Archive for the racism Category

Immigration Reform and the Death of Culture

Posted in discrimination, immigration, politics, racism with tags , , , on June 21, 2018 by rachelcoles

The terrorization and victimization of immigrants currently going on at our borders is not just horrifying for all the key reasons of human rights violation. But on a different level it is a threat of extinction of a part of ourselves fostered by the idea of America. There are many metropolitan centers in the world. And certainly many aspects of multicultural cities are duplicated in some measure in many parts of the world. But not to the same degree in so many places, as here. This is most clearly shown in the wealth of food variety, and the phenomenon of the food mecca. Take one well-known food mecca, Denver. In very few other places could one find restaurants in the same city that offer Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Eritrean, southwest BBQ, Deep Southern, Cajun, Creole, Syrian, Persian, Lebanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Peruvian, Native American, French, Italian, Israeli, German, Czech, Hungarian, British, Irish, Indian, and ‘classic American’. This, in what twenty years ago was a little mid-west cow town that still had hitching posts outside one of the malls. All thanks to immigrants.

The food mecca is a magical place that could not exist without the labors and true love of immigrants and the encouragement of immigration. Food, one of the most basic of necessities, is also one of our most basic ways of expressing love. It is into our food that we pour that love of family, of culture, of life itself. It is how we bond, how we share with friends. It is how we express notions of safety, security, happiness, and the comfort of home. When our children get married, we say “Hey, my kid’s going to have lots of sex and someday start their own family. I’m going to be a grandparent…hopefully! Eat with me and share my hope!” When someone leaves us, our friends and family say “Here, eat this fried chicken, a bowl of these noodles, a slice of this cake, and everything will feel better in the morning.” And for people everywhere, there is a basic drive to share this slice of home, this comfort with the world. I, for one, am happy to eat from everyone’s slice of home. Sharing food, every kind of food, is one of the most joyful things in the world to me. When people are sharing food, they aren’t bickering or dwelling on the bad impulses of our nature, except maybe gluttony from food porn. I’ll take that instead of war and hatred very day. When people are sharing food, they are growing on each other, and learning that not only do we have some basic things in common, but our differences could be delicious and wonderful. It is into food that we pour our souls.

The death of immigration will mean the death of the opportunities for such food meccas, such opportunities to share, first our food, then other things. It will mean a narrowing of our focus. It will mean isolation, and eventually the death of our collective soul. Immigration must be defended to prevent all of the immediate threats to life and human rights, but also to prevent the sequelae of such an amputation of many many limbs that makes us American in our ideals, and to prevent the damage to our minds and cultural souls as a whole.

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Happy Late Passover and Easter!

Posted in discrimination, history, indie, indie authors, politics, racism, urban fantasy, writing, young adult fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2014 by rachelcoles

Hello fellow Indies!

I recently did a Facebook quiz, God those are addictive, about which circle of Hell I would fall into…Yay! I got Heresy. And no one who knows me was surprised. Though I could have done with some nice Lust or Gluttony. Those are always fun. I’m a big fan of those. I recently discovered, after going with my family to San Diego and visiting the Ghirardelli’s chocolate store that no chocolate can escape my event horizon.

I also recently visited a museum in Salt Lake City displaying the Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran. Other interesting things were displayed in that exhibit. Among the interesting things I learned, thought already read about some time in the past was that the kohanim of the Temple during at least part of the Roman Empire would only accept coins with…get this…the head of Herakles on them…yep, you heard correctly. The head of a pagan Greek/Roman demi-deity. The Maccabees took the Temple back from those greeks some centuries before that because of the naughty statues of Greek gods erected in the Temple, that some of the priests were secretly worshipping too. Well, at least politicians of every nation throughout eternity are consistent…And finally, though worship of the one God was the official state religion of the Kingdom of Israel, the same way that Islam is the official state religion of Iran, though there are a million other religions practiced too, the ‘peasantry’, like me, just went ahead and worshiped whoever the hell they wanted as they had all along, including their ancient Canaanite pantheistic gods, as observed by the booby goddess dolls found in their apartments by archaeologists. Most of them never gave up worshipping Asherah/Astarte/Ishtar, the wife of El–thunder god extraordinaire, or Jewish Zeus, if you prefer. That’s right. The WIFE of ‘God’. Hmmm. Wherever did she go?

Needless to say, I have a hard time believing in organized religion for religious purposes. I think it’s great for getting together with family. So I do enjoy Seder, for the food and the company, and especially the discussion. To that end, and because I’m a complete heretic, I’d like to share this Exodus story I wrote a while back. A slightly different take on the Exodus than in most Bibles…

Plagues

Dom: Blood

The crimson water trickled out of Miryam’s amphora, as the brutal sun rose in the sky. There would be much suffering today in Miztrayim, among the slaves as well as the free. Though the situation would not be as dire for the pampered artisans and craftsman, most of the unskilled labor slaves she knew couldn’t keep much water. And the only water to be had needed buying. Many laborers would die today in the simmering heat. She looked out across the wavering expanse of scrub and sand toward the city of Ra’amses. The ululating wail of women bounced across the alleys from the city, as everywhere people found the blood water. Even the clean water in the city had been polluted. She sighed and sat down at the water’s edge, not caring that her skirt had fallen in the river. She ruminated as Egyptians and Hebrews ran back and forth, her water jug empty, her face burning in the sun. They were doomed by an incompetent god.

According to her crazy brother, Moshe, God had promised to lead them from bondage, but hadn’t enough foresight to save them clean water in his great smiting of the Egyptian ‘majority’. It was these great planning skills that were supposed to sustain them in the desert should they follow him, as Moshe kept suggesting. He never shut up about it. She sat staring at a gory reflection of herself in the puddle into which she had emptied the jug. A rail thin man, his rib-cage prominent and laced with scars, dropped to his knees next to her and looked at her with cavernous eyes before leaning down and slurping from the puddle with his lips. He sat up for a moment, sated, and then clambered to the river and vomited bloody water onto the rocks. We’re all doomed, she thought.

Tzfardeah: Frogs
The kids ran back and forth throwing frogs at each other. Miryam skirted the guard outpost near the palace, trying not to draw the guard’s attention by staying still too long. She watched the ruckus in amazement, until one of the bare-chested painted guards, swiping at the frogs, decided the kids would make a better target, and strode forward, sword drawn. The children scattered, fearlessly pelting the guard in a rain of amphibians and then vanishing. Kids could make games of everything. And after living under a pall of violence, nothing phased them, not armed soldiers with a hatred of their kind, and certainly not frogs.

At first it had been cute. Yehoshuah, her eight year old son, had brought in a little brown frog, as she pulled the morning bread from the oven, sweating. She hadn’t paid much attention. Another stray thing Yehoshuah was going to adopt and let loose in the little brick apartment.

