“If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this could presage catastrophic consequences, not only for my country, and not only for the Middle East, but for all mankind,” adding that, “the deadline for attaining this goal is getting extremely close.” – Bibi Netanyahu, addressing a joint session of Congress in 1996
As we prepare to spring into daylight savings time, if not spring itself — and complete the signature energies of the 2012 astrology, culminating in the the final Uranus/Pluto square — it would be good form to huddle around the campfire in our parkas and mittens to assess where we find ourselves now. Uranus always picks us up and drops us somewhere else. Combine that with the bone-grinding transformational abilities of Pluto, and we should all be much different critters than we were just a few years ago.
Uranus acts as the harbinger for change but should not be such shocking energy, given its regularity in our human experience. Humankind is, for the most part, complacent in its affairs, long-suffering in order to maintain even the most meager comfort zones. When Uranus comes along to blast us out of that nest, it’s likely that we’ve already outgrown it like a too-tight shoe, but one we think we can’t do without. Pluto, on the other hand, works below the surface, eroding and reshaping the platform we stand on to prepare us for a new iteration of experience. If our consciousness reflects what we know, by the time a Pluto transit finishes with us we know a lot more than we did before.
In simplistic terms, then, regular Uranus/Pluto transits provide us a kind of shocking but necessary growth-spurt. Comparing the 1950s with the ’70s, for instance, leaves us with no question that something shook the culture like a dog with a bone, providing it with a very different outlook on both the world and itself. Our current challenges of both politics and culture, then, should be representative of where we’re headed in the near future.
Should be. What a concept! Truth was a little easier to sort out in the 1960s. Journalism was yet to be a commodity bought and paid for, and because history repeats and repeats and repeats, we at least have a template to review as we face what appears to be a series of interesting parallels. Let’s take the recent performance in front of both the Congress and, via media, the American people by Israeli Prime Minister (and incumbent candidate) Benjamin Netanyahu.
Invited without prior White House approval by House Speaker John Boehner, who has been somewhat reckless (read that puffed, toad-like) in defending his right to exercise such congressional overreach, Netanyahu gave an impassioned speech warning against the horrors of a nuclear Iran. It was essentially the same speech he’s given over the course of decades, twice previously to the American Congress, and — as Obama rightly assessed it — offering nothing new.
Israel’s Prime Minister gave the de facto “be afraid, be very afraid” speech, emotional and manipulative, and it brought the Republicans to their feet in wild applause some forty times in forty minutes. Bibi’s references to biblical history were made to order. As Huffpost Hill put it, “Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the goal of keeping Iran at bay is a charge of biblical proportions, making it only the 502,743rd thing Republican lawmakers think God wants them to do.”
A number of prominent Democrats refused to be strong-armed into attending the speech, including Al Franken and Elizabeth Warren. Both cite the timing of the speech, coinciding with the coming Israeli vote, and the manner in which it was arranged, while pledging solidarity with Israel proper. Associated with the right-wing Lukid faction, Bibi has come under fire at home as well as on these shores for his war-mongering in the face of Iran/American nuclear negotiation, threatening the relationship with this nation.
Even the former chief of Mossad (2002-2010) Meir Dagan has criticized his theatrics, telling the press prior to the speech that “the person who has caused the greatest strategic damage to Israel on the Iranian issue is the prime minister.” And Bill Moyers offered a harsh indictment of both the incident and Netanyahu’s motives, focusing on the presence of Jewish gazillionaire, Sheldon Adelson, in the gallery of Congress — not to be ignored, since Mrs. Adelson evidently dropped her purse from the second story onto the head of an unsuspecting Democrat. A perfect dot on the exclamation point of the money-man’s presence in Washington, given Adelson’s propaganda machine in Israel, promotion of Neocon principles, and funding of conservative U.S. candidates with an avalanche of both tracked and dark contributions.
For our purposes, the Moyers piece is Must Read, as well as this one by Professor Marjorie Cohn, offering information on another of those manipulative historical moments when emotion rather than facts seized public sensibilities. A day prior to his congressional speech, Netanyahu addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), refreshing their enthusiasm with references to the Six-Day War, in which Israel defended itself against aggressions from Egypt, Syria and Jordan, and laid claim to the Palestinian territories, which it holds to this day.
The entirety of that narrative — much like the early, highly fictionalized book of Israel’s beginnings by Leon Uris, Exodus — has been mythologized, ignoring the troublesome facts that Israel itself was the aggressor in ’67, seizing Palestinian lands with a level of brutal militarism that smacks of both genocide and war crime. Long hidden, actual facts are now available to those who wish to examine them. Proofs of such claims are irrefutable in the confessions of Israeli soldiers of that time, one of whom asks a question that could surely be asked today: “Are we doomed to bomb villages every decade for defensive purposes?”
