Dec 29, 2006

A somewhat political post

I know, I know. I said I don't do politics on this blog and really, I haven't changed my mind. But some things have been getting my attention lately, and they are politics-related, so here goes.

First off, Gerald Ford. The only president I genuinely liked besides Ronald Reagan. I moved back to California the summer of '76 and it was an election year. Later, I read an excerpt from Ford's book "A Time to Heal", where he says that after Vietnam, Watergate, Chile, oil embargos, etc., he didn't think that it would do the country any good to drag it through a trial involving a former president. So he pardoned Nixon. What baffled Ford was how many people thought that meant Nixon was innocent. I, however, still in my teens, was highly impressed by Ford's thinking. I found him pragmatic and caring. Years later, after everything that had happened to his wife Betty, I came to admire him for standing by her, and to admire Betty for bringing both breast cancer and medication addiction out of the closet.

If I had been old enough to vote, I would have voted for Ford. Y'see, I never liked that peanut farmer from Georgia. Oh, his brother Billy was a riot, making beer and helping Gaddafi, but Jimmy couldn't move his lips when he talked and that drove me crazy. Then there were some other things during his presidency, the most annoying being all the folks from back east moving to California because we had the jobs, and the most upsetting being his handling of the Iranian hostage crisis that made me vote for Reagan. Yes, I did, as did a lot of others.

Looking back, I wonder if the world truly has progressed. I drove Sunset Boulevard to get to work sometimes, and passed by a fancy house owned by some oil sheik's son. It entertained thousands of Los Angelenos, because the owners had painted pubic hair on the marble nudes lining its front terrace. Stuck in rush hour traffic gave many of us plenty of viewing time. (The house no longer exists.) Lots of Arabians in the oil business were living in Beverly Hills at the time. But let me back up to before I entered the world of employment, to high school.

In my senior year (class of '78, in case you were wondering), I took an art class. One girl in my class, Miranda, announced one day that she was now calling herself Persian. This was the typical response of any Iranian who was siding with the exiled shah of Iran versus those who were in agreement with the Ayatollah Khomeini. There were demonstrations in Los Angeles. The police cordoned off some streets, the pro-Ayatollah folks marched down them, and nobody got hurt or insulted. I don't think we could do that in today's world and the thought makes me cry.

Meanwhile, Carter was also busy visiting Camp David a lot. At the time, I had no clue why it was so friggin' important that he get Egypt and Israel together. Didn't we have enough problems for a president to take care of? Like all those jobless people arriving in droves to L.A., making affordable housing impossible to find? All I got out of the process was a joke that is so dated but still makes me laugh:

Anwar Sadat believed that the US was biased towards Israel in the Camp David talks. When asked what made him believe that, he said it was all the freeways named after Israel's prime minister, and pointed to a sign:


Hah. The 70's. Man, did we have fun - and all without regard for political correctness and at the same time, it never felt easier to cross racial, political, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. We "got down" with everybody. ...I feel like crying again. But onwards.

After failing to do anything to make us Americans feel proud including bringing home our hostages, a feeling we needed after Watergate, OPEC-embargos and Vietnam, Carter taught a lot of us Americans a lesson - one I think subconsciously is the reason Kerry couldn't beat Bush in 2004: We don't like feeling weak. We don't like a president who makes us look weak. We don't like being the butt of other nations' jokes and especially not any nation that's holding our own in captivity. So we voted for Reagan. As it happens, Reagan is also the only president whose person never irritated me. Perhaps because he has Sagittarius rising.

Well, Jimmy Carter started to win points with me by apparantly turning into a far better diplomat and elder statesman than he was president. Then he goes and writes this (and I must admit, it's a bit unsettling to find his book using the search words "Jimmy Carter apartheid").

Now, I'm pro-Israel simply because I see no reason to be anti-Israel, and I'm anti-anti-Semitic, simply because pigeon-holing people and giving them nasty labels is antithetic to peace on any scale. And also not fun (and sometimes not even safe) if you're the one being pigeon-holed. So it's just better not to encourage any kind of meanness between people. You know, what the hippie nailed to the planks said: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The western world's been rewarded for its reaction to the events of 9/11 with bombings in Madrid and London and riots because of the Mohammed drawings published in a Danish newspaper, to name those events that managed to get my attention. Then Israel bombed Beirut anew and all the old pro-Palestinian feelings from the 1970's rose up again in Norway. This time no recognizable scarves, but definitely a palpable anti-Semitism.

