“[W]ar is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” Orwell told us in “1984.” All oxymoronically true and sad in our twisted world today. But, perhaps the greatest truth that prophet propounded was this: Whoever controls the information controls the imagination.
A couple of weeks before Israel’s most recent war on Gaza-Palestine, while zoning-out-channel-surfing after a day of some cerebration, I came upon that 90s movie, “Something Wild.” The first time I saw it, I was 20 years younger and lost myself in Melanie Griffith’s sumptuous curves. What struck me most this time was one of the last scenes: the spurned, crazy husband–scarily well-acted by Rob Lowe–keeps striking, beating, pummeling, his estranged wife (Melanie), while complaining: Why do you make me do this? Why do you make me hurt you? See what you make me do? Why? Why!?
A similar tone was set in Israel right after the disappearance of 3 hitchhiking Jewish youths (one an American) outside of an (illegal) settlement in the West Bank. Before anything was known about the fate of these young men, Netanyahu summarily declared the kidnappers “animals” and sent out his storm troopers to arrest over 300 Palestinian “suspects.” Eleven Palestinians “suspects” were killed while resisting the round-up. Then, a hapless Palestinian youth was captured by Israeli hoodlums (fanatical “patriots”?), forced to drink gasoline and set on fire. His American cousin was beaten by police–caught on cameras. No talk about “animals” this time. Rockets were fired from Gaza–mostly ineffectual thanks to the US-built and financed “Iron Dome.” Israel has responded with massacres, day after day, slaughtering as many as 1900 Gazans–mostly civilians, and hundreds of children.
See what you make me do? Israel and its US supporters cry in unison. Why do you make me do this? Why do you make me hurt you? Why? Why!?
I write “USrael” because we seem to have morphed into one Empire/Country/Entity. After all, the super-power supports the Middle East outpost of its power to the tune of some 3 billion dollars per year–by far more money than we give in “foreign aid” to any other country. And, we’ve been doing it for decades and our do-nothing Congress has just allocated hundreds of millions of dollars more to “replenish” the Iron Dome. (They could not come to any decision about the US-originated “crisis” on our own border, but AIPAC quickly whipped them into demopublican alignment concerning the “crisis” on Israel’s imposed siege-“border.”) I have wondered: If we really wanted to promote peace in the Middle East, shouldn’t we have built an Iron Dome for the Palestinians, too? When do “defensive systems” become offensive systems–allowing those within the “forts” to feel so strong they can venture into “Indian territory,” ransack, pillage and kill and then retreat behind their fortifications? This, of course, is the strategy the US employed against its own native population in the “settlement” of its “western territories.” We, too, answered critics of that expansionism by promulgating “chosen-people-manifest destiny.” A more honest riposte in the case of USrael would have been: “Might makes right!”
Returning to my home in the South, after a 3-week sojourn in DC (where I could at least get some alternative news programs such as “Democracy Now” or those on RT), I find that my 16-year old refrigerator is dying, making a noise that variously shrieks, squeals, moans. At the same time, my Internet connections is erratic and I can barely get news beyond Scott Pelly talking about the ISIS-Sunni “genocide” against the Shiites in Iraq, or the professional Jewish apologists, Dershowitz and Krauthammer, appearing all over the place, proclaiming that every other nation would behave just as Israel is behaving against the Hamas “terrorists”! Yes, they acknowledge, some 1900 Palestinians have died and fewer than 70 Israelis have died–mostly invading soldiers, they don’t tell us–but why should Israel be expected to behave differently from other countries?
From my childhood I recall my Jewish mother telling me that “two wrongs don’t make a right.” From my reading and re-reading, I recall Solomon’s words in The Book of Proverbs: “Envy not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways.” And, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to its folly.”
What is one to make of a murderous fool like Netanyahu calling Palestinians “animals”? What should we make of a Jewish female member of the Knesset stating publicly that Palestinian children must be killed, mothers raped by Israeli soldiers; that they are all “snakes” who must be wiped out? What should we make of the fact that Netanyahu addresses our do-nothing Congress and gets more standing ovations from these AIPAC-sponsored dunces than any president in US history? Are we not one nation, one Empire, one people united against the “terrorists” of the Middle East? So, the story goes. So, the “information” is repeated ad nauseum.
