The GOP’s appointment in Samarra
1. There is an old Baghdad fable of a man who sees Death in the marketplace and flees to Samarra, where Death is expecting him. America feels like a death watch nowadays.
Last week, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat wrote “Why We Miss the WASPs,” describing nostalgia for what he couldn’t quite bring himself to call white supremacy. Michael Harriot at The Root had the perfect riposte: “I must admit, this utopian Whitekanda sounds alluring in its dreamlike vanilla-ness.”
But as Harriot knows too well, this is deadly serious. Times commentator Charles M. Blow discusses post-election power grabs by Republicans after they lost statewide races in Michigan and Wisconsin. He writes, “Republicans across this country are doing everything they can to impede, alter and override the power of the personal vote.”
A new election may have to be called in North Carolina‘s ninth congressional district due to Republican election theft. Aggressive voter roll purges, gerrymandering, and voter ID laws give the lie to Chief Justice John Roberts, who claimed in 2013 when voting to overturn Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, “America has changed.” In 2014, Mother Jones listed actions by GOP lawmakers in several states “running buck wild with new voting restrictions.”
The threat to democracy goes all the way to the top. We learned on December 7, in sentencing memos from Special Counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, that Individual-1 (that’s our president) directed felony violations of campaign finance laws. Trump tweeted in response, “Totally clears the President. Thank you!” He is mistaken, but the denial of reality runs deep in his party.
People have speculated that Trump will refuse to leave office when the time comes. Recent GOP efforts show this is not an idle concern. But Democrats will take control of the House in the 116th Congress, and will be there to bring out the truth if he fires Mueller. Trump can whistle past the graveyard all he likes. A cold, remorseless hand will soon be at his throat, drawn ever closer by his own actions.
I recall an old fable from Baghdad of a man who sees Death in the marketplace and flees to Samarra, where Death is expecting him.
2. Our problems did not begin with Trump and will not end with him. The oligarchs, dirty tricksters, false narratives, and double standards defending power and privilege will still work their mischief. A recent example was CNN’s rapid firing of Marc Lamont Hill for defending Palestinian rights at the UN on November 28 to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the nakba, the displacement of Palestinians by Israel.
I disagree with Hill’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement because it holds Israel to a different standard than others. But Hill apologized for using the phrase “from the river to the sea,” historically used to reject compromise with Israel. His full remarks in context make clear that he was calling for a consistent recognition of rights. He rejects anti-Semitism.
Hill states, “I believe in a single secular democratic state for everyone. This is the only way that historic Palestine will be free.” I’m afraid he is right. No one has undermined the two-state solution more than Netanyahu and the annexationists.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman cultivated Jared Kushner for two years. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a Kushner family friend, and the Kushners are backers of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Israelis and Saudis have a mutual enemy in Iran. Israel authorized the sale to the Saudis of spyware implicated in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudis’ mass starvation of Yemenis and blockade of Qatar mean little to Jared, who is ignorant of the region’s history. Given all this, and the instant wrath against anyone who criticizes Israel, it is sadly unsurprising that some are demanding that Temple University fire Prof. Hill. Academic freedom, anyone?
As long as America betrays its own values, we should desist from lecturing others. We sow terrible seeds when we overlook depredations by our allies and ignore the cries for justice of those they oppress. All human beings matter. Dissident voices like Prof. Hill’s, try as some might to silence them, keep the flame of freedom lit.
Richard J. Rosendall is a writer and activist. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2018 by Richard J. Rosendall. All rights reserved.