Friday, December 18, 2020
Beethoven's birthday is traditionally celebrated on December 16, though what's really known is that he was Baptized on December 17, 1770. To celebrate his 250th birthday, Classical radio stations have been playing Beethoven's music all during this week, and I've enjoyed it. I'm a really big fan of Beethoven, so to celebrate both his birthday AND Chanukah this week, I'm sharing a recording of his variations on a theme by Handel from the oratorio Judas Maccabaeus.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Monday, August 10, 2020
|The Coffee Trader, published 2003,|
with coffee beans, which play a big role
in the novel, as they do in my daily life.
“It rippled thickly in the bowl, dark and hot and uninviting. Miguel Lienzo picked it up and pulled it so close he almost dipped his nose into the tarry liquid. Holding the vessel still for an instant, he breathed in, pulling the scent deep into his lungs. The sharp odor of earth and rank leaves surprised him; it was like something an apothecary might keep in a chipped porcelain jar.
“‘What is this?’ Miguel asked.”So begins the novel The Coffee Trader by David Liss. In May, 1659, coffee was completely unknown in Amsterdam, where Miguel Lienzo was a speculator in commodities. His first smell and taste of a bowl of coffee was off-putting, but as the narrative proceeds he comes to love the beverage, which came by sea from far-off Asian plantations, and was served in a few taverns by Turkish immigrants. Moreover, Miguel decides to engage in a highly risky plot to manipulate the price of this new product in an effort to reverse recent setbacks in his business dealings and to make a fortune.
The Coffee Trader is a very entertaining historical novel, which I read some years ago, and which I just reread. I love learning about the Dutch Golden Age, with its remarkable painters, developing business climate, and its exceptional freedom for people of all faiths. I’ve been fascinated for a long time by the history of the Portuguese secret Jews who returned to Jewish practice in Amsterdam at that time. Miguel Lienzo and the people in his life belong to this very prosperous and closed-in community — his own father had been a victim of the Portuguese Inquisition, and Miguel and his brother had fled to Amsterdam. It’s a novel of intrigue and deception, and Miguel claims that having lived as a secret Jew made him outstanding in the practice of deception.
|"In the Tavern" (1660) by Jan Steen could be an illustration for many of the chapters of The Coffee Trader.|
|Portrait of a young Jewish man, 1648,|
Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669)
The individual speculators on the Amsterdam exchange depicted in the novel are fictitious, but the facts of the invention of market speculation and the popularization of coffee as a beverage and of "coffee taverns" that served it are real. The author, in fact, is a historian who was writing a dissertation on economic history of that era when he reapplied his learning to writing fiction about his subject matter. I'm glad he did it.
Also, I'm glad for coffee, though Miguel Lienzo at one point regrets his role in introducing it to his society. His thoughts:
"May the Holy One, blessed be He, forgive me for unleashing coffee upon mankind... . This drink will turn the world upside down." (p. 266)
Wednesday, June 10, 2020
"Mr. Memmi was consumed by alienation, his own especially. He supported Tunisia’s independence, but once that was achieved, he left the fledgling Muslim state and spent the next two-thirds of his life in France in self-imposed exile. Even so, he once said that his homeland was not the French nation, but the French language."
I have read at least one of his autobiographical novels, and I wonder why I never included him in this list as I created it on this blog.
Monday, May 11, 2020
|We finally have a sign acknowledging the heroism of essential workers in our society.|
|Sign installed on our lawn.|
Sadly, some of their sacrifice is needed as the result of poor leadership and greedy business practices that started long before the emergency. Our federal government could have decreased the high number of infected people by taking action earlier, making the work of governors like ours (Michigan) more effective. For years, American industrial practices, notably in meat packing plants, could have been regulated to be more humane to workers, but it's too late now. That doesn't diminish the heroic actions by workers!
