No life is sacred anymore

I used to complain about the disparity in the value of human life between countries, how hundreds of civilians in a developing country count as “collateral damage” while the world can lose its mind over a half dozen dead Westerners. Nowadays, however, routine shootings by the mentally deranged seem to have evened the playing field by making us so numb that the value of a Westerner’s life is approaching the dismal value of a Middle-Eastern civilian killed by a drone.

I was hoping for the opposite: that the value of human life would be elevated overseas to match Westerners’ human life value. I was hoping that every time someone is killed, it becomes a big deal. I was hoping that the names of all the victims be commemorated, because one of these victims could be me or one of my children.

Instead, we’re all worthless now. Killing has become so mundane that we’re sick of even hearing about it. We wish to not even know it happened. People die just as easily as numbers are counted. One, two, five hundred and sixty three – it’s that easy. We’re all worth nothing more than the ink with which our names are written. We definitely count a lot to those who love us, but our demise leads to no change of policies, no reduction in killings, and not even a shaking of public conscience.

I’m so numb myself that I’m not even motivated to write more.

Is it divine payback for all the killing we’ve done overseas? It very well could be.

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Trump might be the lesson that Americans need

Donald Trump’s ascent to power is not exactly a savory event to most people, especially to those who would like a president who is mature and well informed. However, there may be positives that come out of Trump’s election as far as our awareness as Americans of what’s happening in most of the world.
One trait in Donald Trump on which almost everyone agrees is his authoritarianism. His voters were shown in studies to even share this authoritarian streak with him. This is obviously quite terrible but it might just be the wake up call that Americans need. Let’s face it: we’re very good at saying that we don’t like despots, but we’re also quite complacent in our reaction to our government supporting and maintaining such despots or even at suppressing and eliminating better, more democratic leaders in developing countries. 
Well, now we get to see what it’s like to live under one, and maybe, just maybe, this will ultimately lead to the world becoming a better place. Once we know what it’s like to be the subjects of a man who cares too much about his own person, rejects and resents dissent against him, believes that might is right, and disdains freedom of press, all while amassing enormous wealth and refusing to let go of businesses that pose a conflict of interest, maybe then we’ll be able to sympathize with people like the Egyptians or the Central Americans.
Once we see for ourselves how crippling, how depressing, and how stressful it is to live under such rule, perhaps we’ll start thinking twice before blaming other nations for their economic and educational inferiority. Maybe we’ll get to finally see that, under the “right” tyrrany, we’re all behave the same way, develop the same problems, and undergo the same hardships.
Just like an alien invasion could unite humanity against its looming danger, maybe despotism will be the new Great Uniter that will connect us with the rest of humanity.

Opposing BDS is not only about supporting Israel; it’s about hating Arabs

Decision makers in the West are not like lay people. They are not oblivious or media-susceptible when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They studied the conflict thoroughly in college. They know how it started. They know the grand theft of a nation that took place. They are fully aware of the ongoing humiliation of the Palestinians under Israeli apartheid. They know the numbers of Palestinian civilians Israel has killed. They know how Palestinians have to spend hours of their every day at check points just to travel within their own land.

They know all of that and perhaps other, even more troubling things than we know. So for someone like New York governor Andrew Cuomo to boldly state his strong opposition to the BDS movement, with white-hot vigor and wonderous momentum, it cannot only be a sign of loving Israel all that much. It must also be a sign of deep hatred toward Arabs at the very same time, and we need to start ackowledging this.

Let’s face it, people in the West don’t exactly grow up thinking positively of Arabs or Muslims. Thanks to the media and special interest groups, the picture painted in the heads of people is not exactly flattering. Whenever you have a large group of people with such a predisposition, you will invariably run into “hate nuclei” – certain individuals with an exaggerated representaion of that widespread negative perspective.

The same applies to racism or oppressing women: society in general is prone to such ailments, albeit to a mild degree in most people. Some, however, retain strong racist/mysoginistic predilections. Politicians are no exception, and governor Cuomo is such an example of strong hatred against Arabs.

One might think that this accusation of hate is too presumptive, but the facts on the ground in regards to what the Palestinians have endured and still do, as well as about the illegality of the Israeli occupation and the practices that accompany it, are too damning. The utter starkness of the injustice, the severity of which invariably converts any westerner into a Palestinian supporter just by visiting the occupied territories, is just too morally obvious for Israel supporters to be deemed devoid of hate, even seething hate. It just has to be true, particularly for those who know the facts on the ground.

