24 11 2012

music:  Buffy Ste. Marie, “Universal Soldier

Two weeks ago, I was talking to you on “Veterans’ Day,” and, uncharacteristically, one might think, had nothing to say about it.  Truth be told, it’s one of my least favorite national holidays.  Kill people you don’t know because your own private voice in your head tells you to, and you’re a psychopath.  Kill people you don’t know because the government’s voice in your head tells you to, and you’re a hero.  I fail to see a significant difference.  No matter why you kill other people, or aid and abet their murder even if you’re not the one pulling the trigger or pushing the button, it scars your soul, or your psyche, if you’d prefer a more concrete way of thinking about it.  Or, how about this:  killing people, for any reason, wounds the murderer.

Not that I blame “our troops.”  Those who end up herded into the military, whether out of a misplaced sense of duty or a psychopathic desire to kill people they don’t know, or simply because it’s one of the few places that offers a steady paycheck and halfway decent benefits any more, are, as the old song went, “more to be pitied than censured.”  Certainly, these veterans deserve all the help we can give them–far more than is available today, since our current frame of reference in regard to American former child soldiers (No matter what the law says, 18- and 19-year olds are, in many ways, still children.) makes no recognition of the enormity of what happens to the minds of those who kill for their country.  Society pays a huge price, in the form of an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder, millions conditioned into a very undemocratic attitude of blind obedience to authority, and denial.

And those are only the psycho-spiritual costs of our militaristic approach to the world.  There’s also the huge waste of material resources, as our limited supplies of  all the things that make a complex technical civilization possible on this small planet are, essentially, raked into a pile and burned in the process of warfare.

But denial is what I want to focus on tonight, denial of another sort.  This country is often referred to, proudly, as “a nation of immigrants,” a phrase perhaps coined by President John F. Kennedy, who used it for the title of a book he wrote in 1958.  It apparently did not even occur to Kennedy that we are a nation of illegal immigrants.  Our supposedly noble forefathers stole this land from its rightful inhabitants, the native people, whose cultures thrived in a balanced relationship with the natural world for thousands of years.  Those of us who are of European descent have been here for only a little over 500 years, a mere blink of the eye, and we are on the verge of turning this continent, and the entire planet, into a barren wasteland.  Way to go, Europeans!

And so, when we as a nation celebrate “Thanksgiving,” we are, in a way, celebrating the unleashing of European, anti-natural, linear thinking onto the lush ecosystem of Turtle Island.  We are giving thanks for the fact that our European predecessors on this continent  successfully pulled off one of the greatest heists in history. Over the 400 years following 1492, they hijacked two entire continents.  An estimated 80 million native people were killed, the remainder enslaved, and their cultures destroyed–a genocide that dwarfs Nazi Germany’s persecution of  Jews, Gypsies, and gays.

Of course, our takeover was made much easier by the native peoples’ lack of resistance to many common European diseases, which were inadvertently introduced with the very first, tentative, occasional contacts, and spread like wildfire through the native population, largely depopulating the continent without even any conscious effort on our part.  If it weren’t for this twist of fate, European attempts to colonize this continent would have been much more difficult, more like the attempt to graft European, Jewish Israel into the Muslim Middle East.  More on that later.

As it is, most of us have conveniently forgotten that the Europeans who colonized North–and South–America arrived unbidden and helped themselves to land that somebody else was using.  Perhaps it is the shadow of this theft that colors so many people’s strong emotional reaction to current “illegal immigrants”–many of whom are, in fact, native people of this continent whose ancestors ranged freely over it for thousands of years before Europeans drew an imaginary line and called it “the Mexican border.”  I would submit that, to clarify the situation, we should stop referring to those from south of that imaginary line as “Hispanic”  and call them what “eighty to ninety percent” of them really are, “Native Americans.”

