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Tag: Abby Zimet

In Mississippi, It is Still the 1960s

monkey man mississippi

By Abby Zimet, used with permission from Common Dreams

As the dystopian movie Civil War sets records depicting the “colorful horrors of the American future” on its current trajectory, we saw the same mindless, time-honored rancor play out at “Ole Miss being Ole Miss,” where a pack of rabid, jeering, shit-for-brains frat bros with white-supremely punchable faces set upon a black female student protesting genocide in Gaza. On foul display: That “Southern Heritage we’re always Jim Crowing about,” and, without change, the next generation of GOP goons and bigots. 

Robert Reich recently posted a message of hope to his students, graduating at a “tremulous” time in a world beset by racism, genocide, climate change, culture wars, rising authoritarianism. Like many of us, Reich also entered adulthood at a bitter time, in 1968, amidst war, assassinations, cities burning. “I ask my students to hold on,” he writes. “To use their lives and careers to make America better. To try to heal the world.” It’s a tough ask in a fractious time, now grimly depicted in Alex Garland’s Civil War about a nihilistic America “at war with itself.” What one critic calls “a cautionary tale about America’s inevitable self-destruction,” it offers a harrowing look at “the horrors that lie ahead for a great country on the rocks – and what America has done to itself already,” with its “motiveless carnage,” tarnished ideals, president “who has raped the U.S. Constitution,” and beleaguered free press, including “an aging survivor of what’s left of the New York Times,” “trying to record what they witness in the line of fire (as) the rest of us die.” Its bleak message: “If things continue in the (current) political direction, no one will be safe from annihilation in the next decade.”

In real life, America’s political landscape takes it down a notch or so, but still leans dark. A GOP-controlled House big on “pointless gestures and posturing” just plumbed new McCarthyist depths by passing a bill that conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism, “an insult (to) historical memory erasing decades of Jewish anti-Zionist politics”; its crypto-fascist “leader” Mike Johnson plans hearings on anti-genocide college protests to “look at the root causes funded by, I don’t know, George Soros or overseas entities.” A corrupt, far-right judicial system now includes in its plutocratic ranks not just Alito, Thomas et al but Trump fangirl Aileen ‘What Classified Documents?’ Cannon, who claims her newly exposed omission of fat-cat-funded vacations was “completely inadvertent.” Thanks to such chicanery – and despite efforts to protect election integrity and its stewards – a new survey shows over half of all election officials fear for their safety, from harassment to assault, and for their ability to do their jobs without political meddling. And the “petty little shit-stain” who so helped shred our democratic norms is still free (for now), and jabbering.

Of course, the “whining train-wreck” now seething through his sordid criminal trial – as Stormy Daniels say she was “ashamed” of their (ewww) sexual encounter – still pursues his rampage back to power. Last weekend, free from the legal strictures he gripes keep him from campaigning, he again fled to his tacky golf club to beg rich people for more money to keep him out of jail; with no low, he even scrounged for $9,000 in gag order fines. At a $40,000-a-plate bash, he groused about taking selfies with small donors who don’t deserve them, called Biden “the Gestapo” and Jack Smith “a fucking asshole,” deemed 40% of Americans moochers who “get welfare to vote and then they cheat,” and paraded his trashy VP hopefuls like a motel pageant of Miss Florida also-rans: Doug Burgum – “He’s a very rich man”; Kristi Noem, now urging Biden’s dog Commander be added to the kill list – “Somebody that I love”; Byron Donalds – “Somebody who’s created something very special, donors worth millions of dollars…I like diversity. Diversité, as you would say.” And sniveling lapdog Tim Scott, in limbo with no word from on high even as he faithfully declines six times to say he’ll accept the 2024 election results. 

