Wednesday, April 24, 2019

From Nazis to Netanyahu: How did things go so terribly wrong?

     "Love your hat!" I said to the grey-bearded Hasidic rabbi next to me as we stood in front of the White House the other day.  We were both preparing to march up New York Avenue to the DC Convention Center where members of the American Israel Public Affairs Action Committee (AIPAC) were happily doing brunch and getting ready to listen to their hero Bibi Netanyahu spew out his favorite brand of nationalism and hate.

     "My father died in a Nazi concentration camp," said the old rabbi, "and we Jews all vowed 'never again'.  And yet here we are, 75 years later, and now it is Zionists instead of Nazis who are running concentration camps."  The old rabbi sighed.  "And what also gives me big problems today," he continued, " is that when people on the street see me in my traditional Hasidic garments, they frown and avoid me because they think that I myself support Zionist atrocities -- but the Zionists, the real troublemakers, are all wearing suits and trying to fit in.  And the irony of this is that these Zionists don't even represent Judaism at all."

     Yep, the old rabbi nailed it.  Nowadays Zionists are rabidly claiming to be Jews -- but only after having disdainfully discarded Moses, the Ten Commandments and a goodly chunk of the Torah.  That's totally absurd.  And yet Hasidic Jews, not Zionists, are paying the price for haters like Netanyahu and Trump.  And Jews from Poway to Pittsburgh are paying a terrible price too.

     To paraphrase Tupac, "The hate that Zionists give screws up real Jews."

     Netanyahu wears thousand-dollar designer suits while Gaza children wear rags.  Netanyahu supports the Saudis, who are slowly turning Yemen into Auschwitz.  Netanyahu supports American fascism which in turn supports all kinds of murder both at home and abroad.  Ten Commandments?  The Torah?  Mere propaganda tools.

     And America's so-called Christians aren't doing much better at representing Jesus either.  "Sanctuary Cities."  OMG, that's what America's current shamelessly un-Christian regime is now calling all those miserable concentration camps for kidnapped babies which now fester away at our southern border like open sores.  That's just like, back in the day, when Nazis declared that Theresienstadt, their fake "Model Town" concentration camp for Jewish artists and musicians, was a "cultural center" -- just before sending these same talented Jews off to the ovens, playing their violins as they went.

     Recently I joined some Palestinian genocide survivors, some actually-moral Americans and a bunch of Hasidic Jews as we met near the White House, marched up New York Avenue and picketed AIPAC's annual convention -- filled with Zionists who have been influencing our federal elections ever since before Eisenhower and Johnson.

      And please don't try to accuse me of anti-Semitism either.  As the old rabbi pointed out, real Jews try to obey the Ten Commandments.  Real Jews try to seek justice.  And real Jews don't run concentration camps like Gaza -- just like real Christians don't run concentration camps like the one in Tomillo, Texas.

      "Over the centuries," the Hasidic rabbi said, " Anti-Semitism has caused much bloodshed and right-thinking people recognize how tragic it is.  But the term is often used incorrectly today -- abused to promote people's agendas.  Zionism isn't Judaism.  It's nationalism."  And the absolutely worst sort of nationalism too.  Colonialism, power grabs, brutality, really bad stuff.  Not religious at all.

     "Encouraging the conflation of Zionism with Judaism also encourages hatred toward the innocent -- and the result is that real Jews end up being the target of anger over actions perpetrated by Zionists, supposedly in the name of Jews."  That's so unjust.  For 75 years now, Zionists have been violently stirring up hatred for Palestinian Christians and Muslims.  The result?  Zionist "settlers" feel free to murder and plunder at will.  And after 75 years of Zionists trumpeting hate speech, the whole Middle East is now in flames -- and domestic terrorists also run wild in the United States.  The hate that Zionists give screws up all of us.

     "And this is why we are marching here today."  Go, you!  Justice is always a good thing.