|Another of the many signs in our neighborhood|
"I went to see a panorama of the Mississippi, and as I worked my way up the river in the light of to-day, and saw the steamboats wooding up, counted the rising cities, gazed on the fresh ruins of Nauvoo, beheld the Indians moving west across the stream, and, as before I had looked up the Moselle, now looked up the Ohio and the Missouri, and heard the legends of Dubuque and of Wenona's Cliff, - still thinking more of the future than of the past or present, - I saw that this was a Rhine stream of a different kind; that the foundations of castles were yet to be laid, and the famous bridges were yet to be thrown over the river; and I felt that this was the heroic age itself, though we know it not, for the hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men." -- Henry David Thoreau, "Walking," THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY. A MAGAZINE OF LITERATURE, ART, AND POLITICS. VOL. IX.-JUNE, 1862.-NO. LVI., p. 664-665. (https://www.walden.org/wp-Or consider these often-quoted lines from Bertolt Brecht's play The Life of Galileo:
Andrea: Unhappy the land that has no heroes!…Finally, a quote that applies to the self-designated heroes (with or without guns) pressuring for reckless reopening of inessential businesses and recreations:
Galileo: No. Unhappy the land that needs heroes.
"The suicide bomber's imagination leads him to believe in a brilliant act of heroism, when in fact he is simply blowing himself up pointlessly and taking other people's lives." -- Salman Rushdie, quoted in Der Spiegel, Aug. 28, 2006Or as Joe Biden says:
"President Trump's ... goal is as obvious as it is craven: He hopes to split the country into dueling camps, casting Democrats as doomsayers hoping to keep America grounded and Republicans as freedom fighters trying to liberate the economy." (Washington Post, May 11, 2020)
Blog post copyright © 2020 mae sander for mae food dot blog spot dot com.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Curious about the origin of this intriguing word, I decided to read the novel. What I did not expect: Du Maurier's creation Svengali is a casually antisemitic portrayal of an Eastern European Jew, with a stereotyped appearance, problematic personality, strong accent in both English and French, and lack of humanity. These hateful features were typical of antisemitic writings of the late 19th century, and you may recognize them because they are being reactivated by modern violent white supremacists in our society right now.
"Svengali's maleficent powers of persuasion made such an impression on the reading public that by 1919 his name was being used generically as a term for any wickedly manipulative individual." (Merriam-Webster definition)
I read the Oxford World's Classics edition, which
is unabridged and highly annotated.
I found it very painful to read this book. It was agonizingly familiar to see such descriptions as they were over a century ago and as they are returning to public discourse now. In fact, I regretted deciding to read it. However, because I have done so, I feel that I should look carefully at these stereotypes. First, there's the appearance of Svengali:
"He was very shabby and dirty, and wore a red beret and a large velveteen cloak, with a big metal clasp at the collar. His thick, heavy, languid, lustreless black hair fell down behind his ears to his shoulders, in that musician-like way that is so offensive to the normal Englishman. He had bold, brilliant black eyes, with long heavy lids, a thin, sallow face, and a beard of burnt-up black, which grew almost from under his eyelids; and over it his moustache, a shade lighter, fell in two long spiral twists." (p. 11).His face and his attitude both bore out these stereotypes: "He was so fond of making fun of others that he particularly resented being made fun of himself— couldn’t endure that any one should ever have the laugh of him." (p. 19). Not to mention his "long, thick, shapely Hebrew nose" (p. 240) and "bold, black, beady Jew’s eyes." (p. 44).
And his devious and disgusting ways: "And here let me say that these vicious imaginations of Svengali’s, which look so tame in English print, sounded much more ghastly in French, pronounced with a Hebrew-German accent, and uttered in his hoarse, rasping, nasal, throaty rook’s caw, his big yellow teeth baring themselves in a mongrel canine snarl, his heavy upper eyelids drooping over his insolent black eyes." (p. 92).
|Poster for 1931 film with John|
Barrymore. Svengali's features were
left intact, but he wasn't directly
identified as a Jew.
This post is taken from my food blog, and at this point in my more general review, I discussed the chapters of the novel Trilby that deal with other characters than Svengali, which in fact were far more than half the book. Here, I'm repeating this excerpt, with the additional remark that several other characters in literature have also contributed antisemitic stereotypes, notably Fagin from Dickens' Oliver Twist and Shakespeare's Shylock from The Merchant of Venice. Dickens later regretted the antisemitism embodied in Fagin, and created a more sympathetic Jewish character (though less effective) that attempted to make amends. I don't thing that Du Maurier ever regretted his creation of Svengali. And no one knows any of Shakespeare's thoughts.
