2020

Little Things Mean A Lot

It seems to me that the United States and our World are moving from one whirlwind week into another with no pause for us to take a breath! Events, happenings, a lethal virus, words and actions all spinning away and causing our levels of stress, sadness, disappointment, disgust, expectation and hope to fluctuate madly and incessantly! For me, the most astounding result of events so far has been how it is as if the whole world has been playing a game of Jenga for many decades, if not centuries . . .  and then came The Virus . . . and pulled out that one piece which brought the whole pyramid tumbling down as one country after another unraveled upon itself and all the dirty laundry in its closets oozed out: the mismanagement, ignorance, inefficiency, corruption, hypocrisy, greed, arrogance, racism, extremism and plain wickedness rose up to the surface eclipsing all the artificial facade of Glitz and Glamour that had us all in its seductive clutches, and that had blinded many of us to the deprivation, healthcare inadequacies, low wages, insufficient affordable housing plus a laundry list of so much more which had left most people Colonized, vulnerable and frustrated. For, Colonization does not have to be actual Occupation of Territory, although that is still happening, but it is also Using and Usurping human beings, those same ones who are sustaining and servicing our comfortable way of life and making it possible! How utterly unacceptable! Frankly, I don’t believe that humanity has yet grasped the extraordinary magnitude of all this, nor how it has finally arrived at that moment when Colonialism in all its ugliness is seeing its day of reckoning, and how the damage that it has inflicted on human beings all across this planet is now being revisited. It is breathtaking! However, the fact that we may finally be reckoning with centuries of Colonialism does not mean that rectification and atonement will immediately happen. This will be a long process and one that will require perseverance, patience, diligence and organization, for the entrenched powers that have been profiting from this evil enterprise will not cede their hegemony easily despite the protests and the symbolic and momentarily victorious act of toppling Colonist statues; nor will that White Supremacy which Colonialism nourished so well, and for so long, disappear overnight. The road ahead will be long, hard and require sacrifice. However, the process has begun, and we cannot choreograph ourselves out of it, nor will all the image-makers put together be able to paint a rosy picture out of this starkly horrid, as well as exhilarating moment of truth. It is quite stunning!

Protestors also marched in Kashmir, didn’t they? However, Colonized Kashmiri’s Human Rights did not cause the World’s Utmost Supporter of such values to be too concerned. After all, Modi is our Ally, and our Allies usually get a carte blanche to behave in any way that they prefer! The same goes where Palestinian Human Rights are concerned, because Bibi can behave in any way that he pleases, again, he is our Ally! But, Russia! Putin! We get all bent out of shape at anything that happens there. So it was that our Intelligence Community apparently learned at the end of March that a large cache of US Dollars was found with some Taliban supporters, and upon investigating they found that Russia bribed those same supporters in order to kill American and British GIs! This whole story does not seem kosher to me. It is so very reminiscent of: Saddam Has Weapons of Mass Destruction. Moreover, if our Intelligence Services believe that Putin is so daft as to order this, then they do so at their own dangerous peril. After all, buying into a bunch of lies for whatever reason is something we Americans are very good at. Are we going to blindly believe again? As for Trump denying any knowledge of this matter? He has denied so many things – most of which were totally undeniable – that he is sounding more like the Boy Who Cried Wolf every single day! And the corrupt MSM has zoned in on another Trump failure rather than truly investigating this latest so-called Intel. There are, after all, many “interests” who are capable of relaying nefarious news of this sort. This leads me to think that Something, Somewhere is being cooked. Something, Somewhere is being choreographed for an impending Event. I do not read tea leaves, so I don’t know what that might be, nevertheless the sordid stage seems to be in the process of being set and we had all better be very wary!

Meanwhile, and as these breathtaking events are taking place, we have to continue on with our lives hermit-like and restricted as we all are by The Virus, for, that too, will not disappear overnight. It, too, is a long process during which we have to maintain our heads above water, remain vigilant and socially responsible, and do the things that will uplift and amuse us in order not to go into a funk, because allowing ourselves to get depressed will not make The Virus go away any faster, nor will it cause all our corrupt politicians and systems to rectify themselves immediately. At the end of the day, it is those little things that we choose to live by and do which will mean a lot. However, because we are all different, have different circumstances, varying ages, experiences and personalities, there is no one-size-fits-all formula despite all the fake gurus out there telling us that there is. Each of us has to find those little things we can enjoy and that will mean a lot to our disposition, mood and coping techniques. And there is so much to choose from, even though we are mostly at home. There really is!

2020

Not The Time for Smug Satisfaction

Hala

At this moment in time, the United States is going through a very, very rough and disconcerting patch in its history. Many American writers and thinkers have seen that coming, whether it was since our failed war in Vietnam, or our ill-fated devastation of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and the region, or whether it is the militarization and politicization of our domestic, as well as international relationships, or whether it was since our 2016 Presidential Elections. And, the reason that they knew, is because life and history are a continuum. We cannot take one isolated incident, event, war or any other occurrence and segregate it from the reverberations and consequences that it causes. Maybe it is Cosmic Justice, or Karma. Whatever we may prefer to call it, the fact remains that the events of the past few weeks have touched and saddened me very deeply, and why despite being mad as hell regarding a boatload of things going on in these United States, this is Not The Time For Smug Satisfaction.

