No, We Cannot Get Along

by

And I thought I was sermonizing to the agreeable. Seems I generated a shit storm with recent articles demanding justice for Palestinians in Gaza. And now a quote’s intruding—one attributed to Karl Rove, who told journalist Ron Suskind that the reality-based community (those who believe that solutions emerge from the study of reality) is passé. Rove arrogantly instructed:

That’s not the way the world really works anymore. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality, judiciously, as you will, we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.

When Barack Obama either was campaigning or had just taken the oath, there was noise that neo-conservatism was dead. It isn’t. Rove’s words are frightening. History’s actors are generating new scenes of carnage on Earth’s stage and we indeed are left to study them. Often we ask, WTF (?), as if we’re astounded by the indignity. Back to that shit storm… I wrote two articles about Israel and the slaughter of Palestinians. In one I said, “The message is hypocritically clear: Some lives are more valuable than others.” In another I emphasized “genocide” and concluded with:

The death knell is blaring. Gaza is burning. Palestinians are burning alive. Operation Protective Edge is not an effort to defend a perimeter; it is part of a plan, conceived to obliterate a population.

I’ve learned there are those who claim to be peaceniks but aren’t when the conflict involves Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza. I was called anti-Semitic, the default label for anyone who criticizes Israel’s Zionism. I suggested Edward Said to one critic. He wasn’t interested. Perhaps you are. Here are some Said quotes: “Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate.” And:

It is quite common to hear high officials in Washington and elsewhere speak of changing the map of the Middle East, as if ancient societies and myriad peoples can be shaken up like so many peanuts in a jar.

And:

Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted. And while it is true that literature and history contain heroic, romantic, glorious, even triumphant episodes in an exile’s life, these are no more than efforts meant to overcome the crippling sorrow of estrangement.

I know that some people limit the recipients of their compassion. View through a biased lens. We war, wage it at all levels, one-on-one, group-on-group, and nation-on-nation. I admit my own guilt, the personal vendettas, Missy as avenger. And I despair. At the way the world works—those actors, acting again and again and again, repeating lines, and drawing new ones, distorting truth, perpetuating violence. We may study them as they fashion more horrors, different horrors, even greater horrors, feeling inadequate to halt the barbarities. Rodney King asked, “Can we all get along?” No, it seems we can’t. Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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