I’m willing to bet that even Jimmy Carter could do a rant that would make the Jheri Curl wearing Samuel L. Jackson character in Pulp Fiction sound like a choir boy.  You know Mr. Carter used to be a sailor.  I can easily imagine him turning to one of his daughter Amy’s college boyfriends and saying at the top of his lungs,

“Say what again!  I dare you!  I double you, motherfucker!  Say what one more goddamn time!  I’ll put my Georgia stompin’ foot up your goddamn ass so far you’ll open your fucking mouth so I can trim my goddamn toe nails!”

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the fact that Mr. Biden using the “F” word is newsworthy.  I can understand it hitting the nightly news the day it happened or even the day after.  But please, this isn’t news come a week later.  The media needs to grow up and give us all a big fucking break.

Sunday, March 28, 2010 Posted by | Joe Biden, Life, Politics, Thoughts | 3 Comments

Sarah Palin On Fox

Friday, March 26, 2010 Posted by | Life, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Morning Joe Trivia

This morning I was a bit under the weather so I stayed at home and just did a slow morning instead of getting my lazy ass up to the gym.  I went back to my old habits of taking advantage of the early morning to try and catch up on what’s going on in the news.  This morning, I turned the television to MSNBC and watched the Morning Joe show with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.

Considering recent political events, a major portion of this morning’s discussion was the public’s response to the passage of the healthcare reform bill.  More specifically, the discussion focused on the threats of violence that are coming from the far right.  There have been several stories about Democratic politicians being threatened with violence from their constituents.  Several politicians had their campaign offices vandalized.  A number have received some seriously vulgar death threats.  I heard a recording sent to one politician that had string of profanities so long that I though that the station airing the rant would wear out its bleep button.  The brother of another politician had the gas line to the bar-b-cue pit at his home severed and the smell of gas leaking permeated his home.  In the mailbox was a letter threatening more violence in the future.

Now Mr. Scarborough says he’s a moderate conservative.  He might be moderate, but I think his political leanings are a little further to the far right than he lets on.  He said that all these things happening in the news are awful and he doesn’t want to do anything or say anything to downplay the horrendous nature of these acts.  But then he follows up that when he did his stint as a member of the United States House of Representatives where he represented the good folks in Florida’s 1st district.  Mr. Scarborough replied that if he had called the press every time he had a hostile phone call he’d never get anything done.  He wanted to know why the news never talked about the hostile threat against a conservative politician from the liberal.  The way Mr. Scarborough approaches the matter you’d think that what we were going through was just another every day occurrence.  But of course, he would never think that he was downplaying the serious nature of what’s going on right now.

The political far right’s response to the passage of healthcare reform is not an everyday occurrence.  People feeling emboldened enough to yell racial and homophobic epithets at, or spitting on, our national politicians in the halls of the capital building is a new phenomenon.  If Mr. Scarborough can recall when he was walking through the capital building and somebody spat on him or a day when he showed up for work at his office and found someone had vandalized the place, or if he could recall the day somebody came to his house and caused a gas leak and endangered his family then I might be a little more sympathetic towards his rather casual dismissal.

And let us not forget the fact that this isn’t an attack on a lone politician who happens to piss a constituent or two off.  The phenomenon we are talking about is a suddenly happening to a variety of politicians on one side of the political divide in response to a very public and very intense, contentious debate and subsequent brawl over healthcare reform.  And now that one side has lost, the latest setback in a painful string of disappointments that started with the election of America’s first black President, a lot of people are wishing harm to a subset of our national legislators.

What is happening now isn’t just some crank call from an angry voter in the middle of the night.  People are having their gas line severed and finding hateful messages in their mailbox promising more.  Mr. Scarborough complains bitterly about the bias in the media reporting.  He made the suggestion that if it was a case of a liberal constituent threatening and vandalizing a conservative politician, nobody would care.  The media would not even bother reporting the story.

Maybe he has a point.  Maybe if it was a liberal doing the vandalizing nobody would be paying attention.  But the fact of the matter is that it isn’t just a liberal citizen threatening a politician.  In fact, it isn’t just a conservative doing bad deeds.  The fact of the matter is that there are more than just a few cases of this kind of thing going on.  And while tempers might be running hot after the climax of such a long and contentious congressional fight, things will get better before they get a lot worse.  Mid-term elections will be held later this year and there are bound to be people spoiling for political and physical fights.  And if some of these political conservatives suffer another series of losses things are sure to get a lot worse.