     "But, Jane, why are you being so especially hard on the Zionists," you might ask.  No.  It's not just them that I'm being hard on.  I also resent all those un-Christians in Europe and America who pretend to worship Jesus and yet murder and torture others in Jesus' name.  Or those un-Muslim Saudis who finance ISIS and fire-bomb babies in Yemen.  Mohammad (PBUH) would never approve of that.  So why should I give un-Jews a pass just because they brutally colonized Jerusalem?  Obviously I don't.

     How to fix this problem?  The problem of false propaganda turning religions into tools to gain power and greed?  Easy.  Demagogues and power-hungry Calf-worshiping blasphemers need to reassess both their methods and their goals.  When a group's goal is to dominate the world and make everyone else suffer, they really do need to stop calling themselves "religious".

    The real goal of truly religious people is to be kind, loving, compassionate and helpful.  But Zionists and un-Jews, just like their counterparts the un-Christians and un-Muslims, simply aren't any fun.

      To quote Gloria Steinem, "Whenever one person stands up and says:  'Wait a minute.  This is wrong,' it helps other people do the same."  I stood up with the Hasidic Jews and the Palestinians on that march -- and had fun doing it too.  Plus it's gonna be really hard to accuse these Hasidic Jews, marching in full regalia down New York Avenue, of being anti-Semitic or even self-hating -- but I imagine that Netanyahu and AIPAC will find some way to do it anyway.  But the friendly grey-bearded Hasidic rabbi I marched next to sure didn't look like an anti-Semitic self-hating Jew to me.

PS:  "Why do religions even have such strong laws to support ethics?" asks author Barbara Ehrenreich.  "Because humans need some sort of ethics touchstone in order to survive."  If only bullies, corporate shills, armed forces and corrupt regimes rule the world, then the human race is doomed.  Hence guidelines like the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule are necessary -- unless of course you relish the idea of becoming toast.  Which I don't.

     So.  If our leaders are liars, cheats, torturers and bullies, then it's time for us all to stand up and have our objections counted -- or else go down with their sinking ship.


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Friday, April 19, 2019

Post-its & pizza: My visit to our Congressional office buildings in DC

     How the freak did I end up totally lost and stranded in the sub-sub-basement of the Rayburn office building in Washington DC last week?  Long story.  I was actually trying to find the offices of Congressional Representatives Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar so I could shake their hands and tell them how wonderful they were -- but got seriously distracted by the temptation of gluten-free pizza on offer in the congressional cafeteria instead.  Unlimited toppings!  Yummers!

     While waiting for my order to finish baking, I asked several pizza-eating Congressional aides for directions regarding how to get to AOC's and Omar's offices, and one of them told me to take an elevator down to the connecting tunnels that run beneath the Rayburn, Cannon and Longworth buildings -- but I must have pushed the wrong button because I ended up lost in some dark spooky narrow sub-sub-basement hallway littered with unwanted office furniture and black garbage bags.  But that was okay because I still had my pizza-to-go so I wouldn't starve before someone found me months later.

     Seeing that I was buried in the bowels of Congress already, it seemed appropriate to start contemplating the actual underground nature of our government and its tenancy to bury inconvenient facts and hide corruption (as well as unwanted furniture) out of sight of us taxpayers -- stuff like how lobbyists run Congress, how the Pentagon "misplaced" 21 trillion bucks but wasn't even investigated and how Zionists and Saudis are the real powers behind the throne in America these days.

      But then a middle-aged bureaucrat in a grey flannel suit wandered by and showed me the light -- down four corridors, up three staircases, through two doors marked "employees only" and onto an elevator going to the second floor of Longworth.  Or was it Cannon?

     In any case, I found Rep. Omar's office first and shook her aide's hand, shook her other aide's hand and also signed the guestbook.  "Keep up the good work!"  Top government officials who happily commit genocide for fun and profit need to get a reality check every so often, but that clearly hasn't happened in DC since before the Korean and Vietnam "wars," back in the dark ages when America really was truly "great" -- at mass murder.  But Omar is definitely calling their bluff now.  No wonder the powers-that-be hate her.

      Then I visited AOC's office too.  What a delight!  One entire wall in front of her office was covered with post-it notes saying, "We love you, AOC!" or words to that effect.  Lots of stars and hearts too.  And inside her office was another entire wall with hundreds of post-it notes saying basically the same thing.