To illustrate how this must be true, we need not go any further than examining public statements made by staunch Zionists within Israel, where political correctness is not as closely observed as it is in Cuomo’s New York. These statements almost never stop at loving Israel – they reliably cross into a clear anti-Arab sentiment in a way that makes it appear not as a peripheral component of Zionism, but as a prime motivation for it. Here are a few recent such statements:

Leave no one alive

Prison for marrying a non-Jew

Israeli soldiers can rape Palestinian women

We will gas you until you die

It is important and inescapable for all to recognize that being an avid Israel supporter is not all about “love”, but also about hate.

Human life is human life. Everywhere.

No one can claim to have genuine concern for people killed in drone strikes overseas while not being equally appalled by what happened in Orlando today. Human life is equally precious. The societal callousness toward the value of human life affects everyone everywhere, and is equally reprehensible.

This killing has become the new norm. Whether you live in the US or elsewhere, nowhere is safe. Explosions.. shootings.. Just wanton murder. It’s like we’re trying to rid the planet of “extra humans”, like we can’t stand seeing each other alive any more. Even PG movies teach us and our kids that massive explosions and building demolitions, where hundreds of people would die in reality, are just a peripheral part of a story. Like a footnote, only without any mention of death. 

How have we come to this? Who taught us that the lives of others, thereby our own lives, are worthless? What kind of global culture have we instilled in our youth that makes them completely fine with the premature taking of human life?

I’m not giving up hope. I’m optimistic that we will learn to change our ways. I just hope that it doesn’t take many more lives being lost before we learn. Whether it’s a ban on owning weapons, a ban on manufacturing weapons, or even a ban on manufacturing any and all explosive materials, we must arrive at something eventually.

Someday.

Our never ending Machiavelianism

The seemingly unrelenting US attitude toward the rest of the world, which consistently go against the human rights of non-Western peoples, seem to be as indellible and as perennial as our very existence as a world power. When the NY Times recently ran an “expose” of the kind of foreign advisor the Obama administration relies on, one which shuns the “old guard” of foreign policy experts, I was actually a little joyed. I thought maybe we are finally learning to respect other people around the planet as having living souls and beating hearts just like us, and the departure from the old philosophy of interest-above-everything could only be toward a more moral paradigm.

Then John Kerry sits down with Egypt’s Sisi and I just shake my head.

It’s not funny, but I almost want to laugh at the intransigence of our own lack of regard toward other nations. I know they teach such disregard at ivy league schools. I know it’s been going on for decades now, but come on! Can’t we stand up for what’s right just once? Just for the sake of.. I dunno.. surprise?

Sisi just needs to introduction. His rise from being an utter nobody to somebody was by a coup in which he killed over 1,200 civilian protesters (a killing which is still taking place at various demonstrations intermittently) and detaining thounsands. He is characteristically clumsy in his speeches, to the point where he is literally uncapable of handling any serious questions from a foreign reporter. His economic record has been disasterous. He somehow managed to lower the IQ of his entire population into a jingoistic, believe-anything mash of brain matter and steroids.

He’s basically known for nothing good. Nothing. The only thing he did was mark the fragile end to a staged counterrevolution by simply sitting on the throne that the Egyptian Deep State (with our help) cleared for him. That’s it. Everything else he’s known for is bad. Everything.

Trust me, I try really hard to be the devil’s advocate before writing a piece like this. But it’s hard to justify our love affair with Sisi. I know there’s Libya and ISIS and Sudan and Israel to worry about, but that still does not justify the fact that we even let him take over, let alone that we continue to approve of him in the most pandering terms. This is just plain disgraceful.

More prudently, I can’t help but put myself in the shoes of the many Egyptians who lost loved ones on the hands of Sisi when they see our Secretary of State sitting with their butcher and following up with a flowery statement completely whitewashing their anguish. What must be going through their heads? What must be going through the heads of the millions of Arabs and Muslims who despise Sisi for his dismal record?

We really don’t want world peace, do we? I mean, when are we just going to admit it? Not that world peace is impossible, but that we simply don’t want it?

Our support for Israel is proof that our own religious zealotry is worse than “theirs”

ISIS and other religious extremist sects around the world fill us with a sense of intellectual superiority – a feeling of being fortunate that we aren’t so backward as to be ones to entertain dogma with any seriousness, let alone base any serious decisions upon it. “We might say we believe in God, but we don’t take that too literally. We’re more advanced than to allow ourselves to let doctrine compel us into any kind of meaningful action”.

Or so we tell ourselves.

But no matter what we tell ourselves, the world around us knows better, especially in the Middle East. Case in point: Israel, the country we helped found, supported vehemently, continue to forgive every time it crosses moral lines, and turn a blind eye to its constant atrocities. An officially apartheid state which was founded using terrorism and genocide, which subjugates an entire population according to ethnic/religious distinctions, and which is drifting more toward extreme forms of racism and bigotry in its public opinion polls.

