Sorry, but I’ve seen this movie before.
I saw it in New York in 2001.
On the afternoon of September 11, I stood among the crowd on the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and watched what was left of the Twin Towers burn. Walking home as the sun was setting, it appeared to be snowing. It wasn’t snowing. The snowflakes were bits and pieces of paper, burnt ginger orange and rust brown around the edges, which the wind had carried across the East River, contracts, memos, actuarial tables, pages torn out of trashy paperback books, scribbled notes, pink telephone messages, the children’s drawings and affirmations that adorn the colorless upholstered walls of corporate cubicles throughout America.
It was snowing relics, the hideous detritus of thousands of people’s mundane lives.
America had been attacked. It was time to come together as Americans, to put aside our political differences, to rally around the flag, and the president, and go and kill a whole lot of people who had absolutely nothing to do with it.
You might be too young to remember that time. I remember it vividly. I remember it in detail. I remember how the nation “came together.” I remember how the Western world “stood with America.” I remember how we declared a “Global War on Terror,” how we “took the gloves off,” both at home and abroad, how the government and the media whipped the public up into a bloodthirsty, jingoistic frenzy. I remember being called a “traitor,” a “Saddam apologist,” a “terrorist sympathizer,” because I wouldn’t wave the flag, and “stand with America,” and get on board with murdering hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children.
So, forgive me if what follows seems a bit cold. As I said, I’ve seen this movie before.
Actually, I’m pretty torn up at the moment. Many people are. It’s been quite a week. I was planning to publish one of my satirical columns about the recent events in Israel and Gaza. It was going to focus on the “40 beheaded babies” propaganda. I started it. And stopped it. I cannot do it. Not today. I just don’t have it in me.
Instead, I’m going to drop the sarcasm for now, and say a few things for the record. Maybe just to get this out of my system. Nothing I publish is going to change what has happened, or what is going to happen in the coming days and weeks, or anyone else’s mind, probably.
I am not going to condemn the Hamas attack, as hideous as I think it was. I do not condemn things on command, or perform any other kind of tricks on command. If that’s what you’re looking for, get a dog.
That said, I am not going to call the Hamas attack “resistance” or try to justify it. I refuse to justify mass murder. If you’re OK with mass murdering civilians for your cause … OK, but own it. Call it what it is. And spare me the “legitimate resistance” bullshit.
Same goes for Israel. If you “stand with Israel” as it murders civilians, fine. Own it. Give me a break with the “Israel has the right to defend itself” bullshit, and own it.
Whatever “side” of this conflict you are on, at least have the integrity to call things what they are.
Here is what things are, in a nutshell.
Israel is a nation-state. It is doing what a lot of nation-states have done throughout the history of nation-states. It is wiping out, or otherwise removing, the indigenous population of the territory it has conquered. It has been doing this for 75 years. The indigenous population, i.e., the Palestinians, have been trying not to get completely wiped out, or otherwise removed from their indigenous territory, and lashing out at Israel in a variety of ways (i.e., from throwing stones to committing mass murder).
That is what is happening. The rest is PR. Public relations. Propaganda.
If you “stand with” the nation-state of Israel and its ongoing efforts to wipe out and otherwise remove the Palestinians from the territory it controls, I get it. The United States of America did that to its indigenous population. The British Empire did it in its colonies. A lot of nations and empires did it. It is standard nation-state behavior. There is nothing aberrational about it. If you can live with supporting that … OK, go for it, but spare me the sanctimony and the “unprovoked attack” crap.
If you “stand with” the Palestinians in their ongoing efforts to not get wiped out, or otherwise removed from their homeland, I get it. My sympathies are with them too. I’ve never found nation-states particularly sympathetic, especially when they are in their Mercilessly-Wiping-Out-the-Indigenous-Population phase. However, if you believe that “standing with” the Palestinians means celebrating mass murder, and making excuses for it like “settlers are not civilians” … OK, fine, but count me out.
What’s my point? Well, my point is, at times like this, everything conspires to keep everyone from seeing things clearly and thinking critically. Everyone’s selling you a narrative and punching your emotional buttons to force you into joining their side.
Hamas is playing on your basic human decency … your empathy for the Palestinians. Their game is, if you support the Palestinian people, you have to support the Hamas attack and condone the mass murder of unarmed civilians.
Israel is playing on your basic human decency … on your sympathy for the murdered Israelis. Their game is, if you don’t support the mass murder of Palestinian civilians that is now in progress, then you are a “terrorist-sympathizer,” who hates the Jews.
Both of these parties are fucking with your head, as are their assorted propaganda-spewing mouthpieces. They are trying to force you into a position where your only choice is to support mass murder.
You do not have to support mass murder.
I know it’s difficult at times like this, but please try not to let people fuck with your head. Try not to let them punch your buttons. Try not to let them make you react to emotional stimuli like Pavlov’s dog. Take a break from the mass hysteria. Try to see things clearly. Try to understand the goals and tactics of both sides of this conflict, regardless of which side you think you’re on. If you do not know the history of this conflict — the conflict I described above in a nutshell — please take a few minutes and educate yourself. It’s actually not that complicated.
Here’s a fifteen-minute film to get you started.
That’s it, for now. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this in the coming weeks. As far as I can tell, what we’re about to witness is going to be protracted and extremely ugly. The IDF appears to be preparing to liquidate a sizable portion of Gaza. One assumes Hamas has prepared for this, as that was obviously what their massacre was meant to provoke. Who knows how long the fighting will last, whether it will spread, and what it will lead to?
In the meantime, everything is going by the numbers. The nations of the New Normal Reich are marching in lockstep. This is “Israel’s 9/11.” Democracy is at war with “evil” again! The demonization and criminalization of dissent that was rolled out during the “Covid pandemic” in 2020-2022 has gone into overdrive. Germany, France, and other countries have banned demonstrations expressing support for the Palestinians. Here in Berlin, police are roaming the streets, harassing and arresting Arab-looking kids, and anyone improperly criticizing Israel. Anti-Israel social-media content is being censored and visibility-filtered, while fascist content like this gets a pass …
In Neukölln, the district where I live in Berlin, a major “police action” was recently launched because someone spray-painted “fuck Israel” on a sidewalk. Oh, yeah, and then there was the German schoolteacher who punched a 15-year-old student in the face for defending his friend whose Palestinian flag the teacher had snatched out of his hand. And so on.
And this is only Week One. And you know what happens in Week Two, don’t you?
Sorry, I know, I’m spoiling the movie for the folks out there who haven’t seen it. I’ll shut up now and let you get back to it.
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