Trilby is a very weak novel compared to works of other authors who wrote about society and social issues in the 19th century; for example, Zola, George Eliot, and Dickens. It's quite understandable that Trilby has pretty much been forgotten, except for the character Svengali. The antisemitism in the novel is even more painful when you consider how Du Maurier didn't really take anything seriously, not the characters, not the hateful attitudes, and not the mistreatment of little Trilby.
NOTE: A few interesting articles about the impact of the character Svengali, especially from the point of view of antisemitism.
- Review of 1931 movie: "John Barrymore does forgotten Villain Svengali Proud"
- Recent uses of word Svengali: "How Svengali Lost His Jewish Accent"
- Cultural history of Svengali: "Svengali: The Master Manipulator"
and for hero-or-antihero.blogspot.com
Friday, August 9, 2019
These early resistants were members of the French Communist Party, as well as being ardent patriots and anti-Nazis, according to Alain Quella-Villéger, author of the book France Bloch-Sérazin: Une femme en résistance (1913-1943), which was just published last May. Although I had heard about France Bloch-Sérazin before, I was fascinated by the detailed descriptions of how she worked in the resistance, communicated with fellow resistants by arranged meetings in cafes, in the Metro, and in other Paris locations; delivered documents and weapons and led a life that was unimaginably risky.
France Bloch-Sérazin was a Communist by conviction and by family ties: her father, Jean-Richard Bloch (1884-1947) was a famous author as well as a Party member, and several other family members were also highly political and involved in the resistance. In particular, her brother Michel Bloch (1911-2000) and his wife Colette Bloch (1919-2016) carried documents between the occupied and unoccupied French territories, until Michel was arrested and imprisoned for the remainder of the war. In 1989, we met Michel and Collette, who lived in the family home in Poitiers, France. This home also played a large role in Quella-Villéger's narrative of France Bloch-Sérazin's short life. We were moved by their description of their activities and their sister's role in the war, and impressed by the courage that all had possessed. This connection, and our continuing friendship with Laurent Bloch, son of Michel and Collette, led me to read this new book.
France Bloch-Sérazin's death sentence was carried out in secrecy under the Nazi program of punishment of opponents: Nacht und Nebel or Nuit et Brouillard or Night and Fog. Her family knew only of her arrest, and didn't know her fate, or even if she had somehow survived, until they had spent agonizing time searching after the end of the war. They also were searching for information about other family members who had died, particularly Jean-Richard Bloch's mother, who had been deported and gassed at Auschwitz along with hundreds of thousands of fellow Jews from France.
Quella-Villéger especially illuminates the horror of the aftermath of the war in France. As I read, I remembered other accounts of the desperate search for information about those who had disappeared, the emotional climate of a country that had been physically destroyed, the horrendous political divisions by which many French people had collaborated with the Nazi occupation, and for many surviving French people dealing with experience of the deportation of many neighbors and friends.
The memory of France Bloch-Sérazin and other women of courage and conviction who worked to oppose the Nazis in France was little recognized after the war, for a number of political reasons, which the author touches on briefly. He views this as a tragic story, as an incompletely recognized story, and above all as a story of great courage and determination.
Author of this blog post: Mae E. Sander, to be published at my two blogs, maefood dot blogspot dot com and https://hero-or-antihero, Hero-or-Antihero dot blogspot dot com. If you are reading this elsewhere, it's been stolen.
Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Here are two quotations to ponder. The first is from the Jewish Virtual Library page for the Drancy Transit Camp:
"The camp of Drancy was a transit camp located not far from Paris. Like many other detention centres throughout France, Drancy was created by the Vichy government of Philippe Pétain in 1941 and was under the control of the French police until July 3, 1943when Nazi Germany took day-to-day control as part of the major stepping up at all facilities for the mass exterminations. The camp was opened after a roundup of in Paris Jews in August, 1941, in which over 4,000 Jews were arrested. The French police carried out additional roundups of Jews throughout the war. The conditions of life were extremely difficult, due to neglect of personal, ordinary human needs, adequate food, unsanitary conditions, and over-crowding. ...
