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The Merchants of Death, part 2

A quick quiz: What do Ahed Tamini and Emma Gonzalez have in common?

(note: This image of Ms Tamini with the flag is courtesty of the Irish artist Jim FitzPatrick.)

I am not saying anything new in this post. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it long before I was capable of thinking such things, and so did Thomas Merton, and so, I am sure, did many other good and wise men and women. But it bears repeating.

To get back to my original question, what do Emma Gonzalez and Ahed Tamini have in common? Not that they are teenage young women in the news; not that both are being attacked by right-wingers; not even that both, in their different ways, are fighting for justice. What, exactly, are these girls fighting?

You might say: Ms. Gonzalez is fighting for gun control and Ms. Tamini is fighting the Israeli occupation. Fair enough. But look a little deeper

I’m not sure how he’d feel about being quoted, but my father, a WWII era vet, once said ,“There is no excuse for war in the New Testament. None.” He also said we had to get away from the wartime economy.

When you look at the horrors happening right now in the Middle East, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in so many other places, what do they have in common? To be blunt, they support the wartime economy. Just like the militarization of our police; just like the prison industrial complex, the massive amounts of bloodshed in the Middle East make profit for the merchants of death.

Ours is still a wartime economy. In some ways, I truly believe we are still fighting WWII. And our leaders would not know what to do with themselves if there were no enemy they could demonize. For some of them, that enemy is Russia. For others, it’s brown-skinned people, particularly Mexicans and Muslims. For some, it’s both of these.

The Palestinians, it’s been said, are lab rats for the military industrial complex. The billions of dollars we give to Israel every year go mostly for armaments. Those weapons are used against the Palestinians. Arms merchants can then sell more of these weapons, claiming they are battle-tested.

This must stop. The sooner we stop it, the better. The bloodshed going on right now has nothing to do with justice. It has nothing to do with self-defense. It has everything to do with power-grabbing, greed, racism, and fear.

Just imagine what the world could be like if we actually beat our swords into plowshares and spent our treasure on peace rather than war!

I am cheering on Ms. Gonzalez with all my heart. Her classmates, too, and Ms. Tamini and all the people of Gaza, Bilin, Nilin and other places where the indigenous Palestinians are protesting peacefully. We do not need more occupation. We do not need more weapons of war. We need food, clean soil, clean air and water, and to give our children a chance at a better future. Think how much skill and technological innovation our horrible drone wars have required! If we can put that kind of energy into peace, what might we achieve? Let’s starve the merchants of death and feed the children!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 19th, 2018 06:10 am (UTC)
I've thought for a while that all the recent wars are basically trying to fight the Vietnam War over again hard enough to turn it into World War II. Besides the economic angle (which is HUGE), WWII sure made the US feel good about itself. We unequivocally defeated some unquestionably bad governments, kick-started our economy, and came out of it as one of the only effective industrial powers in the world, ensuring market dominance for decades. (Er, not that it was 100% awesome in reality, but it sure seems like it felt that way to a lot of people.) The moral high ground AND a pony AND a rocket ship, hooray!

And we've never been able to repeat that. No certain victories, no unquestioned dominance, no endless expansion prospects. Economic gains are more obviously unevenly distributed and, well, obviously sordid. And there's no way to spin any of it hard enough to make it look like we've ever really won another war, rather than just giving up without having accomplished the goals--assuming there were defined goals to begin with. For anyone who's built their identity and worth around American exceptionalism, this must be intolerable. But admitting that no amount of bombs or bullets will suddenly make us win at everything and look awesome in the process would call the whole foundation of that identity into question. What are we if we aren't the best and the freest and the most powerful?

It's terrifying how much suffering and death people can cause trying to resolve cognitive dissonance. (And make money in the process.)
May. 19th, 2018 07:33 am (UTC)
"Besides the economic angle (which is HUGE), WWII sure made the US feel good about itself."

Yes! Oh, yes. And what's maddening to me is the utter lack of reflection. We literally do not recognize fascism when we see it. So many of us believe the United States (and our allies) defeated fascism in WWII. We didn't. Fascism endured in Europe for decades longer, and it's on the rise in the U.S. and Israel, among other places--if we're not already there.

But, again, you're right about the cognitive dissonance. WE can never be the bad guys! We fought Hitler, and therefore we are always and forever the good guys. This goes along with a frightening ignorance of our own history, such that racists are telling Native Americans to "go home". It's just so disturbing.

But the merchants of death probably couldn't be happier.

So upset about Texas as well as Gaza right now. It just never stops.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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