Monday, October 31, 2011

Post #33 - A Moment of Non-Silence

I was intending for this post to be about semantics and semiotics.  In a way, it will be.

One of the strangest episodes in the recent history of U.S.-Iran relations surely must be the fiasco known as the "Iran-Contra Affair."  To refresh the memory of those who have forgotten what that was all about, certain elements of the United States Government decided that there was an overriding American interest in supporting the faction in Nicaragua known as the "Contras" -- those who opposed the then-ruling faction called the "Sandanistas."  Active from 1979 to 1990, the Contras took part in a bloody civil war with assistance from the right of the Nicaraguan political spectrum, from the American CIA and others.  The Catholic Institute for International Relations said of them, "The record of the contras in the field, as opposed to their official professions of democratic faith, is one of consistent and bloody abuse of human rights, of murder, torture, mutilation, rape, arson, destruction and kidnapping."  Unsavory as these alleged activities were, there were many in the Reagan White House who wanted to see the Contras succeed.

Ultimately, a rather bizarre plan to have weapons from Israel sold to Iran in order to help finance Contra operations became public, was denounced by most (at least publicly), and resulted in a number of convictions -- you will surely remember Oliver Laurence ("Ollie") North, an appealing and gung-ho Marine who had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Also convicted -- of withholding evidence -- was then-Assistant Secretary of State Eliot Abrams.  He plea-bargained for a two-year probation and was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush, and later became an adviser to George W. Bush ("43").

During the time that Abrams was more prominent than he is now, I don't remember hearing much about his wife, Rachel.  She appears to be the more interesting of the two, however. A member of the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel, Abrams seems to feel strongly about the situation in Israel/Palestine. Here is one writer, Eli Clifton (on the ThinkProgress Security blog), reacting to her personal blog (called "Bad Rachel") for October 18, 2011:

"Abrams saves her harshest, most dehumanizing, words for Palestinians. Abrams writes that after Israel finishes celebrating the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, they should:
…round up his captors, the slaughtering, death-worshiping, innocent-butchering, child-sacrificing savages who dip their hands in blood and use women—those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose." [Clifton's emphases added]
(To be fair, Abrams also celebrated the release of Israeli citizen Gilad Shalit.)

Rachel Abrams
I would have been happy to have been handed such a text-book example of intolerance, inflammatory language and incitement, were it not for the fact that words have real-world consequences.  It is just this kind of language that came under closer scrutiny after Representative Gabby Giffords (herself Jewish) was gunned down in a Tucson suburb earlier this year.  Such language surely prolongs, rather than shortens, the already horribly-protracted conflict in the Middle East in which Jews, Muslims and Christians are suffering.  Everyone with an ounce of compassion must proclaim such words as toxic to human society.

Barrier Wall separating areas of Israel/Palestine