“Outside!,” she had ordered, and followed him outside to make sure he let the slimy thing go.

It had been a little cute, staring at her with round black eyes, and round little toes. As soon as she got to the door, she dropped the bread tray in astonishment, spilling the bread to the dusty earth. She cursed. There were frogs everywhere, carpeting the road, roofs and every other surface. She turned and looked back inside. Frogs of all sizes leaped and bumped and pushed into her dry goods with abandon, burping and croaking wet little sounds. Shouts began issuing from every house on the block. She took a squelching step, and almost slipped on a bump and the ichor that oozed from the frogs that had appeared underfoot.
“Arrgh!” She yelled, casting a venomous look toward Heaven and stormed into the house just as her foolish brother approached with purpose.

She rolled her eyes. Moshe’s ‘purpose’ was getting ridiculous, an affectation only the privileged could afford. The rest of us have purpose to say alive, she thought. He had grown up in the Palace, adopted by the Princess who had decided that he was too cute to be a laborer, she thought bitterly. While the rest of us sweat and toil and die by bits. Mother encouraged it! She spent more time with Moshe in the palace, than with me and brother Aharon. First-born boys! Think the world owes them!, she thought savagely as Moshe barged in. Yocheved, their mother had convinced him that he had a ‘mission’ to help his people in his position, instead of fucking exotic slave girls. Trouble was, she never really aimed him in a particular direction or defined ‘helping’, so away he went. Now he ‘has visions’. God save us from visionaries! His newest crusade was only the latest attempt at self-imposed ‘redemption’. She faced him with her feet planted and her hands on her hips. It did nothing to diffuse the fierce light in his eyes as he entered, his breath ragged with passion.

“Do you see! Do you see that our God avenges us? Now do you believe me?”

“I believe you’re an idiot with delusions of atonement. Frogs? Really? What kind of idiot drops frogs on people?!” She held her hands out, surveying the chaos.

“Hush your blasphemous tongue! Don’t speak of God in that way! He’ll deliver us from bondage!”

“Us who? Saving you, from perfumed whores and sweet water and slaves with fans?”

“I have never used slaves. My women are willing.”

Miryam snorted.

“I am a Hebrew! I am your brother. Have you no care for me?” He suddenly looked as forlorn as the young toddler the princess had pulled from the rushes, glancing back toward the family who had left him there, hidden. “I gave up all that.” He gestured at the plain tunic and breeches that had replaced the gold-woven linen finery.

She relented, her dark angry eyes softening, “I guess. Thermusthis, your ‘mother’, must be angry. She’s probably wishing she left you in the river.”

He shook his head. “She loves me like our own mother. Why do you expect so ill of her. She is a kind woman. She understands why I must do this.”

Miryam sighed. “Ok. Right, your mission. Here’s a little blast of reality: you live in the palace surrounded by people who aren’t too fond right now of the other side of your family. You need to be more careful or you’ll wind up crocodile food at the bottom of the Nile. Don’t think you’re untouchable just because the Princess wanted a son and ‘saved’ someone else’s. Her Daddy doesn’t think you’re so cute, I will wager you a week of food on that!”

“He will not move against me right now. In fact, he is considering my proposal to release the Hebrew laborers from their contracts, if not all bondsmen of Hebrew descent. He fears us.”

“You can’t possibly believe that. Fear is why people try to destroy us, not keep us alive.” A frog dropped onto her head. She smacked her hand down with a squish, made a face and wiped her hand on her dress. “So He couldn’t have come up with a plague that was less…slimy?” She grinned.

He put a burly arm around her, towering above her by the length of her forearm, and shrugged. “I’m not turning down His help. Things can’t go on this way. Ramses has lost his mind, he’s genocidal.” He looked at her with sharp brown eyes. “I heed your warning. I know the only reason I’m still here is because of Thermusthis. He dotes on her. She watches out for me like a hawk. But now he knows what I am, he is just waiting for an opportunity. I will not give him one.”

Miriam put her hand on the side of his face. Dumb-ass brother! They turned at the sound of retching from one of the nearby hovels, and then looked down at the ground, helpless. Following the blood plague, scores of their already weakened people had died right alongside the Egyptian citizenry, sickened from drinking the poison when there was nothing else to drink. Even the beer had turned. The smell of sick was everywhere. And now this.

Kinim: Lice

She woke up with a raw scalp from scratching in her sleep as though insects had been burrowing beneath her skin. There were the same raw patches all over her body when she whipped aside the clothes from her body.
“Moshe! Moshe! Call Him off! He’ll kill us!” She yelled, but no one answered.

She sat at the side of her pallet with her head in her hands. It took all of her effort to resist squirming and screaming. Something crawled all over her, and she could tell by the shrieks that had become commonplace in the city in the past couple weeks, that her experience was being repeated everywhere. Instead of easing their lot, these plagues were making things worse. The government didn’t believe they were in real danger, and it only made the hatred against her people seem justified. Acenath, her Egyptian neighbor, had faithfully brought food over every week when Miryam’s family hadn’t enough. But yesterday when they had met in the street, there was an uneasiness in the woman’s eyes, and she had pulled her son Kosey to her, subconsciously, as though Miryam would snatch him or turn him into an animal, the child she had helped watch since he was an infant. Acenath had caught herself in her reaction, and gave Miryam a vague apologetic glance and then hurried into their home. The soldier raids had intensified, and three more Hebrew families had been arrested in the past two days. No one would ever see them again. Yocheved remembered when they had been considered ‘Egyptian’, with slightly different customs. And then in the space of a few years, following Ramses ascendency, they had woken up ‘Hebrew’.

“Auuuugh!” Miryam tore her clothes off, baring herself, scratching at her genitals frantically. The infestation was even in her womanhood. She ran and ran until she reached the river and threw herself in.

Arov: Flies

She wiped the bile from her mouth, almost tipping over the stinking pot. The frogs had made the food bad, and fevers had begun throughout the city from the lice. Miryam flopped back on her pallet and wondered how she was going to get up for work. Badness was coming from both ends, and if her mistress was in a foul mood, she’d get beaten for her lovely aroma.
Yehoshuah burst in, darker every day from the field. His wide chocolate eyes took in her condition.
“Eema, there’s something coming! From the desert.” He ran to help her up.
What now? She thought sourly, stumbling to the doorway. There was a thin dark growing line on the horizon. A deep hum vibrated in the air. Dread filled her belly.
“Get inside, Yehoshuah! Now!”
They ran in and Miryam began pulling cloth across the windows sealing every possible crack in the hut. The hum got louder. Miryam grabbed her child and drew him in her arms into the corner behind the pots. He struggled, but stopped and let her cover him, as soon as he saw the fear in her face. Something like a wall of air hit the side of the hut and a droning buzz swarmed around walls that seemed thin as papyrus. Flies boiled in through the cloths she had wedged quickly in the windows. They swarmed over everything, wiggled through her hair as she shielded Yehoshuah, and covered her face against his small back. The buzz drowned all other sound. She coughed out a fly in horror and contemplated that maybe death by the lash or by the guards, was preferable to anything their ‘guardian’ God could provide.