People like Mr. Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski and the rest of their crew shouldn’t be so quick to try and trivialize what’s going on.  Nobody is getting their panties in a wad over one or two threats.  Some people won’t take this seriously until somebody gets seriously hurt or worse.  If only I had a dollar for every time a politician minimized the dangerous behavior of their supportive political constituents.

Thursday, March 25, 2010 Posted by | Life, Politics, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Whew!! Made It!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010 Posted by | Democrats, Healthcare, Healthcare Reform, Life, Politics, Thoughts | Leave a comment

Weeds Of Intolerance

And so it begins.  In order to show their anger with the passing of a healthcare reform package intended to help insure the health of more Americans and to end practices that profits the bottom line of the health insurers at the expense of individuals who need insurance or who may file a claim, some people are becoming violent.  When the defeat of the healthcare bill became a losing cause, many Americans went to the capital building in Washington, D.C. in a last ditch effort to sway politicians.  Lining the hallways and forming a gauntlet to the chamber where the voting was to take place, American citizens displayed their rancor by shouting racist and sexist remarks to various supporters of healthcare reform.  As protesters yelled their insults and calls for the bill’s demise, politicians that opposed the bill cheered and clapped, encouraging the protest and removing any pretense of having a respectable political discord.

I spent some time reading some of the comments left to the various news articles covering the progress of healthcare reform.  To say that many people are angry is an understatement.  The majority of the comments I read opposing the bill talked about throwing the politicians that supported the bill out.  A lot of people talked about how we’re not a fascist state or a communist state or a police state where President Obama is after people’s wallets.  Some people talked about leaving the country.  Chances are pretty good that if they carried through with their “threat” they would end up in a country that offers true universal healthcare instead of the watered down version offered in the bill headed for Mr. Obama’s signature.

A couple of people went so far as to suggest that we have nothing to worry about because Mr. Obama isn’t a citizen of the United States because he never made his birth certificate a matter of public record but instead used lawyers to fight any call for him to produce it.  Any law Mr. Obama signs is illegal.  Some people are so intent to cling to this conspiracy delusion that they forget that a birth certificate is a public document available by contacting the state in which it is issued.  Mr. Obama’s birth certificate is not a classified document.  Hiring a lawyer to block the state from issuing copies of his birth certificate doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

But what was pretty telling were all the comments that suggested now is the time for some patriotic violence.  A few people talked about breaking out the guns and taking their anger to the street in order to get their country back.  But back from who is never made clear.  I doubt if anybody walking the streets in this protester’s neighborhood is trying to hold the country away from anybody else.  Nobody really expects anybody making this kind of hateful nonsense to see the illogic of their ways.  People paraphrased the Thomas Jefferson quote about the tree of liberty being refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  Nobody ever talks about the trees of hostility that grow like an entire forest of redwoods.  Nobody ever talks about the weeds of stupidity that grow everywhere without anybody there to nurture them.  The weeds of intolerance can spoil the most beautiful garden of civility and harmony.  Nobody ever talks about that.

Any modicum of civility left in this and other political debates is quickly fading.  So many people have  become so fanatical about their position and how it is the only position that deserves to be supported with bullets and other forms of violence.  No one is threatening anybody’s freedom.  And yet, people feel moved to compare the fate of healthcare coverage for almost everyone in the country to having their individual freedom restricted to the point of being enslaved.

A lot of people are actually waking up today with the belief that using our national social collective to help assure that fewer people in America go without quality medical care, and not just the expensive band aids and cursory examinations that come with emergency room care, is akin to having our rights taken away by the federal government.  And these will be the same people who would press for a federal law to take away a woman’s right to chose by making any form of abortion illegal.  These are the same people who wouldn’t hesitate to support an amendment to the Untied States Constitution that says marriage is the union between a man and a woman.  That kind of enslavement is totally acceptable.  In fact, some people would be willing to get their guns to push these restrictions on their fellow man.  It seems that the people so concerned about the tree of liberty are a little biased about whose blood is needed and when.

The rancor is really getting out of hand.  When Mr. Obama won the oval office, people responded with threats of violence.  Now that Mr. Obama and his supporters have successfully pushed through healthcare reform, a feat that has eluded Presidents and Congresses for more than a handful of decades, people again want to talk about violence.  Eventually, this talk of violence to support political positions will boil over into the real thing and innocent people are going to get seriously hurt.

