Posted by: Amie | February 24, 2009

Is Ending a Life Ever Humane?

(Warning to animal lovers: this is a story of animal euthanasia. Viewer discretion is advised.)

I have definitely rolled this question over in my mind in cases of abortion where a fetus has been diagnosed with some disorder in which doctors would declare the baby or fetus – however you define – “unviable.”  These cases, as I’ve read, are usually of a developing fetus without a brain, lungs, and/or complete spinal cord and many, many other situations. I’ve always agreed that it’s better to end that “life” than let the child, baby or fetus suffer. But in cases that involve animals, I’ve always wondered if we’re doing the right thing.

My cat Alex came inside one night in December after his usual stroll around our yard. I didn’t let him in, nor did I see him. I walked by our bedroom a few times to find him nestled, like he normally was, in our big, fluffy duvet. A few hours later, I heard curses from Mr. B coming from our bedroom and trotted to see him take Alex out and put him on the floor in the hall. “He crapped on our bed!!” he said.

But Alex wasn’t the kind of cat to poo in anyone’s bed – especially ours. After all, that was his favorite place. And Alex wasn’t moving. He wasn’t slowly hunching away like he normally did from his crime scenes. He just sat there where Mr. B placed him. I called his name, and he ignored me.  I noticed all his medium-length fur around his hind quarters was matted and wet. I carried him into the bathroom to inspect him in better light. There were no wounds, no bite marks. I didn’t understand, but Alex just laid in my arms as I cleaned him.

The next morning at the vet I suspected he would tell me that Alex had eaten some diseased garbage (as he didn’t usually stalk smaller prey – weird, I know) or had gotten into poison. Instead he called me after a few hours of observation to tell me, “Alex has a broken spine. It’s a definite break. I need you to come back in so we can discuss his situation.” When I arrived, the vet told me that it’s unlikely that a fall had caused the break (after all, it’s cat we’re talking about!), but that he was either hit by a car, or someone had hit him with a stick or shovel, or pulled his tail so hard his spine actually snapped between his hips. The break was past his spinal cord, but it seemed he still had lost feeling in his hind end and tail, and the ability to control his bowels and bladder. He told me that the only option besides managed care would be surgery.

I sought out any and every cat society, ASPCA branch and animal hospital I could think of to try and help me, but it all came down to $2000 I could not afford. A lot of places online claimed they would help animals in need, but when I emailed and called, no one returned my messages. I tried to raise funds on my own, but came up painfully short.

I’ve never believed in putting an animal down for economic reasons, though a lot of people encouraged me to. “Just put him down, Amie,” they would say. “He’s just a cat.” Sure, it’s true that I have a lot of feelings for Alex. After all, he was a stray that my sister and I found outside my grandparents’ house on the day I met my now husband. I decided to adopt him, and Mr. B and I named him together. Alex was our first pet. But that wasn’t it. For some reason, in my heart, I’ve always felt an obligation towards animals and all creatures smaller and more helpless than I. Plants, animals, children. Perhaps it stems from sustaining years of physical abuse where I cried out for help and no one listened, but I always have to go the extra mile to help.

I followed Alex around for a good two months with a bottle of 409 and paper towels before one morning we woke up to a house literally covered in poo. Alex must have had a stomach problem because his normal piles turned into puddles all over the carpet. It took three people over two hours to scrub out the mess and Alex was booted to the garage. I felt bad and guilty, but what could I do?

I would go out and feed him and visit with him. I took him his favorite toy and his favorite treats. We would let him in from time to time to eat and play with the other cats, but at night it was back to the garage where he would stand and cry. I felt terrible every time – like I was abusing him. Every time he would come inside and nuzzle against my leg like, “See, I am a nice cat! Remember?” It broke my heart.

Mr. B left for Egypt and I left to spend a couple of days with my father a couple of hours down the interstate. When I returned, I let Alex inside, but all he did was run to the bathroom and howl. I asked my family who watched him for me if there was anything out of the ordinary. They said they hadn’t noticed anything. He purred and nuzzled me in between moments of crying and collapsing on the floor. He kept rolling over to expose his belly, so I reached down to feel it. It was rock hard.