Dever: Cattle Pestilence.

Ramses was scared. The flies had covered everything, a dark plague born in the empty wastes between lands, evidence of an angry god, one that seemed to be gaining in power every day. One from which his own gods, indeed his own divine father seemed unable to protect them. For weeks, Ra, Horus, and the others had been silent. And this new Hebrew god was insane. His followers hadn’t been spared the plagues that had befallen his land so far. This god didn’t seem to care that they suffered, just that they were bonded as slaves when they did it. Their god would rather kill them himself, it seemed. Well, maybe that was the answer. He, Ramses, would kill them all before their god killed the proper Egyptians. He beckoned to the nearby Greek slave, who brought him the scroll he’d ordered. He dictated the edict that on this night, all Hebrews would be exterminated. And then he paused, his hand over the seal. Instead he grabbed the scroll and threw it in the flames of a brazier, a holy fire to Horus. This new god was too unpredictable. Bastard Mo-ses, the sorcerer threatened to call down more plagues if his birth people were not released into the desert. Something in the man’s eyes gave Ramses a needle of fear. One he shouldn’t be feeling as the son of a god. He couldn’t give in to terrorism, but the prospect of loosing the laborers to the desert, where they would die of exposure seemed more and more appealing. That might kill a number of birds with one arrow. But if he released them on demand, he’d look weak. Damn that Mo-ses, and may the Soul Eater devour him after death! He complicated everything.
A slave ran in, his head shepherd, a black wa-Lemba tribesman from the nearby Cushite kingdom. He was sweating and trembling. He bowed before Ramses, his god.

“My god…” he stuttered. He seemed unable to continue.

Ramses fidgeted with impatience. “Finish what you came here to tell me.”

“The, the cattle. They have fallen ill.”

“With what? How many?”

The man kept his head down, shuddering. His voice was muffled. “All of them I have seen. They are dying. It is the pestilence, my holiness. It is claiming them all.”

Ramses kicked him in the face, and then grabbed the sword of a guard and ran him through the gut as he grabbed his bloody nose. “No one threatens me! Blackmail! Trying to terrorize my people will not be tolerated!” He stormed to the palace entrance.

The city was in disarray as people ran through the streets wailing at their misfortune. Dead and dying cattle were wheeled through on carts, the corpses destined for the midden heaps to be burned, so their pestilence wouldn’t poison whatever herds remained. The only meat for the markets tomorrow would be the cured reserves that were supposed to last through the drought. He snapped orders to his ministers to release a portion of the drought provisions from the royal storehouses to see people through the next few weeks until more animals could be purchased from the kingdom of Punt and other allies. That might help quell the panic for the moment. No stores would go to the god-damned Hebrews. They could starve for bringing this on his kingdom.

Shcheen: Boils.

The violence had increased threefold. The Pharaoh had gotten Moshe’s message about releasing Miryam’s people, and instead of complying had decided on a show of strength. Which was exactly what Miryam had expected. A political genius her brother was not. He had spent his entire life embroiled in palace politics, yet people’s reactionary nature seemed to have washed over him like the Nile. The raids had doubled, with every other family, including children declared traitors and enemies of the kingdom. But more disturbing was the civil unrest. She cleaned up the camel dung spattered on the outside of the house from the teenage mob that had gone from Hebrew house to house last night. Four of them had stormed in through her front door, yelling expletives at them. One of them had knocked Yehoshuah unconscious, while the other three held her down and pulled up her dress. Ari, her husband, accompanied by Har-An, Acenath’s husband, had run in from the quarry and struck the young man with his mattock. Two intruders fled, as the mattock felled the attacker who was about to violate her, and Har-An dropped the last assailant with a meaty fist. The two men looked hard at each other. Har-An took his mattock with a deep breath and ended the one still alive that he’d knocked down. Ari grabbed bed cloths, tossed them over the remains. They hefted the bodies over their shoulders without another word and left in the direction of the river. Miryam scrubbed the stains on the floor.
A day later, the Egyptians had reason now to be scared. Following the riots, very few Egyptians were on the streets, and moaning could be heard from the houses Miryam passed on her way to collect water. Of those she saw, every visible piece of skin was suppurating with sores upon sores. These walking horrors stared at her clear face in supplication, begging someone whole to do something to relieve their condition. None of the Hebrews had been affected, it seemed, at least not by whatever affliction this was. Maybe God’s aim was getting better, she thought sourly. Except, she liked most of her Egyptian neighbors. It was having money that made people act like idiots, not the gods they worshipped. And nobody she knew had any, so they were always perfectly nice. After putting down her load of water, she stopped over Acenath’s house next door, with some of her meager food and water. The place stank. Both Acenath and her husband and Kosey were curled on their pallets. Miryam rushed to the child. His face was erupting with pustules, and she could feel the heat from him without touching his forehead. She wet a cloth in clean water and laid it across his forehead and trickled more onto his lips. She did the same for his parents. Acenath just stared at her with dull eyes. Miryam sat with them until she had to leave for her mistress’ home.

Barad: Hail

The thatch roofs were burning and collapsing. And the ones that weren’t alight were being pulverized by fist-sized hailstones along with any fool who tried to save them. Lightning cascaded down in three different places as she watched. El, the storm-God of the Hebrews was doing what He did best. Miryam flinched as she peered out the window in time to hear the punctuated squawk of a chicken that had run in panic, and see a puff of feathers stained red. Acrid smoke drifted in and a strand of fiber and gray ash floated in midair. She bolted upright, the fire was close. She peered as far out as she could without getting beaned by hail. A conflagration was three houses away, and Acenath’s roof was starting to catch from the drifting embers of other fires. A woman ran down the street, trailing smoke and fearing fire more than the physical assault from the black sky. Everywhere people were yelling, covered in welts and bruises as water for the fires was handed in from the river. Miryam grabbed a partly full water jug and hoped for the best as she ran to Acenath’s house, climbed to the roof and doused the growing flame. Hailstones slammed into her, and she fought to keep moving and tried to block blows to her head with one hand holding the jug. Apparently there was no special shield for Hebrews out in the open. Brilliant. Maybe their reprieve from the boils and sores had just been luck or different food or something. Acenath ran out, covering her head with her hands, but a carbuncle blossomed above her eyebrow as an ice ball pelted into her. Having survived her illness, she wobbled on her feet, looked up at Miryam and ran back inside. A moment later, she emerged, climbed to the roof and handed Miryam a full jug of water.

