Thursday, January 08, 2009

Letter to the First Lady in Waiting

William A. Cook

Dear Michelle; before you were silenced by your husband’s handlers for speaking your mind and heart, I listened to you talk to Americans about how they had changed by recognizing that the ideas embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights encased sacred values that gave meaning to human life. One cannot know change if one does not accept the reality that preceded it. You know the reality of America’s past, its racist, barbaric existence as a slave nation, its years of genocidal ferocity against the indigenous people of this continent, its 100 years of apartheid, and its slow acceptance of the reality of America that it is a multicultural, multiracial land that can rise above fanatical closed minds of those who would wish otherwise.

That’s why I turn to you and not your husband. He appears to be at the mercy of those who would see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Yet evil exists, now, in Palestine, an evil comparable in its hatred and ferocity to that endured by the Jews in Nazi Germany. Listen to Yehuda Bauer, Academic Advisor to Yad Vashem and the Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research:

“Politics that are not based on moral considerations are, at the end of the day, not practical politics at all. It is out of these considerations that I beg you to permit me to repeat here what I have said, exactly eight years ago, in a speech to the German Bundestag: I come from a people that gave the Ten Commandments to the world. Let us agree that we need three more commandments, and they are these: thou shalt not be a perpetrator; thou shalt not be a victim; and thou shalt never, but never, be a bystander.” (January 27, 2006)

Now, in this time, your husband is a bystander. Isreal is the perpetrator of horrific violence against a caged victim, helpless as the slave lashed to a pole before the onslaught of the overseer’s whip, mercilessly slashing his victim’s flesh with the steel barbs that he swings with all his might as Frederick Douglass describes so vividly in his narrative. But now the victims are one million five hundred thousand caged Palestinians being slashed by America’s $300,000 missiles hurled from the sky by American planes or American supplied rockets shot from American tanks or swarms of thousands of soldiers protected by American armor and ordnance, all trained to inflict the most devastating destruction possible on people who have no why to defend themselves but to hide in their homes that may become their tomb as its walls collapse from the Israeli onslaught.

The Jews of Israel that stand silent as this slaughter continues have broken the first of Bauer’s new commandments; so has your husband. No defense that “there is only one President at a time” can excuse this silence. This man, a man of promise and hope not just to Americans that have lived through these eight years of American failure at home and abroad but a man of hope and promise for the world, stands silent, a mute statue, a symbol to all that have abandoned the moral base of politics to curry favor with the overseers lest they too have to suffer the displeasure of the elite that control our Congress placing America in extreme danger.

Bauer makes this observation earlier in his speech: “There are two aspects to the Holocaust. One is the specificity of the Jewish fate, the other are the universal implications: they are two sides of the same coin. The Jews were the specific victims of the genocide. But the implications are universal, because who knows who the Jews may be next time.”

Well now we know; and as the Jews of this Israeli state perpetrate such genocide on the Palestinians you and I must accept the fact that it would not and could not be done without America’s support both in the field and in the United Nations. Listen once again to Bauer: “The main parallel between the Holocaust and other genocides is that the suffering of the victims is the same. Murder is murder, torture is torture, rape is rape; starvation, disease, and humiliation are the same in all mass murders. There are no gradations, and no genocide is better or worse than another one, no one is more a victim than anyone else.” Let me add to this litany of truth the reality that all who say or do nothing against such murder are themselves complicit in the murder; no one in this world has more potential to stop this unspeakable genocide than your husband. Don’t let him renege on his commitment made in Germany before 200,000 adoring people, a commitment made in the land where the Jews suffered their genocide, a commitment to what is right and just in this world, to tear down the walls that divide so that all may reach out to the other and seek the harmony he saw in this changing America that has blessed him with the unique opportunity to lift America out of the chaos that it has been mired in because of its acquiescence to and obsequious acceptance of Israel’s illegal and inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people.

Let me add a personal note as I end this letter. I am a Professor; I’ve served higher education for 50 years as a teacher and administrator; now, in this time, I stand appalled at the silence of my peers in the United States and in Israel who have, with some exceptions, remained silent about Israel’s atrocities. They will in due time be seen as their peers in Germany are now seen from the days of the Holocaust, silent stooges for those in power, unable or unwilling to stand before the world against unspeakable crimes. I share your dilemma; I yearn for the voices of the professoriate to cry out to the world that nothing by way of argument can justify this carnage, that compassion cries for justice, that peace cannot rise from the ashes of a military onslaught, only hatred, vengeance, and slavery.

You, Michelle, in the silence of your room, can speak to our President; you must make him stand against those who permit this genocide to continue, to stand with millions of people around the world who have and continue to assert their anger at Israel and the United States that have betrayed their morals and the agreements they have signed with their fellow nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Accords. Don’t let him be remembered as the man that did nothing before this plague of evil that contaminates the mid-east; don’t let him become the new Uncle Tom who humiliates himself before his white overseers that control our Congress and Israel.

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