"More than 12,800 (3,031 men, 5,802 women and 4,051 children aged between 2 and 12) were transferred to the Velodrome d’Hiver. The children were kept there for 5 miserable days without any food or medical care and then they were transferred to Drancy, Beaune-la-Rolande or Pithiviers. The children were separated from their parents by the French police immediately after their arrival in Drancy. The parents were transported to Auschwitz and gassed. The children stayed in Drancy, sometimes for weeks, without any proper care or adequate food. Several babies and very young children died in Drancy due to the lack of care and the brutality of the French guards. Finally, they were all transported to Auschwitz and gassed upon their arrival. More than 6,000 Jewish children from all the regions of France were arrested and transported to their deaths between July 17 and September 30, 1942."
"When pressed for the reason why children were murdered, Groening replies: 'The children are not the enemy at the moment. The enemy is the blood in them. The enemy is their growing up to become a Jew who could be dangerous.'”Today in Washington, a lawyer for the Immigration and Naturalization Service named Sarah Fabian, has become an example implying that Americans in our current government are becoming very much like this guard. People like this are so concerned with their commitment to their jobs that they show no moral sense of what is happening. I read about Fabian in a Washington Post article, titled: ‘I accept it’: DOJ lawyer defends herself over viral video about providing migrants with soap, toothbrushes
According to the article: "Video footage of Fabian arguing in federal court last Tuesday that the federal government was not legally required to provide toothbrushes, soap or adequate sleep to detained migrant children went viral, eliciting outrage."
Her mealy-mouth excuse: “I do not believe that’s the position I was representing, and I get that defending myself by parsing out a technical legal position won’t change most people’s minds,” she wrote. “I wouldn’t be permitted to do so anyway, so I won’t try. I will say that I personally believe that we should do our very best to care for kids while they are in our custody, and I try to always represent that value in my work.”
I could continue searching for these horrific parallels but it's too unbearable. What is to become of us? Will we too need to have monuments to our execrable behavior in 75 years?
|On one of our long stays in Paris, we lived very near the monument to the roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942.|
Sadly, this sign is often defaced by neo-Nazis and other French thugs. (Image from TripAdviser).
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
|Photo of the Yiddish Book Center (https://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/) in Amherst, Massachusetts. (2003).|
The architecture echoes the look of Eastern European shtetls of a century or more in the past.
A few days ago, the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, sent me two recently published books as a bonus for a recent contribution to their efforts. Publications of newly translated books are part of the center's mission to make available lost or ignored but worthy representatives of Yiddish literature. The smaller work, Radiant Jargon, contains a small selection of poems about Yiddish and translation: some of these poems are by classic Yiddish authors from the early 20th century, and others, and also translations, by modern poets, some of whom have been interns at the center.
The more substantial book, Seeds in the Desert by Mendel Mann (1916-1975), contains a selection of short stories and sketches about the early days of Israel, the lives of Jews in Eastern Europe during World War II, and other vignettes about Jewish life in the mid-20th century. The introduction also provides an interesting summary of the life of the author, whose name and work were entirely unfamiliar to me up until now.
Many of the stories offer just a very small episode from life in Israel or elsewhere; however most of them inform the reader of how these new Israelis had survived and escaped their past. Some stories are set far from Israel, for example, the story "Laughter from the Skies" (p. 96-103) takes place in the Australian outback about a Jew who takes revenge on a former Nazi who had murdered his family. Another story, "Cain Laments at Night" (p. 114-119), set during World War II, is about a Jewish boy named Emmanuel. He was hiding in a shtetl from which he was to travel to the larger town of Rovno (also called Rivne), but he was unable to keep up his pretense of being a partner with some Ukrainian soldiers. The problem occurs when he encounters a market woman wrapping her goods in pages of the Talmud, which he takes away and pockets. With the soldiers, he consumes "pork, black bread, eggs, and bottles of vodka," but despite this un-Jewish act, they notice him respectfully holding the scrap of paper, and torment him. Emmanuel, too, takes his revenge.
A very typical story in this collection is titled "The Encounter in Ramat Gan" (p. 59-64) It begins with these words: "'Excuse me...' I said. 'I think I know you... we've met somewhere before...'" The narrator was speaking to a woman on the street, walking with a small child. He describes a hot day in Ramat Gan, where he was waiting for a bus. He tries to explain to her what he remembers: "I traveled across Ukraine with the Soviet army, and somewhere in a shtetl in Volhynia I met you. It was a strange encounter. Don't you remember the Russian soldier who talked to you in Yiddish? Have you forgotten a night journey in a truck with two armed soldiers?" She denies this: "I don't want to know you!" she shouted.