     "Can I sign a post-it note too?" I asked.

     "Sorry, we've run out."  So I signed the guest book instead.  Yay!  I also love Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez!  We need far more ex-waitresses like her in Congress.  And also a lot of former bus-drivers and teachers and farmers and all other kinds of salt-of-the-earth types as well.

     Then, feeling a bit like that guy in Dante's Inferno, I descended back down into the Congressional tunnels and trudged off to the Library of Congress to explore its amazing resources (and restrooms).  Gotta love touring Washington DC.


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Friday, April 12, 2019

Frederick Douglass: America's REAL Captain Marvel

     "You absolutely must go visit Frederick Douglass's house while you're here," said the friend I was staying with in Washington DC.  "They've turned it into a museum.  It's totally amazing."

     "Define amazing," I replied.  "Amazing like a baby's first steps?  Amazing like America's brutal and un-Christian foreign policy?  Or amazing like Captain Marvel?"

     "More like Captain Marvel," replied my friend  Wow!  Sign me up!

     So I took the Metro to Anacosta, trudged through yet another of Washington's rapidly-gentrifying ghettos and finally found Frederick Douglass's old-fashioned home perched high on a hill overlooking DC.  "Douglass was born a slave," said our tour guide.  "His mother had been sold down-river.  He was whipped and beaten and starved as a child; overburdened and overworked.  His back was covered with deep scars from the lashes.  He stole food scraps from the Big House's garbage just to stay alive, was given one gunny-sack a year for clothing.  No one taught him to read."  Huddled naked and alone.

     And yet this poor abused and tortured slave child grew up to be one of the finest orators and statesmen in America.  Sounds like a Marvel to me!

     I looked at Douglass's original piano, his original writing desk, his parlor and his bedroom.  I saw the exact spot where he suddenly collapsed of a heart attack and died at age 74.  (Good grief how I hate it when people use that phony term "passed away" like somehow death doesn't really exist if you only stop using the "D' word.  But everybody dies.  Stop trying to sugar-coat it.  When I die, I wanna be D.E.A.D. -- not just "passed")

     Douglass died an honorable death after living an honorable life.  "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong," he said.

     Our little tour group tromped up Douglass's back stairs and tromped down his front ones.  "How the freak did he do it?" I asked our guide with tears in my eyes.  "How did he even survive being a slave -- let alone become an advisor to presidents, an ambassador to Haiti and one of the greatest men of the 19th Century?"  The guy must really have possessed superpowers.

       And Douglass was also the first Freedom Rider.  For over 60 years he constantly fought against Jim Crow laws in the brutally-segregated and un-Christian South.  "Dozens of times he would buy first-class tickets on railroads, attempt to take his seat and then be cruelly beaten, spit upon, handcuffed and/or jailed every single time."  Can Captain Marvel do that?

     On the very day that he died, America's real Captain Marvel gave a young Black man some very good advice.  "Wherever you see injustice happening, then agitate.  Agitate.  Agitate."  And, boy howdy, do we have a hecka lot of injustice in America right now too.  And Douglass's most prescient advice to those of us today who also love justice?  "Power concedes nothing without a demand.  It never did and it never will".  It's time that we too demand justice as well.  Jesus did it.  Nathan Hale did it.  Crazy Horse did it.  Douglass did it.  Julian Assange did it.  A.O.C. does it.  We can too.  "Agitate.  Agitate.  Agitate."

     Right now America desperately needs heroic men and women who will stand up for justice like Douglass did in the past.  We need them now more than ever.  Will another Captain Marvel like our own Frederick Douglass please stand up?  Yes, I am talking about you -- and, yes, I am even talking about me.


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Friday, April 05, 2019

Touring Washington DC: Holocaust Museum vs. American Indian Museum

     Have you ever been to our nation's capital?  If not, please consider getting your arse over there ASAP.  So much to see!  Unbelievable.  You could spend a whole year just going to museums here and still not have seen everything!