“You!” Acenath called back into the chaos on the street, to anyone. There was no husband to help her now. Har-An had not survived. “This fire will be yours if it spreads! Help me!”

Water came, by Egyptian and Hebrew hands scratched and shredded by the pounding hail. Within a few minutes, her fire at least was out. Lightning cracked into a house down the street, sizzling the water in their cistern, and making Miryam almost lose her hold. People melted back into whatever shelter they could find. As Miryam slid down, she noticed sparks landing in the thatch on her own roof. Acenath did too. Tendrils of smoke curled up and then extinguished. A hailstone almost took off Acenath’s nose as she stared, then shook her head and grabbed Miryam’s arm and ran into her own house.

“Maybe your house would be safer,” she said sourly to Miryam. “But I can’t leave Kosey here by himself.”

“I’m fine, Mum! I’m almost a man.”

“Just because you’re the man of the house doesn’t make you a man yet! And you shouldn’t be out of bed!”

The boy sat up, sores healing on his face. He rolled his eyes.

Miryam shook her head. “I’m as confused as you are. Trust me.”

“Your house didn’t catch fire.”

“Yet. Day isn’t over yet.” Miryam reminded her.

Acenath glared at her a moment, then burst into laughter, slapped Miryam on the shoulder, right on a bruise, and handed her a cup of weak beer, and piece of bread. “Thank you, friend. I never thanked you for helping us before either. I almost lost my Kosey…Har-An…” Her huge dark eyes filled with tears, and she choked. Miryam put her arm around the tiny younger woman’s shoulders, and played with Acenath’s long black braid. Tears dripped down Acenath’s cheeks, but the lines in her face relaxed a little.

The boy bit down on his trembling lip, and put his arm around her other shoulder and gave the women a very manly look. “Mama, it’s ok. I’m fine. And I’m almost as tall as you, see. I can handle man’s matters.” He stood above them and extended his skinny chest. The women looked at each other, stifling smiles.

“Yes, well as far as my height, you didn’t have far to go.”

He looked crestfallen for a second, then grinned. Miryam snorted and went to the window, rubbing at her numb fingers. The hail had stopped, and the lightning flickers receded into the distance. “Clearing up,” she said. But their quarter of the city as far as she could see looked like it had been through a battle, with debris littering the street and smoke from fires dotting the buildings here and there.

“Why does your god hate us so much?” Kosey’s voice came from behind her. Miryam turned to his clear amber eyes. Acenath watched, quietly chewing on a crust.

“I think he’s just angry with Ramses.”

“Because Ramses is a donkey’s b–?”

“Kos!,” His mother yelled, glancing at the door fearfully.

“But you said–“

“Do you want to get us killed, boy?” His mother went to the door and peeked out.

Miryam stared at her. Acenath shook her head at Miryam. They both let out a long breath.

Unabashed, he continued, “Then is it because he hates Hebrews? We don’t hate Hebrews. Yehoshuah’s my friend.”

Miryam ruffled his hair. “I know, boy. We weren’t spared most of this either. Maybe I just haven’t kissed His Heavenly …rear-end enough. I’m not very good at worship, regardless of the god. At least you have more than one to choose from.”

“That just means more…rear kissing,” Acenath muttered. She gave Miryam a relieved smile.

Miryam kneeled by her and took Acenath’s and Kosey’s hands in hers. “I will never be your enemy.”

Acenath wrapped her arms around Miryam. Kosey huffed in relief. “So I can still hang out with Yehoshuah? He has the best snail collection.”

“Ok, what?”

“Nuthin.” He coughed, and darted out the door to find his friend before the women could stop him.

Arbeh: Locusts

Ramses stared at the growing cloud on the horizon. The city had weathered sandstorms before, but the tremor in his belly spoke of something far worse. He gave the orders to cover whatever structures might be damaged by the storm, and sent runners from region to region of the city, warning his citizens to shelter in their homes. Except none went to Goshen, where one of the oldest neighborhoods of Hebrews still resided. All work in the city was ceased. One of his foreman, a Canaanite from the outlying area arrived, out of breath. His guard stepped forward to block the man’s rushed approach, but Ramses waved them back, and motioned the worker into his presence.

“My Lord,” the huge man kneeled. Even through his almost black complexion, his skin was blanched with worry. “It is a plague from the Hebrews! It must be! They have called locusts, my Lord! They have called Pazuzu, demon of the wastes. Their god works with demons!”

Dread froze like a stone in Ramses belly, even as he rolled his eyes at the mention of foreign gods. El, Pazuzu, god or demon, it made no difference who or what had brought the locusts. Non-Egyptian gods and superstitions did not belong here. He snorted in derision. “Your heathen gods do not interest me. This is sorcery, and they will pay.” He decided on mercy today and dismissed the man to see to his own business. The swarm would be upon them in minutes. He sent runners to the fields to gather what could be carried to the grain houses, but the swarm descended as he watched. Large flitting forms blotted out the sky and settled on the fields and roofs, as he retreated to the inner courtyard. Within minutes they had edged impossibly in through every crack. The long coppery bodies were like no locusts he had ever seen. They were three times the size, their paper wings twitching even in rest, and making their outlines blur as though they flickered in and out of the living world. And then the sound of their mandibles filled the halls with scratching. He ran at them, crunching them under foot, stomping and sweeping around with his arms. With each stomp, their bodies held his weight for far too long before collapsing into mush. And as he swept some away, he could see gnaw-marks everywhere there was vegetable material, including wood. Pazuzu. Demon of the wind, demon of empty places. The name echoed along his nerves as he stared at the creatures. But it is a foreign god! Osiris, Lord of the Harvest, why are you suffering this foreign god to invade your land and torment your loyal followers?
When he arrived at the grain houses, the keepers were in a frenzy. They lit huge fires of aromatic woods before the doors to smoke the insects out, but the golden swarm seethed through the grain. Ramses sent away all available servants to fetch the priests and bring the finest animals from his personal herd to sacrifice to the gods that he had somehow offended. As he waited, he stood before the fire, and gazed at the sky towards his Heavenly Father. Why are you doing this to me? My first job as a god is to lead my people, and now I cannot even feed them. Our meat rotted on the herd, our stores from our allies are depleted, and now there will be no grain. By the end of today, my people will be eating sand. Why are you not intervening, Great Ones?

