Posts Tagged ‘joke’

No Joke

29 December 2008

Dear J-

If we get it out of the way first, perhaps we can successfully marginalize it, where it belongs in these unpeaceful times:  the song parody Barack the Magic Negro, if it is a joke, is neither funny nor clever.  It belongs to an earlier race-baiting time and attempting to justify it as a joke is a feeble attempt to perpetuate racism — if it’s truly meant in jest, the vigorous defense mounted gives wings to the lie.  Enough said; I instead spent the day reading up about what I could about Hamas, Gaza, and Israel.  In this world, there’s nothing scarier than folks who just won’t listen.

The cease-fire that expired just before Christmas lasted six months; Israel, for its part, stated that because Hamas wouldn’t stop launching rockets, it was forced to retaliate.  Hamas, on the other hand, stated that because the Gaza blockade was never lifted, it was forced to keep launching rockets.  And Israel stated, in turn, that the blockade wasn’t lifted because of the arms smuggling that would happen, to say nothng about terrorist movements, whereupon Hamas said … and so on, to infinity.  Both sides are defensible and indefensible, depending on which arguments you weigh higher.  Yes, Israel’s response has been disproportionate — but Hamas’s attacks have been indiscriminate.  The blockade has been largely unsuccessful at its stated goal — starving Hamas of war materiel — but has instead galvanized Gazan opposition and solidified support for Hamas, just as critically.

Justifications fly about; I can’t keep them all straight in my head without a “yeah, but” coming in for any reason.  Yet though most of the world have taken a condemnation of both sides, our government has chosen to support one combatant (imagine, for instance, instead the Tibet/China struggle).  We forget the lessons of peaceful protest, but neither side seems above tapping into the energy of anger.  This is why the politics of race in the US are so fraught with peril; not only the long history, but also the willngness to rise in rage and violence.  It’s a quicker path, perhaps, but it’s a unreliable fuse that burns short and intensely, threatening the lighter as much as the target.  So what can we do, keep turning the cheek?  Aren’t they just  going to keep on until they destroy us?

If we’ve dehumanized the “other side” to the point where we believe that they want nothing but utter destruction, haven’t we already lost?




8 June 2008

Dear J-

Guy digs a pool in his backyard and, to celebrate its completion, invites friends and neighbors over for a party.  Everyone’s having a great time, splashing, laughing; beverages are flowing, barbecue’s sending out wicked good smoke, the sun is keeping everyone warm.  His friend pulls him aside.

“Er, look, I don’t know how to say this –”

“Yes, isn’t the pool lovely?”

“Well, see, that’s the point.  Your sign says ‘Welcome to the ool’.  There’s a typo, there:  there’s no p in your pool.”

“No, that’s the intent!”

“It’s O-O-L, there’s no P in your POOL.”

“Precisely.  Let’s keep it that way.”