I called the vet. Something inside of me knew at that time that the news would be grave. There wasn’t much more we could do for Alex except wait for Spring and teach him to be an outdoor kitty. I cried as Alex meowed from his carrier. I tried to talk to him and make him calm, and while it was for him, it was for me as well.

The vet decided to xray and check for blockages. He returned and said the were none, that the problem had to be neurological and had not allowed Alex to empty his bladder any longer. I didn’t really know what to do. I asked the vet if there were any more options. He told me they could try to catheterize Alex, but it would be painful, and who knew how many times we would be back to do the same thing. I watched Alex circle around on the floor and collapse and meow in pain. I didn’t want him to suffer anymore.

I fumbled with my cell phone through my tears to try and reach Mr. B, but my international calling card wouldn’t work. I had to decide on my own. I wanted Alex to be in peace and I wanted him to feel better. I was tired of punishing him and feeling like I was a bad person for locking him out of the house only to listen to his endless crying. And though I wish it hadn’t, the cost of constantly visiting the vet crept into my mind. I had already spent at least $500 in vet bills for this situation alone, and I knew it would be more. I decided to put him down.

The vet asked me if I wanted to be in the room, and I did. I picked Alex up and put him on the table and hugged him. He purred. I hated myself. The vet gave him sedative which Alex never took to well. When he started to stumble around, the vet came back in with his assistant and wrapped Alex in a towel. He took a pair of clippers and trimmed some fur off his paw which fell in tufts on the table. The lump that had already been in my throat grew to drastic proportions and I felt it hard to breathe. As disgusting as it sounds, I wanted to sweep his clipped fur into my purse and keep it forever, but I didn’t. I just stared.

The vet felt for a vein and installed an IV to administer the chemicals. Alex struggled in the towel, and as he did before, like every time he’s been sedated, he started to wretch and eventually vomited his last meal I had fed him. I cried harder. I wanted to scream out for them to stop, but I didn’t. The vet tried to assure me it was just a reaction to the medications – which I knew. However, I wanted Alex to be at peace, not throwing up violently in his last seconds of life. I started to cry uncontrollably as the vet inserted a syringe filled with the infamous “pink solution of death.” My sister and I had named it that the day the vet came to put down our childhood dog who was suffering with cancer. I’ll never forget the color of Pepto Bismol, baby pink.

I reached out to hold Alex and to pet his ears as his body twitched. I told him I was sorry. I was sorry. I told him I loved him. The vet cleaned the vomit from Alex’s mouth as his tongue pulsated as if he were panting. Then the vet listened for his ending heartbeat with a stethoscope. I pet Alex and hugged him as I watched his eyes change from round pupils with a rim of bright green to nearly solid black. I apologized over and over to him, and to the staff. I made sounds I’m sure don’t usually come from humans as I cried. I asked to be alone with him for a moment.

The vet’s assistant came with a box of Kleenex for me. “Don’t worry,” she said. “If it was one of ours, you can bet we’d be bawling too. You did the right thing. You did everything you could.” I was riddled with guilt. Did I do everything? I couldn’t think of anything I could’ve done differently besides be more patient or maybe empty his bladder by expressing it more often. What did I do wrong?

She came back with a paper I needed to sign that said I did consent to euthanasia. Yes, I did. I consented to killing Alex.  They asked if I wanted them to handle the body or if I wanted to take him home. I wanted to take him home. She came back in the room with a box, and picked up Alex’s limp body to place it inside. “Hmm…” she said. “We have a bigger box. Do you want that? I think he’ll lie out flat better in that one.” I cried more.

I put Alex’s body in the passenger seat beside mine and sobbed as I backed out of their drive and down the highway. I couldn’t breathe. The lump in my throat had grown too huge. I sobbed and gasped for air that wouldn’t come. I stopped my car and threw up in someone’s lawn.

I sat the box in the garage and went to my room to collapse, wailing, on my bed. I felt so guilty.

Maybe I shouldn’t have watched. Maybe it was just my pregnancy hormones in overload. I don’t know, but I felt…I feel horrible. I didn’t find any peace or solace in the fact that Alex is “at rest” and I still haven’t. Maybe that comes with time.