Choshech: Darkness

Two days after the locusts, the hunger in people’s eyes matched the hunger of the swarm that had enveloped them like a bronze papery rain. Incidents of robbery increased as the most desperate, young, and angry people broke. Just when Miryam thought it couldn’t get any worse, a black fog fell that wasn’t like fog. It was like a miasma poisoning the air, smelling like rotten eggs and making it hard to breath. Torchlight could only be seen a couple cubits away. Miryam didn’t think it was night, but no glow from the desert sun penetrated the fog. By her estimation, it had been late afternoon when the cloud descended, and her sense of time told her that evening now fell. Acenath, Kosey and Yehoshuah huddled on the extra pallets she’d set out in the crowded center of her apartment. She lost track of time, but Ari should have returned home from the quarry by now. Shrieks and blood curdling screams issued out of the dark and everyone looked at each other with wide white-rimmed eyes. It had seemed very close, but it was impossible to tell from what direction. The boys flinched and then recovered. No one spoke, but Kosey, older than Yehoshuah by two months retrieved a sickle from a hook on the wall and stood by the door.

“We are cursed. This land is cursed,” Acenath said.

“Maybe it’s just us,” Miryam replied quietly. “If this is caused by our god, as my brother believes, than this will follow us into the desert if we leave.”

“But your god will protect you. He will not curse you. He is only angry with us, with my people. That’s what everyone says.”

“What if everyone is wrong.”

No one said anything for a long time. The only sounds were furtive shuffling outside the walls and periodic bouts of screaming, somewhere outside.

Makat B’chorot: Slaying of the First Born

Ari had returned from the quarry, where they’d hunkered down until the strange fog had passed. But the sight of him alive did nothing to quell Miryam’s anger for the next few days. Her fist slammed into Moshe’s nose as soon as he barged in her doorway three days later. “That’s what I think of your stupid crusade!” She rushed him and kicked him in the long shin, flailing at his chest and clawing at his face. He grabbed her and shoved her back. She stumbled across the sleeping pallets and jugs and fell. Otherwise, he ignored her as though she hadn’t even spoken or moved against him. His eyes were burning with anger. Something else was in his eyes, fear. “Slaughter your lamb. And cover the door lintel in its blood. Do it now.”

She stared at him and sneered. “I’d ask if you’d lost your mind, but that seems redundant.”

He grabbed her and hauled her to her feet by her dress. “Do you want Yehoshuah to die? Do as I say!”

She slapped him across the face. “So now you’re threatening me?”

He slumped. “No. Death will come tonight to all Egyptian heirs, and there is little time left. The sun has set.” He pointed to the horizon outside the window.

“Moshe…What did you do?” She swallowed hard.

“Nothing. I know things. I know you never believed me. But, it is El. I…” he wiped the blood trickling from his nose and looked down. “I told you, I know things.”

She sighed and sat down, gazing at her god-touched brother. That was what some people said. That was what the rest of her family believed now. They’d scoffed at him at first, his wild eyes, his rich pompous mannerisms. But he didn’t look pompous now. He looked scared, and tired. He sat down next to her, and touched her face. He took her numb left hand in his and frowned.

He pleaded and bowed his head. “Miryam, please. I know you think I’m crazy–“

“I don’t know whether you’re crazy, or a sorcerer. And I’m not sure which is worse. Har-An died because of these curses. He is our neighbor and friend. Don’t you care? Doesn’t our god care about the innocent?”

“I’m not a sorcerer! How could you think that,” he spat. “Ramses refuses to listen to God and let us leave.”

“To go where, exactly? Into the desert? You have been outside the city, right? Here’s a flash of insight: There’s no water out there.”

“He will take care of us, we are His Chosen.”

“He’s doing such a superb job so far! I couldn’t keep anything in my belly for three days, I nearly died, and that was before He nearly burned my house down, and killed my friends! I like them and I don’t care what their parentage is, and I don’t want to follow any God who does!” Her voice had risen, until Yehoshuah covered his ears and ran next door.

Moshe’s face was sad. He didn’t call her out for blasphemy or any other such nonsense. At least he was learning. He just stood, and touched her face and left. The torchlight increased. She shivered. Death will come to all Egyptian heirs, her shiver became a shudder. Me and my temper. What does that mean? In her belly, she knew the curse would happen, but she didn’t know how. Yehoshuah was still next door. Yehoshuah. She grabbed a long knife from the table and marched outside to the tethered lamb. Ari was coming down the road as she slit its throat. Blood spurted all over her hands, and into the bowl she’d set under it.

“What are you doing, woman?” Ari ran to her. “That was the last lamb we’re likely to have! The ewe’s too old for more!” he wrenched the knife from her hand.

The torches and rushlights went out. The night in the street was black and there were no stars. Something dark and massive gathered in the shadows, all around them. A ruckus of yelling came from Acenath’s house, and several other houses on the street. Yehoshuah ran out as Acenath’s panicked voice shrieked from their house. He was panting and clutching his throat, and then he collapsed into a seizure at the feet of his parents. Miryam screamed and wrapped her arms around him, as tendrils of darkness reached from the shadows. She thrust the bloody bowl at Ari. “Splash this over the door, now!” her face brooked no argument. She hauled Yehoshuah inside, and Ari did as he was told. He entered, but before he could utter another word, she ran and shoved him out the door again. “Go put some on Acenath’s home. Cover every door you see! All our Gyptian neighbors! The curse is coming for them!”

He powered past her and dropped to his knees next to Yehoshuah, his only son. The gory bowl spilled liquid into the dust of the floor. Miryam wrapped her arms around her son’s heaving shoulders. He leaned over and vomited onto her feet, but he was breathing. Her and Ari grabbed him and held each other and sobbed.

“Eema, Abba, you’re crushing me.” Yehoshuah pushed at them, fighting to sit up, his face a nauseous green. Kosey, Mama, Kosey is sick–“

Miryam grabbed the bowl, but only a spoonful of liquid remained. She ran next door and smeared it on Acenath’s door with her hands. It left a dark smudge. There was sobbing inside. She rushed in. Acenath was clutching Kosey, screaming and shaking him. He was prostrate on the ground. He was deep purple under his dusky skin, and silent. Darkness filled the room as flashes of light flickered here and there in the air like a thousand fiery eyes, and wisps of smoke wrapped around the two in the center of the room like giant dark hands. Miryam’s heart almost stopped, but she dove for the dark mass which parted and surrounded her with a roar, like an inferno. Tiny red eyes surrounded her in a million wing-like puffs of feathery smoke. She held her sticky palms out around her and yelled defiantly at the top of her lungs, “I am a Hebrew! Stay away from this boy! He’s mine, Demon!”
She covered him with her trembling body, still brandishing her bloody palms. The smoke creature blinked its thousand malevolent eyes and withdrew silently from every crack and crevice in the room. The room was dark, but it was gone. Acenath sobbed and laid her head on Miryam’s shoulder. Miryam could feel the faint throb of the boy’s heart pick up speed. He took a shuddering breath. Acenath kept sobbing. Miryam laid back onto the floor and stared at the ceiling.

