Brooklyn: Represent!

3 02 2013

Brooklyn College, actually, but close enough.

The brief story (or not so brief) is that the Political Science Department at Brooklyn College is sponsoring an event put together by the Students for Justice in Palestine on the Boycott-Divest-Sanctions movement (directed against Israel). Torture apologist and local-boy-gone-bad Alan Dershowitz howled about the injustice of this event (then suggested all could be made better were only other voices—hm, I wonder whose?—were brought in for “balance”), then various local politicians entered the fray, including a number of City Council members who oh-so-helpfully reminded* Brooklyn College President Karen Gould that:

A significant portion of the funding for CUNY schools comes directly from the tax dollars of the people of the State and City of New York. Every year, we legislators are asked for additional funding to support programs and initiatives at these schools and we fight hard to secure those funds. Every one of those dollars given to CUNY, and to Brooklyn College, means one less dollar going to some other worthy purpose. We do not believe this program is what the taxpayers of our City—and many who would feel targeted and demonized by this program—want their tax money to be spent on.

To which one can only politely reply: Fuck you. Twice.

Happily, President Karen Gould has defended both the department and the principle of academic freedom—rather too rare, these days.

I admit that I am not particularly a supporter of the BDS movement, largely because I think those who act on behalf of human rights in Israel and Palestine should be supported, not abandoned. But, as I wrote to the various politicians who signed these terrible letters, I see less threat to academic freedom in the airing of opinions with which I disagree than in the pressure applied by public officials on institutions to distant themselves from even the consideration of those views.