While my refrigerator is dying and I cannot go out and buy food because I live in a car-dependent suburb and must wait for some technician to come and attend to my Internet connection, I play a little mind-game, one of those “thought-experiments” for which Einstein was famous. I am no Einstein, but I, too, am interested in relativity, and how things connect on various levels–quantum levels, if you will, individual to individual. When my refrigerator quiets a little, passes from squealing to a buzzing sound, I imagine it is like the buzzing of a drone over Palestine. The fact that my food supply is now limited to a couple of cans of soup makes me wonder what it is like to have no food for one’s babies.
But, it is no good. A pathetic attempt to imagine the unimaginable! Not even my experience with a tornado destroying my home above my head about a dozen years ago can help me to imagine the unrelenting terror of life in Gaza/Palestine now!
And, on the quantum level–Are these Palestinian children not our children, too? When the girls were kidnapped by a terrorist organization in Nigeria, was there not a universal cry to “Bring Back Our Girls”? When an Afghan girl was shot in the head because she wanted to attend school, was there not universal outrage?
Are the U.N. and the other international organizations established after the Second World War in order to prevent forever a return to war-mania and serial holocausts, now merely useless window-dressing to assure humanity there still is a humanity with a conscience?
Scott Pelly can talk now of “genocide” in Iraq, but he never peeped the word when the US killed a million Iraqis and displaced 4 million because of “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed!
Who controls the Information controls the Imagination!
Getting back to Einstein, he said that Imagination was more important than Knowledge. I think he meant this: Knowledge is well and good, but without Imagination, we shall never put things all together to get to Wisdom. And wisdom, as we learn from the Book of Proverbs, is “the principal thing: therefore, get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get thee understanding.”
The hydra-headed monster of USreal has been murdering democracy–in the name of democracy!–for about as long as I’ve dwelled on this sad planet. Because, like the Melanie Griffith character in “Something Wild,” THEY made us do it! THEY compelled us to go into Korea and Vietnam and kill millions! THEY compelled us to go into Iraq and Afghanistan because… well, Saddam Hussein’s soldiers were throwing babies on the floor, dashing their heads! Right? Er, right?
There never seems to be enough time for questioning, for cross-examination! “Facts” are presented as indisputable, and in the words of that consummate liar, Colin Powell, we are simply told, “Trust me.”
As Imagination dies, a culture dies, the Arts die, and a people die. The people enclose themselves in a fraudulent world, from which they lack the imagination to break out. They fail to see a “siege” for the act of war it really is. They fail to see the malfeasance of their elected officials as the criminal offense that it is. (“O, my offence is rank,” too-late awakened Claudius tells us in Hamlet; “it smells to Heaven!”)
In Orwell’s other brilliant book, Animal Farm, he shows us how a collective of pigs has taken over from the other rebellious animals, killed off former leaders of the restive, idealistic group, and now amend the original declaration thus: All animals are equal; but some are more equal than others!
Too many in our “advanced, modern” world think they are “more equal than others”! They are “privileged,” “entitled,” “chosen.” In Madeleine Albright’s not very bright phrase: “the indispensable people.” Refusing to tell the whole story, failing to contextualize, to provide the essential background, they scarify Truth and disenfranchise the people’s right to know, to imagine, to feel deeply!
Two bits of truth did leak out while I scavenged among the rubble of the MSM: one news clip showed a Palestinian girl of ten who had awakened paralyzed in a hospital after her family had been killed by Israeli bombs. When she could not feel her limbs, she thought she had died.
Actually, she had died… the life she might have had, had died forever.
Another bit of truth showed another Palestinian girl, also ten. She had just witnessed her grandmother and three uncles being blown apart by Israeli bombs. She held her palms to her head and kept crying, “Enough! Enough! Enough!”
Gary Corseri has published his work at hundreds of websites and periodicals worldwide, including, The Greanville Post, Uncommon Thought Journal, The Palestine Chronicle, Counterpunch, Village Voice and The New York Times. He has published 2 novels and 2 collections of poetry, edited the Manifestations literary anthology, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere. He has taught at US public schools and prisons and at US and Japanese universities. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library. Contact: email@example.com.