Before wishing you all a Happy Halloween, I thought I’d give you a real scare. This is another from my colleague, Arthur Waskow:
King Henry II: “Will No One Rid Me of this Turbulent Priest?”
On Christmas Day, 1170, King Henry II of England at his castle in Normandy, had just been informed that Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, had excommunicated a number of bishops who supported the king. To his “Will no one rid me …” outburst, he added an attack on his own royal staff and bodyguards, –“What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born clerk!”
Four days after Christmas, Beckett was dead. On hearing the king’s words, four knights of the king’s court had travelled from Normandy to Canterbury The day after their arrival, they confronted Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. When Becket resisted their attempts to seize him, they slashed at him with their swords, killing him.
Following the murder, Becket was venerated and Henry was vilified. There were demands that he be excommunicated. Pope Alexander forbade Henry to hear mass until he had expiated his sin. In May 1172, Henry did public penance.
Over and over, the present President of the United States has led chants of “Lock her up” aimed at that Presidential candidate who won the people’s support with three million votes more than his total. He spent years denouncing President Obama as a foreign-born fake, George Soros as a treasonable “globalist” (read “Jewish”) billionaire for supporting progressive causes in America and elsewhere (though he never criticized the tens of millions of dollars Sheldon Adelson has given to prop up the anti-democratic Netanyahu in Israel and Trump in America).
And over the last 24 days, Soros, Clinton, Obama, and other liberal or progressive leaders were sent pipe bombs intended to maim or kill them.
What is our analogue of excommunication? It is voting out of office sycophants (spell it “sickophants”) who chant the “king’s” praises. It means getting on the phone to grow the vote, against the will of those who try to keep Blacks, Latinx, the young, the old, from voting. It means supporting a free and independent press with our money. It means voting on a machine but not like a machine, and also, as Thoreau said, “casting not a strip of paper merely but … your whole influence.” On the streets, in the doorways and the elevators, It means investing “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,” and supporting those who do.
How about just one more to complete the horror story and scare you even more – no costumes needed!
One may recall Murder, Inc. – the organized crime groups in the 1930s and ’40s that acted as the enforcement arm of the Italian-American Mafia, the Jewish Mob, and other connected organized crime groups in New York and throughout America.
All the accumulating evidence indicates that Saudi Crown Prince and actual dictator Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) almost certainly ordered the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a critical independent-minded Saudi journalist who had been writing for the Washington Post. Murder Inc. revisited.
The immediate response of the US president and his “princely” son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was to try to explain away MbS’ role and then as the evidence of murder piled up, to make clear: No matter what he did, Saudi money was too valuable to break relations or even embargo US weapons.
In case you need a reminder of what Saudi money is buying: High-tech US weaponry. And what were these weapons for? A war against the people and especially the children of Yemen. A war that uses not only US-made weapons but the US armed forces themselves to seek targets for Saudi bombers to shatter food shipments into Yemen, to bomb a bus full of schoolchildren.
If the US-Saudi war against Yemen continues, 13 million Yemenites are in danger of starvation. A genocidal war.
Recall that this war began when the majority of Yemenites, who are Shia Muslims – most of them desperately poor – were being oppressed by a government dominated by Sunnis. They rebelled against their tyrannical government, and forced it into exile.
But the Saudis are fanatically hostile to Shia Islam, they are furious at the regional importance of Shia Iran, and they entered into a tripartite alliance against the Shia, aimed ultimately not only at Yemen but also at Iran.
This Triple Alliance brought together the hyper-dictatorial Saudi government, the frighteningly emerging anti-democratic Trumpian US government, and the increasingly repressive Netanyahu Israeli government – the latter, not only bent on smashing the possibility of a self-governing and peaceful Palestine alongside Israel but bringing to bear escalating attacks against Israeli Jewish critics and American Jewish opponents [I’ve experienced this personally].
This Triple Anti-Iranian Alliance faced a problem. The Obama Administration, worried by the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran, had put together an extraordinary diplomatic process in which Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the US achieved a unique agreement for total nuclear disarmament for Iran, total surveillance of Iran’s internal society and geography to prevent nuclear rearmament, and an end to US and other international sanctions against Iran.
That diplomacy was a brilliant fulfillment of the profound Jewish spiritual wisdom of the prayer: Peros aleinu Sukkat Shalom (“Spread over us a canopy of peace”) [some of you may remember having been married under such a canopy, which also symbolized Shalom Bayit (“Peace in the home”), [especially if I had performed your marriage ceremony]. Why does such a fragically built structure symbolize peace?
When conflicting nations see how vulnerable they are, they can choose to make peace. The US and four other powerful nations felt vulnerable to the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons. Iran felt vulnerable to the reality of damaging sanctions as well as a preemptive nuclear attack. So the two sides built a sukkah of shalom..
The Trumpists decided to destroy that sukkah of shalom, even though all the US allies wanted to preserve it. The Trumpists are instead obsessed with their desire to destroy the present Iranian governmental system – at a potentially suicidal cost!
Trump naively and irresponsibly believes that Trump-Salman-Kushner Murder Inc. will effectively mount intense pressures against Iran so as to overturn its government. Pressures that can easily turn into war when Iran resists. And make no mistake: Iran could resume its nuclear missile program in short order, setting up a scenario of mutual assured destruction – Iran possessing fewer nuclear weapons becomes irrelevant: a nation doesn’t need the capability of destroying a land and its people several hundred times when once is enough.
Boom!!! Happy Halloween!
(This is X-rated! Don’t let your young kids see this.)