The narrator thinks about her all night. In the morning he sees her again, while waiting for his bus, and follows her. Angrily she says "The woman you met is dead. She doesn't exist any more." She calls their former meeting a surreal dream. She accuses him of trying to make a legend of his past. Then she produces a long story of how they met during her ordeal during the war, her abuse by peasants, her encounters with Russian officers, and more war stories. The narrator, she recalled, had been a Jew in disguise as a Russian soldier -- obviously hoping himself to evade the murderous Ukrainian and Nazi troops. She describes how he helped her get to the Rovno where there were "thirty Jewish families," and he could leave her with an elderly Jewish women who would protect her. But after telling her detailed memories, the woman concluded: "Everything I have told you was invented, a lie, a mistake. My life has started now, here, with my husband and children. Forget, and let me forget."
A majority of the stories in the book have a certain similarity with this encounter and with the woman's wish to erase her past. The new country of Israel, where most of the stories take place, offers a new life for the former victims of European persecutions. The sun burns hot, it's difficult to earn a living, and many of the characters struggle to adapt and to earn their bread. But it's all new and full of promise. I've made it sound simplistic, which it isn't -- it's a very interesting book of stories about a few moments in the lives and memories of a variety of characters.
Now, about Rovno, which is mentioned in several of the stories, along with a few other nearby locations in a region of Ukraine. These references were especially interesting to me because my mother's parents and other relatives came from the Rovno shtetl in the early 20th century. I've never known much about it other than generalizations about shtetl life. I suspect that some distant relatives were still in Rovno during World War II, but I don't know anything about them, and I was fascinated (when I looked it up after reading Mendel Mann's stories) to learn that Rovno was important during the early days of the war. In looking for information, I was also astonished to learn that the mother of Israeli author Amos Oz was a native of Rovno (source).
I also learned of the end of the Jewish community of Rovno, which the author of the stories must also have known. I read this: "The majority of the Jews of western Ukraine town of Rovno, around 23,000 people, had been murdered shortly after the Germans invaded in June 1941. Between 5,000 and 7,000 Jews remained in the ghetto that was established there." In July of 1942, the remainder of the Jews were murdered in a cooperative act by the SS Nazi soldiers and the Ukrainian militia, which supported the invaders. (source)
|A street in Rovno before the war. From the JewishGen Website. (link)|
Sunday, November 11, 2018
"On Thursday we learned that ... Lucy McBath, an African-American gun control advocate, had flipped the [Georgia congressional] seat.Last week's election has many examples of Democrats winning because they inspired resistance to the terrible demagogs and rising fascism in our country.
"McBath’s victory was emblematic of the Resistance triumphs in the midterms. There was no immediate catharsis on Tuesday, no definitive national rebuke of a president whose bottomless depravity continues to dumbfound more than half the country. But the steady work of citizens who’ve been trying, over the last two years, to fight the civic nightmare of Trumpism bore fruit. It was a slog, pockmarked with disappointments. At the end, though, there was hope."
Thursday, November 8, 2018
Ben & Jerry’s has publicly announced a new ice cream flavor “celebrating activists who are continuing to resist oppression, harmful environmental practices and injustice.” Financial grants were also provided to four organizations that Ben & Jerry’s felt represented social activism. I was horrified to learn that one of the organizations receiving the grant was the 2017 Women’s March, which was partially founded by Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory — both vocal and virulent antisemites.
From the Ben & Jerry's website here. They write:
Monday, October 29, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
This post is a duplicate of my post for today at maefood.blogspot.com.
The states north of the Mason-Dixon Line that had passed emancipation statutes were revered as a kind of Canaan— a place where blacks could work and worship, marry and raise children, freely pursuing life and liberties. Once they crossed over, fugitives would be unfettered by bondage. Most southern bondspeople had little or no contact with this free northern black world, but idealized what might await them once they fled. (Kindle Locations 713-716).
Tubman’s growing realization that all people of color— slave, fugitive, or free, in both North and South— were imperiled by the very existence of racial bondage made 1850 a critical turning point in her life, as her own personal journey to freedom expanded to include the aspirations of all slaves. (Kindle Locations 1079-1081).