Moreover, supporting Israel has not come cheap one bit. We spend billions of dollars every year to keep Israel viable. To help stabilize Israel, we had to cut up the neighboring Arab area into bogus “countries” and install a bunch of dictators over them and support them as their despotic regimes fostered despair and extremism. We had to help squelch the Arab spring that attempted to overthrow these rulers because, among other reasons, overthrowing them scared Israel. The death toll from all this maelstrom that we helped create is in the millions of Muslim civilians in the Middle East since 1948. That, having to live in constant fear of terrorism, and the perpetual strain on our collective Western economies because of the war on terror can all be tied to the cingular act of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

So why, you may ask, do we put ourselves through all of this for Israel? The most confessed answer that we don’t spend much time even trying to deny is that we simply believe that God gave the land of Palestine to Jews 3000 years ago. That’s why. That’s why we helped Zionists from Europe exterminate an entire population and confiscate their homes and lands, why we continue to place the security of the entire world in peril, and why we are content watching millions of civilians die and millions of others live under oppression: because we believe God gave that land to the Jews.

Who then, pray tell, is the real religious zealot in this picture?

The real reason why we owe Syrian refugees help

The real reason why we ought to help Syrian refugees, whether by welcoming them here in the West (especially in the US) or by pressuring Arab Gulf countries to accept them, is that we are responsible for most of their sorrow. The Syrian crisis is mainly a story of our own refusal to allow a Third World country (especially a Muslim-majority country) to be truly free.

We (American policy makers and the Obama Administration) saw how the Syrian revolution started. We knew it began peacefully. We knew it was about freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Yet, as we always do, we panicked. We panicked at the prospect of an independent government in the Third World that might adopt a system that may not be perfectly in line with our interests. In case you don’t know, maintaining dictatorships in Third World countries has been prototypical US foreign policy for almost a century. And the thought of a potentially Islamically-inclined government in Syria bordering Israel was just too risky for us, even if that’s what the Syrian people wanted.

Here’s our thought process in a nutshell when it comes to dealing with people in the Middle East: “We give these people democracy and they will vote for Islamists. We can’t have that”. This “can’t have that” mentality will prove to be the deadliest mindbug in human history. We are willing to go to amazing lengths of war, tragedy, creating enemies, and perpetual destruction just because we will not entertain the thought of having mature, diplomatic relations with people of different philisophies.

Subsequently, we consciously and calculatedly chose to stand back and watch as Assad butchered his people mercilessly. We knew all about his henchmen’s massacres, about the barrel bombs and the chemical weapons. We knew about the systematic rape and the mass kidnappings. We knew about the children chopped with machetes and the prisoners starved to death. We knew about the thousands of deaths. But to us, risking a new Syrian government that is truly independent and chosen by its people was not worth ending the carnage. We are hopelessly unable to learn from our foreign policy mistakes.

Then we watched as the rebels became more and more radicalized and we made that into a reverse-style excuse for not helping the revolution, even though this radicalization could have been thwarted had we supported the revolt earlier. When we finally decided to offer some help after realizing the mess we helped create, we repeatedly tried to coerce the rebels into working strictly on our agenda, pitting the rebel factions against one another in the process and weakening the revolution, thereby extending the carnage and prolonging the conflict.

Then we watched as ISIS took over many areas in Syria and declared itself the enemy of all other rebel factions. We let that happen. We stood back and allowed ISIS to weaken the revolution and enhance Assad’s stance and we were perfectly content watching the continuing onslaught so long as there was no decisive end to the war and all parties remained in a stalemate.

We also watched as Iran and Hizbollah aided Assad’s forces and infiltrated Syria. We even forged a treaty with Iran to help ease sanctions instead of focusing on stopping Iran’s support for Assad. Our drones targeted everyone except Assad’s strongholds.

Then we let Russia blatantly send troops and jet fighters to bomb all rebel-controlled civilian areas, whether under ISIS or other factions, essentially and intentionally bolstering Assad in the process. 

We’re good with all of that. In fact, we’d rather watch the world burn many times over than allow a Third World country be free and act according to its own interests. Similarly, we were perfectly fine watching Egypt’s coup leader Sisi kill thousands of democracy-demanding protesters in cold blood in the wake of his coup against democratically elected Morsi.

We acted according to our interests because we can do so, albeit in a very shortsighted manner. But for the mayhem that we continue to let happen in Syria, the least we can do is help Syrian refugees, the vast majority of whom are not fleeing the brutality of rebel factions, but that of Assad-Iran-Russia – the brutality we evidently approve through our inaction.