Oh, fine, people have got to argue, take sides, have opinions, and that's how it is and how it always will be...and then the synagogue in Oslo was riddled with bullets. In the aftermath, a Jewish spokesperson wished that at least the King of Norway would have said something, and one Norwegian I was chatting with, said, "Why should he?"

Why should he...?

Why should he not?

Nobody seems to see the difference between criticizing a country's actions and attacking people who happen to be affiliated with that country. Everyone here knows that a nation's government is not the same as its population. Yet, we forget that when criticizing foreigners. I know about this. Before the left wing finally loosened its grip in the early 80's, some Norwegians would talk to me as if I were personally responsible for whatever the US got up to. (If I were, Saddam Hussein would still be in charge in Iraq. So maybe it's just as well that I'm not.)

I thought, this is just the usual; it's a national pastime in Norway to bash the US and therefore also Israel.

Then Carter writes his book and claims he is not anti-Semitic when he criticizes Israel. Letting rhetoric like "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" adorn the cover of your book is bound to send a message, Jimmy, the wrong message, because not everybody will read that book, and discover that you really mean that Israel doesn't practice apartheid. I hope that's not what you intended?

Mark F. and I have been corresponding. I have discovered that I suck at Middle Eastern history and Judaism. Many ideas we Christian-derived European folks have are because we all suck in Middle Eastern history and Judaism. I have decided that I need to educate myself (I'm starting by reading a book about Islam by Robert Spencer), because I want to be informed. I want to be able to correct a lot of the mistaken information people have, like believing the Jews stole land from the Palestinians (they didn't).

There's something about what's going on right now, apparantly endorsed by ex-President Carter, that reminds me of something... something bad... something like my grandma would have experienced. She lived in New York City from about 1924 to 1954 and worked for Jewish publishers in the 1930's. She remembered Jewish co-workers, who were upset by what relatives in Europe were telling them, imploring president Roosevelt to do something about that Hitler fellow. He didn't. Not until 1941.

Now that I've "hitlered" my own blogpost, I must end it.

I hope I'm awake the day they come to take somebody else's rights away so I can try to stop them and keep mine.

UPDATE DEC 30: Mark F. has his own post up based on mine.


Mark said...

Keera - Another good source of information on Islam, by a Muslim and a progressive one at that, is The Trouble With Islam, by Irshad Manji.

I think you'll like what she has to say. It's nice to know that some progress can still be made in enlightening people about the Middle East in hopes that someday terrorism will be replaced by legitimate negotiation towards peace in the region.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Thanks, Mark. A good site to learn from.

Paula said...

Wow, interesting post! I, too, voted for Carter over Ford, though I never voted for Reagan. I hated him. Not sure why, maybe it was the anti-choice stuff. That was my "big issue" for a long time. I figured if we don't have the right to control our reproduction, what other freedoms really matter? Yet, after 9/11, I decided that survival was more important. We can get abortion rights back later after we defeat terrorism. Hah. Maybe I should have known Bush would screw it up so spectacularly, but still I don't believe we would have been better off with Kerry. Edwards, maybe. I find him an interesting candidate.

Personally I am suspicious that much of European pro-Palestinianism is merely a front for antisemitism, which they are too PC to express openly anymore. If Jews weren't involved, I doubt they'd give a damn for the Pals.

Paula said...

I realize I didn't vote for Carter, as I was only 15 in 1976. LOL! Well, I would have. :)

Mark said...

"Personally I am suspicious that much of European pro-Palestinianism is merely a front for antisemitism, which they are too PC to express openly anymore. If Jews weren't involved, I doubt they'd give a damn for the Pals."

Very astute observation, Paula.

Keera Ann Fox said...

Paula, I was wondering how you managed to vote in '76. :-) My folks were pretty California Republican (fiscally conservative, socially liberal) at the time, and that influenced me.

As Mark said, astute observation, Paula. I suspect anti-Semitism is the sole reason for being pro-Palestinian for lot of people; I can only wonder how conscious a decision it is.

My experience lately is that people here honestly do not understand Christian history and how it influences Europe even today, regardless of personal faith.