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Old Glory (What would Emma Lazarus say?)

Nov9

by: Moira Trachtenberg-Thielking on November 9th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

 

Old Glory
(What would Emma Lazarus say?)

The dawn’s early light
is late, dim and damp,
a wrung-out dishrag gray.
Oh say,
can you see?

Only the faintest wake
disturbs the harbor,
the needy turned away.
With vitriol trumping vision,
what would Emma Lazarus say?
(Speak, winds!)

Lady Liberty is seeing Red,
if that means raw or burned,
White, if that means pale and aquiver
Blue, if that means wretched and lost
in a dark field seeking stars.

What would Emma Lazarus say
to the Republic, for which it stands?

Stripes are not meant to be bars.
Look at the spaces between,
find the wideness in the narrow.
Do not silence the voice of reason.
Do not sentence Socrates twice to death
because he dared question the Republic.

What would Emma Lazarus say,
lamp sputtering,
locked outside the golden door
beside a befuddled mass
of the homeless
and orient-less poor?

Oh say, can you see
one Nation, under God, indivisible?
Oh say, can you see
Lady Liberty, invisible, steeped in fog?

What, Nation, have you repatriated
the Mother of Exiles?
Have you chosen to be
Colossus, after all?

And if you are so brazen,
Nation, so outsized,
how long do you expect to stand,
one leg kicking the other
until you topple?

Open the floodgate and
stow your fears,
relearn the art of the sextant
or suffer the fate of the ship of fools.

Let Liberty be your wide sea,
Justice the wind in your sails.

 Until we are all free,
we are none of us free.
(When will this be?)

Oh, sea, can you say?
Oh beautiful.
Oh spacious skies.
Oh glory. Say it. Oh!

__

Moira Trachtenberg-Thielking is President ofThe Katonah Poetry SeriesExecutive Committee in Katonah, NY. Her poetry has been published in theKyoto Journal and CHEST,and has most recently won the 2015 Carve magazine Premium Edition Contest in Poetry (Spring 2016 issue). She is currently participating in the Writing the Walls II ekphrastic poetry project at the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, and her poetry has also been performed at theEmotive Fruition theater collaborative in New York City. She holds an MFA from the NYU CreativeWriting program in Fiction.

Election Day 2016

Nov8

by: on November 8th, 2016 | No Comments »

“It’s really something every two years we get to overthrow the government.” Aaron Sorkin through Amy Gardner, a character on “The West Wing”

Election Day is the day We the People take our power back.

(It ought to be a national holiday, but that is another essay.)

It is easy to feel powerless in this world. We watch our Congress engage in unprecedented obstruction, and it seems there is nothing we can do about it. For the better part of a year, the Supreme Court of the United States has functioned with only eight members because Republicans in the senate decided to ignore their constitutional responsibility and refused to give President Obama’s nominee to the high court either a hearing or a vote. It does not matter to them that President Obama was elected to a four-year term and that it is his constitutional duty to nominate justices to the court. They claim they have the right not to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or a vote because of their fidelity to the voters who elected them.


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Donald Trump: The Picture of the GOP

Nov7

by: on November 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

In the Oscar Wilde novel – “The Picture of Dorian Gray” – a young handsome man looks upon a portrait of himself and wishes that the picture would grow old instead of himself. Mystery grants his wish, and he never grows old. Not only does his face never reflect the corruption of aging, but the physical effects of his sins show only on the picture. His cruelties, debaucheries, depravities, vulgarities, and even murder turn what once was a representation of youth and beauty into an ugly grotesquery, a witness to his sordid monstrousness.

As this much too long presidential campaign comes to an end, I say that Donald Trump, the presidential nominee of the Republican Party, the man elected by Republican voters and half-heartedly supported by the GOP leadership, is not some stranger from a strange land that has kidnapped an innocent political party and turned it into something that it is not. I say: Trump is the Republican Party. He is the picture of the GOP that shows a party that has traded its soul for votes.

Slavery and racism are the original sins of the United States, a nation, as Lincoln says in the Gettysburg address, “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” They became internal contradictions of a country that wanted to preserve both freedom and equality, both equality and property. This is especially difficult when there are millions of human beings who are neither free nor equal under the law, and, at the same time, considered to be the property of citizens. They are, according to the Constitution, counted as only three-fifths of a person.

