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SHOCK AND AWE OVER GAZA — Jonathan Cook reports from the West Bank on How the Media and Human Rights Groups Cover for Israel’s War Crimes; Jeffrey St. Clair on Why Israel is Losing; Nick Alexandrov on Honduras Five Years After the Coup; Joshua Frank on California’s Water Crisis; Ismael Hossein-Zadeh on Finance Capital and Inequality; Kathy Deacon on The Center for the Whole Person; Kim Nicolini on the Aesthetics of Jim Jarmusch. PLUS: Mike Whitney on the Faltering Economic Recovery; Chris Floyd on Being Trapped in a Mad World; and Kristin Kolb on Cancer Without Melodrama.
James Foley and the VIolence of Empire

Chasing Tragedy

by RUTH FOWLER

I recently became a mother, which could explain why this current period of conflict strikes me even harder than usual. When one becomes a parent – even a middle class, white parent with all the privileges denied the majority of those whose tragedies litter our news feed – we see our sons and daughters in the gray corpses of Palestinian children, in the broken bodies of drone victims, in the slaughtered Yazidis, in the black, unarmed child hit six times by cops whose ostensible duty is to protect and serve, in the angry kid who charges up to a cop and says, ‘Kill me now. Shoot me now” just moments before nine shots ring unhesitatingly through his brain, his lungs and his other vital organs, rendering him a bleeding, empty, dead corpse on the sidewalk (one whose corpse, nonetheless, must be cuffed for good measure). Every day is an overwhelming exercise in restraining my horror, empathy and moral outrage into 800 words or less, with fewer cuss words and tears than the first draft. But then there are the exceptions. The times when something happens in the news that is so horrific, so vile, and so unpleasant, that I fail to feel anything at all.

I was editing an article at my desk last night, my teething eight-month old baby playing happily with wooden blocks on the floor at my feet. My husband entered the room and casually asked: “What are you working on?”. I looked up from a window I’d just opened: a sun-bleached landscape, shaven headed white man, orange jumpsuit, a black-clad jihadi standing next to him holding a knife. I smiled at my husband, distracted, as the video streamed and the man in orange awkwardly read from an auto-cue off camera. “I’m just watching that journalist get beheaded. Can you take the baby outside?”

We could make this an article about how I – a young, white mother in Venice Beach – have become inured and desensitized to violence through my exposure to the internet, but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think my massively inappropriate reaction to James Foley’s brutal and horrific death is about the internet, films, movies, video games or the proliferation of violent images I’m saturated with, day after day. I think my inappropriate reaction to the murder of James Foley is a consequence of my daily, unwilling participation in the unrelenting violence of the United States of America, a country which – with every black life stolen, with every drone strike sanctioned, with every body held without trial, with every black life ruined in the prison industrial complex – proves itself the most violent perpetrator of...

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