When she spoke out against slavery, she was not attacking it in the abstract but had personally known its evils. She risked the horror of reenslavement with every trip, repeatedly defying the slave power with her rescues and abductions. These risks elevated the significance of her contributions to the UGRR [Underground Railroad] movement. (Kindle Locations 1313-1315).
|Gandhi, from the New Yorker article.|
People in the West, Gandhi argued, merely “imagine they have a voice in their own government”; instead, they were “being exploited by the ruling class or caste under the sacred name of democracy.” Moreover, a regime in which “the weakest go to the wall” and a “few capitalist owners” thrive “cannot be sustained except by violence, veiled if not open.” This is why, Gandhi predicted, even “the states that are today nominally democratic” are likely to “become frankly totalitarian.”And this:
Satyagraha, literally translated as “holding fast to truth,” obliged protesters to “always keep an open mind and be ever ready to find that what we believed to be truth was, after all, untruth.” Gandhi recognized early on that societies with diverse populations inhabit a post-truth age. “We will never all think alike and we shall always see truth in fragments and from different angles of vision,” he wrote. And even Gandhi’s harshest detractors do not deny that he steadfastly defended, and eventually sacrificed his life for, many values under assault today—fellow-feeling for the weak, and solidarity and sympathy between people of different nations, religions, and races.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
|Norman Rockwell's famous depiction of the Four Freedoms motivated the War Bond campaign in World War II. (Wikipedia)|
Tuesday, August 14, 2018
|"From the moment they arrived in DC, the alt-right attendees were greatly outnumbered by thousands of counterprotesters, who took to the streets in both Charlottesville and Washington, DC, this weekend to push back against emboldened white supremacy."-- from Vox, August 12, 2018.|
Thursday, July 26, 2018
|"Passers-by view Donald Trump's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame|
after it was vandalized Wednesday morning. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)."
Friday, July 13, 2018
Wednesday, July 11, 2018
|"Hi, I just wanted to urge you to resign because of what you’re doing to the environment|
and our country," -- Scott Pruitt being told off by Kristin Mink (source).
Prominent Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Shumer, and David Axelrod have called for "civility" from protesters. Quite a few responses to them point out that saying the protests aren't "civil" is a bit ironic, since separating small children from their parents, eliminating women's health care, and destroying many American businesses by ill-thought-out tariff polices are not themselves "civil."
An article in the Washington Post, "From Kellyanne Conway to Stephen Miller, Trump’s advisers face taunts from hecklers around D.C." included a number of examples stating:
"For any new presidential team, the challenges of adapting to Washington include navigating a capital with its own unceasing rhythms and high-pitched atmospherics, not to mention a maze of madness-inducing traffic circles.
"Yet for employees of Donald Trump — the most combative president of the modern era, a man who exists in his own tweet-driven ecosystem — the challenges are magnified exponentially, particularly in a predominantly Democratic city where he won only 4 percent of the vote."An article in the Guardian summarized the situation: "'Make them pariahs': how shaming Trump aides became a resistance tactic." Quotes from the article illustrating the two points of view about this behavior:
- Maxine Waters, member of the House of Representatives from California, says: "Let’s make sure we show up wherever we have to show up. ... And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere."
- Chuck Schumer responded to Maxine Waters thus: "If you disagree with a politician, organize your fellow citizens to action, and vote them out of office, but no one should call for the harassment of political opponents. That’s not right – that’s not American."
- Markos Moulitsas, the founder of Daily Kos, says: "Public shaming of Trump regime officials isn’t just useful, it’s a moral imperative in these difficult times. ... We have a Republican party that has surrendered to the Russians, encourages white supremacists and Nazis, separates families, and locks up children in cages, and we’re supposed to treat these people as respected members of society? We have no choice but to turn them all into pariahs, now and forever into the future. ... None of them should ever be allowed to have a peaceful meal in public, unless they want to spend all their time in rural flyover country they pretend to love so much. They are destroying lives every single day, literally killing people in many cases, so they don’t get to be treated like royalty. They need to be confronted with the reality of their choices."
