Monday, December 17, 2012

Seeing the Best of Us in the Worst of Places

In the wake of the most recent fight between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the experts have declared winners: "Obama won. Hilary won. Israel won…" No, only the Palestinians won.

Obama did not win because, as the "leader of the free world,' he may be one of the worst "honest brokers" of all time. He promises one side (Israel) the most advanced weapons on Earth, while promising to deny the other side (Hamas of Gaza) any weapons at all.

Hilary did not win because, while posing as a peace broker, she refused to talk to Hamas, one of the two warring factions. (Impossible!) Apparently, Hamas offends her sensibilities.

Israel did not win because it launched over 1500 air strikes into one of the most densely-populated communities on Earth. ('Nuff said.)

Since 2007, Israel has imposed a land, sea, and air blockade of the Gaza Strip. For all intents and purposes, these people of Gaza exist in a 21st century concentration camp - what Rule Jebreal, Newsweek correspondent, calls an "open-air prison." When the bombs start falling, the Gazans cannot retreat to refugee camps across the border, as many civilian populations do in times of war. They are trapped in a fish bowl, and must hunker down, and hope.

In an eight-day span, Israel killed 168 Palestinians - "mostly women and children," according to Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. For the Israelis, it was like shooting fish in a bowl.

And then it was over, and the Palestinian people, unbowed, defiantly celebrated in the streets of Gaza City. Talk about the "indomitable human spirit," and then we see it in real time.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

That Glaring Divide

In the wake of President Obama's re-election victory over Mitt Romney, opponents are saying, "America is divided as ever." No, it is not. It was divided as ever on the eve of the Civil War. It is that division that has haunted this country ever since. If you want someone to blame, start with the British and the Portuguese for introducing slavery into the Americas over 500 years ago. That is where our troubles began, long before there was an "America." It began on this continent 100 years later when the nascent colony at Jamestown imported African slaves fro the Caribbean to work its tobacco farms. No one could have known at the time that that one act - born of greed and ignorance - would foster a divide that has lasted the entire life of Europeans on this continent.

People think the Confederacy lasted only four years. The military defense of the Confederacy lasted four years, from 1861 - 1865. The Confederacy itself began to consolidate before the Revolutionary War,. At the time, tensions between slaveholders and abolitionists took a back seat to the animus the colonists held for the British. By the time of the Civil War, the lines were starkly drawn. It was the Mason Dixon line that separated America down the middle, not anything Lincoln said or did. The South seceded when Lincoln was elected in 1860 - not because of anything Lincoln did, but because of what the South was doing (to African-Americans), and their fear of what Lincoln would do to them.

The Confederacy, comprising the slave states of America, once stretched from Texas in the West to the Carolinas in the East. That same Confederacy still exists - not in the name, of course, but in spirit - having remained politically homogeneous throughout the centuries.

The Daily Show's John Stewart, in his mock coverage of the 2012 elections, declared, "This just in: We project a win for Obama in Pennsylvania." A moment later, he said, "Good news for Romney: We project he will win most of the Confederacy." And so Romney did. The Republican Party almost always wins the entire Confederacy. It is the foundation of the Republican hopes in election after election.

With such an unabashed connection to the most sordid element of America's past, how can the Republican party hope to convince ta 21st century electorate - ever more comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Asians - that it is looking out for their interests? Yet, they do not address that association Rather, they look outward and blame Obama, similar to how the antebellum South blamed its problems on Lincoln.
Meanwhile, people the world over are celebrating Obama's victory, while Republicans in 20 states talk of seceding (once more.) Obama is driving them crazy. It is deja vu all over again.

If the Republican Party has not the guts to shake it dependence on America's Confederate past, then it should embrace that past fully, since it must represent the soul for their hopes. Become what you are, even if that means breaking away from the RINDS (Republicans In Name Only) and forming a third party. You can call yourselves "The Confederate Party of America". That shoe fits.

It is time the Confederacy came to an end once and for all. Time to dismantle the granite carvings of Confederate icons such as the one at Georgia's Stone Mountain of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. These men defended the despicable institution of slavery - not America - with their lives, calling it "the honorable thing to do." (Talk about a "divide" - Fie! With heroes like that, America, you are the divide.) Monuments to such a sadistic past is no different than if the Germans placed sculptures of Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering at the Brandenburg Gate.

Until this country confronts the many vestiges of slavery that haunt us still - until it decries all organizations (such as the United Daughters of the Confederacy, UDC) that insists on celebrating men and events of that brutal past; until the Stars and Bars, banner of the Confederacy, is lowered forever, and cast among that discredited lost that includes the Nazi swastika - we will forever glare across that great divide.