The line of refugees wound into the desert as far as Miryam could see. Acenath hefted her pack and ushered the boys in front of her.

“You don’t have to come if you don’t want. Though I’m glad for the company. The order was only for us to leave,” Miryam said.

The younger woman shrugged and glanced back at her half-empty house. “You claimed my child in fosterage. The least I could do is help you raise him. My man has gone on to the afterlife without me. There’s nothing here for me now.” Her eyes teared for a moment. She stared at a wiry young man walking past to join the trail. “Maybe a Hebrew man won’t be too bad.”

Miryam grinned, and shoved Kosey’s face around as he turned to stare at his mother. There were empty huts up and down the dusty streets, some Hebrew, some Egyptian.

“We need to pick up the pace before Ramses sends the army to hurry us up.” Acenath commented as she followed the slow winding throngs of people.

Miryam snorted, “Hardly our biggest worry after last night.” She tugged her bag over her shoulder, sighed and began walking.

End Story

 

Whenever someone tells me that ‘such and such’ are enemies, I have to wonder about regular shmoes like us, the Hebrew and Egyptian equivalents of Joe from the Seven Eleven. How many of those Egyptians were our enemies, and how much political maneuvering did it take between the government and dissenters to cultivate that hatred so far into the future that we still celebrate plagues and suffering thousands of years into the future? It’s definitely a good thing to celebrate freedom and the winning of freedom, I just wanted to take a step back and look at this from a different perspective…Discuss…

 

What Defines ‘American’ Values?

Posted in 9/11, Arab, discrimination, economy, Islam, racism with tags , , , , , , , on December 12, 2011 by rachelcoles

I was surprised and disappointed at Lowe’s for pulling their ad from All-American Muslim at the request of an anti-Muslim group. I don’t really consider myself an activist. But, I see things like this and it really worries me about how we as a nation are choosing to define ourselves, or at least choosing to define our various citizens, and who is included in being American. I know that to some degree it was always this way, with some groups being feared or shunned. But I guess that at this point, I’m wondering if we have taken a few steps backwards.

http://tv.yahoo.com/news/backlash-lowes-ads-pulled-muslim-show-091701562.html

So, I’ve written a letter to Lowe’s and sent it, posted here.

To Whom It May Concern,

I shopped at Lowes to do home repairs or projects sometimes. You pulled an ad from All-American Muslim, a show which you agreed to support with your ad, because another group wrote that they were against Islam. In bowing to this frank stance of bigotry and removing your ad, I am so offended by your decision that I will no longer be shopping at your store. I am not Muslim. I am Jewish.

My people have historically been at war with various Muslim nations, but I recognize that this has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with politics. I also recognize that we all live together in America, which gives me the right to be Jewish, my husband the right to be Native American, and these families the right to be Muslim. There are anti-Semitic groups living here in the U.S. too. Would you pull an ad from a show about Jewish people because a neo-Nazi group wrote to you to say that we are evil? Would you post a sign saying that Black people need not shop at your store because someone from the KKK wrote to you demanding segregation? My husband’s nation, along with many other tribes, were once at war with settlers. Should he be discriminated against because his Native American values could clash with some racist ideas that we should all drop who we are and be the same, or else we must be a threat?

It is decisions like yours that give racist groups the ground they need to chip away at the rights and the freedoms of others. Far from representing ‘American values’, it is the most un-American position possible, and you just contributed to it. I choose to shop at companies that are moral and make an effort to represent true democracy and offer to the needs of all of our fellow citizens, Muslims included. So, unless I see a dramatic change in Lowe’s policy, as mentioned earlier, I will no longer be a customer. A copy of this letter will also be posted online. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Rachel Coles

Comment and let me know what you think about this issue?

Woe to Butterball

Posted in Arab, Islam, Muslim, politics, racism with tags , , , , on November 28, 2011 by rachelcoles

I had to post this because I have way too much glee poking fun at the absurd. Here is an article protesting Butterball turkeys because they are halal.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/11/happy_halal_thanksgiving.html

In the article, the author asserts that not labeling Butterball turkeys halal is contributing to the Islamization of America, and that the rest of us unwitting halal-eaters are being subjected to Islamic practices. She insists that turkeys slaughtered according to Islamic halal practices are submitted to torturous methods and religious fanaticism because the slaughterers utter a prayer as they do it. And she claims that other cultures also object to halal food, including Jews, because it violates kosher practice.

So to begin deconstructing the first joke in this theater of the absurd, good heavens, why would I want to poison my family by accidentally serving them turkey using methods that are known to pay stringent attention to cleanliness. Oh the horror. As far as my knowledge of halal goes, it is very similar to the process of koshering. The throat is cut in almost an identical way, which far from being more torturous was known throughout the ancient world as more humane. If one is going to be humane about killing an animal to eat it at all. Which I would. I love meat. I love turkey. Say whatever incantation or prayer you want over it, and then bring it on slathered in butter, and stick it in my oven. I’m a Jew, as I’m sure has been stated half a dozen times. I’m not very good at being Jewish, but mostly I know the rules, I just don’t follow them. And I have to ask, if she has such a problem with halal why doesn’t she have a problem with kosher food, which is so similar, derived, in fact, from the same tenets? Because we label food kosher, and halal meat isn’t always labeled halal according to the article? Except, we don’t label food kosher for non-Jews to select non-kosher food. That label is not for the benefit of non-Jews to avoid being Semiticized. It’s so that Jewish people who want to keep kosher can pick the right turkey or whatever they are eating. Most Jews that I know who are borderline kosher, if they don’t pick kosher food, would pick halal over regular because it’s so clean and carefully regulated.

The second point is, has this woman ever seen turkey farms? They’re not generally known as comfortable places for turkeys. If she has such an objection to the way the halal process kills the birds then hasn’t she been paying any attention to how they’re kept before they get to that point? If torturous methods are what she’s concerned about, it seems like maybe she should just raise her own turkey, or cooperate with a local farmer so she can watch it run around everyday free-range. Or maybe commit to eating tofurky instead. Unless the ‘Islamic’ threat has spread to the point where we have to be careful or vegetarians everywhere will be forced into Islam by secret imams uttering prayers as they shell the soybeans for tofu…

This was by far the most inane example I have seen of anti-Islam hysteria. So I think my next year’s turkey will be Butterball!

Milgram’s Experiment and the War on Terror

Posted in Arab, bullying, discrimination, history, Islam, Middle East, Muslim, politics, racism, Vietnam, world events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by rachelcoles

Many politicians and citizens have raised an uproar decrying the comparison between our use of tactics, such as profiling against a group of people, and against detainees who have not been proved to be guilty of terrorism, and those used by the state of Germany prior to the rise of the Nationalist Party. Invariably, the catchphrase ‘patriotism’ and ‘national security’ get thrown into the argument, and what I believe is the real shape of the situation becomes distorted. Indeed the very mention of the Nationalist Party, because of its overuse as an icon of ultimate evil, sends people flying off the handle in indignation, without any analysis of what the central issues really were that allowed a situation in which otherwise normal sane people did evil things. Or failed to prevent them. And this blanket gag order certainly makes an analysis of our current situation almost impossible. Taboo subjects cannot be explored.