- Emma Gray, author of A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance, says: "We’re way past hand-wringing over ‘civility in a democracy’ when basic human rights are at stake. There’s nothing ‘civil’ about stripping away women’s access to reproductive healthcare or ripping children away from their parents at the border with no plan to reunite them."
- The ACLU on its website says: "Once one chooses to operate a business open to the public, one takes on at least a moral – and often a legal – obligation to adhere to the norms that underlie the very definition of ‘public’. When a business turns away a customer, whether it’s the Red Hen refusing service to Sanders, or Masterpiece Cakeshop refusing service to Charlie Craig and David Mullins, it says, ‘You aren’t a legitimate member of the public.’"
- And from the Washington Post story: "'I would say it’s burning people out,' said Anthony Scaramucci, Trump’s former communications director. 'I just think there’s so much meanness, it’s causing some level of, "What do I need this for?" And I think it’s a recruiting speed bump for the administration. To be part of it, you’ve got to deal with the incoming of some of this viciousness.'"
Thursday, June 28, 2018
Pinsker shows how an essential location where 19th and 20th century Jewish (and sometimes non-Jewish) writers and intellectuals gathered in these cities was their cafés. He describes how these cafés were often a "Jewish space" because of both the owners and the customers. He names many, many Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian, and other-language writers that I've heard of and in many cases that I've read, and describes the cafés they frequented. It's a very good read!
I wrote a sort of an appreciation of the book at my other blog, in this post "How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture."
Saturday, May 26, 2018
Sunday, February 25, 2018
|-- From Wikipedia|
In 1969, the 79-year-old writer-turned-environmentalist founded Friends of the Everglades. ... she guided her organization to press for the establishment of the Big Cypress National Preserve (1974), an end to agricultural pollution fouling Everglades water, reform in the expansionist impulses of water managers and restoration of the channelized, diked and otherwise arrested Kissimmee River-Lake Okeechobee-Everglades heart of the region. She spent her remaining decades moving the country toward a sensibility that assimilated the natural Everglades.
Much like her famous phrase, her name became synonymous with a valued place. In 1997, Congress attached it to a new 1.8-million-acre Everglades wilderness area, four years after President Clinton awarded her the Medal of Freedom. When she died in 1998, at 108, park rangers appropriately broadcast her ashes in the beloved river she gave to America, the River of Grass.How sad that we have to associate her name with such a horror, but what an honor to the young activists from her namesake school.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
I'm too overcome to write much in my own words about appalling gun violence against children and the depraved attitude of politicians -- especially Republicans -- towards this escalating violence. Surviving children from last weeks debacle are emerging as heroic leaders, not only for suffering such a horrific experience, but for attempting to lead the rest of us to better political action. I took these images from a story in the Washington Post, which documented how these new leaders have to stand up to the apathetic public, the horrific attitude of politicians, and also to grotesque attacks from right wing monsters.
Here are some words from "‘I am not a crisis actor’: Florida teens fire back at right-wing conspiracy theorists" by Travis M. Andrews and Samantha Schmidt (February 21, 2018) --
"Welcome, Parkland shooting survivors, to the ugly world of politics in 2018
"In the aftermath of last week’s school shooting in Parkland, Fla., some of the most powerful testimonies have come from the teenagers who survived the rampage. They have repeatedly detailed their harrowing experience to national news networks, many calling for stricter gun control laws while decrying President Trump for not doing enough to protect students. Others have wept with grief while telling their stories again and again.
"The students have become a mobilizing force unlike any seen after previous mass shootings, planning marches and rallies in Florida and Washington — all while mourning the friends they’ve so recently lost.
"They have also become a target of right-wing smears and innuendo.
"Some prominent figures in the right-wing media are suggesting that the students are making it all up, or that the children are paid actors or that their talking points have been manufactured by public relations experts on the left."The article continues with details about the unspeakable attacks on the student heroes.