     Even after factoring in the current cannibalistically-insane rate that our federal government is violently stripping America's infrastructure, park services and cultural glories of their funding in order to build even more grisly "Wars and Walls," Washington DC today is still totally awesome -- even if not for much longer.

      I recently spent a few days touring the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian.  Those two museums were both very similar -- and also very different.
     The U.S. Holocaust Museum is devoted  to chronicling the inexcusable horrors of the systematic genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany -- and this museum rightfully reminds us that genocide is a bad thing.  And one of the exhibits there that moved me to tears was the exhibit commemorating the heroic Jewish resistance fighters.  They risked their lives over and over again fighting for justice and against fascism.  So many of them were tortured and murdered.

     Then I moved on to the American Indian Museum -- same story there.  Genocide on a grand scale.  Millions of Native Americans murdered in cold blood.  But there was one big difference between the two museums.  When the Jews fought back against the evil Nazis, they were called resistance fighters and heroes.  But when the Natives fought back against genocidal attacks by evil Americans, they were given no place of honor in the American Indian Museum.  They were not considered heroes.  In fact, they were barely mentioned at all.

    There was only a very small collage-type thingie in a back corner of the fourth floor of the museum that mentioned a few Native "activists" and the 1973 protest at Wounded Knee.  Custer's last stand was mentioned.  And there was just one mention in passing about the American Indian Movement -- but nothing at all about Leonard Peltier, the resistance fighter who defended his people from a deadly FBI attack and who is now serving his 44th year of a life sentence in some lonely Florida prison for a crime that he didn't commit.

     But let's move on.

     There is yet another kind of genocide going on in America today -- or should I say "femicide".  Apparently it is totally legal, even today, for any non-Native to enter any Native reservation and then murder or rape or kidnap any Native woman or child who catches his eye -- and get cleanly away with it because tribal police on American Indian reservations have no jurisdiction to arrest any non-Native.

     So while I was at the American Indian Museum, I suddenly found myself in the tragic midst of the REDress Project -- dozens of empty red dresses, swaying tragically in the wind and rain, symbolizing the thousands of raped, maimed, murdered and disappeared Native women on reservations across America today.  Something like 95% of these heinous crimes are committed by White men.  Not American Natives, not hapless immigrants, not members of M-13 gangs -- but White men.  White men.  Homegrown terrorists.

     At a symposium entitled "Safety for Our Sisters" held at this museum, we were told that officially almost half of Native women have been abused or raped or disappeared.  "It's actually closer to 87%" said one speaker.  Native women have become an endangered species in America -- and only Congress can solve this problem.  But Congress is too busy reveling in its sick and addictive love affair with Walls and Wars.

      Here are some videotapes from this eye-opening symposium:

     Sarah Deer speaks regarding legally-sanctioned violence against Native women:

     Mary Katheryn Nagle on legally ending the violence:

     Cherrah Giles, domestic violence and what happens next:

     Jamie Black, the REDress project:

     Marita Growing Thunder on the important role of culture:

      The grim history of all these many centuries of violence and genocide against Native Americans is just pathetic and sad -- that White Americans seem to value money and greed and power over any kind of humanity, Christianity or love of our fellow human beings.  The Jewish Holocaust tragedy lasted a few shameful decades before it was forcibly halted.  The Native American genocide has gone on for centuries and is still going on today. 

     Americans are morally doomed.

     Unless of course we can take a page from the Jewish (and Native) resistance fighters and resist.  Resist injustice.  Resist fascism in our very own government that is supposed to belong to us (but doesn't).  Resist corporate greed.  Resist colonialism.  Resist bigotry. 

      For centuries it was mainly the American Indians who suffered from genocide by American colonialists -- but now it is the Natives of the entire world who are also facing calculated extinction by corporate America's bottomless greed.  But always remember.  "What goes around comes around". 

      Isn't it time for all of us to start righting these horrendous wrongs?  Joining our Native brothers and sisters in seeking justice and morality?  Non-violently of course.  "But why should we do this non-violently," you might ask.  Why?  Because all human life is sacred.  Because why would we ever want to become like Them? 


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