In the 1850s, the question of the spread of slavery to territories carved from land taken from Mexico after the Mexican-American war led to protests in the North. A group of citizens from the dying Whig Party, the Democratic Party, and the Free Soil Party gathered in Ripon, Wisconsin and decided to form a new Republican Party if the Kansas-Nebraska Act became law. The founders of the party chose the name Republican to honor Thomas Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party of the 1790s. They wanted a party to promote civic virtue, to stop the spread of slavery, and to provide opportunities for small farmers and the common person.

Immigration was also an issue in the 1850s. The suspicious groups were Irish and German. Many of them were Catholics in a predominantly Protestant country. The Irish were accused of not wanting to assimilate and to become American. There was worry about their influence in the electoral process. Later, during World War I, the problem would be the loyalty to America of German-Americans and any other hyphenated groups.

The Republican Party, like every other institution in the United States, could not escape race prejudice, and it found itself having to live with its own internal contradictions. During and after the Civil War, it became a party that not only saw itself as a party for the ordinary person, but it also became identified with big business interests in the East and in the Midwest. The party of Lincoln accomplished many great things at its inception and since — the end of slavery, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments that ended slavery, provided for equal protection of the law for citizens, and guaranteed equal voting rights for men, respectively. Yet, the party that today claims to be the party of small government expanded the role of the federal government with the income tax, a national bank, a give-away of public land in the West and the transcontinental railroad.

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It’s Happening Right Here, Right Now: Review of It Can’t Happen Here at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre

Nov4

by: Yeshe Salz on November 4th, 2016 | No Comments »

The cast of It Can’t Happen Here ran through the doors of the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and handed out campaign signs to an unsuspecting audience. The signs were bright red and blue, sporting just the name “Buzz.” They rushed down the aisles, egged on the audience, and implored them to cheer and chant the name.

And, naturally, the crowd complied, wildly cheering as Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip made his way center stage.

Windrip (David Kelly), a cheeky everyman, is the populist candidate of the presidential election at the center of the show’s plot. Brash and informal, his character appeals to the downtrodden of 1930s New Deal America. Just a few scenes into the play during the rally, he threw his fist in the air and shouted a message similar to one the audience was all too familiar with: “Make America a proud, rich land again!”


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Why Those Who Cherish Martin Luther King Must Oppose Donald Trump

Nov4

by: Obery Hendricks, Jr. on November 4th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

[This post has been updated]

I choose to identify with the underprivileged. I choose to identify with the poor. I choose to give my life for the hungry. I choose to give my life for those who have been left out of the sunlight of opportunity …. This is the way I’m going. If it means suffering a little bit, I’m going that way. If it means sacrificing, I’m going that way. If it means dying for them, I’m going that way, because I heard a voice saying, ‘Do something for others.’” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The Good Samaritan,” 1966

I have come to greatly admire, even to cherish the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. His courage, his selflessness, his love for humanity, his willingness to stand against anything that threatened the common good – these are among the aspects of King’s character that deeply inspire me, as they do so many others. Today our common good is threatened, too; threatened by the ascendance of a selfish political demagogue who has made it his stock-in-trade to divide and deceive the people of this nation on a scale not seen for many decades. Those of us who cherish what Martin Luther King stood for must choose to stand as he chose to stand, and use our every resource to defeat this looming threat to the peace and wellbeing of our nation.

Throughout his public life Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made it a point to neither publicly endorse nor publicly oppose any politician or political party. In the tradition of the biblical prophets who so influenced him, he conscientiously avoided political partisanship, instead maintaining an uncompromising stance of principled nonalignment that would allow him to speak truth to power with complete integrity. To this he made just one exception: the 1964 Republican presidential candidacy of Barry Goldwater. Because he saw the right-wing policies of Goldwater as dangerous both to the fabric of American society and to the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, King set aside his principled stance of noninvolvement in electoral politics and vigorously campaigned against Goldwater, declaring with great chagrin that it was “disastrous that the Republican Party nominated Barry Goldwater as its candidate for President of the United States.” He later explained, “The prospect of Senator Goldwater being President of the United States so threatened the health, morality, and survival of our nation, that I could not in good conscience fail to take a stand against what he represented.”

