Saturday, June 5, 2021

Stop Dropping Bombs On People's Heads

It is the end of innocence for my 3 year old students. Their parents told them about Israel's attacks on the Palestinian people prior to attending an action in the port of Oakland yesterday which has successfully
blocked the Israeli ship ZIM from unloading.

If you think its difficult explaining to your uncle during holiday get togethers about the realities of Israel's land grab and constant ethnic cleansing campaign, only imagine a preschool audience. This is the age when children ask "Why?" in response to any facts on the ground. ("It's bedtime." "Why?" "Because we need our rest." "Why?" etc.)

We made new friends in a crowd with several other children of various ages.
This fellow teacher shared his sunscreen with us.

As we gathered at Middle Harbor Shoreline Park with about 300 others yesterday afternoon, the questions were still coming thick and fast. They're only starting to read so most of the signs were unintelligible, but the chant of "Free, free Palestine" matched up with the sign they had helped make earlier in the day. 

Some of the many questions we answered:"Why is there a helicopter in the sky?" "It's a news team covering the protest." "What does cover mean?" and also "Why is the truck driver honking his horn and why are people clapping?"

With the big picture orientation she's prone to, my granddaughter mostly didn't query us about the difference between Gaza and the West Bank or why Israel would want to steal their land and water. Her oft repeated question was this:

Why do they drop bombs on people's heads?

After asking this approximately one hundred times and receiving answers ranging from "to steal the land" to "because they are scared and angry, and making bad choices" she transitioned into her own personal chant:

Stop dropping bombs on people's heads.

This was tapped out with drumsticks, played on the recorder, recited to her baby brother, and murmured as she drifted off to sleep.

As her father and her friend and she and I walked back toward our car from the picket at one of the main gates, I carried the sign we'd made together. A sign that both 3 year olds had taken a turn proudly carrying that day.

"Grandma, don't throw away our sign, we might need to use it again."

She's probably right about that, too.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Culture Of Cruelty Obvious, From Big Picture Down To Details Wherein The Devil Dwells

"The only way left to affirm yourself in failed societies is to destroy." 

-- Chris Hedges

The arc of my reading this morning was rooted in Hedges' bracing essay on why the U.S. imposes a culture of cruelty on so many innocent victims. None of his examples of sadistic public policy were new to me, but taken together as a whole they paint a picture of surprisingly consistent cruelty.

It's been decades since I let corporations tell me what news to pay attention to, so I went on from there to read some familiar websites like Pressenza and a newish one specific to my home state, the Maine Monitor (formerly Pine Tree Watch). 

At Pressenza I read more about a situation I've seen some tweets about, "US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the ‘Crime’ of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire by Roger D. Harris. It's one pungent example of U.S. economic warfare via sanctions enforced by incarceration. 

Did you know that one-third of nations on our planet are under some form of collective punishment via U.S. sanctions?

 Hodeidah, Yemen where the U.S.-supported war waged by Saudi Arabia has created rampant malnutrition. © Asmaa Waguih/Redux
Some awareness of history suggests that sanctions nearly always precede our invasions and bombing campaigns to control other nations' resources. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously defended sanctions imposed on Iraq that resulted in the death of an estimated 500,000 children: "I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, the price is worth it." 

This was before her confirmation hearings, by the way, but apparently posed no barrier to her joining the Clinton cabinet. Perhaps cruelty is actually a requirement for those who serve the empire?

Children are also the victims in Maine. When their parents are incarcerated, often for non-violent crimes and often for simply being too poor to pay fines or make bail, children struggle to stay in touch. As a former school teacher I know from personal experience how much kids struggle when a parent is in jail. But both public and private jails in Maine make money from gouging families for phone calls with loved ones. "As families struggle to afford 15-minute phone calls from jail, Maine counties rake in millions" by Samantha Hogan provides the satanic details.

Source: Save the Children

Zoom back out to the big picture, where children are going to bed hungry while billionaires buy another mansion. From Children's Defense Fund:

As of February 2021, more than 1 in 5 Black and Hispanic adults with children (22.8% and 20.6%, respectively) said their households were not getting enough to eat compared with 1 in 10 white adults with children (10.4%).

Cruelty as public policy is designed to engender fear, according to Hedges. Turning it back on the perpetrators is what is required now: 

"History has amply illustrated how this process works. It is a game of fear. And until we make them afraid, until a terrified Joe Biden and the oligarchs he serves look out on a sea of pitchforks, we will not blunt the culture of sadism they have engineered."