That night I called Mr. B again to tell him what I did. He told me, though he was very upset too, like everyone has, that I did the right thing for Alex.

I don’t know.

Advertisements
Posted by: Amie | February 10, 2009

All Things Annoying

Some of you may or may not know that I’m expecting to hatch out my first offspring come  March 24 – on or around.

At the height of the most hormones and chemicals running through my body, I find things to be incredibly annoying. On top of that, I find I have more courage to point out that I am, in fact, annoyed to whomever happens to be causing said annoyance. This part of the pregnancy I, almost, wish would last forever.

Before you go calling me a hormonal bitch, just know that I’m not alone. I visit babycenter.com forums on a regular basis, and it seems “slight irritability” is a common symptom of pregnancy.  Hundreds and hundreds of posts are made each day of venting out of frustrations and depicting certain incidents in which pregnant women feel like they want to strangle someone.

To avoid such atrocities from happening, for those of you who have never been pregnant, never will be pregnant, and who, obviously just forget how much “fun” it is to be pregnant, I’m shall graciously provide you with a culminated laundry list of things to avoid of you wish not to get jumped by a pregnant lady.

First, we’ll begin with the simplest:

  • teeth sucking – Seriously, go floss and just f*cking stop it.
  • lip smacking
  • coins-in-pocket jangling
  • people in public (or in home) talking on speaker phone – You’re not so damn busy doing something else that you can’t actually hold the phone. KNOCK IT OFF.
  • mouth breathing
  • tapping, clicking, or rolling writing utensils
  • no-signaled turns
  • driving below the speed limit
  • gabbing at the check-out counter – Get your shit and get out! We usually can’t stand for more than twenty minutes at a time, and the closer we get to that threshold, the angrier at the universe we become.
  • I’m sure I’m forgetting some – oh wait, yeah. It’s the fact that we forget everything all the time and almost instantaneously. Don’t be a jerk when we ask you for the third, fourth or twenty-fifth time where something is or what you said. We seriously can’t help it.

Of course, there are ones that are purely pregnancy related. Preggos might only verbally assault you for the previous list, but for the following, they’re likely to throat punch you Chuck Norris-style:

1. ) Commenting on our size

i.e. (Actual quotes taken from babycenter.com that women have heard):

“Hey, fatty. What’s up?”

“You’re only ___ weeks?! You’re HUUUUGE!”

“I don’t remember ever being THAT big when I was pregnant!”

We f*cking know, okay?! After all, we’re the ones who have to dress ourselves daily in too tight panties, too tight bras, too tight shoes and pants. We know we look like beached whales. We know we’re huge, massive, and all out freaks of nature. Pointing that out, especially on a daily basis, is not hilarious, is not cute, and in no way do we find it amusing. In fact, saying any of that, is an automatic death sentence.

2.) Imitating “The Waddle”

This is most commonly performed by men, children ( for whom, before they’re old enough to know, it’s excusable) and old ladies (for some reason). Would you mock someone with a limp from a car accident? No, you would not. So why do you think it’s perfectly okay to mock a woman, in an obvious condition, with a five to six pound object resting in her pelvis? We don’t do it to look cute, or funny. We do it because that’s simply the only way for us to get around. If you want to do it to be cute, come a little closer and I’ll make your waddle a little more realistic.

3.) Saying, “Are you sure it’s not TWINS?!”

This pretty much the same as commenting on size, but you’re just trying to find a tactful way to say we look fat. We’re sure. We’re sure it’s not twins. Most of us have been strapped to a very thin, very cold ultrasound table and have been probed in every way and fashion and on several occasions. Unless a woman is giving birth to a litter (four or more), or has had no scans at all, it’s highly unlikely that they’ve just missed a fetus in there swimming about, and you will subject yourself to the same punishment as listed under #1.

4.) Commenting on what, or how much we eat or drink

This one is HUGE. So huge, that each must be broken down into  subcategories.

a.) “Look, everyone. _____ is our human garbage disposal!

This was said to eight-months pregnant girl (from babycenter.com) by her grandma. She had waited all day to attend the dinner party that was running late, so she searched the kitchen to find snacks.