King denounced the implicit racism in certain of Goldwater’s proposals:

“The Republican Party geared its appeal and program to racism, reaction, and extremism. All people of goodwill viewed with alarm and concern the frenzied wedding … of the KKK with the radical right. … While not himself a racist, Mr. Goldwater articulated a philosophy which gave aid and comfort to the racist. His candidacy and philosophy would serve as an umbrella under which extremists of all stripes would stand.” A New Yorker magazine report from the 1964 campaign concurred: “Barry Goldwater had made it possible for great numbers of unapologetic white supremacists to hold great carnivals of white supremacy.”

King also denounced Goldwater’s approach to foreign policy, calling it, “a narrow nationalism, a crippling isolationism, and a trigger-happy attitude that could plunge the whole world into the dark abyss of annihilation.” Most of the American electorate shared King’s fear; Goldwater lost to incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson in one of the greatest landslides in electoral history.

And with regard to the economic inequality and alleviation of poverty that weighed so heavily upon his heart, King was especially adamant: “On social and economic issues…. Mr. Goldwater had neither the concern nor the comprehension necessary to grapple with this problem of poverty in the fashion that the historical moment dictated.”

King concluded: “[B]ecause of my love for America, I had no alternative but to urge every … person of goodwill to vote against Mr. Goldwater and to withdraw support from any Republican candidate that did not publicly disassociate himself from Senator Goldwater and his philosophy.”


It is quite striking that half a century after King’s rebuke of Goldwater the same troubling rebuke can be leveled against the current Republican nominee, Donald Trump, virtually word for word, albeit now with a far greater sense of outrage and alarm. For Trump’s political views are even more extreme – and much less coherent — than the ideas of Goldwater that King considered much too dangerous to go unchallenged. Yet, there is one of King’s observations of Goldwater that cannot be applied to Trump: there is no way that King could truthfully say that Donald Trump is not a racist. One cannot read Trump’s mind, it is true, but his despicable race-baiting that has been on loud and ugly display for the many years he has been in the public eye speaks for itself.

In Goldwater’s case, King did not believe that his social policies were especially based upon race; indeed, Goldwater was a founder of the Arizona NAACP. Although Goldwater’s apparent lack of personal racism did not make his policies less repugnant to King, nonetheless he understood that Goldwater’s unfortunate ideas were a function of his long held libertarian principles concerning the size and the role of government. In Trump’s case, however, there is little to no evidence of him ever having publicly taken a principled position on any issue of significance. In fact, Donald Trump has made patently unprincipled dog-whistle racism and race-baiting foundational to his candidacy.

At virtually every campaign venue Trump’s racist dog-whistle rants against Mexicans, Muslims, “the blacks” and others attract, in the words of the New Yorker account, “great numbers of unapologetic white supremacists” who, emboldened by Trump’s rhetoric, quite gleefully turn his campaign stops into “great carnivals of white supremacy,” replete with Confederate flags and insignia, proudly cheering members of the Ku Klux Klan (whom Trump initially refused to disavow) and various other white supremacist miscreants, many of them shouting venomous racial insults and assaulting any blacks within punching distance who dared to challenge Trump’s uncivil spewings. And all this with the tacit support – if not the outright blessing (“I will pay for your court costs!”) – of candidate Trump.

If King, the uncompromising anti-war activist, feared what he called Goldwater’s “trigger happy attitude,” he would be horrified at the bellicose, trigger happy public statements made by Trump (and never disavowed by him), among them, “I love war” and “I would bomb the s**t out of them!” Surely as frightening for King would be Trump’s self-willed ignorance of even the rudiments of foreign policy and diplomacy. This is reflected, for example, in his cavalier statement that he would turn over nuclear weapons to other countries because, “it’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them.” Scores of high level diplomats, military and intelligence officials, even members of his own party, have publicly expressed fear for the nation’s wellbeing if Trump is handed the keys to the Oval Office, convinced as they are that Trump’s reckless and ill-informed approach to foreign policy would be disastrous. Martin Luther King would surely concur. As he wrote in Strength to Love, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

The man who uttered, “I choose to identify with the poor … if it means dying for them, I’m going that way,” calls us to oppose Trump’s economic plan because it treats the plight of poor and struggling Americans as an afterthought, yet benefits, in vast disproportion, the wealthiest Americans, including Trump himself. The plan proposes a deep cut to income taxes, elimination of both the inheritance tax and a tax on certain investments held by the very wealthy, all of which almost exclusively benefit those at the very pinnacle of the income ladder, yet it grants precious little of its largesse to those struggling on its lower rungs.

