04 September 2013
Flight 30 shorts
Dear regular reader ...
Judy's flight is over the Atlantic Ocean on its way to our reunion in Moscow later this morning. I hope you'll understand if I don't spend much time here this week. Next week comes soon enough...
In fact I'd skip the week entirely if I were not feeling utter frustration over the Syrian attack for which our generally competent U.S. president is campaigning for so ardently. And here you are, patient enough to give me a listen. Thank you!
The thing is, a crime seems to have been committed--an apparent gas attack in a town near Damascus--a crime that is truly awful, and that seems to be on a scale that only state terrorism or its equivalent could account for. Without comparing this attack to any other of the horrors taking place in lesser-known places on this sad planet at the moment, it's only right that people demand accountability.
Twelve years ago, another horrible crime took place, taking thousands of lives in New York and Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. But national leaders did not frame it as a crime, did not apply the rules of criminal investigation, justice, and punishment, did not submit to the disciplines involved with crime-fighting. They framed it as war.
Forgive me for resorting to a personal-scale analogy. In 1970, my sister Ellen was brutally murdered on a bridge over the Calumet Sag Channel in Robbins, Illinois. Instead of blowing up that bridge, or sending a drone to target the getaway car driven by the killer, or firing a missile into his apartment building to send a message that killing will not be tolerated, the government arrested him, presented the evidence to a court, and obtained a conviction.
The analogy is far from perfect, but a crime on the scale of releasing chemical weapons also deserves scrupulous investigation and the disciplines of justice. There is a long, long distance between the justifiable cry, "Something must be done! A message must be sent!" and the automatic imperial assumption that an act of war is the only possible response. And let's face it, all our pretense about "limited" and "proportionate" aside, and our reluctance to risk actual good guys' lives, firing missiles at another country is an act of war. Undoubtedly it would result in a lot of expensive destruction, and cost the lives of at least some people who had absolutely nothing to do with chemical weapons. Furthermore, it would once again sabotage our species' fragile attempts to build the international structures needed to confront international-scale criminality.
Martin E. Marty, "On Labor and Workers: The Silence of the Religions."
Raymond Haberski Jr. on celebrating Martin Luther King and not ourselves.
While we're doing exercises in reframing, read this: Tom Engelhardt, "Alone and delusional on Planet Earth."
Time to lighten up a bit! Niko Case talks to Mavis Staples.
After that last article, how can I resist including this clip from Mavis Staples at the Hideout? "I know a place, ain't nobody crying..."