First of all, let me explain this: everything during pregnancy is urgent. You have to pee NOW , you have to puke NOW, you have to eat NOW!! There is no luxury in waiting. If you don’t pee, you’ll pee your pants. If you don’t find a place to barf, it’s coming up anyway. If you don’t eat, you’ll barf. That’s just how it goes. So with that first little rumble, you know you’ve got about 30 seconds, tops, before the doubling-over type of hunger sets in, and about three minutes before you need to stick your head in a trash can. Calling someone a human garbage disposal is rude enough, pregnant or not – let alone from someone who has been pregnant before, to someone who is pregnant now.

b.) “Are you suuuure you should be eating that?”/”You shouldn’t eat/drink that. I’ve heard it’s bad for pregnant women to eat/drink that.”

Do you have a degree in medicine? Have you read every baby book on the planet? Have you been closely following me to each appointment? No, you haven’t. So really, shut the f*ck up.

I find it utterly amusing that it’s usually people who can’t get pregnant (men) and people who have never been pregnant that offer up these gems.

For fairness and science’s sake, here’s the list of things women should definitely not eat or drink.

…. did you see it? No?! That’s because there’s not one. That’s right, folks. There is no list of things a pregnant woman should definitely *not* eat.

However, there is a list of things we should use in moderation or try to avoid:

  • Tuna, salmon and other large fishes (in moderation due to mercury content)
  • Raw sushi  (try to avoid because of salmonella risk)
  • Caffiene and aspartame (in moderation)
  • Cold lunch meat and hot dogs ( try to avoid because of salmonella/e-coli risk)
  • Rare meat (try to avoid due to e-coli risk)
  • Alcohol (in moderation – opinions vary)

Any of those not look familiar? All of those are pretty much “risky” foods for everyone, aren’t they?

But first, let’s start with caffeine. You’ll hear a lot of women be completely anal about this in the beginning of their pregnancy because it’s something, for most people, easy to avoid. Then the God-awful headaches begin. Now, which would you find less of a risk to a growing baby? Synthetic drugs, or 1-2 cups of strong coffee to relieve a headache? That’s right. My OBGYN said it’s perfectly safe to consume the caffeine content of two cups of coffee on a daily basis.

And alcohol – I don’t drink, and people have different opinions. However, people get all uppity about FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrome) and yes, it’s a bad, bad thing. But most of the babies with FAS come from mothers who repeatedly went on binge drinking outings during pregnancy, or were intoxicated on several occasions. Having a glass of wine or champagne from time to time is not going to pickle your baby.

Anything else is pretty much up for grabs. I had some serious sickness in which I could not keep even water down most of the time. The only thing I could possibly consume were cup noodles. Now, I’ve worked in biotech and have taken several different levels of college and high school science. Plus, I cook – a lot. I know, beyond a shadow of doubt that the sodium content in cup noodles and ramen alike is tremendous. However, which is better? Not eating at all, throwing up incessantly, or eating cup noodles? I can’t tell you HOW many people said, “Amie, you shouldn’t eat that. The sodium is really bad for the baby.” I wanted to break them in half.

With drugs, there’s a long list of things to avoid, but things like Tylenol, Tums, and Zantac are all perfectly safe to be used throughout.

5.) Touching the bump

Touching a pregnant woman’s baby bump is about as acceptable as her reaching out and honking your boobs or grabbing a firm hold on your package. If you don’t want either of these things and/or a broken wrist to happen to you, it’s best to ask first, or just avoid putting your hands on her at all.

6.) Demanding to be in the delivery room/at the hospital

Often, this comes from BFFs of the preggo, but it’s usually from relatives. My mother-in-law demanded I to fly to Egypt to give birth so that she could witness it. Hell no. Hence why I’m still here and Mr. B is gone visiting and appeasing her.

From the day I found out I was pregnant, my step-mom heavily hinted…nay, asked if I wanted her in the room with me whilst shoving out baby. However, she’s been great about me not giving an answer yet.

Everyone else has asked me to call when I’m going into labor so they can be there. Seriously. You want me to call you when I’m contracting every four-to-five minutes, doubled over in pain and screaming at my husband for impregnating me, and/or with my legs in twain in stirrups. You want me to actually remember to phone you. F*ck that.

