Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Thoughts on Civil Disobedience

 [New Blog:  Saturday, May 18]

From the Orlando Sentinel, 4/28/24

The United States of America was founded on Civil Disobedience, which escalated from the Boston Tea Party to armed and rebellious militias, to the ride of Paul Revere, the formation of the Continental Army and, lo & behold, David was taking on Goliath, and though not winning quite so handily, persisting until the Brits decided their losses simply weren't worth the effort of subduing a bunch of rebellious colonies. (George III was likely too afflicted by madness to realize the enormity of this mistake. But, hey, France was a lot closer and an enemy for centuries—far better to commit Redcoats to that problem than worrying about a near-wilderness 5000 miles away.)

All of which illustrates that the U S of A has enormous tolerance for Civil Disobedience. I mean, we practically invented it. Since my earliest memories go back to WWII, I hasten to say there was not so much as a whiff of Civil Disobedience during that time. Patriotism was rampant, everyone pulling together to grind the "Axis" into dust. (Until, that is, the men came home, and many women found they didn't want to give-up their independence and well-paid jobs to return to nothing but cooking, cleaning, and babies.)

In the years that followed, however, the glow of WWII ideals grew dim, as my college classmates were drafted into the Korean War. (Huh? What are we DOING over there? Why did we found a United Nations after the war if it can't handle situations like this? Have we become Policeman to the World? Really?) And then came the gradually escalating Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War. You could almost say that protests against both played tag with each other. And at long last, I learned the meaning of Civil Disobedience (strictly as an observer, I hasten to say) . 

For nearly twenty years after college, I was a member of a 16-voice all-professional choir at Temple Mishkan Israel in New Haven, CT. (One summer evening, I even got to be Cantor.) And during much of this time, the choir would sit up in the balcony during the sermon and wonder when "they" were coming to get us. Because Rabbi Bob Goldberg was gung-ho at the front of the Civil Rights movement, marching shoulder-to-shoulder with Martin Luther King and never hesitating to state his opinion on the subject. (Angering some of his congregation as they felt he was neglecting his duties to Mishkan Israel.) 

[As an aside, I should mention that Bob Goldberg was a friend of the author, Arthur Miller, and was the rabbi who taught Marilyn Monroe Judaism before her marriage to Miller.] 

I admit my days at Mishkan Israel, employed by a temple where the rabbi was on the FBI "watch list" was about as close to Civil Disobedience as I ever got. Though, unlike my opinion of the Vietnam protestors, Civil Rights for Black Americans was something I wholeheartedly supported.

In the midst of a growing Civil Rights movement, we plunged into a war in Vietnam. Raised to support our troops, I was horrified when protestors shouted, "Make Love, not War." Appalled at the denigration of our soldiers as they returned from months or years of unrelenting jungle warfare, only to be booed, spit upon. If I hadn't seen it on the TV news, I would not have believed it. One of the most shameful periods in American history. The war might have been questionable. The courage and patriotism of our troops were not!

What did the Civil Rights protests and the Vietnam protests have in common?

They were PEACEFUL protests, escalating to violence only when the police began swinging clubs. Peaceful protests almost everyone tolerated because that's who we are—a nation who fought for the right to speak freely, to express "the other side." But . . .

When Peaceful protests turn violent . . .

When the protestors' rhetoric advocates hatred for someone else's religion, ethnicity, gender-choice . . .

When "student" protests are led by outside agitators with agendas like White Supremacy or Twisted Politics . . .

When it's "Make Hate, Not Peace," it's time to take a long look at what is going on.

My Switch in Attitude:

When my son in New Haven called to tell me protests had begun at Yale, I thought, "Good!" Because I am truly shocked that Israel—with whom I have always had great sympathy—should adopt a policy of annihilation that smacks of Adolf Hitler and his genocidal cohorts. Let's face it—Netanyahu and his rabid Zionists have to go. But . . .

Today's campus protesters are promoting Intolerance and, yes, Hatred. And using VIOLENCE to make their point. I have no doubt there are many truly sincere students involved, justifiably protesting the Israeli army's scorched-earth policy in Gaza, but there are far too many outsiders "jumping on the bandwagon," encouraging—promoting—the protests far beyond the boundaries of Civil Disobedience. 

And yet . . . the Elephant in the Room crops up again . . .

THE BIG PROBLEM:  How to distinguish genuine peaceful protestors, appalled by the excesses of Israel's Zionists from the rabble-rousers who are using the protests to incite anti-Semitism and anti-anything else they might not like. 

I can only hope when it's Punishment Time, both colleges and police will find a way through the jungle of motivations, going easy on those who are protesting genocide and coming down hard on those who are there to incite riot, promote hate, or those making as much political hay as they can for their "any tactic, no matter how low" candidate for the Presidency.

Pay attention, folks. Don't take your eye off the ball. This is a moral battle with world-wide repercussions. And truly difficult to sort out. So condemn the protesters' violence, pray for Peace, and save a bit of admiration for the sincere protesters who are risking their college careers to point out it's way past time to draw a line in the sand and say:

Zionists and Hamas, lay down your weapons, give succor to the wounded, pray for the dead, start clearing the rubble, rebuilding lives along with buildings. An air dream? Pie in the sky? I hope not.

~ * ~

 This week's featured book has to be either The Lady Takes a Risk or The Making of Matthew Wolfe, as both feature scenes of protest. Hmm. Matthew Wolfe, I think—with the scene where Matthew first meets the dour war-amputee from The Lady Takes a Risk (and hero of The Abominable Major).

AUTHOR'S NOTE (from 2020). Welcome to a Regency series with a twist! Although the Matthew Wolfe books feature the adventures of a supposed nobody off the mean streets of London, they are designed for Covid relief—light, warm-hearted, even whimsical. Hopefully, by the time Matthew has found his Happily Ever After, our World will have righted itself and we will be well on our way back to normal. Meanwhile, here is the first in a three-book series of novellas told as an old-fashioned "serial," the first two books with cliff-hanger endings.

Matthew Wolfe, born and raised in the squalor of London's inner city, should be a nobody, forever destined to obscurity, or the hangman. But wait . . . he can read and write, is a whiz at math, can speak like a gentleman, even knows more than a bit of French. And when the boy from London ends up on a hops farm in Kent, surrounded by the remnants of the Royal 10th Hussars and a passel of children, what will this fish out of water do? Retired military and their ladies, children, dogs, a regal cat, neighbors in need, and a determined twelve-year-old—all assist Matthew on his journey toward the person he is meant to be.

~ * ~

For a link to Blair's websiteclick here. 

Thanks for stopping by,

Grace (Blair Bancroft)       


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