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Conversation: The Necessary Art

Israel can be honest in public. Can the US?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

This midterm election sucks more than most. I don't think I've ever been so angry, not just at the GOP, which I've grown to despise, but because I made the mistake of making a contribution to my own party and have been swamped with borderline icky whines and praise for my paltry donation so that I'd cough up more. We're fighting the Koch brothers' financial wealth, is the story, and we need, um, me, apparently, to keep things equal. I get over ten calls a day from robots tooting the horns of candidates and asking for support. I voted last week.

The level of animosity and bigotry has near exploded, although mostly in the faces of the bigots as the election season putters on. Polls show that most have lost interest in the election coming in a few weeks because incumbents cannot run on accomplishment since the GOP devoted itself to stopping all legislation and appointments to the bench, and Republicans cannot run on what they would do, because they've already said they'd do nothing but reverse what little has been done. America likes to think of itself as the apex of civilization, being a nation of laws, so it's embarrassing to dwell on this.

I was reading Andrew Sullivan this week and found there is a new anti-Semite cursing Israel, at least according to the Jerusalem Post. Last Sunday, at a conference in Israel, even, one of the speakers said that the time has come to admit that Israel is a sick society, with an illness that demands treatment. He went on: “I’m not asking if they’ve forgotten how to be Jews, but if they’ve forgotten how to be decent human beings." You can imagine how the Israeli lobby in the US, and FoxNews, and all the neocons in an election year were all over that and devoted to destroying the man who would say such things, especially at this time of increased tension in the Middle East.

But nobody has, that I've read. One wonders why, given their tantrums over people saying far less. The anti-Semite slug who said all that is a difficult target, though. His name is Reuven Rivlin, and rather accomplished. He's the President of Israel.

Can you imagine if Obama or Biden or anyone had said in a time of war 'America is a sick society. I'm not asking if they've forgotten how to be American but if they've forgotten how to be decent human beings." And they could ask it, since it's a valid question with the revival of racist twaddle and bullying thuggery. But Americans can no longer discuss or argue but only chant, lecture, and revert to violence. Rivlin said of his own people: "Have they forgotten how to converse?" Americans have.

Dr. Ruth Arnon, President of the Israeli Academy hosting the event at which Rivlin spoke, referenced the "mutual expressions of hatred and incitement" between Palestinians and Israelis. "Arnon said that Jews, who in the diaspora had been exposed to anti-Semitism and persecution, should be more sensitive to the dangers of incitement. “But are we?” she asked."

Israel, with some regularity, has these unpleasant conversations at high levels in public, even within their government in the Knesset. But here in the US, incitement all the way to violence is way too common, and that's the way our media likes it. Violence is easy to frame into a story that is easy to tell. They don't want to incite a dialogue that would require educated reporters able to narrate it and flense nonsense and ignorance off. They cost more, if they exist. That's because our news media has become a mere business. I don't believe that journalism can be viewed as a cash cow devoted to creation of its own news by template without ceasing to be journalism. It's become too easy to pander to clique demographics, and to cash in on it. Not good.

Of all the dangerous developments in this nation during my life, the fact that the Prius - the most innovative and reliable auto for years - was not an American vehicle - to be the perfect example of American decline. Our auto industry is both cowardly and incompetent and, until Tesla, nobody thought American cars as innovative as European and Asian vehicles, and far less reliable to boot. This societal failure has been replaced in my mental World of Horrors with the realization that Al Jazeera, the essentially Arab news service, often provides better and more accurate news than our big networks. And we can't talk about it.