To be fair, I have prepared a list of phone numbers, but you can be damn sure it’s not going to be a cheery, personalized call from me. And depending upon my decision, my discretion, you may or may not be called until after she’s born.

As far as actually being *in* the room during delivery, everyone has their preferences, but for me, I’m just going to say that it’s an intimate thing. I don’t want 20 people in a single file line passing my exposed vajingo and getting a good look. No, all dignity doesn’t have to go out the window with pregnancy. All of you – friends of friends and friends of relatives and relatives, unnecessary medical staff and anyone else I so choose to ban – do not have an all-access pass to my lady bits. Baby in/out of them or not, they’re still mine. If you didn’t help put her in there, unless you have a medical degree and/or drugs for me, you have no business being there when she comes out.

7.) Offering unsolicited advice and/or criticizing parenting choices

This one is a definite risk to life – as bad as #1, but possibly worse.

See, pregnant women are much like animals as our instincts and nature take over at a certain point. I like to explain this as “Mama Eagle Syndrome” – I might look beautiful and majestic, but if you mess with my nest, you mess with me or my chicks – I’ll scratch your damn eyes out and beat you to death with my giant wings.

No, seriously. That’s how it is.

Now, I’m sure most people have all good intentions when they offer advice.  However, the only advice that’s welcomed has to fall into three categories simultaneously, (a,b and c) and sometimes (d and e):

a.) you have to be an experienced parent

b.) I have to have asked you for it/it has to be a relevant topic of discussion

c.) you had better practice what you preach and have proved results

d.) your kids should not be hellions, felons, on probation, currently serving a juvie and/or prison sentence or in any other way a menace to society

e.) your information should not be outdated

My sixteen-year-old sister, in all her glory and wisdom of two child development classes, spent twenty minutes lecturing me and criticizing my decision to attempt to make my own baby food.  She accused me of being a granola cruncher and that I was “just trying to be trendy and cool.” Well, excuse me, but the economic crisis has affected most people, if it hasn’t affected you. We, as a family, waste several dollars by placing dinner’s leftover green beans in the fridge only to throw them out the following week. Gerber jar food cost is on the rise and it’s probably full of crap Baby could do without. I just don’t see how “granola crunching” it is to toss said beans in blender with milk or formula, but given your high-level of pediatric education matched by two weeks of child rearing experience with Baby Think-it-Over, I’ll “consider” your opinion……..

People have also knocked my wanting to try cloth diapering. I’m just trying to be a little ecologically responsible here. If you’re comfortable with your carbon footprint, then proceed in your merry ways, but leave me the hell alone in mine.

Plus, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard, “Don’t raise your arms above your head like that. You’ll wrap the umbilical cord around the baby’s neck.” Now, given current science, that myth has been dispelled. However, why did people believe that lifting your arms would some how tie a cord (that is connected to baby via placenta, which is in no way attached to your back, shoulders or arm muscles) around the little baby’s neck. I don’t get it.

The only reason you should EVER under ANY circumstance criticize a woman’s methods is if she is putting her baby or herself in danger. If it’s just because it’s not how YOU would do it, then go get knocked up, and do it all yourself with your own baby.

Every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. Given all my experiences, I’ve decided to create a new blog based on pregnancy and birth. If you’d like a personal invite when it’s up and running, please give me a shout out.

Posted by: Amie | February 6, 2009

THE ZIONISTS ARE COMING!! (part 3)

Now, why does America care so much about Israel?

If you were raised in the U.S. like me, and also raised by a predominately Evangelical, Republican (read: white) family like me, most likely you were taught to always, under any and all circumstances, protect and support Israel. Why? Let’s begin:

First of all, everyone loved the war hero, Harry S. Truman. As president was the first president to recognize Israel as a nation. A proud supporter of the Zionist Movement, and with relations between the U.S. (along with Britain) and Palestine damaged when Germany, in exchange for support, had pledged to help Palestine gain independence from Britain, Truman gladly welcomed the State of Israel. Meanwhile, his Secretary of State, George Marshall had another take on the situation. He said, “If you (recognize the state of Israel) and if I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you.” Marshall feared that a relationship between the U.S. and Israel would cause alienation and anger Muslim nations and ultimately limit access to Middle Eastern oil. In 1949, George Marshall resigned from the State Department.