Sigh. With such civic and moral mentors, thus do we get the savage, racist, redneck frat boys at Ole Miss who somehow never learned – so much for teach your children well – it is not acceptable, when witnessing a group of righteous fellow students acting in conscience to protest the slaughter of many thousands of innocents in Gaza, to single out a black woman and leer, jeer, boo, screech, give her multiple fingers, jump up and down making grotesque faces and grunting monkey noises, clutch their crotches, throw food and cups of water, chant “We Want Trump!” “Fuck Joe Biden!” and shriek, “Who’s your daddy?,” “Take a shower,” “Lizzo, Lizzo!”, “Fuck you fat-ass!” “Your nose is huge!” “Shave your legs!” “Fuck you fat bitch!” and “Lock her up!” The woman, identified as graduate student Jaylin Smith, kept filming as the idiot yahoos, safely surrounded by hundreds of barbarian peers, some in stars-and-stripes overalls, feverishly bounced around her. Reports said they outnumbered by about 10-to-1 the roughly 30, diverse students with UMiss for Palestine, who calmly carried Palestinian flags and signs: “Free Palestine,” “Stop the Genocide” and “U.S. Bombs Take Palestine Lives.”

Many of the yokels – one sage: “A thousand faces of ‘peaked in high school’…The end product of a failed state” – reportedly had no idea what the protest was about. Said one, “I don’t know what they’re doing here. I just want them gone.” See the ever-prescient William Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” For many, the ugly spectacle summoned “the ghosts of UM’s past” at a school nicknamed for a plantation term, that long called its sports teams the Rebels and its mascot Colonel Reb, still has only 11% black students in a state nearly 40% black, and remains famous for the 1962 riots that followed the admission, a full eight years after Brown v. Board of Education banning segregation, of 29-year-old veteran James Meredith, the school’s first African-American student, whose arrival on the Oxford campus was accompanied by 1,400 US Marshalls and federal troops and who later said of the experience, “I considered myself engaged in a war from Day One.” In 1964, Nina Simone released her searing song, Mississippi Goddamn: “Hound dogs on my trail/school children sittin’ in jail/thinkin’ every day’s gonna be my last/I don’t belong here, I don’t belong there.”

Video Link

After video of the douchebag behavior toward a lone black woman by a horde of hooting good ole boys was met with outrage, UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce faintly acknowledged the school’s “challenging” history, noting, “Incidents like this can set us back.” Citing “offensive and inappropriate” statements and “actions that conveyed hostility and racist overtones,” Boyce said the school would “investigate” the conduct of at least one student and “determine whether more cases are warranted.” “Behaviors and comments that demean people because of their race or ethnicity…undermine the values that are fundamental to a civil and safe society,” he said in a statement. “People who say horrible things to people because of who they are will not find shelter or comfort on this campus.” Still, it remains to be seen if so-called adults who likewise say horrible things – like Mississippi’s Gov. Tate Reeves, who posted video with, “Warms my heart,” and Georgia Rep. and “racist POS” Mike Collins, who captioned the repulsive scene “Ole Miss taking care of business” – will also be held accountable. (His Congressional office number is 202-225-4101. Just sayin’.)

A ghastly piece of work who’s suggested murdering migrants by throwing them Pinochet-style from helicopters and introduced a bill to ban federal “zealots” from removing Greg Abbott’s deadly razor buoys from the Rio Grande, Collins later backtracked, slightly. He bombastically noted there “seems to be some potentially inappropriate behavior that none of us should seek to glorify” and suggested if someone “is found” to be a racist POS “they should be punished (and) will hopefully seek forgiveness” before doubling back down on “pro-Hamas, anti-American, Antifa anarchists” who “run roughshod” over nice rebels “there to learn and enjoy college.” Meanwhile, UM’s NAACP chapter swiftly condemned counter-protesters’ “reprehensible actions,” identified the monkey asshole as James “JP” Staples from Phi Delta Theta, and called for his expulsion along with that of Connor Moore and Rouse Davis Boyce from Kappa Alpha Order as the “primary perpetrators.” The next day, Phi Delta Theta removed Staples for behavior that was “offensive, outside the bounds of this discourse, and contradictory to our values.” The school has yet to take any further action.

But Toby Morton has. A writer for South Park and MadTV, Morton is also the “immature and irresponsible” creator of a series of Fascist Websites paying tribute, thanks to idiotically unregistered domain names, to the vile likes of Greg Abbott – “People die on his watch” – Elise Stefanik – “Let’s keep it white” – DeFascist 24 – “I’ve always strived to promote a safe and welcoming space for every white nationalist in Florida and beyond” – and Tennessee’s Cameron Sexton: “You racist? I got your back.” Now, he has a campaign website for J.P. Staples – “Racially driven experience in hate” – starting with a Hitler quote, “The first million was the hardest.” “I’ve been carrying this burden for far too long, and I can’t hold it in any longer,” it reads. “I hate so much it consumes me…I hate the way black people look at me, the way they talk, the way they exist…Here I am, confessing my deepest, darkest secret. I’m a scared little bitch. I fear those who are superior to me. I fear people will see who I truly am – a piece of shit. Thankfully, I represent many Americans and how we think.” And there are testimonials! Kristi Noem: “Does he have a dog?” MTG: “Welcome to the GOP.” 

Staples has scrubbed his social media accounts, forgetting the Internet is forever, but sleuths were quickly on it. From a Texas MAGA family whose father is a repeat DWI offender, “Monkey Boy” evidently “hates all races but his own.” His posts are both racist and anti-Semitic, raging at “cock-sucking Jews” who after a week removed from streaming a movie he wanted to watch and idly wondering “if Jews use the term ‘baby in the oven'” for someone pregnant. Observers mused on his future job prospects: Hero good ole boy a la Kyle Rittenhouse, or landscaping assistant, Trump advisor, guy “asking people if they want fries with their order for the rest of his life?” Many see him as “a sterling (result) of spectacularly bad parenting – mini-racists pop out.” “You’re looking at the next generation of racists,” said one, who included girlfriends “cheering (them) on – the Klan rode up to the meeting, but the wives sewed the capes and hoods.” They deem him “the true face of Mississippi,” of “the Republican Party and how they behave when nobody’s looking” – or even when we are – and of the ghosts of America’s racist past: Still and all, “They walk among us.”

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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MAGA is Coming For Our Books, Kitchens, and Children, Especially the Ones Not Wearing Pants

katie britt

By Abby Zimet, Common Dreams, Used by Permission

Talk about a tale of two countries: This election year, with only fervid culture wars to offer, a fear-mongering GOP is hating on books, flags, migrants, rainbows, birth control, scary clown drag queens; electing zealots and bigots; drawing pants on goblins’ butts and turning teachers who support trans kids into sex offenders. And this week, they definitively rejected Biden’s nation of hope and decency with a lying, sociopathic White Mom On the Brink – “There’s bodegas on the corner!” – in “some deeply weird shit.”

With a shambolic GOP House flopping at everything – no evidence of a “Biden crime family,” Hunter’s laptop info came from a Russian spy, they can barely manage to fund the government – zealous patriots and lawmakers in multiple states have eagerly taken up the ugly task of stripping someone’s rights somewhere in the name of “freedom.” In don’t-say-woke Florida, a handful of enthused cranks, bigots and “Moms For Liberty” have challenged hundreds of books – including almost anything with an LGBTQ character and dictionaries, though DeSantis denies it. A recent, witless target was Maurice Sendak’s classic In The Night Kitchen, which they dubbed “pornographic” because little Mickey is naked as he bakes a cake. The solution: draw shorts on him. Ditto the bare backside of the disgruntled goblin in Unicorns Are The Worst – he got pants – and the grandfather in Sofia Valdez, Future Prez, who’s wearing a pin for LGBTQ rights, or was. This, despite lawsuits and enough bad press on threatening librarians with felony charges that even DeSantis has backed off, suggesting “random people” are objecting “to every single book under the sun,” which, yes, they are.

In Georgia, GOP lawmakers would also jail librarians who let kids check out LGBTQ books. In Missouri, which supports child marriage and school spankings, they’ve passed 43 anti-trans bills; a new proposed bill criminalizes teachers who call students by their preferred pronouns or otherwise “contribute to social transition,” if they do, they’d face four years in prison and have to register as sex offenders banned from schools or parks. Having outlawed abortion with no rape or incest exceptions – pregnancy “by God’s grace may (be) the greatest healing agent” – the A.G sued Planned Parenthood for “trafficking” minors out of state for abortions. In Tennessee, the GOP opposes rainbows but is all in on slaves: They banned Pride flags but in seconds declined to ban Confederate flags as proposed by Rep. Justin Pearson, who they also made it easier to expel next time. In North Carolina Holocaust-denying, anti-women’s suffrage, sort of black Mark Robinson, who calls LGBTQ and trans people “sick, deranged, sexual degenerates” and school shooting survivors who want gun control “media prosti-tots,” just got the GOP’s well-funded nod to run for governor.

In honor of and reflecting this worldview, in which the way to achieve greatness is to demean, marginalize and deprive of their rights anyone who looks/thinks differently from you comes dystopian masterpiece of “Patriotic AI Art” America Lives.The creation of “Veteran, Father, Patriot” Joseph Youngbluth and one Jason Coursey – “USA’s pronouns are USA” – they made their lunatic, histrionic video “to support the greatest president of our lifetime (yeah him) and “capture “the essence of (his) vision.” And wow, does it. “The idea of America lives in every one of us,” thunders the narrator. “But a storm has gathered at our shores, a tempest that seeks to tear apart the fabric of our nation.” Cue clouds, mobs, lightning, hobos, looming flames, shrieky music, jackboots, rubble, sandbags, wheat fields, blue-haired Antifa stalking through ruined cities, mohawked drag queens reading to kids (probably In the Night Kitchen) and a “hurricane of deceit and moral decay (that) Has Come for our Children.” Fortuitously, in this “true battle of good vs. evil,” “We are great men with a great leader (who) seeks the same ideals as we do, and sees the greatness in us.” Whew.

Many Americans, we are told, are going wild over this dumbfounding paean. “This literally moved me to tears,” wrote one. “Not just from what we have endured, but because there is still hope to Save America!” Strangely, though, their America was nowhere in sight last week at Biden’s “scrappy,” hopeful, much-praised State of the Union speech, wherein he summoned “the gravest threat to our democracy since the Civil War” and urged insurrectionist Republicans to “speak the truth and bury the lies.” Repeatedly critiquing “my predecessor,” He Who Shall Not Be Named, Biden touted his economic successes, insisted “political violence has absolutely no place in America,” celebrated the “core values” of “Honesty. Decency. Dignity. Equality” to “give everyone a fair shot” and “give hate no safe harbor” – what one optimist called “saving democracy so we can do cool shit” – and, refreshingly, delineated the Dems’ desire to offer “freedom for,” in contrast to paranoid right-wingers’ “freedom from” (voting rights, drag queens etc). Citing the GOP talk of a national ban on reproductive choice, Biden retorted, “My God, what freedoms will you take away next?”

Most shockingly to the right, Biden didn’t dribble, stagger, babble or die in accordance with their narrative he’s so old and dementia-ridden – irony alert – he’s almost comatose. Faced with the need to pivot, and reminding us how execrable they are, they quickly came up with a new, evidence-free, doused-in-irony-if they-knew-what-it-was narrative: Biden was “pumped full of god-knows-what drugs!” “Plot twist: It was Joe Biden’s cocaine in the White House!” one screeched, and, “What drugs have they shot him up with? This is not how normal people talk.” Hannity got into the act by conjuring up a new tagline, “Jacked-Up Joe.” Even friggin’ Dr. Ronny ‘Feel Good’ Jackson did – “Whatever they gave to Biden is wearing off! He is struggling big time!” – fresh off a Pentagon report that confirmed allegations he handed out drugs like Skittles at the White House, and his subsequent demotion from admiral to captain. Still Joe charged on, dismissing their “American story of resentment, revenge and retribution.” “That’s not me,” he said, rejecting “the oldest of ideas…You can’t lead (with) ideas that only take us back.” (Later, he did take back his “illegal,” so thanks for that.)

His predecessor, meanwhile, took himself back to a bored 14-year-old bully throwing a hissy fit in detention who nattered through four dozen rants online, sank to re-posting some MAGA moron’s spliced Snapchat filters turning Biden into a goofy cartoon, a girl with pigtails, a slobbery dog etc before finally, laughably declaring Biden “an Embarrassment to our Country!” R-i-g-h-t. There were many others, of course: MTG Three-Toes turned up in full, red, gaudy NASCAR/MAGA regalia, looking like “something pumped out of a trailer park septic tank. Pure trash.” But in the oh-lord-how-long-will-it-go-on GOP Ignominy Sweepstakes, nobody can compete with deeply weird, kitchen-bound, fundie-baby-voiced Worst Lifetime Movie Actress Ever Sen. Katie Britt, who in her SOTU “rebuttal” tearfully swept together Twilight Zone, Birth of a Nation, SNL and a KKK revival meeting to paint a florid MAGA portrait of Trump’s American Carnage, a hellscape of rampaging migrants, struggling families and terrified communities in what was savaged as “the worst acting, ever.” One plaintive query: “Can these people not even pretend to be normal for a few minutes on television?” Not.

The junior senator from Alabama, abortion opponent, Christian nationalist – “We need to get God back in our classrooms” – and former corporate lobbyist spoke from the evidently not real “kitchen” – women love kitchen – of the 6,300-square-foot home she shares with her former NFL player/now lobbyist husband Wesley, daughter Bennett and son Ridgeway – “My daughter Chippendale and my son Marblehead” – “living their American dream, but right now the American dream has turned into (yes!) a nightmare.” In the hushed, breathless whisper fundamentalist women use to convey their requisite, childlike submissiveness – but veering wildly to tearfulness and a creepy fake smile – she declared Biden “out of touch” with “what real families are facing around the kitchen table like this one, where we laugh together and hold each other’s hands and pray for guidance” as they see “the nation slipping away,” because brown people. Also, “We are steeped in the blood of patriots, we walk in the footsteps of pioneers who tamed the wild (and) got knocked down and Stood Back Up,” “Destiny’s Hand,” “moms and dads Just Like You”, “INNOCENT AMERICANS ARE DYING STOP THE SUFFERING.”

Her “handlers,” it was widely noted, “tried to give us ‘America’s mom,”‘ but got the crazy aunt at Thanksgiving who only wants to talk about sex dungeons under pizza parlors. The weirdness and fakery was too much. The response was withering, the parodies flew. She was giving Lifetime TV serial killer mom vibes. This lady is GOP AI. Holy cringe. Is this an infomercial? Is she crying Demonic drama. The kitchen whisperer. State of the carmelized onion. She nuts. She big mad. Is she still crying? Where are the normal people? Evil June Cleaver. Make actors great again. Fellow white moms, are you feeling me? That is the kitchen of a psychopath. Boiling rabbit is next. Stepford Wives. Handmaid’s Tale. Gilead. My Name Is Katie Britt and I Am SingingTomorrow From Annie. Goodness, y’all, bless her heart. Are we watching a hostage video? I wanna fight for you, and by you I mean people who look like me. The Young and the Congressional. Wesley come get your wife, my guy, she’s embarrassing you and your kids. Am I crying? If I am, it’s because of brown people at the border. Empty chairs tonight at kitchen tables Just…Like…This…One. Big finish, fadeout.

Most unforgivably, as uncovered by freelance journalist Jonathan M. Katz, her salacious story about Mexican cartels repeatedly raping a sex-trafficked 12-year-old girl was a cynical, exploitative, “beyond misleading” ploy to turn someone’s real-life pain and horror into a GOP talking point to convince other racists that every dark-skinned person who turns up at the border fleeing violence in their own country is a sex-trafficking cartel rapist and/or a fentanyl salesman. Britt charged Biden’s border policy had “invited” such atrocities; in fact, the story belonged to a Mexican woman who was trafficked and raped in Mexico during George Bush’s tenure, escaped, became an anti-trafficking activist, bravely testified to Congress in 2015 about her harrowing experiences, and today insists what she does should not be political: “The work I do is not a game.” Not only did Britt co-opt the story into “an out and out lie” to serve her own sordid political purposes; she did so on behalf of a sexually assaulting candidate whose policies, when in power, made it harder to curb trafficking and protect victims, pushing traumatized survivors “further into the shadows.”

Some good, however, did come of Britt’s grotesque duplicity: In divided and rancorous times, she brought both sides together in agreement that “her performance was the stuff of nightmares.” “Everyone’s fucking losing it,” said a GOP operative. “It’s one of our biggest disasters ever,” from a kitchen yet. Other reviews: “She was clearly over-coached,” “her delivery was parody-level terrible,” “the experience (of watching) was… experiential,” and from legal analyst Andrew Weissmann, “I don’t think Katie Britt is going to get the lead in the school play this year.” Since then, she got spoofed on SNL and asked to apologize for her lies: “God calls on us to do hard things.” But her spokesman defended the trafficking story as “100% correct,” she got fawning, surreal support from Fox and Friends – “Great job – it all seemed so natural” – and Hannity even as she smilingly doubled down on Biden’s “rage-filled, incoherent” speech, prattled, “We care about faith, family, freedom,” and blamed “liberal media” for…something: “It is disgusting of trying to silence the voice of telling the story of what is like to be sex-trafficked.” Behold, and beware: Alternative facts, worlds, universes are alive and well amongst a despicable people.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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We Should All Have Equal Life, Peace, Justice, Dignity. Period.

destruction in gaza

By Abby Zimet, Used by Permission

Horror on all sides. What is there to say on the conflagration consuming Gaza and Israel? As the US and much of the Western world denounce the Hamas “terror,” millions more acknowledge its savagery but painstakingly insist we see nuance and context in desperate acts of resistance by a people who have long had done to them what they, now, have done in turn – in the only way they feel they can avow, “Palestine will not be buried.” The awful lesson: “Ultimately, the dispossessed will rebel.”

Hamas’ armed Al-Qassam Brigade said they launched their largest rocket attack against Israel in over 15 years, and its unprecedented, accompanying infiltration by land, sea, and air “deep into the heart of Israel,” in response to “the crimes of the Occupation.” After firing up to 5,000 rockets toward Israel in the first 30 minutes, they urged all Palestinians to join the battle, declaring, “Today the people are regaining their revolution.” In what’s been widely deemed “an intelligence fiasco,” the “Al-Aqsa Flood” took Israel’s “invincible army” and famed surveillance system by surprise, leading to clashes in up to 50 locations even as sirens sounded across a stunned Israel and Palestinians in disbelief freely walked around abandoned IDF bases. To date, Israel’s death toll has climbed to 900, including 260 young people at a music festival; Israeli strikes have killed 700 Palestinians in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people with nowhere to flee; thousands more are injured on both sides; Hamas has taken over 100 Israelis captive, reportedly including many officers of Israel’s Southern Command; and, in an ultimate irony, video showed thousands of Israeli settlers running away in helpless terror of the kind of violence often experienced by Palestinians at their hands.

Amidst the chaos, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu raged that Israel will “take mighty vengeance,” that we “will strike them,” “will annihilate terrorism,” will turn Gaza “into cities of ruins” in a pitiless war that has “only started.” Of such rhetoric, along with its barbarous actions, was the current carnage born. “These developments did not occur in a vacuum,” noted the Palestinian observer to the U.N. The violence is a “chilling reminder that occupation and oppression bear a price,” the “apotheosis of what happens at the end of a road of exhausted options,” the inevitable result of a decades-long Israeli rule that “demanded the unquestioning surrender of its victims, refused to accept defiance in any form, and produced a generation of Palestinians who have lost faith in nonviolent resistance.” It’s also a likely “turning point” in the struggle between Israel’s apartheid system and the Palestinians who live under it. Years after creating “a pressure cooker” in the world’s largest open-air prison and periodically “mowing the lawn” to keep its lid on, writes Mitchell Plitnick, “Israel would have us believe it was because Hamas are just vicious killers who have a bloodlust for Jews. In reality, it was the actualization of what anti-apartheid activists have been warning about for many years.”

Tipping the balance, many argue, were “the provocations of the most extreme right-wing government in Israel’s history.” This year has been deemed the deadliest for Palestinians since the height of the Second Intifada, with 248 civilians (40 of them children) killed this year (almost the same number as at the music festival). The number of IDF raids, arbitrary arrests, home demolitions, random shootings and killings, settler mobs left free to burn villages, evict civilians, and attack holy sites has soared as far-right Israeli officials call for Palestinian genocide and expulsion. In the West Bank, 3.5 million Palestinians live packed into segregated cantons between Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land, an “Apartheid Wall” and new “Apartheid Road,” and endless checkpoints. In Gaza, over 2 million survive in cramped refugee camps under unlivable conditions, constant air strikes, and a suffocating 16-year-long blockade with contaminated water, sporadic power, and so few jobs that 80% depend on international aid. A recent report found that four of five children say they live with depression, grief, and fear, and yet Israeli officials have seemed intent on perpetuating a brutal, longstanding, counter-productive, doom cycle: “Cage, smother, subdue, repeat.”

They were evidently so intent on upholding their status-quo oppression that they missed what media have called “Israel’s 9/11” in the most catastrophic intelligence failure since the last October surprise, almost precisely 50 years ago, of 1973’s Yom Kippur War. Both times, observers charge, Israeli hubris played a part. Then, its leaders ignored peace offerings from Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and intelligence of an attack; now, Israel’s “invincible” military remains overly confident, somewhat disorganized, and beholden to an ultra-nationalist government incapable of choosing any alternative solution to any problem except military violence – and secure in the knowledge a complicit U.S. will fund their bad choices. Thus did their American friends leap to condemn Hamas “terrorists,” rushing to declare their support for “our incredible ally” “defending” itself against what J Street called “murderous” Palestinians. The GOP rushed to blame Biden’s “weakness,” but none came close to a rabid Stephen Miller’s Straight-up Seig Heil shit” as he raved Biden “turned calm into calamity” with his “rules-based international order” – like no genocide – in contrast to Trump’s “clear-eyed realism (and) raw projection of national strength” when “our world was at peace.” (What the Goebbels-loving fuck).

Democrats joined in to condemn Hamas; so did Bernie Sanders, but at least he recognized that “innocent people on both sides will suffer hugely” as a result. His former foreign policy aide Matt Duss also noted the attack destroyed the idea that “we can just bottle up the Palestinians and it won’t matter,” insisting the right of people to live in security “includes Israelis and Palestinians.” Declaring “there is no excuse (for) what Hamas has done,” he added, “Palestinians have continued to suffer under an occupation and blockade that is decades old. That is absolutely necessary context.” Startlingly, CNN also let Palestinian advocate Dr. Mustafa Barghouti cite the context of “the longest occupation in modern history” and a system of apartheid that has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. The U.S. “cannot say that Israel has the right to defend itself, but we the Palestinians don’t have the right to defend ourselves,” he said, citing 560 Israeli military checkpoints, 5,300 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, the charge that any Palestinian who resists occupation is terrorist, violent, provocative, or anti-Semitic. “We should all have equal life, we should all have peace, we should all have justice, we should all live in dignity,” he said. “The way to achieve that is to end the occupation.”

Movingly, Israelis have spoken out to acknowledge blood only begets more blood, to concede their dread “is a sliver of what Palestinians have been feeling on a daily basis.” “We need to act with sensitivity,” said the father of a girl taken captive from the music festival, asking she be rescued but “only by peaceful measures.” “(Palestinians) also have mothers who are crying.” Israeli journalist Orly Noy dismisses the bellicose threats by a corrupt Netanyahu: “Rightfully he is now seen as personally responsible. He seeks to save his own political skin.” She understands a desire for revenge, but fears “the erasure of any moral red line,” arguing “it’s important to remind ourselves that everything inflicted on us now” – shootings to civilians taken captive – “we have been inflicting on Palestinians for years.” “Ignoring this context is giving up a piece of my own humanity,” she writes. “Because violence devoid of context leads to only one possible response: revenge…the opposite of security, (of) peace, (of) justice. It is nothing but more violence.” While “terrible crimes were committed against Israelis this Saturday…in this time of dark grief, I cling to the one thing I have left to hold onto: my humanity. The absolute belief that this hell is not predestined. Not for us, nor for them.”

Still, the devastation goes on. An Israeli airstrike killed 19 members of one Palestinian family in Rafah; said Abu Quta, 57, “There were screams. There were no walls.” As Israelis beg their government for help finding captive relatives – “They are not telling us anything” – the IDF’s “Swords of Iron” operation has fired 3,284 no-warning rockets at “Hamas targets” that are in fact often apartments, houses, mosques, schools where Palestinians huddle in terror: “We do not know what fate has in store for us.” In response to the relentless airstrikes, Hamas has said any time Israel targets civilians in their homes without warning, they will “regrettably” execute one captive Israeli civilian. Israel has recovered the bodies of over 1,500 Hamas fighters, and escalation looms: Gazans try to flee south fearing an Israeli ground assault, Hezbollah militants have been killed at the Lebanon border, as was at least one Israeli commander, among 85 IDF casualties. Israel’s U.N. Ambassador, without irony, accused Hamas of “war crimes…The era of reasoning with these savages is over.” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a yet more draconian “complete siege” against Gaza’s “human animals” (see below): “Nothing is allowed in or out. No electricity, food, water. (Also a war crime). And Netanyahu has vowed “the enemy will pay an unprecedented price” from attacks “with neither limitations nor respite.” “What we will do to our enemies,” he said, “will reverberate with them for generations.” True, and tragic, for all of us.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Saving Little Free Libraries From “Bad” Books and Praise Jesus