Monday, March 22, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Healthcare, Healthcare Reform, Life, Politics, Thoughts | 3 Comments

Healthcare Reform Passes

I have to admit to some satisfaction to the fact that the healthcare bill so furiously argued, depicted, ridiculed, attacked, defended, adjusted, compromised, and a whole lot more, passed through the House of Representatives yesterday.  This wasn’t the first hurdle.  It won’t be the last one either.  But this was arguably the most crucial moments in the healthcare reform debate.  At least this is the most crucial moment since the last most crucial moment when one of the Houses of the Congress had to do their vote on the measure with threats of filibusters and other parliamentary finagling and nonsense.

The opponents of healthcare reform pulled out all the stops.  There were talks of death panels killing old people, threats of new forms of healthcare rationing, promises that the federal government was going to get in between doctors and patients, assurances that healthcare reform would bankrupt the country, town hall sessions where people on government managed Medicare program fomented their anger towards socialized medicine, and comparisons of President Barack Obama with German Chancellor Adolph Hitler.  Nobody wanted healthcare reform.  Through a series of compromises the bill was significantly watered down to a point that a lot of its bite was purged.  Reform was seriously hampered when the public option was taken off the table.  The bill became a mere shadow of itself.

But in the end, even with all the negotiations and concessions that weakened the bill and  transformed the measure into a mere shadow of what could have been done, political opponents found it more politically advantageous to reject the measure and try to force the bill’s supporters to throw the healthcare reform baby out with the public option bathwater.

The President’s steadily dwindling poll numbers and the Senate race in Massachusetts to replace the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy that saw the Republican Scott Brown defeat Democrat Martha Coakley was proof positive that the entire country was against healthcare reform.  The conservatives generously offered to return to the negotiation table if the President and the other supporters of the bill would simply stop pushing this version of reform and start the entire process over again, pushing any reform even further down the road.  The opponents of reform would have taken their success of defeating healthcare reform into the midterm elections scheduled for the end of this year and promising more political stagnation of the entire reform process.  For all practical purposes, the whole affair would have resulted in healthcare business as usual.

A defeat of healthcare reform would have significantly derailed the presidency of Mr. Obama.  As Republican Senator Jim Demit of South Carolina suggested during the reform debate, if the Republican Party was able to stop Obama it would be his Waterloo.  If healthcare reform was something that seemed to be a benefit to the country, that line of reasoning was lost in a rather narcissistic bid to score political points by blocking any kind of progress.  The end result would have changed the political environment in favor of the conservatives.

Thankfully this will not be the case.  Despite trying to boil the whole case of healthcare reform down to an issue of whether or not the bill would kick open the door to government sanctioned abortions, another compromise was quickly arranged.  The President promised abortion opponents that he would issue an executive order that would reaffirm the long standing restrictions against the usage of federal funds for abortions.  This whole sidebar was nothing but smoke and mirrors.  The healthcare reform bill does nothing to change the abortion issue.  The whole abortion ordeal was just another one of those hurdles fabricated to provoke people’s fears.

This morning, the country is one giant step closer to making healthcare reform law.  There are a lot of disappointed people out there.  A Republican Senator promised that healthcare reform will destroy America.  Obviously, although healthcare is everything but a done deal, the rhetoric regarding is passage is just kicking into high gear.

A person’s attitude towards healthcare reform depends on his or her attitude towards social structure.  People who see healthcare as a privilege are against reform.  People who see healthcare as a fundamental right are for reform.  People who have no access to quality healthcare, other than the most expensive kind available at the emergency room that is guaranteed to be too late to nip a health problem in its early stages, are looking for help.  People who are comfortable with their relationship with their health insurance company are trying to defend their peace of mind.  Insurance companies are a health resource and some people want to protect that resource as much as possible.  Too many undeserving people in the pipe, people who can’t afford or won’t buy their own health insurance, means less healthcare may be available when somebody who can afford it needs it.

If Medicare and Medicaid are any indication we already have socialized medicine.  When people who can’t afford health insurance go to the emergency room and that bill gets passed to people who do have health insurance, we already have socialized medicine.  When we allow insurance companies to reject people’s claim for healthcare or allow insurance companies to rejects people for preexisting conditions for whatever reason, in essence we already have people facing death panels.  This bill isn’t going to make abortions more popular.  This bill isn’t a communist plot to overthrow democracy.  The bill is an attempt to correct a problem we have in our healthcare system.

