(Guernica, Pablo Picasso, 1937)
I have resisted saying anything about the events in Gaza since the Hamas attack on October 7th, 2023. But I am horrified by what I’ve been seeing.
Bombs dropped on civilian infrastructure including hospitals, schools, and cemeteries. Forced starvation. Shooting unarmed civilians – including its own citizens. Israel is a country gone mad, led by fascists, and seemingly determined to take everyone down with it; particularly the US, as the administration of Genocide Joe Biden continues sending more munitions its way and stands in the way of any international action, including votes in the UN.
I’ve never been a fan of Israel and its undue influence in the US. Blind loyalty is never a good policy. To call it a “friend” or “ally” distorts the very meaning of those words. George Washington – in writing about France during the American Revolution – said a country can only be trusted to the limits of its self interest.
Israel has killed American citizens (USS Liberty). It mocks the US with its smug statements of ownership of the US Congress. And it claims to be a tiny oppressed outpost of democracy in the Mideast that requires ongoing US aid, as it is run as an apartheid state; is a large exporter of military technologies; and has a powerful military that has nuclear weapons.
But this post isn’t about Israel – it is about us in the United States and other western countries. It is about how we see ourselves, conditioned over at least the last half-century as we are by the mainstream news media; the entertainment industry; and those who rule us.
The gap between the self-image and the reality is staggering.We should, and could, become better than this: if we are willing to face a reality that is greater than the current NFL season and who Taylor Swift is now dating.
Caitlin Johnstone, an independent Australian journalist, has said it better than I could.
The Atrocities In Gaza Are The Perfect Embodiment Of ‘Western Values’
When Israeli president Isaac Herzog described the assault on Gaza as a war “to save Western civilization, to save the values of Western civilization,” he wasn’t really lying. He was telling the truth — just maybe not quite in the way that he meant it.
The demolition of Gaza is indeed being perpetrated in defense of western values, and is itself a perfect embodiment of western values. Not the western values they teach you about in school, but the hidden ones they don’t want you to look at. Not the attractive packaging with the advertising slogans on the label, but the product that’s actually inside the box.
For centuries western civilization has depended heavily on war, genocide, theft, colonialism and imperialism, which it has justified using narratives premised on religion, racism and ethnic supremacy — all of which we are seeing play out in the incineration of Gaza today.
What we are seeing in Gaza is a much better representation of what western civilization is really about than all the gibberish about freedom and democracy we learned about in school. A much better representation of western civilization than all the art and literature we’ve been proudly congratulating ourselves on over the centuries. A much better representation of western civilization than the love and compassion we like to pretend our Judeo-Christian values revolve around.
It’s been so surreal watching western rightists babbling about how savage and barbaric Muslim culture is amid the 2023 zombie resurrection of Bush-era Islamophobia, even while western civilization amasses a mountain of ten thousand child corpses.
That mountain of child corpses is a much better representation of western culture than anything Mozart, da Vinci or Shakespeare ever produced.
This is western civilization. This is what it looks like.
Western civilization, where Julian Assange awaits his final appeal in February against US extradition for journalism which exposed US war crimes.
Where we are kept distracted by vapid entertainment and artificial culture wars so we don’t think too hard about what this civilization is and who it is killing and maiming and starving and exploiting.
Where news cycles are dominated more by celebrity gossip and Donald Trump’s latest mouth farts than by the mass atrocities that are being actively facilitated by western governments.
Where liberals congratulate themselves for having progressive views on race and gender while the officials they elect help rip apart children’s bodies with military explosives.
Where Zionist Jews center themselves and their emotions because opposition to an active genocide makes them feel like they are being persecuted, and where Israel supporters who are not Jewish still kind of feel like they are being persecuted also.
Where a giant globe-spanning empire powered by militarism, imperialism, capitalism and authoritarianism devours human flesh with an insatiable appetite while we congratulate ourselves on how much better we are than nations like Iran or China.
These are western values. This is western civilization.
Ask somebody to tell you what their values are and they’ll give you a bunch of pleasant-sounding words about family and love and caring or whatever. Watch their actions to see what their actual values are and you’ll often get a very different story.
That’s us. That’s western civilization. We say we value freedom, justice, truth, peace and free expression, but our actions paint a very different picture. The real western values, the actual product inside the box underneath the attractive label, are the ones you see acted out in Gaza today.