Israel, Black Lives Matter, Jewish Whiteness, and this Historical Moment’s Call for Justice

I don’t write about Jewishness much. For most Jews, I’m Jewish enough. But not for all, and I see their point. My adult atheism makes it easier for me to pass, or even just deny any Jewishness if I were the type of person to want to do so. My childhood distance from Judaism means that I don’t feel the pain of anti-semitic insults as acutely as many. I have no Holocaust stories in my family to feed the watchful eye that notices anti-semitism at all.

I am, in short, a Jew hardly harmed by anti-semitism.

It is largely for this reason that I struggle with taking positions on Israel. I don’t have to have Holocaust stories in my own family to remember the stories told to me by congregant’s parents. My time writing newsletter articles for my shul had me taking down the words of people whose parents had survived the concentration camps. I know the effect is real, and lasting. I’ve seen it impact friends and co-congregants. When they tell me how desperate they feel when it seems Israel is under attack, i hear the shift in timbre. I feel the anxious air between us.

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Cornelius Frederick Was Murdered. What will we do?

For those who thought the residential schools nightmare was over, I present you Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo. Don’t read any further without preparing yourself for the horror you know is coming.

16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks [sic – actually “Frederick”] died on May 1 after suffering a heart attack on April 29.

Why did his heart stop on April 29th? I will never GEORGE FLOYD guess, will I?

[S]taff sat on his chest as he lost consciousness. …Employees waited 12 minutes to call 911, even though Fredericks was limp and unresponsive.” …[V]ideo from Lakeside Academy shows a staff member placing his/her weight directly on Fredericks’ chest for nearly ten minutes as the victim lost consciousness.

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Lifeless In Seattle: A totally real record of really real press conferences conducted by the Trump Administration

Day 1: We are sorry to report that the Chinese launched an ICBM whose nuclear warhead evaporated Seattle.

Day 2: Yes, we’ve also heard the rumors that Putin had instructed the FSB to ensure that Seattle would die “by nuclear fire”. This is categorically untrue.
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I Made a Thing!

Yeah, yeah. It’s just a chart made using a spreadsheet program. Yet I have a deep-rooted conviction that I’m unable to make anything visually attractive, so I’m quite satisfied I managed to make anything look even this good. There are other versions of this floating around, I obviously stole the original idea from xoNicole (or whoever she stole the idea from), but there were elements of the xoNicole version that didn’t quite fit my sensibility. I also wanted a copy on hand that I could easily modify for new topics.

And, yay! I done did it!

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The ECDC Data, Differences in Data Sets & Reporting, and a Possible Death Rate Resurgence

So many sources have shown total deaths in the USA to have already surpassed 50k. Now, even those sources are undercounts, we are sure. (NYC has experienced 4000 deaths more than would be expected for the period of the pandemic even after subtracting deaths confirmed to be a result of COVID-19.) Nevertheless, data collated by the European Center for Disease Control & Prevention are considered just as “official” and yet aren’t the same as those presented by the USA CDC. Since I started off with the ECDC data, I have to continue to use it for consistency’s sake, but it is interesting to note that it appears to be somewhat behind.

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Why the mask?

So, earlier PZ posted a picture that has been widely shared around the internet, this one, from a Michigan protest:

Michigan Ohio protest photo, with protestor wearing Guy Fawkes mask in the 2nd rank of persons pushing at the door of the Michigan Ohio capitol building.

While I was over reading Wonkette (where I first encountered this photo) someone asked a question to people generally about why such a protestor would wear a Guy Fawkes mask unknown in the United States until the movie V for Vendetta, especially given the peculiar situation in the fictional setting was so different from that of the present day United States. (For later clarity, the movie was referred to as the “normal context” of the Guy Fawkes mask for Americans by the person asking the question).  I actually took some time to think about and respond to it, and thought people here might be interested in reading what I wrote over there…

I think it’s like this: the “normal context” of that mask in the USA doesn’t come from Guy Fawkes Day celebrations, but rather from the movie (no, not the comic book) V for Vendetta. In the movie, V is portrayed as a superhero, a Batman-like figure. He is immune to pain because of damage previously done to him. He’s smart as a Batman. He has effectively infinite resources, gadgets, money, etc. And, finally, he has his secret V-Cave.

But V doesn’t set himself to clearing the streets of common criminals, no. The streets are already cleared of them by the fascist government that enforces curfew. V is after the fascist government itself. By attacking secret policemen and other targets of special privilege inside the government V (again, like Batman) inspires fear in the people who make up the government.

Now, we could take a turn here and talk about how the disease in the movie is caused by the government and the crisis is then used to impose fascism. We could point out that even in the movie the quarantine wasn’t the problem but that the government used the time of the quarantine to achieve its fascist ends. And, of course, we could point out that the governors are only doing the quarantining, and it’s Trump who is actually using fear of disease to increase his own power in myriad ways, from stealing states’ own supplies to asserting infinite executive power including the power to (temporarily) dissolve a Congress.

But ignore all that for a moment, because we want to know why this idiot wears the mask, not what motivates the protest more generally (which the idiot could attend without a mask).