One of the incidents that infuriated me was to see President Trump  taunting the Governors and Mayors of our cities by saying (my words): The whole world is laughing at you. You need to take back the streets and Dominate! The fact of the matter is that the world was aghast at the shameful words and behavior of a ridiculous and laughable President, and, revulsed at seeing a blasphemous Bible-toting Trump pulling a cheap stunt in front of a church not one mile away from peaceful protestors who were being tear-gassed on his orders! Yes, the world was shocked to see the United States of America being totally stripped of every value that it had been for long lecturing the whole world about! Yet, this is Not The Time For Smug Satisfaction.

The execution of George Floyd, tragic and horrifying as it was for himself, his family, his community and this nation was the catalyst that the citizens of this country (the whole world, really), and, especially, the Millennial Generation, needed in order to defy the Virus, the Curfews, the Police and the National Guard and pour out into the streets. White, Black, Brown, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Jews and people of all persuasions were shouting: “Black Lives Matter,” while honoring George Floyd and All the Black victims of police brutality, racism and injustice that go back to decades, if not centuries. During the past year alone 1000 citizens have been shot (murdered) by the police in this country! One white woman, probably in her late fifties? said it very well on television: I never knew that this was going on in my country! Unfortunately, there are many like her who are ignorant of the injustices and systemic corruption prevalent in our society and that was brought to the forefront by a President who has displayed his desire to rule by fiat, to bully, to intimidate, to emulate the authoritarian rulers of the world, and not to adhere to any democratic procedures. The People said No to that. The Military Brass said No to that. Governors, Mayors, Sheriffs, Police Commissioners, Lawyers, Corporate Businesses, the Mainstream Media – except for some of the shills on FOX News – Organizations and Associations said No to that.

Our American Democracy proved that it was working; that the People of this country will not concede to a Strongman; that we will not put up with a Sisi, an MBS, an Orban, a Duterte, a Bolsonaro, a Modi, a Bibi; that the Constitution – interpreted and misinterpreted as it may be – is a document that guarantees our rights to free speech, to protest, to demand equality and justice. The Millennial Generation, especially, was brought up on these Ideals that they cherish. They will not allow Trump to take this away from them, or to divide them in the way that he has persistently been doing ever since his election. Yes, Law and Order are important for a functioning society, though Not Trump’s version!

Those of us have who have been aware, who have known about the brutal foreign policy of these United States all across the world, and what that policy has done to our people and to our countries, felt the pain of the protestors even more poignantly. Personally, I felt that this moment was not only for refuting the injustice done to George Floyd and countless others, but that it was an Intifada against the very premise of a Colonialism that has never ended. As a Palestinian who has always identified with African-Americans and with Native Americans I felt that even more deeply. I know what police brutality has done to the Palestinian people. Aided and abetted by the United States, the Israeli occupation has been oppressing us for over 75 years. Yes, we, too, have been struggling to breathe! Despite that, seeing how this country is struggling is Not The Time For Smug Satisfaction.

Some have said: Don’t bring up the Palestinians now. This moment is for Black Lives Matter. Those who say that do not realize that some of the Black Lives Matter activists visited with Palestinian activists in the West Bank years ago. They do not realize that young Palestinian activists had been communicating during previous protests with their counterparts in the United States on how to mitigate the effects of pepper-spray and tear-gas. So, our interactions and connections have a history, and bringing up the similarity of our experiences is not an infringement on Black Lives Matter. To the contrary, it is only out of a strong sense of identification and heartfelt support.

Palestinians know only too well how the police plant evidence on innocent victims that they killed in order to excuse their brutal actions; Palestinians know only too well the pains of incarcerating innocent people (some of whom are little children); Palestinians know only too well how their resistance to a brutal occupation is called thuggery and terrorism; Palestinians know only too well that their Israeli enemy will kill indiscriminately even when the victim is an autistic young man. So, yes, we know the history of pain that has infused the African-American community; we identify closely with that Colonist and Dominating trauma, one that has always sought to keep both our communities impoverished and enslaved. Yes, we know all that and more! And we know that similar to the white woman who said: I never knew that this was going in my country, there are many Israelis, American Jews and American people who do not know what the Israeli Government is inflicting on the Palestinian people, because their  very corrupt and bigoted media sanitizes that information; their politicians are too dishonorable to acknowledge that Israel could do egregious crimes of this sort. Yet, again, this is Not The Time For Smug Satisfaction.

However, over and above our common similarities with African-Americans, we Palestinians have been severely traumatized, pained and infuriated that our enemy has the audacity, the shamelessness, the criminality, the cold-hearted behavior that sets snipers – yes, snipers! – on our young soccer players in order to maim them and prevent them from ever enjoying the outlet of a ball game! How heartless! How this eats up my insides!

Notwithstanding all my infuriated feelings at the Israeli Government, at  American Administrations that have been brutalizing their Black and Brown citizens for far too long, it is also a very sad time and very painful to see my adopted country going through these convulsions and agonies. It is a situation that dampens my hope, and the hopes of many, in what we have inherently believed about the idealistic example that these United States can set for the whole world, and that it is demolishing bit by bit by tragic bit! So World, while Taking A Knee in support of Black Lives Matter think that this dangerous moment is Not The Time For Smug Satisfaction!