Tuesday, February 6, 2018
"Caesar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell and George the Third — ." At that point he was interrupted by cries of "Treason!" from delegates who easily recognized the reference to assassinated leaders. Henry paused briefly, then calmly finished his sentence: "...may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it." (source)
|Patrick Henry (from Wikipedia)|
Sunday, January 14, 2018
This duality: the quality of immigrants from the insulted countries and the President's vulgar dismissal of them, was cited (among many other articles in many sources) by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post in an article titled: "‘Shithole’ wasn’t the most offensive part of Trump’s Haiti comments" published January 12, 2018. Extract from the article:
"What is most offensive in the president’s comment on immigration to a group of senators on Thursday is not the vulgarity. 'Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?' Trump said, referring to Haiti and countries in Africa and Central America. 'Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out.' What is most offensive is not even the insult to other nations, though that is certainly unacceptable from a president of the United States.
"No, what should sadden every American is to have someone living in the White House with so little respect for the courage of women and men who have been coming here from 'shithole' countries for centuries — and who have built the United States into the great nation it is today. ...
"Shortly after The Post reported Mr. Trump’s comment, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol reminded us on Twitter of Emmanuel Mensah, who immigrated from Ghana five years ago and joined the Army National Guard. He was home in the Bronx last month when a devastating fire broke out in his apartment building; he lost his life as he rescued others. 'He brought four people out,' his uncle, Twum Bredu, who lives next door, told the New York Times. 'When he went to bring a fifth person out, the fire caught up with him.'
"Most Americans understand how fortunate we are to attract such heroes to our shores."And in an article in the New York Times, a bit more about this hero:
"A few days ago, the Army posthumously awarded Mensah the Soldier’s Medal, its highest award for heroism outside of combat, and New York State awarded him its Medal for Valor. The citation on the state medal reads: 'His courageous and selfless act in the face of unimaginable conditions are consistent with the highest traditions of uniformed service.'"
Sunday, December 31, 2017
|Erica Garner, who died this week, became a voice for|
police accountability after her father died in police custody.
I may not agree with every position she took, but I hope for
more leaders who try to push back against the system.
This immoral minority promotes the government's cancellation of programs to inspect or regulate the food supply -- even if they personally experience food poisoning. They prefer government support for predatory banks and fake educational institutions -- even if they fall prey to these sharks themselves. As long as climate change is denied, they don't care if their own homes are washed away -- in some cases both literally AND figuratively. They prefer that the government cancel medical insurance programs for poor people -- even if it affects their own access to affordable medical treatment. They have lots of other analogous preferences too. As long as abortion is illegal, they often say, the rest is a matter of indifference, including the morality and truthfulness of their leaders.
On the other hand, many individuals in America who have the means to take care of themselves and who aren't directly poisoned, defrauded, drowned, burned-out, or impoverished by the current treatment of government programs still find much to fear from the current political juggernaut. And perhaps would be willing to push back.
So I wish in the coming year that more heroes emerge to lead us and that they find new and creative ways to express themselves and effectively struggle against the ugliness, darkness, and oppressive measures we've seen in 2017. I sincerely wish you a happy new year in which our better natures can prevail.
"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop!" -- Mario Savio, 1964.
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
|The article is illustrated with a scene from the Women's March|
the day after the Inauguration, which had more attendees than
the Inauguration itself. And inspired one of Trump's first lies
during his tenure as President.
"Indeed, Democrats have triumphed all over the country, as Trump’s approval rating keeps sinking. The progressive Working Families Party endorsed 1,036 candidates in 2017; almost two-thirds of them won. Due in large part to grass-roots organizing, Democrats won a landslide in Virginia and took Jeff Sessions’s old Senate seat in Alabama.
"At the Dec. 8 rally in Pensacola, Fla., where Trump urged people to vote for Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers, the president mocked citizens who oppose his administration. 'Resist, resist,' he whined, hunching over and pretending to carry a protest sign. 'They’re resisting the will of the American people,' he declared.
"Of all the uncountable lies of this repulsive regime, this might be the biggest. Trump became president despite the will of a majority of the American people. A recent poll shows that 53 percent of voters want him to resign. Inasmuch as Trump is able to force his agenda on an unwilling nation, it’s because of a breakdown in democracy that renders many members of Congress heedless of their own constituents."Is there hope in the continuation of these protests? Or will the passage of the horrendous tax bill this week turn the tide in the President's favor? As 2017 and also the first year of this nightmare of misrule come to a close, we just don't know. Michelle Goldberg's conclusion: "The president once warned that if he fell, he’d take the entire Republican Party down with him. Thanks to the Resistance, he might still have the chance."