Since the Friday the 13th ISIS attacks in Paris, there’s been a plethora of articles, web-posts and blogs on rethinking the resettlement programs for the thousands of refugees piling into the shores of Lesbos and congregating at the gates of Eastern Europe, where they march miles to arrive either at a camp or a train or are turned away (Hungary) to face the cold European winter. The articles tend to be of two types — should we (the United States) or they (Europe) take them in or rethink our policy of resettlement? The second topic is the number of governors/Presidential candidates/legislators who oppose resettlement of Syrian refugees and in fact propose a crackdown on those of Middle-Eastern descent already here. More than half the nation’s governors say their states won’t take any refugees. “Close the mosques.” declares Donald Trump. “We should let in the Christians,” says Jeb Bush and some others. And across the nation a new, or re-awakened suspicion of slightly darker people. with accents. A Middle-eastern family on a plane from Baltimore to Chicago was booted off after passengers reported “suspicious activity” when a one of the ME passengers began watching the news on his cellphone.

To be sure, there was anti-Middle Eastern hostility and aggression before these attacks. A few days before November 13th, the internet lit up with a story of a Detroit women punching and throwing coffee in the face of a middle-eastern woman, a photo of her bruised and burned face made the rounds of internet stories.

These things — the articles, the backlash, the wall-to-wall coverage — are to be expected after such a horrible event. The “soft” targets of the Paris attacks causing the most fear — an ethnic restaurant, a “friendly” soccer game, a rock concert. In other words, the terrorists targeted people who go to these things – of a range of ages, though at the rock concert probably between 16 and 45 or so years of age. People in streets, out on a Friday evening, who want to enjoy their lives.

These articles generated thousands upon thousands of comments, at least in the United States, most of the xenophobic, many of them racist, and I would add unkind, but also calling out those who disagree with them as the discourse devolves into name-calling and cursing, as so many of these “conversations” do, ranting at their neighbors. From a survey of these comments the last few nights, I’d say about 70% are anti-refugee and 30% for the “better angels of our nature.”

However, it isn’t the position but that language of ignorance that has me down. One man wrote in to rebut the anti-position. He had a Pakistani/Indian name. A respondent wrote, “I accept that you are here and a Muslim but we have to do something about these terrorists.” The man wrote back, “I am Sikh and I was educated here, have a career and family.” The commenter wrote back, “I accept that you are Muslim and have a right to be here.” The Sikh man wrote back “I am Sikh, NOT MUSLIM, and from Pakistan, which is not the Middle East but Asia.” The fact that he had to say that underscores the appalling level of ignorance. Many wrote in that we should take care of our homeless and needy first. A veteran wrote in with a long list of veterans assistance bills (to help veterans with jobs and housing) vetoed by the Republican Congress, support denied by those we’ve elected to Washington, meaning, we don’t take care of people now even though we have the power. In other words, stop being so bigoted. Others said “The refugees are all young men (and by implication, terrorists.) But according to the UNHCR, the United Nations High Committee on Refugees, 75% of the refugees are women and children. Of the refugees, according to a researcher with the Carnegie Endowment, 40% are educated, had careers, didn’t want to give up their lives in Syria but for the war. In other words, given the number of children, it would seem most adults are educated and/or had stable jobs before the war; these would seem to be people the world should regard as responsible with values the West condones.

The other disturbing things about these commenters is the level of vehemence and shouting (WHEN EVERYTHING IS IN ALL CAPS) — as if words alone aren’t enough. And hatred. Vehemence. [i] Against people they don’t know and know nothing about. Insular, knee-jerky. Predictable, and sad. The discussions quickly devolve into arguing with and hating each other. The hate mostly coming from the anti-refugee side. They’re already in the mood for it, not looking kindly on their fellow man. “We stand with France” they say, (and that’s understandable) or cast their social media profile with the tri-color of the French Flag. They almost seem ready to fight their neighbors, and this is frightening. They make near threats with multiple-meaning statements: “You better watch out,” directed at one pro-refugee young woman, which could mean, “watch out for refugees” or “you could be attacked by someone on this forum.”

But these commenters don’t want facts. “They should go fight in their own country.” “They come here because they want our way of life” (a condemnation) — in other words, they aren’t really refugees but opportunists. The fact that a fake Syrian passport was found next to the body of one of the refugees is a “See?” moment:”See? ISIS is slipping terrorists in among the refugees.” But this is what we know: most of the terrorists are French or Belgian, most 2nd generation. One fake Syrian passport — which also surfaced on another person in Europe, in other words, widely copied. The bearer of the fake passport could be from anywhere — perhaps Belgium or France, where the other attackers were from — and using the passport to protect his identity because his real name could raise red flags.

It feels like the Weimar Republic, when economic chaos and depression led some nations into fascism, others into greater democracy, and to a World War. Never forget, we are admonished, usually about the Holocaust. What we should never forget is man’s inhumanity to man and opportunistic efforts to implement it.

[i] Example from a Sacramento Bee article “Accept Syrian refugees but screen carefully, California Gov. Jerry Brown says” — these actually aren’t the worst.