Well, I’m exploring them anyway. I’ve known quite a few German people in my life. I’ve visited Germany. My husband has visited Germany. Everyone I met was very hospitable, nice and about as more or less normal as anyone I encounter here. Though everything was insanely punctual.

This is not to say that the people who did do terrible things or the people who knew about it and did nothing are absolved of their crimes. No. Their actions were inexcusable. But after looking at the Milgram experiment, and frankly, reviewing incidents that cannot be swept under the rug such as the torture at Abu Ghraib, it is somewhat more difficult to look at the individuals involved in the original ‘Axis of Evil’ and say we are different. It makes me wonder how many of us have the potential to become the same kind of monster in similar conditions. This experiment scared the crap out of me.

I think that this topic of comparison has become taboo because we are afraid. We don’t want to see our own potential for such evil acts, so we place a firm barrier there and say, ‘this could never happen here’. But in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram proved definitively for the next twenty years with repeated experiments that it could absolutely happen anywhere in the world with any group of people.

The Milgram experiment consisted of a triad of players: the teacher-subject, the learner-actor, and the authority figure-researcher. The subject was told to have the learner repeat pairs of words. Every time the learner got one wrong, the ‘teacher’ subject was to administer an electric shock. The shocks got progressively stronger until there was a final voltage that would render the learner unconscious. They would begin screaming and pounding on the wall and then finally stop responding if the teacher did administer the final shocks. If the teacher hesitated or asked to stop, they were given verbal prompts to continue four times by the researcher who told them that they must go on, that it was very important. If the teacher protested more than four times, or if they refused to go on, they were released. The learner was an actor. There were no electric shocks in reality. But as far as the subject-teacher knew, they were real.

And consistently in all variations of this experiment in different populations, do you know how many of the subjects continued to the final shocks? Between 61 and 66%. Over half. Over half of people inflicted progressive, painful, and dangerous shocks to someone, rendering them ‘unconscious’ or ‘dead’, since in a few of the scenarios the actor stated they had a ‘heart condition’, simply because they were ordered to do so. These were not enemy soldiers or Nazis. They were not skinheads, they were not white power advocates, or sociopaths. They were school teachers, doctors, lawyers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, friends, next-door neighbors. They were you and me. That’s a terrifying realization. One that has somehow been lost in the current jingoistic move toward our own brand of nationalism. And I use the term nationalism not as an epithet or a curse word, but as the definition of what we are doing, rallying behind an image of what our leaders decide the US stands for. That’s what nationalism means.

Nationalism has its uses. It can make people proud of who they are. It can make us build a nation with amazing things like roads, sewage systems, as the Romans did, purely on the steam of national pride. The dangerous part of nationalism, however, is that it can be used by the greedy, by the power hungry with some other political agenda, to sharpen the borders between what is and is not American, creating an Other where there was none before. Does it look familiar? It should and if it doesn’t, it is because we are mired in denial.

We are so horrified by the revelations of Milgrams experiment and what it says about the human race, that we forget to be analytical. Some of us declare disgust with humanity, without the most critical question. Why was Milgrams experiment recreated so consistently, and why does it happen in history so often with the same results? Why do we fail to learn from this particular mistake? Because we are primates. Every primate species in the world reacts to an authority structure in a similar way. We do not question authority, whether by force of arms, or by persuasion and influence, except in direct challenge, and this is the exception rather than the rule. The majority of times we are faced with a dilemma to do something wrong which is sanctioned or encouraged by authority, we will do it even when we have an idea that authority is wrong. Because on some level, we are fighting hundreds of thousands of years of programming as a primate species. Does that make humanity evil? No. We are what we are. Does it excuse appalling acts of torture and cruelty? No. But it does explain it. And as we look for answers as to whether we can overcome this programming, they are there.

There was a baboon troop that was documented some years back to have a structure different from every other baboon troop studied. Most of their alpha males had been killed off by some kind of disease, or poaching. In any case, only the gentler males were left. These males became the authority structure, though they chose not to exercise authority except when absolutely necessary. They stood up and fought only if another more aggressive male tried to come in and take over the troop, then the whole troop banded together to ‘discourage’ the intruder from being aggressive. The result was that the aggressive males often stayed in the troop and changed their behavior to become less aggressive and more laid back, because they apparently seemed happier there. In fact, the longevity of these baboon compared to others was marked. They were living longer too.

The amazing thing about humanity is our ability to evolve, to learn from our mistakes, to become different, like these baboons. Milgram’s experiment will rear its ugly head in history again. And maybe we’ll fail another hundred times when faced with the choice between our own internal compass, and an errant authority. But someday we won’t. And that will happen more and more. Why do I believe this? Because many of the past subjects of Milgram’s experiment wrote him later on, despite the emotional distress they felt after a review of the experiment, to tell him that they were glad they had been shown about themselves what the experiment revealed. Many wrote to tell him that they were becoming conscientious objectors when it came to the Vietnam War, because of what they had learned. Whether you agree or disagree about the wisdom of the Vietnam War, the point is that they decided for themselves rather than relied on an authority to make that moral decision for them.

I also know that this slow advance toward individual thought is still happening. If we take the world as it is now, and the world as it was during the Roman Empire, though we make jokes about being the new Roman Empire just short of orgies and vomitoriums, there are profound differences. We collectively agree that slavery is wrong. The proportion of nations who agree that all people should have basic civil rights is the majority. However well or poorly this is executed, the fact that this is even attempted on such a global scale is light years from where we were during the Dark Ages, the Crusades, and the Inquisition.

But progress grinds to a halt if we aren’t allowed to discuss certain issues for fear of offending, if we can’t even have a conversation about history without being branded unpatriotic or accused of disparaging veterans. Veterans are respected with good reason. They are people who act on an urge to be part of something bigger than themselves. This is never a bad thing. It is however a good trait that has been used by unscrupulous people in authority, who then veil their own agendas by forbidding conversation about the history that follows. But the fact remains, and most veterans I have spoken with agree, that the first step to learning from our mistakes, is to admit, collectively with collective responsibility that we’ve made them. Many veterans I’ve encountered, being also honest self-evaluating people, like Milgram’s conscientious objectors, welcome the chance to air their own thoughts instead of keeping them locked behind a wall of silence.