People are free to believe whatever they want.  Only time will tell for sure if this will be a godsend or a curse.  But even that will depend on people’s perspective.  When we see the healthcare insurance rolls swell and see more people with health insurance getting the care they need, we might see that as a good thing.  Unfortunately, some conservative people simply won’t be able to ignore the fact that this change for the better comes courtesy of a law at the federal level.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 Posted by | Barack Obama, Healthcare, Healthcare Reform, Life, Politics, Thoughts | 1 Comment

Standard Operating Procedure

Okay, just for the record, let it be known that there are white people who don’t care for black people.  Then again, there are black people who don’t care much for other black people as well.  That shouldn’t be a shocking revelation to anyone.  Despite what people like to claim, racism and racial prejudice are doing very well in America.  There is no such thing as a post racial era.  This really is not all that newsworthy.  Acts of racism happen each and every day.

Earlier this week, people at the Wal-Mart store in Washington Township in southern New Jersey were given a fresh reminder that some people are not participating in the all accepting, kumbaya singing, belief in the racial homogeny.  A male voice on the public address system ordered all black people to leave the store now.  A manager in the store quickly got on the system and apologized for the remark.  It is unclear whether the first announcement was made by a customer or by an employee.  Nevertheless, many customers expressed their anger to store management.  It was pretty much standard procedure after the public act of racism.

In the article I read about the incident, store patron Sheila Ellington had been interviewed.  The woman wanted to know why such statements are being made, because they fly in the face of what we supposedly teach our children about tolerance for all.  The woman was shopping in the store with her friend, Patricia Covington, at the time of the announcement.  She went on to say that if the event was meant to be a prank, neither she nor her friend was laughing.  The two women plan to boycott the retailer until they are assured that the issue has been addressed so it doesn’t happen again.  The pair said they were stunned when they first heard the announcement and believed they had misheard what was said.  But once the words sank in, they grew angry.  That is more standard procedure to a racially motivated incident.

Ms. Covington said that she depended on Wal-Mart for all her needs because the store pretty much has everything she could want.  But until this issue is addressed to her satisfaction, until she is made comfortable as a black person in a Wal-Mart store, she refuses to patronize the store again.  In a perverse kind of way, she will be doing exactly what the phantom announcer told her to.

Officials with Wal-Mart Stores said that the announcement was unacceptable and that the store is sparing no effort to determine who is responsible for the announcement and how it happened.  This is standard operating procedure as well.  The officials have made public statements saying that they were just as appalled by the incident as any one of their customers.  The statement went on to say that whoever made the announcement acted in an inappropriate manner.  Now that is some seriously tough talk.

This whole rigmarole is standard procedure for responding to blatant racism.  Black customers are angry or saddened and want reassurance that they matter.  Officials are appalled and incensed and promise to get to the bottom of things.  And given a week or two the whole affair will simply blend back into our consciousness as we move on with all of our lives.  Even Ms. Covington will get over her indignation and go back to supporting Wal-Mart Stores without her guarantee that black people will be made comfortable.  As far as Wal-Mart is concerned, finding the culprit will take time and the Wal-Mart bottom line is that time is money.  They know that their black customers will be back.  This whole affair is nothing new.  This isn’t the first time somebody said something ignorant about black people and it certainly won’t be the last.

In America, it is standard operating procedure is to take the black community for granted.  Despite what Ms. Ellington said in her interview we don’t teach our children tolerance.  In fact, we very much teach our children the exact opposite.  Over and over again, in the way that we respond to social issues and social values, we teach our children that black people are not the equal of white people.  If we did, we wouldn’t hear rogue announcements from anybody in a Wal-Mart store or anywhere else.  We wouldn’t see anybody setting nooses in public as an unsubtle reminder of black people’s place on our social ladder.  If we truly strove to teach our children that this kind of thing was something that happened in our past, it wouldn’t be happening today.  Somebody is keeping racial hatred alive and well.

Black people need to stop walking around as if acts of racial discrimination would never happen to them.  Racism is not something new.  Racism is not all that shocking.  Somebody got on the public address system and told black people to leave.  Black people should.  Why continue to patronize a store that has a history of racial discrimination?  What I find shocking is the fact that black people who walk around as if we live in racially enlightened communities.  They didn’t stop going to Wal-Mart when Wal-Mart was kicking somebody else’s ass.   Nobody is going to stop going to Wal-Mart because of what happened to you.  Wal-Mart really has nothing to worry about.  That’s standard operating procedure as well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts | 2 Comments

No Peace Between Unequals

Israel is having a very public dispute with the Obama administration over the Jewish country’s announcement that it was expanding its settlements in East Jerusalem.  The Jewish nation was pushing back against Washington’s demands that Israel demonstrate its commitment to the peace process by reversing an announced plan to build new housing units in territory that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants Israel to declare its readiness to hold substantial negotiations with the Palestinians on all issues and easing the continuous siege on Gaza.

