Today, I meant to write about the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War and the ongoing oppression and occupation of the Palestinian people. I meant to reaffirm my support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions as the most viable form of nonviolent resistance against an apartheid regime in Israel that treats Palestinians as second-class humans.
I support BDS until Israel fulfills its obligations under international law, with UN Resolution 242 as its basis, to end the occupation. I’ll support BDS until Israel ends all discrimination against Palestinians, including those who’re Israeli citizens.
But I can’t write about that.
I meant, too, to write about how we rarely mourn for victims of violence who aren’t like us. How when ISIS killed 13 people outside the al-Faqma ice-cream parlor in Baghdad as families were breaking their Ramadan fast I witnessed no candlelight vigils in Western capitals.
As the British Guardian wrote, “By evening (the next day) streets and restaurants (in Baghdad) were full again with families, demonstrating the resilience that was feted in Manchester and is taken for granted in the places that must summon it time and time again.”
That no one dared comment that America might be complicit with the unchecked violence that racks the Middle East and spills into our concerts, clubs and marketplaces.
But I can’t write about any of that.
Nor can I write about the overwhelming sadness I felt when I saw that someone had painted a racial slur on LeBron James’s front gate.
Nor about the sadness one feels when hearing that two nooses were discovered in Washington D.C.: one at the National Museum of African American History and Culture; another, made from bananas, at American University.
Nor about the sadness I feel upon hearing that a white supremacist, a member of a Facebook group called “Alt.Reich,” allegedly stabbed to death Richard Collins III, 23, an African American and recently commissioned U.S. Army second lieutenant due to graduate this week from Bowie State University.
The sadness we collectively felt upon hearing that two men were stabbed to death in Portland, Ore., after trying to stop a man from screaming hateful Islamophobic speech at two women – one wearing a hijab.
No, I can’t write about any of that today.
I can’t write about all that because I’m having trouble breathing as I witness all oxygen being sucked out of our lives – out of our public square – by a dangerous demagogue who daily puts our lives, prosperity and future at risk.
Oxygen’s being sucked out. I’m having trouble breathing.
I can’t write about any of the above because time is precious.
I’m sure our Founding Fathers didn’t foresee this. For all their weaknesses, they were passionate visionaries who bequeathed to us a nation with an inspired identity – and, today, we confront the reality that we’re being governed in a manner that threatens their vision, threatens that very identity.
Trump’s rejection of the Paris agreement diminishes our leadership position in the world – that very leadership Trump for months falsely claimed America had lost – and it weakens our moral authority.
Yes, I can write about that.
I can write that based on a false narrative, a combination of “alternative facts” and willful misrepresentation of what the voluntary Paris agreement really requires, President Trump “ripped up” the Paris climate accords, taking the unprecedented step of aligning us with two other notable non-signatories – Syria and Nicaragua.
I can write all that because I believe that a government committed to such arrogance, ignorance and pettiness must be exposed, then opposed.
That a government willing to cut 23 million Americans from among the insured, that wants to cut aid to the poor and the needy, that wants to roll back voting access for communities of color, roll back civil liberties, that wants to marginalize Muslims, Mexicans and other minorities, that wants to enrich the already rich at the expense of all others is un-American, un-patriotic and dangerous – and must be resisted.
I’m running out of breath.
May I write, too, that along with the wholesale abandonment of American leadership we’re witnessing famine and drought, conflict and despair, around the world?
May I add that until the issue of Russian intrusion into our democratic process is fully examined and resolved, that until Russia intervention in Crimea, Europe and Syria is resisted, we’re all at risk and the legitimacy of our government is in question?
I can write all that today – as I still breathe – because I’m committed to an institution that our president has called “an enemy of the people.”
While the world counts bodies in Manchester, Kabul and Baghdad, while we treat the wounded and support those suffering from trauma, PTSD and the psychological toll of terrorism and violence, Donald Trump and his sycophants are unmoved, uncaring about the future toll – their “collateral damage” – of their reckless domestic and international adventurism.
A human and environmental toll that will be no less deadly, no less traumatic, than the toll exacted outside Baghdad’s al-Faqma ice-cream parlor.
“Let us turn the silence of suffering into a national voice,” a young Afghan with a bullhorn standing amidst Kabul’s carnage called out. “We must all come together to stop terrorism from going any further and raise our voices against oppression.”
We, too, must come together and raise our voices. We, too, must recognize that terrorism and oppression has many forms, that its victims have neither color nor a common geography, that we are also its victims.
Let us, today, partner with the world to affirm our common humanity, to resist and confront all who would despoil this sacred earth and oppress its peoples.
To affirm we breathe the same air – and are buried in common soil.