From Skinhead To Hero

Posted in bullying, discrimination, health, history, parenting, racism, terrorism with tags , , , , , , on October 31, 2011 by rachelcoles

There are stories that come along every once in a while that leave you speechless. We look at people and make sometimes educated, sometimes not so educated guesses about what is on their inside based on what is outside. In some instances, as with clothing, tattoos, things we do to our appearance, this process is intended. But every once in a while, what we see gives no hint at all of what is really underneath. And every once in a while we get a glimpse of how fluid we really are as humans, or can be, how we can begin as one thing and become something else. This man’s story is such a story.

This man, Bryon Widner, began as one of the worst racist skinheads. He was described by anti-skinhead movements as one of the most aggressive and confrontational. Then something changed. I don’t know if we will ever know what. I’m guessing that having kids may have had something to do with it. But he not only left the white power group he was in, but decided to speak out against them. He underwent multiple surgeries to remove his facial tattoos, after seeking help from one of his former enemies to get the surgeries. He received death threats against himself and his family. And still continued and spoke up.

I could expound on what kind of courage it takes to leave such a group, or speaking out against their terrorism, or even finally going to a group of people who were enemies and admitting you were wrong. But none of what I am relating conveys the extreme nature of his story or the magnitude of what he did in renouncing his status as completely as he did. None of this conveys the magnitude of what his wife did to support him, or what his family went through. So here is a more extensive article that still does not convey it, but it comes closer.

http://news.yahoo.com/reformed-skinhead-endures-agony-remove-tattoos-162205881.html

I am a cynic and a pessimist. I don’t watch the news because I get too angry. I’m not Anne Frank. I can’t say that I believe that there is good in everyone. But when someone like this comes along, I believe, at least for a little while, that maybe I’m wrong about that. Good luck, Mr. Widner and good luck to your family. I hope you find the peace that you seek. As far as I am concerned, you have earned it. You have made a transition from monster to hero in such a way that we find in myth and legend. And I hope that your message and what you have gone through will change the world. It has certainly changed my perspective of it today.

Death of Troy Davis

Posted in discrimination, politics, racism with tags , , , , , , on September 22, 2011 by rachelcoles

Last night Troy Davis, in prison for 22 years, for a crime it looks probable that he did not commit, was executed by lethal injection in the state of Georgia.

http://news.yahoo.com/ga-executes-davis-supporters-claim-injustice-031409578.html

He was convicted back in 1989, of murdering a police officer who worked as a security guard. This police officer was without question a hero. He had served as an Army Ranger, and was in the process of defending a homeless man from a beating when he was shot. The problem is that there is significant reasonable doubt as to whether he was shot by Troy Davis. I personally do not believe he was.  There was the presence of another suspect, Redd Coles (wow, an unfortunate surname for me), there was no physical evidence found to indicate Davis, and seven of the nine ‘witnesses’ recanted and said that they were coerced for their testimony. Not only were there mountains of reasonable doubt, but there were allegations of witness tampering. This case should have been thrown out on that basis alone. One would think. But there were loopholes that kept unreliable testimony in, and kept people from interfering and stopping this. Essentially, Davis was killed by the devil in the details, and by people who knew those details enough to manipulate them.

But it’s done. All the elucidation in the world won’t bring him back.

I’m putting out a quote now by the officer’s family that boiled my blood when I read it. It is unfortunately clear to me now that this officer was the best of them.

According to the news, “Officer MacPhail’s widow, Joan MacPhail-Harris, said it was ‘a time for healing for all families. I will grieve for the Davis family because now they’re going to understand our pain and our hurt,’ she said in a telephone interview from Jackson. ‘My prayers go out to them. I have been praying for them all these years. And I pray there will be some peace along the way for them.'”

I’m not trying to be callous, but it was at this point that I parted company with them and lost sympathy for their grief. I’ve never lost a husband, and hope I never do until we’re crotchety and ancient, when we’re supposed to. But I’ve lost other people, everyone has. And losing someone to murder is an unbelievably horrible thing. We’re primates, and one of our first instincts is retaliation. That’s just one of the facets of our species, as it is with chimps, baboons, etc. But what we strive for in becoming ‘civilized’ is if not to tame that urge, to at least make sure that this urge is aimed in the right direction, hence our laws. Those laws are supposed to prevent more victims, because people stop thinking when they’re angry, and are more likely to harm truly innocent bystanders. In this case, this woman has had 22 years to mitigate her anger at whoever was responsible, and think about her stance and her actions and her words. Clearly, she never did. If you want to be satisfied that someone who you truly believe deserves it, ‘gets what’s coming to them’, I’m not qualified to judge, because I’m human and I’ve had that sentiment. But don’t pretend that it’s righteous or anything other than the urge to vengeance. Be honest about it. I respect that.

However, this is not the Klingon home-world, and we do not live by the sins of our fathers or other family members. To say such a thing to Davis’s family, who were one way or the other never involved, is simply monstrous and inexcusable. At this point, I feel she may not have pulled the trigger of a gun, or put the needle in his arm, but to derive any satisfaction or peace from the suffering of a family of people who never committed any crime themselves and then to have the arrogance to ‘pray for them because now they understand’?…According to Davis’ family, they felt he was innocent, so from their perspective, a terrible crime has been committed against him, and them. “A time for healing for all families…”? There won’t be any healing there. And the widow admitted as much when she stated ‘now they’ll understand the pain and hurt.” How is this statement to be taken as anything other than damning the whole family, whether the individual was guilty or innocent?

Am I being too harsh? Maybe. But I have been accused of something I didn’t do once. And I can say that there are very few things that are more soul-destroying than being a victim of false accusation, because it makes you and people who don’t know you, question the very core of your being. One of the things I so value about this country is the presumption that people are supposed to be innocent. And I get very angry to see that subverted. I fully sympathize with MacPhail’s family’s grief and their desire to see justice done. I even understand if they were satisfied at the death of a man they genuinely believe to be guilty. But to revel in the grief of others may have turned them into the same kind of creatures as the one who murdered their family member.

Finally, I am led to the irony that Iran, one of the countries we never fail to criticize for their laws, has just released two prisoners they took based on a false accusation, while we executed one of ours. Our criticism of Iran for its suppression and imprisonment of its own citizens is well-founded. However, given that prisoners in both of these situations are accused of something and may be innocent, I have to ask what makes their execution of prisoners barbaric and our execution righteous?

Someone died yesterday. While the family of the original victim rejoices in his death, the rest of us will inevitably go on with our work and our day. There is no avoiding that because we all have things that need to get done, paychecks to earn, kids to cook dinner for. But I don’t want to just move on as if Davis’ death were a speedbump in history. His death was much more than a speedbump. It was a tragedy to his family and to the people who hoped that the system would work. He left a hole in the world. And I hope that it is one that we don’t just pave over and forget about. I will try not to.

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