From all that we know of Martin Luther King, these political and economic considerations would be reason enough for him to exhort our nation to reject the candidacy of Donald Trump. They are more than enough reason for us to stand against Trump’s toxic politics. However, in the spirit of King, there are reasons beyond political and economic considerations that compel us to labor for Trump’s defeat. Those reasons reside in Trump’s character.

Dishonesty. King said, “The day we see the truth and cease to speak is the day we begin to die.” Donald Trump incessantly savages the truth to serve his own ends. Independent, nonpartisan fact-checkers attest that routinely 70-80 percent of Donald Trump’s claims are completely or mostly untrue. That means that he has never given a speech to the American people that was not laced with lies, as any studious listener can well attest. Some of his lies are foolish and easily debunked. Others have been quite vicious, like his malicious claim that he witnessed “thousands of Muslims” cheering the destruction of 9/11, or his claim to have heard the young people of the Black Lives Matter movement advocate killing police. An above-the-fold headline in one of the nation’s largest newspapers says it all: “Scope of Trump’s falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate.” Dishonesty has long been a feature of his much touted business dealings as well. By numerous accounts, he has cheated hundreds of venders by refusing to pay for goods or services rendered, or paying far less than was legitimately owed. As a result of Trump’s sleazy, unethical cheating, a number of those businesses were forced into bankruptcy and shut their doors forever.

Lack of empathy for others. King has insisted, “An individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity….Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’” Donald Trump does not hesitate to hurt, insult or humiliate anyone when he feels the urge, regardless of the impact upon them. He sneeringly advocates torture of political prisoners and has even advocated wreaking vengeance against foreign terrorists by murdering their entire families, including their children. Glenn Beck, no bastion of compassion himself, said of Trump: “Have you seen him during the last year and a half truly feel for someone that couldn’t help him? Truly connect on a human level, and say ‘…. I am deeply sorry for what I have said?’ A sociopath is somebody who doesn’t really see the human experience in anyone else …. I haven’t seen him deeply affected by the human condition in an individual. Frightening.” Trump is too stunted, too self-involved, too devoid of empathy and compassion to lead this nation. It truly is frightening, because a leader without compassion and empathy is just a step or two from becoming a despot and an agent of repression.

Lack of respect for democracy. King spoke admiringly of America’s “great wells of democracy” in his first address to the Montgomery Improvement Association at the outset of its iconic bus boycott. He fought tirelessly for our nation to fulfill the promise of democracy until his dying breath. Trump, on the other hand, has shown little respect for the demands and accepted protocols of democracy, and less respect for the United States Constitution. He has repeatedly indicated his desire to abridge the rights and privileges, and to violate the privacy of certain Americans solely on the basis of their chosen religion. The autocratic tenor of Trump’s pronouncements, the dictatorial tone with which he speaks to supporters at his rallies (“get ‘em outta here,” “throw them out!”, “don’t give them their coats”) suggest that he views the presidency not as an opportunity to serve our nation, but as a coveted chance to rule it. He has spoken of his admiration for the authoritarian regimes of strongman dictators and nominally elected presidents like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Russia’s Vladimir Putin. His pledge to limit the freedom of the press in whatever ways that suit him; his strident advocacy of torture; his preposterous vow to deport America’s eleven million undocumented workers; and his oft-voiced plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” would directly violate the first, eighth and fourteenth amendments of the US Constitution, respectively.

Lack of love for others. In the final analysis, it is the perception of a lack of love for all of humanity, regardless of their nationalities or religious origins, that compelled King to actively oppose the presidential bid of Barry Goldwater. Trump’s hair-trigger eruptions of insult and meanness, his disdain for the Gold-star Khan family’s loss of their decorated US soldier son, his cavalier attitude toward the torture of other human beings, his willingness to continually lie and cheat small-time and vulnerable vendors, particularly his propensity to lie and mislead millions of trusting Americans aspiring to a better way of life, all point to a manifest lack of love for humanity that King could not countenance. And we who cherish King must not countenance it either.

