Thursday, July 13, 2006

Desensitization: What Goes Around, Comes Around

From February to May 2002, I wrote a series of long letters to George W. Bush - I've never counted how many, but probably several dozen. I was trying to connect with him one to one, un-demonize him, de-Otherize him. In the March 1, 2002 letter, I copied out an extended excerpt from George Orwell's 1984, followed by this:

More of that tomorrow.

Two other thoughts: I heard that the Office of Strategic Intelligence, which had a reported mission of spreading false information to foreign journalists and populations for the purpose of promoting positive feelings about America, has been closed. I also heard that the task of performing those misinformation campaigns on behalf of the US government has been assigned to a private agency; the lying will apparently continue, still funded by taxpayer dollars, but under less opportunity for public scrutiny. It seems to me unlikely that lying to people will give them a better feeling about us. I have always deeply resented people who lie to me, and I imagine you feel the same way when you are lied to.

This morning I also heard more about torture of the Palestinian people by Israeli soldiers -- rubber-coated steel bullets fired at close range, toward the heads of peaceful demonstrators, hands being brutally smashed against rocks by two-by-fours, cluster bombs picked up by children, and at the top, stated Israeli government plans to completely and militarily ghettoize and eventually exterminate the Palestinians by genocide to gain “land without people for a people without land.”

I’m struck by the parallels between this societal situation and the cycle of domestic violence that repeats itself through generations. Sons watch their fathers beat their mothers and grow up to beat their own girlfriends and wives, while daughters watch their mothers stay with abusive men out of poverty and grow up to stay with their abusers for the same reasons. Likewise, Jews scapegoated, demonized, rounded up in ghettos and exterminated in Nazi concentration camps have grown up to scapegoat, demonize, round up and slaughter Palestinian people. They inflict on others what was inflicted on them.

Still, yesterday I heard parts of a speech by bell hooks, who recently completed a trilogy of books about love. I love you, in a political sense, in full recognition of your human capacity for growth, connection, kindness, forgiveness and righteous good deeds (as you recently said you advise people to perform if they want to help stop terrorism). I hope you will inflict that full, all-powerful love on others around the world in your position as president.

In hope,



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