- Written by Gilbert Schramm Gilbert Schramm
- Published: 26 August 2017 26 August 2017
In the wake of Charlottesville, Americans have been forced to confront racism. Sadly, the debate has quickly shifted focus from the killing of a young peace activist—Heather Heyer, to the rather symbolic issue of the many confederate statues around the nation. The white supremacist demonstration that led to her death was focused on the planned removal of one of these monuments to, and symbols of, America’s racist past.
Symbols are powerful things. I applaud the effort to remove these symbols of racism. It is a real tragedy, however, that this focus has taken precedence over opposition to the real thing—the real institutionalized structures that maintain racism in this country—and elsewhere. It seems to me that our law enforcement agencies are not focused on rolling up the racist criminal elements that committed the terrorist act that left Heather dead.
Make no mistake about this: the white supremacist organizers of the original rally in Charlottesville are preaching a kind of “Jihad” just as much as Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS are. Their stated objective is to start a race war to “cleanse” America of “foreign” elements. Previous terrorist acts like those in Orlando and San Bernardino were “lone wolf” attacks. There was no crowd of supporters preaching an Islamist jihad anywhere nearby. But if there had been, there would surely have been an effort to roll them up, arrest them, and try them as accomplices. Instead of taking similar actions against white supremacists in Charlottesville, there has been an immediate deflection to the issue of statues. Trump’s pardon of the racist Sherriff Joe Arpaio emphasizes the depth of the problem. All this is deeply disturbing.
President Trump’s actions have rightly shaken the nation. In one of the many incredibly racist tweets that composed his overall reaction, he noted the ‘importance of learning from history.’ Ironically, he then tweeted a false narrative about General Pershing’s behavior during the Moro War in the Philippines at the turn of the last century. This story has been thoroughly debunked (as is so often the case with Trump’s ideas about history).
In Trump’s lurid fiction, bullets were dipped in pig’s blood and then used to execute 49 out of 50 Muslim Moro people engaged in resisting US occupation. The lone survivor was allegedly sent home to take the message of the massacre back to his people. The result, according to Trump, was 25 (or in a later retelling 35) years of “peace.”
The story has been thoroughly debunked—though it must be noted that the behavior of the US troops in the Moro War was appalling in the extreme. But it is highly indicative of the present problem. It is relevant because it reveals Trump’s mindset—a mindset where horrific brutality leads to a cessation of resistance.
Consider Trump’s Pershing story in light of two other very real historical incidents.
In June 1942, in the Czechoslovakian village of Lidice, the Nazi occupiers committed an infamous massacre in reprisal for the assassination of Reich Protector Reinhard Heydrich. The village of Lidice was completely destroyed. In all, About 340 people (192 men, 60 women and 88 children) died. The goal was to suppress resistance to a brutal occupation.
Similarly, in 1953 the Israeli “special unit” 101, under the command of Ariel Sharon, committed a similar act at the Jordanian/Palestinian border village of Qibiya.
Longtime Guardian reporter David Hirst has given a chilling account of the aftermath. He writes:
As the UN military observers, who reached the village two hours after the soot-smeared Israeli commandos had left, described it: “Bullet-riddled bodies near the doorways and multiple bullet hits on the doors of the demolished houses indicated that the inhabitants had been forced to remain inside until their homes were blown up over them… Witnesses were uniform in describing their experiences as a night of horror, during which Israeli soldiers moved about in their village blowing up buildings, firing into doorways and windows with automatic weapons and throwing hand grenades.” Sixty-six men, women and children died in an operation which reminded even pro Israeli news papers like the New York Post of Lidice. (p.308, The Gun and the Olive Branch, David Hirsh, 2003)
According to Wikipedia:
The act was condemned by the U.S. State Department, the UN Security Council, and by Jewish communities worldwide. The State Department described the raid as "shocking", and used the occasion to confirm publicly that economic aid to Israel had been suspended previously, for other non-compliance regarding the 1949 Armistice Agreements. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lidice_massacre)
If it was wrong then, why does the US send aid to Israel today? The policies of the Zionist regime haven’t really changed. US aid basically still serves the purposes of a Zionist version of a “Master Race” supremacist ideology. The simple demand that our government immediately suspend that US aid to Israel seems a bit more pertinent to taking a real stand against racism, than arguments about confederate statues.
What do the two real examples and the falsified Trump account of General Pershing have in common? They are all examples of a racist ideology seeking to silence opposition. What separates them? Trump’s story is false in details only: the US really did commit atrocities in the Philippines, but Trump’s obvious fondness for the kind of racist thinking that underpins all three episodes has been made painfully clear. The German Nazi regime has long been defeated. The Israel regime which committed the atrocity at Qibiya continues to prosper—prosper, that is, with about 8 million dollars of US aid a day.
Crucially, the two true stories show that attempts to suppress legitimate resistance to illegitimate occupation through extreme applications of racist violence simply don’t work. The false Trump story shows that he truly believes that they do. That should be a source of deep alarm to every American.
So if you want to take a real stand against racist, ultranationalist supremacist terror, take a look at Zionism and America’s complicity in its ongoing crimes. Not only is it deeply immoral, it also simply doesn’t work.
In Charlottesville, white supremacists chanted an old Nazi slogan, “blood and soil.” When the current leader of Israel, the Zionist Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu ran against Yitzhak Rabin in 1996, Israeli historian Baruch Kimmerling noted that he ran on “an unrestrained rhetoric of blood, land and treason,” creating an atmosphere of hate that was a causative factor in the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by a Zionist extremist.” (p.123, Politicide, 2003)
“Blood and land”: sound familiar?
What does it mean that the GOP won’t take a stand against their president’s defense of “master race” ideologies until “their voters come around?” It is pure political cowardice.
What does it mean that Democratic politicians will join the GOP in supporting legislation like S 720—a bill that attempts to silence those who would protest against an apartheid regime in Israel? Are they too waiting until their voters “come around?” That is equally cowardly.
If you really want to stand against racism, shouldn’t you oppose it everywhere? Shouldn’t you oppose it in real, rather than in merely symbolic ways?
So here, in the wake of Charlottesville, is something concrete that we voters can do: lets tell our legislators that we, at least, have “come around”—and that we demand that they not only vote down S 720, but that they also end all US government aid to the apartheid regime in Israel at once.
Incredibly, Israel is now making a serious bid for a place on the permanent UN Security Council. Nothing would do more to empower institutionalized racism, and send a stronger message of empowerment to “master race” ideologies, than a successful Israeli bid for a place on the UN Security Council. So another simple act for those who object to ultra-nationalist supremacist racist notions (of whatever flavor) would be letters to lawmakers and foreign embassies of all countries objecting to the current Israeli bid.
There is much more we could say about racism wherever it occurs. The question is when the American people will take real, as opposed to merely symbolic, action.