There has since been lots of talk that Harry SOLOMON Truman was also a “secretive” Jew, and/or that he was bribed to recognize Israel, and did so. However, he was later called an anti-Semite. I think you could pretty much gather that the Zionist movement, by some, was actually an effort to use (We’ll get to that in a minute. Hint: oil) and dispose of unwanted Jews wandering about West Europe. After all, if someone actually cared to house them after the Holocaust, the could have offered them homes rather than sending them off, to what they considered, a desolate wasteland they had simply lying about.

Regardless of fact or fiction, the United States took great interest in developing oil-rich nations and keeping the Soviets out of them. Thus, they provided Israel and other countries interested in preventing a Soviet take over with weapons and cash. Israel is still on top of the list of American foreign aid contributions today.

Now, most people would agree that government is controlled by lobbyists and people with money, and most of those people with money have Jewish ties, and therefore Israeli interests. I’ve already babbled about into heavy political conspiracy theory (in the last post), so I’d like to point out some tidbits from Biblical history and encourage you to do your own research while dispelling a few Evangelical myths. Shall we?:

  • Jerusalem and Bethlehem are important – the birth/death place of Jesus, yadiyadah. And as we also know from the Bible, the Jews are “God’s chosen people.” Who better to protect Jesus’ old stomping grounds than those chosen by God, right? Okay, so that’s what they tell you in church. They also tell you, love thy neighbor, to be just, not to steal – all these things – but those are easier to ignore, aren’t they?
  • Christians argue in the defense of Zionism by saying that in the Old Testament, the Jews were expelled from Israel, but that God sent prophesy that they would be allowed to return. This is true. It happened in the book of Ezra and in the whereabouts of 538 B.C., not in 1948. Now, before you say, “well, what about the writings of Ezekiel and Jeremiah?” you need to know that the books of the Bible are not printed in the order in which they were written (they’re not chronological). While both books appear in the Bible after Ezra,  Ezekiel was written about 571 B.C. and in Jeremiah written about 687-576 B.C. – both before the time in which the Jews returned from Babylon.
  • Then comes Jesus. Now, most know that Jews, unless of the Messianic persuasion, do not accept Jesus as the Messiah, let alone their personal savior. In Luke 13:34 Jesus talks about wanting to save the Jews from their ways and mourns over them saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’
  • Then, Jesus himself, in Luke 21:20 “And when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, you will know its desolation is near…22. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written…24. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
  • Of course, Christians also believe the end times will come when the temple is rebuilt – but it’s been rebuilt and destroyed, and as we see in Luke (as I previously mentioned), until that “every knee shall bow” thing happens, and I don’t think it has, we don’t really have to worry about Revelations.
  • But we’ll talk about Revelations anyway. John spoke about two different Israels, neither of them being the State of Israel we have today. He spoke of those who are “adopted” chosen ones (Christians/Gentiles/Messianic Jews) an “Israel of God,” and those that have yet to accept Jesus (the Jews), an “Israel according to flesh.” In a book whose contents have stumped the greatest of theological scholars when it mentions things like beasts and candlesticks, which are largely heralded as “representations for something else,” why do pastors, theologians and other clerics simply take “Israel” to mean the nation that stands today? It’s a mystery.
  • And of course, my personal favorite: That whole line of, “those that bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed,” is not in the Bible at all. What is in the Bible is in Genesis when God speaks to Abram (Abraham) and says (12:3), “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” Did you see any mention of Israel/Zion/other hoodyhah in there? No. This was a message from God to Abraham, the man, the messenger sent to lead God’s people to righteousness. People believe so heavily in this “blessing Israel” thing that they will base their entire voting ticket on those who “rightly” support Israel in hopes that America will flourish. America was prominent nation before 1948, and has continued to be so…(in some ways), and as we see, regardless of our support of Israel, we still suffer ups and downs of any nation.

My whole point of this series was not to embed my own theories, but to get people thinking. I too was once one of the fervent Israel supporters, but once I asked myself, “why?!,” I couldn’t come up with a decent answer. I’m sure I’m not alone.

Posted by: Amie | February 6, 2009

THE ZIONISTS ARE COMING!! (part 2)

(**note** this was written pre-recent Gaza/Israeli incidents in 2009**)

Previously on my blog we discussed Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and its history. But do we really know what actually goes on?

While the US condemns(-ed) Israel’s constant expansionist techniques, we rarely hear about this or Israel’s retaliation techniques in our mainstream media (go figure). I only recently began seeking out the realities of what has really been happening. I would never, under any circumstances condone terrorism, suicide bombings or anything of the sort, but doesn’t it make you wonder what drove people to such madness? Everything on earth happens and exists because of cause and effect, and it’s hard for me to believe that young people are willing to strap themselves with explosives and die taking other lives because of simple annoyance. There must be a bigger picture.

I started to read Witness in Palestine: Journal of a Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories by Anna Baltzer. If no one reads anything else about Palestine, I hope they would decide to read this book. The major theme of the text talks about Israel’s method of annexing land to build a wall between Israel and the Palestinians.

The wall is, quite literally, to block Palestinians from entering Israeli land. However, Israel has blocked off all means for Gaza and the West Bank to support itself – access to food, clothing, medicine, jobs, electricity, etc.

To annex, Israel will first usually offer the family money for their home. This offer is usually no where near the actual monetary value of the land, let alone the sentimental value. Most of the land that is “annexed” is that of olive farms passed down father to son for hundreds of years. It’s said that some of the olive trees that survive in Palestine today were there when Jesus began his ministry. When the family refuses the offer, the Israeli guard will come with bulldozers and rip out their home and their farms from their very foundation anyway. Then they will then claim the land for Israel since no one “technically” occupies it any longer.

On particularly heart-wrentching story in the book is about a very old olive farmer whose entire life destroyed before his eyes in this very fashion:

“We watched a calm old farmer finally lose his composure as he watched his livelihood uprooted. Sobbing, he got down onto his knees in front of the soldiers and begged them to stop the bulldozers. When his tears were met with stone faces he began moaning and swaying until the cloth rag on his head began to fall off. His friend tried to calm him down, but he was past control. He lifted his arms up towards the sky and cried, “Allah w-akbar!” Then he fell to the ground and started crawling around grabbing handfuls of dirt, letting it run through his fingers. He watched it fall, and then looked up at the soldiers, imploring them to stop his misery.

I cried as I filmed the desperate man and the seemingly unmoved soldiers. He sobbed until his throat was [sore] and dry. Finally he collapsed, silent – defeated. Others were moved to sepak and distracted the media and solders, but I kept watching the man. He was gone, in another world, starting into space. His land, his love, everything was lost. His heart was broken.”

And this is the least of the atrocities.

The book also speaks of four farmers who were shot when they approached the guard and asked them to stop the bulldozing of their land. The did not throw rocks, they did not carry weapons. They verbally pleaded with the guard, who in return, fired bullets.

Again, this is mild.

In 2002, on two separate days (one right after the other) two pregnant women were shot at Israeli checkpoints, while in labor and on their way to hospitals to give birth to their babies. The story of Maysoun Hayek was published by The Independent, a U.K. newspaper. Maysoun, her husband and her elderly father-in-law, while on their way to the hospital in nearby Israeli territory, passed safely though one checkpoint and were given permission to proceed. As they approached the next, her husband was shot in the neck and killed. She and her father-in-law were also injured. The army claimed they tried to bypass an earthen baracade, so they opened fire on the car.

If you read any other non-American news source (such as BBC), almost daily you will read about happenings in Israel/Palestine. The US and her media tend to turn a deaf ear, or generally play it up as thought this tiny, tiny piece of earth and its few inhabitants constantly terrorize the poor, poor little Israel. Yes, Israel, that, to this day, remains the recipient of the largest amount of United States’ foreign aid (and weapons), closely followed by Egypt.

Many people have their conspiracy theories about why the U.S. media disassociates itself from the realities of the conflict. Most would probably say it’s because the media is owned by Zionists or that we have Zionist lobbyists controlling our government – maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s just easier for America to continue its imperialistic oil-hoarding ways in the Middle East by painting a picture that the “Promised Land,” held so dear and true by the vast populous of Evangelicals  is constantly terrorized by those evil Arabs. Who knows?