With the full measure of our courage and our convictions, in this fraught and dangerous time we must echo the principled pronouncement of Martin Luther King and declare to every listening ear: “The prospect of Donald Trump being President of the United States so threatens the health, morality, and survival of our nation, that we cannot in good conscience fail to take a stand against who he is and what he represents.”

And then we must act.

 

__

Obery Hendricks, Jr., Ph.D. is a Senior Fellow with The Opportunity Agenda, Professor Emeritus at New York Theological Seminary, and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.

I Stand with Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, and Palestine: A Brief Essay on White Privilege

Nov2

by: Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb on November 2nd, 2016 | No Comments »

The author with a sign urging to end police militarization.

Within the mountains of conversations that comprise the Babylonian Talmud, I have been drawn to a single practice: strive not to benefit or profit from the fruits of violence. As a white, elderly Jewish woman of mixed Ashkenazi descent and the sixth generation of my family to live on this continent, I am part of the group of European settlers who arrived here and built their houses on land stolen by military force from indigenous people. Turtle Island, the name for this continent for 20,000 years before colonialism, was and is home to great civilizations and hundreds of sovereign nations that excelled and continue to excel in agriculture, astronomy, medicine, and the arts. On this continent, my Jewish relatives who arrived here in the 1840s were not targeted for genocide or slavery by state or society. In my eyes, there is no way I can avoid profiting and benefiting from the fruits of colonial violence that targeted indigenous people for genocide and slavery. We are all embedded in the ever-evolving colonial system, which, even after 500 years, continues to target indigenous people for mass incarceration, land confiscation, and military occupation. The same context is true for Jewish people living in Israel. Jews in Israel live on land stolen from Palestinians and continue to rely upon unjust apartheid laws that privilege them over Palestinians in all things solely based on differences in human identity. This is racism at its core and it is shameful, regardless of our spiritual or historical connection to the land.


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Overcoming Bitterness and No Longer Assuming the Worst of Democrats

Nov2

by: Stephen Zunes on November 2nd, 2016 | 2 Comments »

Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore CC 2.0

For decades, I have been obsessed with exposing the Clintons and like-minded Democratic politicians’ dangerous foreign policies, challenging liberal naiveté that ignores or excuses such hawkish proclivities, and underscoring the need to withhold support until they embrace more responsible positions. What I am belatedly discovering, as this campaign season is drawing to a close, is that while such concerns are not without merit, such efforts have ended up contributing to what may be an even bigger problem: the anger, frustration, cynicism, self-righteousness, isolation and other self-defeating tendencies on the left.

It was such attitudes that played a decisive role in the narrow election victories of Richard Nixon over Hubert Humphrey and of George W. Bush over Al Gore and over John Kerry, resulting in horrific consequences to millions of people in the United States and the world. Indeed, it could possibly even lead this coming week to the most disastrous outcome of all: the election of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.


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Remembering History

Oct22

by: on October 22nd, 2016 | No Comments »

When Donald Trump asks his supporters to go to certain neighborhoods to “watch” at the polls on Election Day, he clearly has never known, has forgotten, or does not care about the painful, tragic, and racist history of voting in the United States. He does not remember the days when African Americans faced torture and terrorism for exercising their constitutional right to vote. He does not remember that the franchise was restricted to white citizens in many states where slavery was against the law. Remembering history, we as a nation will not go back to those days.

It is important to remember that the founders did not trust ordinary people. To this day, the president and vice president are not elected by the popular vote. When the Constitution was first adopted, qualifications for voting rights was a state matter. In most states, the franchise was restricted to white men who held property. In the early 1800s only five state allowed free black men to vote – New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Later as voting rights for white men expanded with some states dropping the requirement that voters own property, the property requirement remained for black men. After the Nat Turner rebellion, blacks lost the right to vote in North Carolina.

African Americans were second class citizens throughout the United States both before and after the Civil War. Between 1820 and 1850 blacks in Philadelphia and other cities were the targets of mob violence with their offense being “uppity behavior.” Thus, whiteness carries with it social, economic, and political privilege.

In the PBS documentary “Africans in America”, historian Margaret Washington comments on racism in the north.