Not as pithy as Fuck you, but, y’know. . . .

~~~

*You really need to click on this second link. The first letter, by Congressman Jerome Nadler, et al, is bad enough, but the second, by Lew Fidler and nine other City Council members, calls the event speakers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti “either anti-semitic or simply ignorant” who promote “the worst kind of hate.”

Unsurprisingly, they end with the reverse-double-flipspeak: “We believe in the principle of academic freedom. However, we also believe in the principle of not supporting schools whose programs we, and our constituents, find to be odious and wrong.”

Yeah, no.





Jeffrey Wiesenfeld: Go fuck yourself

6 05 2011

Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld, trustee for the City University of New York, recently railed against playwright Tony Kushner for his alleged anti-Israel views.

That’s not why I invite him to go fuck himself.

This speech led the [boneheaded] CUNY trustees to withdraw—without hearing from the playwright himself—the honors John Jay College was to bestow upon Kushner.

That’s not why I invite him to go fuck himself.

No, it was this statement to New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer:

I tried to ask a question about the damage done by a short, one-sided discussion of vigorously debated aspects of Middle East politics, like the survival of Israel and the rights of the Palestinians, and which side was more callous toward human life, and who was most protective of it.

But Mr. Wiesenfeld interrupted and said the question was offensive because “the comparison sets up a moral equivalence.”

Equivalence between what and what? “Between the Palestinians and Israelis,” he said. “People who worship death for their children are not human.”

Did he mean the Palestinians were not human? “They have developed a culture which is unprecedented in human history,” he said.

That is why I invite Wiesenfeld to go fuck himself.

credit: Jim Dwyer, New York Times





One thing leads to another

9 10 2009

It’s happened again.

I finish one novel, wait, start another one. Then a new set of characters pushes into my words, and the new idea is set aside as a completely different novel unfolds.

I don’t understand it, but I go with it.

_____

So the President has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I’m among those who wonders a bit about this, but I have a hard time seeing a downside.

This nearsightedness would apparently disqualify me from a career as a pundit, insofar as the bright lights of blovi-nation have deemed this as ‘having no upside’ (Mark Halperin, Time), as damaging (Mika Brzezinski), and a couple (George Packer, Mickey Kaus) suggesting he turn it down.

Yeah, because that would accomplish. . . what, exactly?

I’m not much of a nationalist, which, depending upon one’s definition, may mean I’m not much of a patriot, but why are all these ostensible America-Firsters so opposed to having something good come to US president?

_____

Biter Boy still bites. Not as often—not nearly as often—but even as he nears the end of teething (all four adult fangs are now in) he chomps more than he should.

Oh, and he knocked over his first plant this morning. Pissed me off, led to some, mmm, yelling, but as I was plopping the plant back into the pot, I remembered that Bean and Chelsea had their own bad encounters with their leafy co-inhabitants.

Jasper is also in full bathroom-fixation mode. Into the sink, sniffing the faucet. Running into the tub after I open the door after a shower, to watch the water finish its slow slide down the drain. And every time he hears me use the facilities he runs to inspect the process—sometimes to mildly distasteful results.

I should note that his fascination is strictly observatory: he does not appreciate forced participation in bathing.

_____

I hate grading. Have I mentioned that?

That’s the one, big, drawback to working at a community college: no teaching assistants on whom I can offload the papers.

_____

I’m not much either for Twitter or Miley Cyrus, but jeez Louise, even I took note that Stage Dad Billy Ray is pushing for her to, uh, what the hell’s the story? Oh, yeah, she shut down her Twitter account, and Mr. I-Miss-the-Limelight is begging for her return.

Excellent idea, ’cause I’m sure the SIXTEEN-YEAR-OLD girl doesn’t have enough to do, what with going to school, starring in a t.v. show, promoting an album, and whatever else an over-scheduled future-rehab patient does.

Now that’s some fine parenting.

_____

Your socialist-feminist-pomo-cranky blogger is. . . looking for corporate work.

Baby needs a new pair of shoes.

_____

C.’s got a new post up at SoundofRain about moving on, hashing out, and forgiveness.

I haven’t yet responded because I don’t know how to respond. Moving on? Check. Hashing out? Check—sometimes. Forgiveness?

Have I mentioned that I can move on?

_____

Newsflash! Migraines suck.

_____

EmH has a post responding to a question I asked: Why support a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians?

Haven’t yet responded to her (grading: grrr), but it’s a certainly a reasonable position, one to which I am resigned.

Still, even this resignation is studded with uneasiness, insofar as I don’t see how the two states can actually be accomplished without massive—and forced—resettlement. Ethnic cleansing, in other words.

I’m not one to state (to continue the hygiene theme) that ‘we’ should wash our hands of the whole thing, but I wonder if the continued (over?) involvement of everyone and her mother in Israel and Palestine’s business doesn’t simply make it easier for Israelis and Palestinians to avoid dealing directly with each other.

Not that there’s any way to keep everyone’s mother out of this.

_____

I have a decent, if complicated, relationship with my parents—a situation which I’d guess would describe most adult kids’ relationships to their parents.

Perhaps that’s why I find this site, My Parents Were Awesome, so poignant.

Yeah, they once had lives that had nothing to do with us. Lives with their own complications.

And the beat goes on.





Give up

16 04 2009

. . . and then we’ll talk.

From today’s New York Times:

“Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognise Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples,” a senior official in Netanyahu’s office quoted the new prime minister as telling George Mitchell, U.S. President Barack Obama’s special envoy.