Still, you won’t find that discussion in mainstream media, and while Israel no longer enjoys a Teflon coating against criticism, largely due to its heavy-handed policy of apartheid in the occupied territories, nor an overly sympathetic relationship with this presidential administration, the American people are easily persuaded by lofty rhetoric. A CNN poll found that Bibi gained some ground in popularity this week, and it can’t but help the Israeli cause that scenes of senseless brutality from the Boston Marathon bombing are filling the airwaves today. It’s hard to beat back the pathos of carnage and dying children.
The good news is that the polarity between those who favor more sanctions on Iran to halt the peace process and those who see that as hawkish aggression hasn’t changed the politics a whit. And while it can be argued that there are more of us looking carefully at the part that Israel plays in its own troubles fifty years later, it’s not yet enough to require a dramatic level of honesty and self-assessment from either their government or our own, in enabling them as war-makers, not peace makers. I wonder how many of us thought about the early occupations when the Towers fell and the question echoed: Why do they hate us? Maybe one of the reasons they hate us is because we looked the other way in 1967.
Another blast from the past that can’t be ignored is the Department of Justice report that leaves little to the imagination regarding police activity in Ferguson Missouri and indeed, the entirety of St. Louis County. I don’t want to say I told you so, but I did, and remain bewildered that some 49 percent of those polled this week think that cops treat whites and non-whites the same. I think it’s pretty clear that, regarding race, we’re still color blind, not in a good way. The conservative faction of the Supreme Court has made that even more problematic, of course, siding with those who presume the nation to be post-racial. That, as well, is a choice in belief and, much like Mr. Netanyahu’s version of the Six-Day War, both cynical and manipulative.
Last August, scenes of smoke and fire and snarling dogs, baton-wielding police facing off against a sea of dark faces (and dotted by the occasional pale one) were reminiscent of grainy black-and-white images flashed on television sets around the nation in 1965. If this issue of black exploitation and denial of civil rights didn’t bring Selma to mind, then this season’s award-winning movie of the same name, produced by Oprah Winfrey in time for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the King marches, certainly did.
While we’re on the topic, then, let me manipulate your emotions a bit by including links to the music, Glory, which won an Oscar, bringing many to tears. Since you’re being manipulated by everything from Kim Kardashian’s choice of hair color to those well-meaning [sic] Koch brothers’ ads about providing good jobs for America right this minute, you might as well get a taste of the passions renewed in this on-going battle for civil liberty.
No less than the President of the United States will join in the 50th anniversary remembrance of the Bloody Sunday assault on protestors in Selma, Alabama, this weekend, as will a number of others, an estimated 20 percent of Congress including but not limited to progressive legislators. Certainly long-serving Georgia congressman John Lewis, son of sharecroppers and one of the original Freedom Riders who suffered a skull-fracture on that infamous day, will attend. Lewis commented that he sees all the parallels, then and now, with one disturbing missing piece: “The only thing that is so different [is that] today, I don’t think many of the young people have a deep understanding of the ways of nonviolent direct action.”
No ranking GOP representatives will be in Selma this weekend. I suspect that says everything we need to know about how the conservatives view this anniversary, especially in so polarized an atmosphere as we find ourselves today. And let’s remember that it wasn’t simply the treatment of black citizens being protested fifty years ago, it was also their inability to guarantee their voting rights, something still being denied them whenever possible in Republican strongholds across the nation. And while it took two more tries to make it into Montgomery, the images of racial brutality on that march are permanently seared into the consciousness of the nation. Take note of that as one of those things that wouldn’t have happened without (the dreaded) television coverage of yesteryear.
So here we are, fifty years and counting, déjà vu all over again as we stack up the dead bodies of young black kids across the nation. And while the civil rights legislation of Johnson’s era served us all to bring the black demographic into better social and financial standing, those protections are now in sharp decline due to factors such as the war on drugs and income inequality, to name just a few. And it isn’t just people of color who are being victimized by heavily militarized law enforcement. The Ferguson report shows a level of authority-gone-paranoid, therefore reckless, that transcends race to include those in poverty, unable to hire adequate defense, and — you know — “There but for the grace of God …” Essentially, we are all endangered.
Clearly, issues of racial bias are not easily dealt with, nor can they be tolerated if Lady Justice is to be blindfolded but balanced. We count upon her ability to define cultural equality, unassailed by the issues that would promote prejudice. It is BECAUSE we humans are not able to be entirely neutral arbiters of law that law itself is required. Those laws must not only be carefully crafted but enforced. As we found in 1965, they require not just update to ensure all of our citizens are receiving their constitutional rights, but enforcement carefully monitored to eliminate abuse or mismanagement.