But so far, Israeli leaders insist that the Jerusalem construction plans wouldn’t change and responded to Ms. Clinton by declaring that the government of Israel has proven over the last year that it is committed to peace, both in words and actions.  No longer sensitive to political pressure from Washington, Israel is ready to thumb its nose at the United States.  Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be using this dispute to strengthen his political hand to his constituents.  By defying the Obama administration’s demand for a settlement freeze Israel is trying to take advantage of the growing political opposition to anything the executive branch does.  With a number of high profile Republicans politicians and talking heads criticizing Mr. Obama over everything and anything, Mr. Netanyahu may be gambling that the storm that was clearly building between Israel and the United States over the expansion announcement may be winding down with little if anything to show for the high profile effort.

Honesty, what could we expect.  As a candidate seeking the presidency, Mr. Obama was courting Israel’s favor like a fat kid courts cookies.  How many times did we hear Mr. Obama assure the Jewish nation that under his stewardship, Israel will always have a friend in the United States?  When Israel was dropping white phosphorous magnesium and bunker buster bombs on the people of Gaza for being the launch site for rockets aimed at Israel, Mr. Obama threw his hat into the ring with a comment fully supporting Israel’s over the top aggressive response.  And after years, decades, and generations of being Israel’s staunchest supporter, the United States now wants to play tough guy.  Why?  The expansion announcement came while Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with Israeli officials trying to hammer out a peace negotiation.

The whole flap shows how little progress has made in resurrecting a Middle East peace.  The chances of a consensual peace agreement with the Palestinians are about as long as snowball’s chances in hell indeed.  And while it appears that a relatively mild form of political pressure is being applied to Israel from the Obama administration, the fact that Israel is expanding into East Jerusalem speaks volumes about their commitment to a meaningful peace arrangement.  By no means is Israel going to let a poorly timed announcement or the hurt feelings of an embarrassed United States Vice President derail their plans.  Israel’s business as usual attitude with the Palestinians should demonstrate that there will be no peace unless Israel is pressed to take actions that it will not take on its own.

The administration’s squabble with its conservative counterparts has left it pretty vulnerable from a political perspective.  And not doing anything is not an option.  America’s interests across the region are in a constant state of jeopardy by the failure to resolve the Middle East conflict in a manner acceptable to the other countries that inhabit this part of the world and many countries that lie elsewhere.

In the summer of 2008, then presidential candidate Barack Obama, trying to qualm fears of his commitment to the Jewish nation, declared that Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it would remain undivided.  And now, Israel rejects the call to halt construction in the eastern portion of the city that is home to many Palestinians, slowly forcing a complete Israeli takeover of the land.  In the past, Mr. Netanyahu told the Israeli people that the country’s claim to the occupied territory was nonnegotiable.  And although America has routinely and publicly opposed Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, never putting any substance behind its bark, Israel believes it can rally support from corporate, political, and community leaders in America who have sympathy for the Jewish state.  Such is the condition of normal when bigotry and prejudice serves as the foundation for social policy.

The entire group of complexities related to this conflict serves as an amazing window into the vulgarity of human intolerance and injustice when we as a collective are willing to tolerate such blatant racism and social discrimination.  Anyone who supports any action that continues to fuel this conflict from either side has the blood of thousands on their hands.  But like a healthcare reform package that has the potential to change the game for the benefit of the entire community, a lot of people have a vested interest in keeping a suppressing thumb of oppression against people who are perceived to be lesser.

The problem isn’t so much Israel’s settlement expansion into the occupied territory.  The problem is that Israel continues to expand its unique brand of racial discrimination into the occupied territory.  If people were treated with equality, there wouldn’t be a problem.  But the overwhelming attitude is that Palestinians are nothing but a nuisance that needs to be swept aside for the sake of progress.  Engaging the people are coming to a true peace of equals is totally out of the question.  The only peace this place will ever know is the peace that comes from physically beating the opposition into total submission.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Posted by | Israel, Life, Racism, Thoughts | 1 Comment