little free libraries

Post by Abby Zimet, Common Dreams

Give it up for Zealot of the Week Jennifer ‘Karen’ Meeks, who took it upon her pious self to scurry around her Arkansas neighborhood’s Little Free Libraries, remove “bad” books that “don’t align with Christian values” – mostly, eww, “Pride stuff” – and put in “good” books, aka Bibles. Her GOP lawmaker husband says “leftists” are lying and his wife is just nobly replacing worn-out books with newer ones, which means he’s already breaking 2 Commandments – stealing and lying – so God help him.

“I have been swapping out books in little free libraries for awhile,” the enterprising Ms. Meeks – sorry, she probably prefers Mrs. – announced on Facebook, possibly ill-advisedly, earlier this month. “A lot of these books and other things don’t align with Christian values,” she wrote. “Today, I saw a bunch of Pride stuff in one. There’s a group of leftists, especially in Conway, who are very active in keeping little libraries well stocked. I have seen good books, terrible books, toiletries, and needles (yes, needles)…Recently I have been picking up free Bibles at flea markets and thrift stores. Sometimes I find good devotion books or kids’ Bible stories at a good price to add. Or just great books, and a gospel tract is a nice idea too.” She went on, “This is a (sic) opportunity for the silent majority to be salt and light in our communities.” She’s presumably referencing Matt. 5:13, in which, “Our Savior calls His disciples the ‘salt of the earth’ and the ‘light of the world,'” two substances that transform food or darkness much as the church can transform society – especially if there are creepy sexy-time books lurking around in your blasphemous neighborhood.

Little Free Libraries is a non-profit promoting neighborhood book exchanges and literacy under a “take a book, share a book” honor system where people can freely borrow and donate books. They encourage “stewards” to curate boxes “in a way that best serves their community” with books that “enlighten readers, nurture empathy, and open (up) diverse perspectives.” Under that rubric, censorship is taboo: “When an individual removes books (that) don’t match up with their personal beliefs, they silence critical voices that deserve to be heard” – often LGBTQ and people of color. Ditto, said Meeks’ “group of leftists” keeping libraries stocked – the Faulkner County Coalition for Social Justice – who happily chimed in, “Thank you Mrs. Meeks, that would be us!” They said they continue to offer “life-saving” books, food, toiletries, reproductive health care and naloxone for queer kids not out to their parents, teens who need Plan B for an unwanted pregnancy, the “good neighbor preventing an overdose.” “Keep removing them, Jennifer,” they wrote. “But we will never stop coming right back (to show) love and decency will always win.” They also added that the Meeks’ “voting records and actions speak for themselves.”

That would be Stephen voting for a bill criminalizing librarians for distributing material deemed “obscene”; trying (unsuccessfully) to remove “explicit materials” from libraries and cut their funds; voting for an anti-trans “bathroom bill,” an abortion ban, a heartbeat bill, to allow guns at universities and churches, to have Bible instruction in public schools etc. After local outrage, his wife’s proud post about deciding what books other people should/shouldn’t read was deleted – hubris remorse? – but anyway Meeks said it was “a complete lie” by a “leftist” group she was “removing books that she disagrees with..My wife would not do that,” even though she herself wrote she’d “taken out a bad one and left a good one in its place.” Also, the post went public because someone “betrayed her” hoping to get “political dirt” on him; his wife is “adding Christian-related books as well as history, science and other books,” sometimes removing “a worn-out history book” to replace it with a nicer one; as Christians “we too should be stocking Bibles, devotionals, things like that” to “give people more choice,” and “I think everybody would agree having more choice is a good thing,” except when it comes to, you know, your own body or health care or voting or beliefs or… Also, his wife “did not want to discuss the matter.” Cowards, liars, bigots all.

“Judge not, that you be not judged.” – Matthew 7:1

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

Bruce Gerencser