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Israel's Actions Through the Eyes of Sir Gerald Kaufman

I can’t speak with any authority whatsoever on the subject of Israel and Palestine, but I’m trying to learn more. What I’ve learned so far has mostly shown me that I have a lot to learn and that it is a problem without an easy answer. A situation where it seems everyone involved is culpable, and where every step forward is tiny and slow while backward steps seem gaping and (recently) rushed. I was interested to hear Sir Gerald Kaufman’s take on the situation, though I still don’t know quite what to make of it.

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Thoughts on the Atomic Bomb. An American Talking to Japanese People.

Today I was reminded of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by someone. While I knew that the memorial days of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were right around now I was chided for not knowing the exact dates. I don’t see this as particularly damning, considering I’ve been able to commit very few dates to memory.

My entire conversation with this particular person was focused on her belief that America is not teaching Americans anything about the atomic bomb. There is apparently a misinformed idea here that Americans are trying to completely remove our second biggest mistake as a country from history. I don’t feel that is entirely incorrect, however it is unfair. It is unfair because every country has a part of their history they would rather not remember. For America it is our genocide and harassment of the country’s indigenous peoples. Followed closely by utilizing a weapon so destructive that the physical and mental effects are still being felt by today’s generation in Japan.

But Americans do learn about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’ve seen the photographs, heard the stories. In elementary school I was taught to make paper cranes on a day we learned all about the terrible bombing. However, it isn’t something we learn about every year of our schooling. And the atomic bombing is rarely on our minds. We can’t feel ashamed all the time.

Japan for it’s part did some less than noble things in mainland Asia in the past. Some of which people still don’t admit was wrong. And let’s not forget the reason that America finally officially joined World War II.

But this back and forth is meaningless. In war everyone is to blame. “In war there are only losers,” one Japanese person pointed out to another Japanese man when I was being reminded another part of America’s lamentable history (this time Okinawa).

Thinking about history it seems there are three general mentalities. There are those who’d rather forget it. There are those who want to remember and learn from it. And there are those who can’t move beyond the anger or pain of the moment. I don’t blame any of these people who belong to the first and last groups. But I hope never to be a part of either of them.

In a situation where someone wants to remind you of your country’s unhappy histories I think it is important to acknowledge their pain. There is no quicker way to open a dialog than to let someone know you are listening.

Still, I can’t change or apologize for the actions of men who were born before my parents. I don’t want to forget their actions either. But I want to move past apologies and the undercurrents of hostility. I hope to arrive eventually at a shared respect in the current moment. A respect that includes using all of our shared history as a species to create a better present and a more promising future.

In the case of the atomic bomb I think it means working to make sure no one ever uses one again. It also means using the experience to educate everyone world wide, not just of the effects of atomic weaponry or even of weapons of mass destruction, but of the the effects of war. Everyone is wrong and losing every moment that we act in violent selfish ways. That is what I learn from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I can only hope that the next person I speak to about such things here in Japan will agree with me.

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music, random

One of the Many Reasons Billy Bragg is Great

billy brag You would have to be crazy and stupid to hate Billy Bragg. That is all there is to it. Today on KEXP I heard a song he played live for KEXP, that isn’t the only place to find it, but it’s the one I think sounds best. Sadly, KEXP uses WMA & Realplayer… I’ve mentioned it before, but let me say again that those are crappy formats. If you want to hear KEXP’s version look under live performances. Anyway—

This new (to me) song’s title is Bush War Blues, which is of course and allusion to Leadbelly’s amazing song Bourgeois Blues. Leadbelly wrote his song after having a bad experience in Washington DC. Billy Bragg is just having the same hard time that all of America, and the world, is having. I suggest you listen to both of these songs, and I offer them both to you here. First some lyrics, and below you’ll find the audio.

Bourgeois Blues
by Leadbelly

me and my wife went all over town
and everywhere we’d go people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
woo it’s a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

me and my wife we were standing upstairs
we heard a white man say “I don’t want no niggers up there”
lord, he’s a bourgeois man
woo bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

home of the brave, land of the free
I don’t wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
lord, in a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

me and my wife went all over town
and everywhere we’d go people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
woo it’s a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
gonna spread the news all around

them white folks in Washington they know how
to call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
lord, it’s a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
don’t try to find you no home in Washington, DC
`cause it’s a bourgeois town
woo the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

Bush War Blues
by Billy Bragg

If you’re worried about Iraq
I’ll tell you this one thing I’m certain
this war is gonna make
the whole world safe for Haliburton

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

well they spent a trillion dollars
on this illegal war
could paid all the social security
for a hundred years or more

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

we’ve got to find some moderate muslims
with whom we can converse
might be an idea if we try to find
some moderate christians first

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

here’s my simple message
to our soldiers overseas
wanna bring them back from Baghdad
send them to New Orleans

I got the Bush war blues
I got them Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

well damn this war on terror
this invasion of Iraq
let’s declare war on poverty
cut the working poor some slack

I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

yeah, spread the news

cute little smile
curly hair
it’s George Bush’s poodle
goddamn Tony Blair

I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I got the Bush war blues
I’m gonna spread the news all around

[tags]billy brag, blues, bourgeois blues, bush war blues, class, iraq, leadbelly, music, politics, war, class [/tags]

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