There's something about summer that unhinges people. Some spend way too much on sunscreen and trashy novels and others go crazy in less salubrious ways. Here in NOLA, and in other big cities, it means a spike in violent crime and the hysterical reaction to it. Any time gunfire happens in a tourist area everyone pitches a fit and the Mayor of the day freaks out. The same thing does not happen when gun violence occurs in African-American neighborhoods like Central City or Hollygrove. Imagine that.
Others believe that crime can be abolished by means of social programs and education. I support those efforts BUT there will *always* be criminals. Remember Tony B, Steve Buscemi's character on The Sopranos? When he got out of prison, he tried manfully to become a law abiding citizen. It was too hard for him so he punched his boss and went back to being a doomed wise guy. I think efforts to break the cycle of crime are great but they won't always work. Once again, life imitates The Sopranos.
Another place madness breaks out every summer is on the American Right. In 2010, it was yelling and screaming about death panels, this year it's xenophobic nativists yelling and screaming about immigrant children. The media, of course, loves public displays of rage and hatred. It makes their job so much easier. I am always struck by how well the wingnuts learned the lesson of the new left in the 1960's: if you scream and wave a sign the cameras will come. This is another problem that will always be with us. Anti-immigrant sentiment is a recurring theme in our national drama as some in each generation forget that this is a national built by furriners. The only true natives are the ones who are slurred by Dan Snyder and even they migrated from elsewhere a long, long time ago.
Back to lethal summer madness. Hamas and the Netanyahu government are doing yet another death dance in the Gaza Strip. The current edition of this depressing cycle involves Hamas firing a ton of missles at Israel and the Israelis bombing the shit out of Gaza. It ends up being disporportionate because Israel has a fancy missile defense system whereas people are dying in Gaza. Josh Marshall posted something yesterday about this madness that I agree with:
The Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva tells Palestinian Authority TV that the PA needs to be prudent about appeals to the Human Rights Council because every Hamas rocket – fired indiscriminately and without warning into civilian areas – constitutes a "crime against humanity." He also notes reports from Gaza about how the IDF is sending advance evacuation warnings before bombing attacks. This candor will and is being seized on by supporters of Israel. But it's just as much as rebuke to the rejectionist right in Israel who claim there's no partner for peace among the Palestinians.
There's a path to end all of this. Not just this flare-up but the whole conflict. It's there. It just needs to be taken.
I think Josh is right but neither side is willing to take the first step. Over time, this has become a religious dispute characterized by a fatal lack of empathy on both sides. It's often forgotten that the state of Israel was founded by secular liberals such as Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion and, on the Palestinian side, Yasser Arafat, was not notably pious either. The Bibi-Hamas stand-off looks insoluable but I think a cease fire is possible. They'll never get together to sing Kumbaya but they should be willing to stop firing missiles at one another. At least, I hope so. Never forget that Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness were able to bury their past lives as extremists to help end the Troubles In Northern Ireland.
Now that I've ended on a mildly optimistic note, I'll give Tom Petty the last word: