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!
2 thoughts on “Not The Time for Smug Satisfaction”
As always, a well thought out and insightful essay. One of the things I value about you is the way you have of connecting events to the larger picture … you embrace the world.
Thanks for making clear the similarities between the plight of the African Americans and the Palestinians Hala. The training of the militarized US police has been done by the Israelis. The police’s role is not to kill citizens but to protect them!!!