In the movie, only V is superhuman, but because he wears a mask that is already well-known and mass-produced, anyone can get hold of V’s costume, and if they walk down the street wearing that costume, the government officials terrorized by V will be equally terrified by the random wearer of V’s costume … at least until someone shoots the normal person and they don’t go all super-human fascist-stomper.

So from the point of view of a random normal person in the movie who dons Guy Fawkes’ face, the point of wearing the mask is to cause someone else to be afraid.

And I think for this person the most important point is exactly the same. Though also I think the idiot thinks that wearing the mask somehow makes the wearer “cool”. But that’s secondary. Lots of things could make you cool. This mask is intended to make others afraid.

In the movie, V tried to target the fear, but there’s no denying that the average Security Bear in the final scene was very afraid. To make V heroic they had to play up the fear of the most powerful and play down the fears of every day contributors to the functioning of the government. How could the unemployment clerk know that V wouldn’t target the unemployment office? The clerk couldn’t. V, even if bringing down the fascist fictional Brittain was a good goal, acted like a terrorist. He acted deliberately to inspire fear, to terrorize. And the movie made that seem cool, because in fiction land we don’t have to deal with unintended, undesired consequences. The writers just skip that part and move on.

And so… V for Vendetta, in the midst of a post-9/11 world that appears to uniformly condemn terrorism, provides seemingly the only cultural reference that permits the possibility of the good-guy terrorist, the cool terrorist. There is a reason why the right wing calls every mildly-left wing proposal tyranny. They were raised with the KKK as heroes, able to kill others just for wanting to vote while the wrong race or the wrong party. They’re nursed on dreams of ethnic cleansing and genocide, looking forward to the time when they reestablish a permanent theocracy or permanent white ethno-state. But denying people the right to vote isn’t cool anymore. The right to murder racial others no longer inheres to white skin.

Some of them tone down their dreams. They gerrymander. They call vote-by-mail corrupt. They pass new voter ID laws during a fucking pandemic when the DMV isn’t open to provide new IDs.

But predictably, some of them yearn for the days when terrorizing others was cool. In a time when the USA has gone out of its way to erase distinctions between freedom fighters resisting occupiers and “aggressive” terrorists who launch violence from behind a wall of privilege, when the USA itself denies that bombing weddings and fruit-pickers on siesta might have a terrorizing effect since it was done while wearing the flag, V for Vendetta is the only model the alt-right has of the popular terrorist.

And they yearn, they yearn existentially both to create fear in their enemies and to be popular, not the pathetic and fringe movement that they are.

So idiots like this wear the mask, not to fight fascism. They don’t know what that is, and don’t oppose fascism itself anyway.

Idiots like this wear the mask to be the bully, to be king of the elementary school again for just a moment, to inspire fear and worship. In a word, to be awesome.

Idiots like this wear the mask because they are terrorists.

Edited Above: Corrected erroneous protest location, replacing mentions of Michigan’s capital with Ohio’s.

Whose Corona? (h/t Scandinavia and the World)

Well, SatW did a comic about getting this song stuck in their head during discussions of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, so I decided to do up a full redo of the lyrics from scratch. For your listening pleasure(?):

Ooh, my little bitty one, from Wuhan
When you gonna give me some (time, Corona!)
Ooh, you make my nares run, my nares run
Got grit coming off of my (eyes, Corona!)
Never gonna stop, love queuing up, such a dirty line
Always reachin’ up, touching faces of the younger kind
My, my, my, ay, ay, woah!
M-m-m-my Corona!
My Corona!

Come a little closer, huh, ah, will ya, huh
Close enough to get in my eyes, Corona!
Novel viral mystery, you get to me
Hopping borders on air lines, Corona

Never gonna stop, love queuing up, such a dirty line
Always reachin’ up, touching faces of the younger kind
My, my, my, ay, ay, woah!
M-m-m-my Corona!
M-m-m-my Corona!

Na, na, na, na, na-na
My Corona!
When you gonna get to me? get to me?
Is it just a matter of (time, Corona)?
It is just a matter of (time, Corona)…
It is!

 

Police Union Declares War vs Government

I probably don’t write nearly as many stories about fascist cops as I should, but today’s news is far, far too important to ignore. After a NYC cop was killed, Mayor Bill de Blasio posted a supportive message to twitter:

This was a premeditated assassination attempt against New York’s Finest. It was also an attack on ALL New Yorkers and everything we believe in. This MUST be a city where everyone can live in peace and respect. This individual attempted to destroy that. We will not let him win.

In response to this message, calling the killing an assassination and an attack on all New Yorkers, the Sergeant’s Benevolent Association’s official twitter account responded with this:

Mayor DeBlasio, the members of the NYPD are declaring war on you! We do not respect you, DO NOT visit us in hospitals. You sold the NYPD to the vile creatures, the 1% who hate cops but vote for you. NYPD cops have been assassinated because of you. This isn’t over, Game on!

It is stunning that a group of armed public servants would “declare war” against their own elected government. It’s hard even to think of appropriate commentary to respond at this point. While it’s probably only one or a very few NYPD sergeants were involved in the wording of this tweet, the head of the NYPD SBA has been reelected in the past after saying things nearly as horrible (or, hell, perhaps more horrible, I don’t follow the SBA carefully). At this point it’s clear that the SBA is dangerously biased toward conflict and violence. It’s hard to imagine any reform being successful short of firing them all.