Friday, I grabbed the first laugh-o-dills of the season. I love the moment I first spy them in the big green container, their hysterically yellow petals still hidden within brown, papery sheaths. Put them in water and wait for the miracle of color explosion. The room becomes touched with the scent of sunshine even the the snow is still piled a foot high on the deck. Suddenly, spring doesn’t seem so our of reach.
But outside, the beautiful white fluff is already melting into grey slush, the kind that freezes at night and melts in the afternoon, insuring that morning is a treacherous event. Despite the astoundingly blue sky that frames cotton covered branches, there is more snow on the ground than is manageable. There is so much snow, people are trying to mitigate melting around foundations by digging trenches wherever they can, and removing snow from roofs before the bulging begins.
I suppose that could be a metaphor for a lotta things. Beauty, while in the eye of the beholder, can mean different things in many different eyes, just like words can be heard by millions of ears and result in just as many interpretations. There is, however, the tiny little matter of intentionality. If you say something untoward and people tell you that your remarks are rude/cruel/inappropriate/racist or whatever, you get to have a eureka moment followed by a whole lotta work to improve your communication skills. Assuming your intention was not to be rude/cruel/inappropriate/ racist or whatever, your focus has to be on how to get a point across without being a total nitwit. This sounds a whole lot easier than it really is. Most people fail miserably and continue to sound like total nitwits. They are unable or unwilling to do the work needed to sound less …..whatever.
Communication requires real work. Our tendency is to forget that which comes out of our mouths doesn’t necessarily match what our brains intended. Oh, you know the drill: blurt, blush, apologize.
But that’s not what I’m really thinking about. I’m thinking about when what you say is really what you mean, even though you do the blurt. blush, apologize routing. Multiple times. You continue to utter phrases and expressions that are rude/cruel/inappropriate/racist or whatever….and then plead, oh, any number of excuses: I didn’t know…..I was really criticizing something else…..I meant it for other people not you….. I bet you know that drill, too. And you know it because you know that person meant exactly what he or she said
I want to believe antisemitism is a function of ignorance, (although I’m beginning to doubt that, too.) When antisemitism parades as anti-Zionism, there needs to be acknowledgement of reality. To be sure, there is much to criticize about Netanyahu and his government, but one cannot call Israel apartheid when Arab nations do not permit non-Muslims equal rights and protections within those countries. You can criticize Israel for human rights abuses, but you cannot ignore LGBT men and women being sentenced to death in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, or Yemen. You cannot talk about Nakba without recognizing that 900,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries in the 1940s with no where to go. In other words, you cannot pick and choose which horrors are to be condemned. Condemn one, you must actively condemn the others, lest you be identified as the anti-Semite you really are.
And you cannot ignore that which is taking root here. Antisemitism has increased dramatically in the last few years. And despite the words occasionally falling out of Feckless Leader’s mouth, it’s clear to most of the world that the man is both a racist and an antisemite. Why is it so hard for a large swath of Americans to understand that, as well as understand the long-term implications?
Someone once said it doesn’t matter whether or not you’re an antisemite if the antisemites think you are. David Duke is busy praising Ilhan Omar for her statements, and who is a bigger, publicly avowed antisemite than David Duke? Being supported by David Duke is troubling on a whole bunch of disparate levels.
I sound like a broken record to even me these days, but the news is increasingly filled with images and statements that make my blood run cold in my veins. Despite it all, I want to believe America will arise above this heinous fray, but I’m not as sure as I once was. The closer we move to 2020, the more I suspect we are heading toward civil war. And just as history has demonstrated again and again, the Jews will be caught in the middle.
And if Mr. Netanyahu continues along his present trajectory, there may not be an Israel for American Jews to run to when push comes to shove. Think about that for a moment.