“So it would seem as though the nation itself had an attitude that African Americans were inferior. And if you look at some of the laws that were in existence in the northern states, African Americas were not supposed to ride on streetcars; African Americans were not supposed to ride on steamers. The whole idea of Jim Crow and segregation of the races really originates in the north. African Americans couldn’t vote in the north. African Americans couldn’t vote in most states, even if they owned property.”

Any white immigrant coming into the country had more rights than blacks. Washington says: “So while immigration became a form of economic and social mobility for whites, it became a form of degradation for African Americans.”

Because social, economic, and political privileges were reserved for white people, whiteness becomes an important category. In the same documentary, historian Noel Ignatiev observes:

“So definitely white people gained from the system of racial supremacy. Without that whiteness itself would have been a meaningless category. It would have only been a physical description like tall.”

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Peace Day 2016 and Blood on the Street in Charlotte, North Carolina

Oct14

by: on October 14th, 2016 | No Comments »

September 21 is the United Nations International Day of Peace and Global Ceasefire – Peace Day. It is a day that reminds us of the hope of humankind to make a world where everyone lives a life of sustenance and joy. Peace Day coincides with the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, but it is also a day when ordinary people do various acts and things to promote peace. Yet, every year, Peace Day dawns with some awful tragic reality to remind us of how far we have to go to arrive at the goal of peace.

On Tuesday afternoon, September 20, Keith Lamont Scott, 43, was sitting in his S.U.V minding his own business. Police who were on the scene attending to another matter say they saw him rolling what seemed to be a marijuana blunt with a gun on the front seat. When Scott exited the S.U.V., police say he had a gun and did not follow their commands. Despite his wife who was on the scene telling the police that Scott was unarmed, that he was not dangerous, that he suffered from traumatic brain injury and had just taken his medication, the situation escalated to where Scott was shot and killed by the police. He was another in a long line of African-American men who had been shot and killed by the police under questionable circumstances.

Peace Day saw protests in the street of Charlotte, North Carolina. Protestors wanted the police to release video tapes so that the public could see what happened to Mr. Scott. The night of Peace Day, during the demonstrations, 23-year-old Justin Carr was fatally wounded. There was blood on the street in Charlotte, North Carolina on Peace Day.

When we see only the blood on the street, we see the essential liquid of a living being. We cannot tell just by looking from which of the animal species it comes. When we only see the blood on the street, we do not know if it is police blood or protestor blood. We do not know whether the bleeding body was black or white or brown or yellow or red; whether the person was Muslim or Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or atheist; whether the person was young or old, male or female, transsexual or pansexual; whether the person was rich or poor. We do not know if the blood is related to us. There is no party affiliation or class distinction evident in a pool of blood on the street. All of the things that would make us hate a person, that would make us want to kill a person are gone. There is nothing left in a pool of blood, but the life force wasted, something to be washed away and forgotten or remembered with either the will to revenge or the will to forgive.

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Another Truth Without Reconciliation

Oct14

by: Helen Josephs on October 14th, 2016 | 3 Comments »

Josephs and her father, Harry Josephs. Summer 1961

Is it possible to have reconciliation from some of the world’s worst injustices?

South Africa ended apartheid with Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings. Georgetown University has acknowledged their financial gain from slavery, and is making reparation plans for the descendants of the slaves they sold. Do these and other efforts ever come close? Is it too late to right a wrong?

My story of reconciliation from state sanctioned injustice stems from the horrors committed by Nazi Germany. My parents were Jews who survived prewar Nazi Germany and the years of World War II in Holland. My mother survived partly by staying in hiding and partly in the Dutch underground; my father in Westerbork Camp.

My parents spoke little to each other about what happened. I grew up knowing that somethings were left unsaid and accepted, but the aftereffects of the War on my family was pervasive. My father, as a consequence of poor health from Westerbork, had his first heart attack when I was 8 and died 5 years later. These years of sickness were difficult and his death left my mother raising two teenagers. In the U.S., my mother worked as a seamstress, as the Nazi’s banned my mother from school at age 14. At 18 I left New York City, without a plan or forethought. I traveled until I ended in Alaska – a place so different that it felt like an escape. I changed my surroundings, married, became a mother and a grandmother. But there are triggers – news reports like those about Georgetown or other discussions of the way we struggle as a society to reconcile past injustices – that cause a visceral pain and remind me that so many of us carry an unreconciled, painful past with us.


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