And let’s not forget that, although their ancestors had the freedom to roam this continent from a time dating long before the Babylonians started scratching numbers on mud tablets, most of them would rather stay home than make the hike to “El Norte.”  The climate and scenery are much nicer down south, and they can live embedded in a wealth of family and other long-term relations that us alienated Nortenos can scarcely imagine.  It’s just that the U.S. government has made trade arrangements with their governments, which tend to be dominated by those who are, genetically, more European than native, that have largely destroyed these native peoples’ traditional, sustainable agricultural economy, and forced them to chase after ever-more elusive pesos.  Those trade arrangements–you know, NAFTA and all that–have had the result of sucking a great deal of money out of Mexico, or at least out of the hands of lower and middle class Mexicans, and bringing it here.  I’m saying “Mexico,” but I’m talking about all of Central America.  So they come up here, where the money is, just as their ancestors followed the migration of less conceptual great herds, and become the subject of resentment from European-Americans who are also feeling the loss of middle-class  wealth that NAFTA was designed to engender.  Hey, it’s easier to blame the brown people who don’t speak our langauge very well than it is to blame capitalism, and it’s easier to campaign to keep the brown people out than it is to campaign to overturn a system that is rigged to suck money from the bottom of the population and send it to the top, AKA “capitalism.”

And, speaking of blaming brown-skinned people, how ’bout the U.S. saying the Palestinians have to “stop their aggression against the Israelis”? What’s going on here is that, after World War II, the Brits and the Americans, mostly,  decided that Europe’s Jews needed a homeland of their own, and that Palestine was the place.  The Brits, somewhat to their credit, had resisted this idea for a long time, and many of the original Jewish immigrants to Palestine were illegal immigrants–just like in North America, only they were defying the British Empire and the already-existing, undecimated Muslim population of Palestine, not the dazed remnants of disease-ravaged, Neo-neolithic native people.  The decision to let the Jews of the world take over Palestine was, as far as I can tell, made with little or no input from the Palestinians, just as the decision to take over Turtle Island, AKA “The Americas,” five hundred years previously, was made without regard for the wishes of the inhabitants.

As I often do, I’m digressing.  One thing DOES lead to another!  The point for today is that the creation of Israel was and is an act of aggression against the Palestinian people, just as the European invasion of the Americas was an act of aggression against the native people here. And yes, we Jews were horribly mistreated–in Europe, by Europeans–for centuries, culminating in the Holocaust, but creating the state of Israel was about as thoughtless a form of reparation for those crimes as stealing land from Native Americans to build an Old Cowboys and Cavalrymens’ Home.  Didn’t anybody have a clue that this was only going to create resentment?

And oh, the irony!  Looking at the history of the Middle East from my “Deep Green Perspective,” I see that, prior to the Muslim conquest, the inhabitants of Anatolia were mostly Christians who had once been Pagan, the inhabitants of Persia were mostly Zoroastrian, the inhabitants of Afghanistan and the other lands north of the Hindu Kush were mostly Buddhist, and the inhabitants of Palestine were mostly Jews, and Christians who had once been Jews.  Following the Muslim conquest of all these areas, there was a strong pressure, both overt and osmotic, pushing people into adopting the Muslim faith, and most of them did, eventually.  Of course, the Islamic conquest of the Middle East and Africa was accomplished by violence, and  thus karmically ill-fated.   That said, the Palestinians are, in fact, the descendants of the original, Biblical Jews, while the Russian Jews who have populated Israel are largely descended from the native people of what is now southern Russia, and have no “genetic” claim on Palestine.

The situation is similar to that of a “home invasion.”  The Israelis marched into the Palestinians’ house and took over their living room, and are trying to claim that the Palestinians are the aggressors for wanting them out.  I don’t think so.

That said, the violence of this struggle has only made matters worse.  “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” as Gandhi said.  Or, as the great Jewish scholar Hillel put it, “Treat other people with the same level of respect as you would like them to give you.”  The Israelis and Palestinians are fighting for control of a raft which will go over the Niagara Falls of planetary climate catastrophe if they don’t quit battling each other and get it together.

Us white boys, starting fights we can’t finish…….



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