I think we can file this one under “re-do,” as in continually re-doing that which does not meet strict legal standard, with laws carefully scrutinized (and dots connected back to voting for well-meaning and ethical lawmakers). Democracy demands a constant and perpetual re-do, as required. I would feel much better about it if I didn’t agree with John Lewis that our disdain of what is “old” and “outdated” leaves us ignorant of what worked so potently in the past. It would be well to remember how Gandhi and King and others dedicated to non-violence did the deed. Each of them spoke to the power of love to overcome great inequity.
As we continue to wrestle the big historical parallels, I’d also like to point out a few examples of positive progress this week, little bits and pieces that make up the texture in the fabric of the whole. Acknowledging the Nessus-effect, baby steps get us where we’re going even if it takes more, collectively speaking, than giant steps, and their sequence may end up covering more ground than we expect.
The most recent jobs report — adding over a quarter-million positions — still reflects salary inequalities that must be dealt with, but the economy continues to grow despite wage problems. Wall Street isn’t celebrating, though, fearful that the Fed will raise interest rates. I think we’ll look back on this period in history — when money was available for pennies on the dollar — and fault government for not taking advantage of that to shore up, mend and improve all that’s wrong with our infrastructure. Still, stabilization of the economy provides more latitude to override crippling austerity measures.
We can’t seem to agree on the science of vaccines, but it appears we’ve come to collective agreement regarding over-medicated feed-stock. McDonalds has joined the growing list of fast-food providers that will phase out use of antibiotic-fed chickens. News of the growth of drug-resistant mutant microbes has finally filtered down to the mainstream, especially parents who cave to their child’s demand for McNuggets. This is likely very good news. Like last week’s announcement that Wal-Mart was giving its employees a raise, McDonalds leads the industry — and the game remains Follow The Leader.
The Greatest Show on Earth is going to be even greater, thanks to pressure from dedicated animal activists. Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus is getting set to retire its elephant herd of 43 trained pachyderms, the largest herd in North America, to a 200-acre sanctuary in central Florida. This comes on the heels of a negotiated settlement of over a quarter-million dollars to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for animal welfare violations. Legislation in various cities forbidding the use of bull hooks added to the decision by Feld Entertainment Corporation.
According to their Vice President, Alana Feld, “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers.” I think it’s pretty obvious that ‘mood shifts’ are what happens when consumers see the back story on just about everything — think of it as the rails upon which the Hundredth Monkey rides.
A blog over at Huffy gave Feld kudos on its decision and threw down the gauntlet on a parallel company who has done the exact opposite, saying, “Your move, SeaWorld.” If they’re smart, they’ll re-think their bid to create even more space for their whales while maintaining the cute-Shamu-tricks that made them rich, the whales psychotic, and the trainers dead.
One last note, with a nod to recent polls that show most people now know what a Mercury retrograde is: as the Dawn space probe entered orbit around Ceres, noting that it is very round and not like Vesta (which apparently has the appearance of a squashed dinner roll) the world has finally been introduced to dwarf planets. One never knows how this information will be met, but what becomes part of the public conversation always translates into dots connecting us together, somewhere. Perhaps, investigating, some will find Planet Waves who need to be here, perhaps even some who just learned about Mercury retrogrades.
We’re at an interesting juncture now, awaiting the last of the Uranus/Pluto energy, solidifying what we’ve learned. A work in progress, examining what we’ve re-experienced, reviewed, resolved and preparing to move ahead with it. What will that mean to those who don’t want things to change, even though they already have? What will that look like to those who insist on change, even though it feels like their feet are mired deep in concrete?
What last important happenings await us in our journey toward solid footing? Life happens while we’re busy making other plans, and only in looking back do we see how we took the steps necessary for progress, seldom seen while we’re taking them.
Like weather, change happens on a regular schedule. Like lightning, emotions assault us, shake us and wake us up. Like evolution, baby steps take us forward slowly but surely. And those who think that the chicken came before the egg might also suggest that it’s the leaders of the country calling the tune — but not, I think, during those exciting years under Uranus/Pluto aspects. One of life’s mysteries is how slowly time can go while folding on itself at the same time, how stress can be glorious and peace boring. We’re going to miss this transit when it’s gone.
Our collective power to sway the whole of the conversation remains just outside of our peripheral vision, as if we’re afraid to know how powerful we truly are. We’ve created the emerging outcome, we’ve crafted it for its lessons and its opportunities. Now we’ll see what we’ve produced.
I’m confident we’ve changed enormously in the last few years, sensitizing ourselves to one another and opening our hearts, and it won’t be long before we find out how that’s going to look. I’m just hoping it doesn’t involve paisley.