Why not just tell them they have to hit themselves repeatedly in the face with a hammer before you’ll deign to speak with them?





Thinking like a mountain and wishing like the sea

22 03 2009

My t.v. sits there, mute and uncomplaining. Or mute and seething. If a t.v. could, you know, uncomplain or seethe.

Do I liberate it?

I’ve watched t.v. twice since I’ve moved in, and both times it was chore: I don’t have cable, so the reception was more snow than picture. I’ve thought about getting the Roku box and streaming movies through Netflix, but beyond my initial research, I’ve done nothing about it.

So do I sell or give away the t.v.?

It’s in decent shape, but it’s also a few years old, and the big ol’ console type—not a sleek, new flatscreen.

I dunno. If someone would offer me 25 bucks, I’d probably unload it.

A plant would fit nicely in its spot.

____

On my continuing inability to write that elegant piece on abortion, or to patch together anything coherent on Israel and Palestine: why oh why?

It’s not as if I don’t have well-formed ideas on either issue. On abortion, for example, I think that it’s a no-brainer that it remain legal, but that morally, it’s murky. And that it’s murky means that, for some people, it’s not a no-brainer that it remain legal. I think it’s silly to expect all women to feel guilt or shame or regret for terminating a pregnancy, and silly to expect that no woman would feel guilt or shame or regret for terminating a pregnancy.

But wait! There’s more! There’s freedom and equality and sex and contraception and men and motherhood and meaning and. . . all that.

So much to write.

Similarly with Israel and Palestine. Why should I take side other than that of peace and pluralism? Why would I support a two-state solution, one which implies—no, practically requires—a single-identity set of states, which in turns would necessarily involve some version of ‘transfer.’

As in ‘ethnic cleansing’. As in a crime against humanity.

Hannah Arendt (who was and is not beloved in Israel) made the argument in favor of a Jewish homeland—but not a Jewish state. Edward Said (who has his own unbeloveds) ended up supporting the goal of a single state as the most just solution.

The current situation is unjust. A two-state solution would simply reify this injustice, and in so doing, make such reification irresistible. In other words, the injustice involved in bringing reality to the two states would itself become an argument in favor of the process of states-making itself.

Perversity. The entire damned situation abounds in perversity. Again, so much to say.

Too much to say, perhaps. Perhaps that’s why I am unable to say it.

____

I am temporarily working three jobs again, but the third job will soon go away for the spring and probably the summer.

The second job (teaching) is secure through December, and probably the following spring.

Job1 is the current angst-generator. It’s a retail position, not difficult, but low-paying and irritating in the usual way of retail positions. It sucks up time, both on the job and in travel. And did I mention the customers?

But it has had one great benefit, however: benefits. Most part-time jobs do not offer health or other benefits, but this one does.

This has kept me working there even when I thought AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH! That, and the need to pay rent.

But I now qualify for health care through Job2, and am in the process of switching my coverage. Wrinkle one.

Wrinkle two: My store is in the midst of a shake-up, and not all of us currently employed will be offered jobs past June. I went through the process to keep my job, but I’m not at all sure that I do want to continue working there.

This is different from the AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH reaction. I’m getting more courses, and while the pay for adjunct teaching is lousy compared to a tenure-track job, it’s great compared to retail. And there’s a good chance I’ll be able to continue working off-and-on at Job3—a job which also pays more than Job1, and is closer to home.

The big reason to leave, however, is that I have no damned time to write. I wrecked my life to leave academia, and wrecked my finances to move to New York to write—which I have, in my first two years here, managed to do. In the midst of my third year, however, I haven’t been able to grab those chunks of time necessary for writing.

Yeah, I have time to blog and to web-surf and to play spider solitaire, but none of these activities requires the particular kind of concentration I engage in while writing. These are filler activities, wind-downs—only now I’m winding down from my commute or course prep, not from cranking out a crucial scene.

And I have a new idea. I have characters and a rough sense of where I want to begin. I want to find out what happens. And I don’t have time to write to find out what happens.

The economy? Oh, yeah, that. How could I give up a job in this economy? Is wanting or needing to write enough? Yeah, the check’s small, but it’s not nothing; how could I give that up?

Perhaps I won’t make the cut, which means the decision is out of my hands. But this is my life, and it should be in my hands. I should have to figure out what to do.

Should. Not that I have, yet.





And you will know us by the trail of dead

31 12 2008

Time to take sides: you started it! No, you started it! No, you started it!

You made me do it. No, you made me do it.

A rocket an airstrike a bomb in a cafe a demolished home a sniper a sniper a suicide bomber on a bus a tank blast and this is what you get.

What? I’m not saying one side’s dead matters more than the other’s? Do I refuse to take sides?

Oh, I take sides, all right. It’s just that my side isn’t represented by the combatants.

Enough. Give up Israel. Give up Palestine. Give up the My side. Enough.

It’ll never work. Can’t have a homeland without a state. No, worse than that: Home must equal state. Which means you have to get out of my home-state.

—–

This is the nationalism I hate, Ct. I know, unfair to tar all nationalism with violent exclusion, but this is how my knee jerks.

I’m workin’ on it. . . .








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