August 04, 2014

Still (Barely) Here

Profuse apologies for my long silence. I truly am terribly sorry. But I haven't known what to say. I'm in scarily horrible shape physically, incapable of little more than moving a bit around the apartment a few times a day. It's taking me enormous energy and willpower to write just this. And I know most people want to be reassured, to know that I'm "okay." I'm not okay, and I have no reassurance to offer.

But the cats and I still do have a home for now -- and for that a multitude of thanks to those of you who have been very kind. So in addition to being unable to reassure you, I feel like the world's most ungrateful bastard. People are very generous, and I can't even write a couple of posts.

I've tried to do some writing, and I can't shape anything to my satisfaction. As much as I dread the subject, I would like to offer some commentary on the horrors in Gaza; I have the beginning of a draft, titled "Drowning in the Blood-Dimmed Tide." While I'm unable to summon forth that new post, I will refer you to two past ones, both of which remain sickeningly timely.

The first is from November 2012, and it begins with this:
Gaza is a concentration camp. It is not like a concentration camp. It is not a metaphorical or figurative concentration camp. It is a concentration camp. Our culture, our political leaders, and the cacophony of voices in the media have all agreed that this truth must never be spoken. If one wanted to be momentarily charitable about people's absolute refusal to recognize the obvious, one might argue that a land area of approximately 140 square miles, containing a population of roughly 1.7 million people, could not possibly be a concentration camp. But size and the number of prisoners are not the distinguishing characteristics of a concentration camp. The most essential characteristic of a concentration camp is what is permitted, and what is not. Only one question matters: Under what conditions are the people within its borders permitted to live?
The second article goes back further in time, to January 2009. In "The Slaughter of the Diseased Animals," I described the pattern repeatedly engaged in by both the United States and Israel, and perhaps it bears repeating:
For a very long time, the United States government has specialized in the pattern pursued by Israel. The vastly more powerful nation wishes to act on a certain policy -- almost always territorial expansion, for purposes of access to resources, or to force itself into new markets, or to pursue the evil notion that economic and ideological success depend on brutality and conquest -- but a specifically moral justification for its planned actions does not lie easily to hand.

So the powerful nation embarks on a course designed to make life intolerable for the country and/or those people that stand in its way. The more powerful nation is confident that, given sufficient time and sufficient provocation, the weaker country and people will finally do something that the actual aggressor can seize on as a pretext for the policy upon which it had already decided. In this way, what then unfolds becomes the victim's fault.
This is one of the most common, and one of the most damaging, patterns in human behavior, and we see its operations in many forms. A more recent example from the more personal realm will be found in this discussion about "tone."

Israel's attacks on Gaza always make me think of a horrifying sequence from the film Hud; I've thought of that scene often in the last two weeks, and it was that scene that provided the title for my earlier essay. I described it this way -- and I defy you to formulate a meaningful distinction between what happens to the cattle in the film and the nightmare that Israel inflicts on the Palestinians:
The story concerns a cattle rancher and his family. It is discovered that some of the cattle have contracted hoof and mouth disease. To prevent the spread of the disease, and because he can think of no other means to control it, the head of the family decides that all the cattle must be destroyed.

A large pit is dug, deep enough to prevent the cattle from getting out. The cattle are driven into the pit, with all means of escape closed off. The men stand around the edges of the pit, and they lift their rifles. They begin to shoot -- and they shoot, and shoot, and shoot, and shoot.

Finally, after endless, terrifying minutes, all the cattle are dead.
That is what Israel is doing in Gaza: it is engaged in a program of extermination. Minimal decency and intellectual honesty should compel us to speak the truth about this matter.

At least the cattle were actually diseased, or at least some of them were. What is the disease carried by the Palestinians? It's very simple: their conviction that they, too, have a right to exist.

For that, they must be destroyed.