Surviving the Now

Is it my imagination or does it feel like there’s more bad stuff than usual going on in the world?

That was rhetorical and not about Elon Musk buying Twitter.

la di da

Though it might be next year at this time. 

Especially if disinformation and the incitement of violence are given free reign on the largest social media platform in the world.   I mean, what could go wrong except everything?

The scent of Musk aside, because unfortunately it’s not the 1970s, I watched the HBO film The Survivor this weekend. 

It’s based on the true story of the professional boxer Harry Haft, a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp who was forced to fight other Jewish prisoners for the amusement of the Nazis in order to survive.

Directed by Barry Levinson and starring Ben Foster, both of whom are Jewish, which is sort of beside the point but sort of not, it’s a film that resonates for me, for our times and is staying with me in strange and disturbing ways.

A must see

This is not because I am Jewish and one of my grandparents was from Poland, Haft’s country of origin, though, as we Jews like to say, it couldn’t hurt.

It’s more because The Survivor intercuts Haft’s contemporary boxing career in 1940s and 1950s New York City, when he began suffering intense episodes of what we now know as PTSD, with not only scenes from the camps and his relationship with one Nazi in particular, but with his heartache and search for the love of his life at the time, who was taken away and imprisoned, albeit to a different camp.

A love that haunts him because Haft is convinced, despite all evidence to the contrary, that she, like other American Jewish émigrés from his era who fled Nazi rule, has also survived.

Give him all the awards now, thanks.

As we watch the soldiers of Hitlerian Vladimir Putin destroy whole cities of Ukraine on our screens, and tens of thousands of its citizens along with it, forcing many millions of other Ukrainians to become émigrés of their country and, hopefully, immigrants in another (Note: It’s estimated one million of the many more millions of them now reside in Poland alone), it’s difficult not to think of history as nothing more than a cyclical series of events where players and surface circumstances change but basic bleak political situations remain pretty much thematically static.

Fair question

More troubling, and this is sadly represented in small moments of The Survivor, are the ambitiously ruthless opportunists whose takeover strategies through the generations have remained essentially unchanged. 

That they are actively and exponentially once again growing in our midst, particularly in the U.S., right before our eyes and everywhere we turn, borders on the tragic.  This is due to not only the innate nature of tragedy but also to the fact that the very thought that this type of Holocaust, with a perhaps different set of players, could be repeated is more than enough to make a majority of us turn away; which, in turn, will ensure that it comes to pass.

This cartoon is from 2018. Let that sink in.

I’m a lifelong Democrat who thought I was a liberal until Bernie Sanders supporters told me that I wasn’t, and that I was likely a closet Republican who reveled in enough privilege to have me believing I could actually still be in the party, much less a liberal.

So it gives me no pleasure to say that post-four years of Trump, post-January 6th 2020 insurrection, a treasonous crime for which I expect no large heads to roll, I nevertheless have to proclaim to anyone within ear or eyeshot (Note: Sorry ex-friends who were or are Republican) that there are now two major parties in America. 

One is the messy, imperfect, big tent with too many holes in it Democratic one.

And the other is the uber anti-immigration; uber white nationalist supporting/enabling; uber minority loathing /enabling; and most especially uber conspiracy espousing rabbit hole of crazy train being led by an insane 75-year old ex-New Yorker smeared in pancake makeup who is determined to take down democracy in order to either remain in power or stay out of jail.

Nothin’ to see here. Totally fine.

Though, perhaps, it’s both.  Or neither. 

The truth is I don’t really care because they are Him and He is them.

It’s not that the prior, um….president before Biden is smart or powerful enough to be all of these things in every state of the union.  It’s that his scorched earth embrace of anti-Democratic norms like election fraud, combined with his love affair with totalitarian dictators like Putin, showed HIS party that by doing all of the above and more it was possible to grab power, get everything you ever wanted and deny everyone you don’t want.

– You can appoint enough judges specifically to overturn a woman’s right to choose, state-by-state but especially on the Supreme federal level, by any means necessary. This includes changing the time line for Supreme consideration in order to shoehorn in the most extreme and inexperienced choice possible to further your agenda.

See: This woman

– You can purposely separate more than 5000 immigrant children at U.S. borders and put them in cages (Note: Most have still not been reunited with their families) in order to hold on to a white majority, and thus, in your minds, white supremacy, country.

– You can create laws state-by-state, but in Florida specifically, that outlaw the mere mention of the word gay or LGBTQ community, in any grade school classroom, most specifically ones that have straight kids with gay parents and straight parents with gay or trans kids, erasing them from YOUR community and literally causing them to run for their lives.

You know you were thinking it.

– You can sign edicts penalizing gigantic, family friendly huge corporations like the Walt Disney Co. (Note: That bastion of liberalism!) billions of dollars for no other reason than they dared to speak out against your law in support of all types of families, thus eschewing more than a century of policy where you voluntarily grant huge tax breaks and other favors to said corporations of every kind.

– You get to gleefully stand next to KKK members and crazies claiming the opposing party endorses pedophilia.  And, most importantly, you get to participate in an organized behind-the-scenes takedown of a free and fair presidential election simply because your guy, the deranged, twice-impeached one your supporters like but too many of you talk hot trash about behind their backs and off-camera, was voted out.

Is that last one too much?

What say you, Kevin?

Well, don’t take my word for it.  Look at the photos, watch the videos and take the word of over 60 judges, many of whom are actually members of your party who all ruled independently that YOUR GUY.  THAT GUY.  LOST.   

Which means YOU LOST.  And, along with it, your POWER TO DO ANYTHING YOU WANT.

The scary thing is much like their Nazi forbearers, who believed Jews were immoral unsanitary animals that somehow also had the intelligence to steal most of their money, enough members of this growing political class publicly act as if all of this crazy stuff is true, operable and part their birthright to say because it will save THEIR country for the greater good.  Or what they see as the greater good.

Or perhaps they don’t recall…

But what’s good is no longer the self-evident truths and freedoms this country was founded on.  That’s been replaced by the greater, which they only view as themselves.   And by the good, which is anything and anyone who they agree with.

As for the rest of us, we’re the bad, and the expendable.

Or, to put it in Nazi parlance, the gassable.   

Too much?  Wait a year and check Twitter, if you dare.

R.E.M – “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”

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