  • Jerry Brown, you need to be impeached along with current President Obama. Neither of you are putting our American citizens first. Who’s side are you on?
  • you’re an idiot and should move far, far away from the United states. It’s idiots like you that voted Obama in office
  • I can’t believe people are ok with bringing these savages over here. When they start the killings you will see how stupid your words are. And it’s not if they start it’s when. It will be just a matter of time.
  • liberals = american born terrorist’s
  • Talk about prejudice – bravo, you idiot. They’re actually some smart Mexican Americans that agree with us redneck white people. You’re a moron. Why don’t you give your citizenship up (that’s if you have it) and let one of the goat rapers come here in your place????
  • You are very anti-Christian and pro-Muslim. STOP pretending to be a follower of Jesus on posts just to make yourself seem legit.
  • We don’t have to open the doors to everyone. Send them to Guantanamo Bay Cuba and set up a refugee camp. It was sufficient for the Afghan prisoners and now it can be used for the refugees.
  • You should read the article! I keep seeing you comment and you’re not making any sense. Trying to sound smart and you really sound like a goat raping retard.
  • Are you an isis lover welcome them to your home then if you feel bad for them Muslim are isis an will bomb an kill for allah

 

 

About Gnarls Barkley

Posted: May 23, 2012 in arts, Uncategorized

For starters, innovation. The song ‘Crazy” is interesting not only because of the shared experience –  the sense of loss of control (“does that make me crazy” changes to “I think  you’re crazy” and finally evolves to “maybe we’re crazy”) song in a soulful voice over a chorus edited from a spaghetti western soundtrack. It turns schlock into something incredibly moving not only because of the content but also the juxtaposition. The song is democratic (anybody can be crazy) and it isn’t a cause for opprobrium but democracy. Okay, maybe that’s extrapolating too far, but I find the song moving; there are a lot of crazy people; and most sane people I know have considered the possibility. Maybe the times are crazy. Probably. Can we tell?? This song conveys the question movingly, and they won a Grammy for it.  I still think about this song five years later … http://www.myspace.com/gnarlsbarkley/music/songs/crazy-album-version-31633576

I just listened to Democracy Now and the discussion about the war on drugs, Mexico, and the fact that President Obama’s and Att’y Gen’l Holder’s favorite television show is The Wire – apparently very critical of the war on drugs. (I don’t have cable.) From the images on the local and national news, medical marijuana looks like it’s used by potheads of all ages, lighting up bongs, blowing smoke defiantly at cameras.

But anyone who has AIDs or cancer undergoing chemotherapy or other appetite-suppressing diseases and treatments, knows the value of a proven appetite stimulant. Many significant people in my life had HIV before protease inhibitors were available, including my beloved late brother Robert. The staff at SF General told me he needed 5,000 calories a day to maintain his weight – not to gain but to maintain. This was in 1989-90. I had a healthy heart recipe book with alternating good and bad recipes. The bad recipes were loaded with calories, so I used those. Robert had no appetite so smoked a joint half an hour to an hour before eating, and it worked. It wasn’t about getting high but about survival. He had tried marinol, the synthetic marijuana with THC (active ingredient), and hated the taste – it was a capsule with the THC suspended in something tasting like sesame oil. But reliably a short while after having the joint, he was able to actually enjoy eating, whereas before he either had no appetite or was nauseated.

This usage is true medical marijuana – a drug that helps with a debilitating condition. There is no reason why it should not be legal at the federal level. As with any drug, restrictions can be put on its use – e.g not around schools, not congregating on the street, not using it in an “in your face” manner. But those who flaunt it disserve those who truly need the drug, and there should be no legal hassle about it.

The Death of Vincent Foster

Posted: February 24, 2012 in Politics, history

I was watching the PBS American Experience mini-series on Clinton’s presidency the last two night.. Early in segment 2,  where the Clintons have arrived in Washington DC, the narrator mentions the suicide of Vincent Foster, a Clinton Aide, and the speculation that he had been murdered by the Clintons. I remember the death of Vince Foster. I knew that a few days before his death, the Wall Street Journal had published an editorial about him that basically attacked his character. This while he had been unknown to the media and was not a senior advisor. While I couldn’t find the original editorials online, I did find TRB’s column citing them http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1993-07-30/news/1993211069_1_vincent-foster-clinton-administration-journal

These are the last three lines of Mr. Foster’s heart-breaking suicide note:

The public will never believe the innocence of the Clintons and their loyal staff

The WSJ editors lie without consequence

I was not meant for the job or the spotlight of public life in Washington. Here ruining people is considered sport

And while Mr. Foster was clinically depressed, such unsupported negative characterizations featured in a prominent national publication may have helped drive him over the edge. It was mentioned in his suicide note, but not in the American Experience program. And for some reason, this omission bothers me. It bothers me when journalists don’t admit bias but publish speculation as fact. It bothers me that people form opinions about the nature of things based on often a list of unsupported assertions.  They have to believe what they are saying, even though evidence flies in the face of it. So yeah, let’s deregulate the banks some more and remove a lot of the oversight, to “give capitalism a chance” – the market will set things right. We know where this view ends, in the economic collapse a little over three years ago. Most Americans, I think, don’t have such short memories….

ANIMALS WE EAT THAT EAT US AND WE WEAR

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Poetry
Tags:

You lose it if you talk about it.” – Ernest Hemingway

Alligator.

Shark.

Cows don’t eat us.

Bear, in some countries.

No animal eats and wears us.

Carnivore is an electronic surveillance system used by the FBI, as in

An FBI anti-terrorism investigation possibly involving Usama bin Laden [sic] was hampered by technical flaws in the Bureau’s controversial Carnivore Internet surveillance system. EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information System) May 28, 2002

She served alligator for dinner, then went to the Santa Fe opera with the tickets

in a Liz Claiborne Suffolk Croco Top Zip handbag.

What was the opera?

Rattlesnake.

Eat. Wear. Get bitten. Evening bag.

After the opera, the dinner.

Listen: the meal is served.

Wear it well.

Let’s eat.

© Martha Evans