However what we do know is that we, as Americans, have generally no clue of what actually happens, or for whose side they should actually be fighting.

Posted by: Amie | December 28, 2008

THE ZIONISTS ARE COMING!! (part one)

I’m back from a much-needed month-long hiatus to write about something near and dear to my heart: Zionists and the hatred thereof.

This is the first of a three-post series about Zionism, the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and America’s involvement.

To begin, let’s take a short trip down history’s lane to refresh our memories:

Now, I’m definitely paraphrasing, so if you want a completely unbiased history, pick up a book, or for God’s sake, at least Wikipedia. Since I know most are unwilling/incapable, I will try my best.

Zionism is a movement to return Jews to their “homeland” which happens to basically be Palestine. Now, this isn’t the problem – Jews returning to their homeland. The problem is, really, how their homeland was created out of Palestinian land. Though many do not understand this, Israel has not been a nation that dates back to Jesus’ time. It was important to Jews, yes, and some considered it the “Promised Land,” but it was not the Jews’ property until the State of Israel was created in 1948.

While Zionism had been a movement since the late 1800’s, things really didn’t heat up until after World War II and the Holocaust sent some thousands of displaced Jews out to find new homes. Palestine had been under British rule since 1922, so Britain decided to send the unwanted (because seriously, that’s what they were by Western Europe, mostly) Jews to Palestine. This, in turn, angered the Palestinians and a conflict between the Jews and the Arabs arose. Britain decided they could not reach an agreement between the two groups and decided to withdraw their control over Palestine, though they left the Jews in the land. The UN stepped in to create two countries, Palestine and Israel, and while the Jewish group gladly accepted the deal, the Arabs did not. Regardless, Israel was declared a nation one day before the British rule over Palestine was to expire in 1948, and the Arab nation of Palestine was never made official. This left the areas formerly known as Palestine that were not yet annexed as Israel up for grabs. Thus creating the Arab-Israeli Conflict that exists to this day.

Five Arab nations – Egypt, Syria, Jordan Lebanon and Iraq – then declared war with Israel in 1948 immediately after Israel’s declaration of independence. Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip. However, in the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel seized control of both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This created even more anger and frustration, and so goes the story.

(End Part 1)

Posted by: Amie | November 16, 2008

In a Moment of Hope

Though I had worked the Obama campaign and was heavily encouraged to vote early (as I was telling others to do the same), I felt like there was something patriotic and symbolic about waiting in a long line on Election Day. I gathered up my things and my five-months pregnant self and headed out to my polling place. While in line I was engaged in conversation by an older gentleman. By older I’m being polite; he was much older than my own grandpa and I was surprised he had the stamina to stand for such a long period. He was dressed in a retired veteran’s garb: a hat denoting his retired rank and tours of duty along with a jacket with patches that told the same and American flags on either shoulder. On his wrist he had a shiny metal POW bracelet right next to his diabetic alert tag.

“Who are you voting for?” he leaned in and asked me.

Being from a Republican town in a ferociously “red” state, I learned early (from painful experience) to not reveal my leftist political tendencies in public unless I was ready for a heated debate.

“Well, sir, the beauty of our election system is I don’t have to tell,” I smiled.

“Ohhhh, well, you are a pistol, aren’t you?” He chuckled and fought off a coughing spell. “Well, I’m voting for Obama. Yeah, I know. Why would an old guy like me not go for the war hero? He just doesn’t represent me, or what I need, you know?”

He went on to tell me about the hard labor he had endured after the war to build a family and keep them comfortable. He told me how he had taken a job selling gas tanks and how, after nearly 25 years of experience, one had exploded on his shift and he inhaled flames. While he, his family, and his doctors were surprised and thankful he had made it out alive, he was left with 20% lung capacity and a heap of medical bills that, to this day he is unable to pay.

“Now my wife is sick and her insurance isn’t paying all her bills. We’ve spent $250,000 at Mayo Clinic trying to get her help, and we’re scared we’re going to lose our house. Our daughters – all grown and married now – are now helping us pay for our bills. Is this any way to spend the “golden years?” I’m voting for Obama. We just need a little hope.”

When he had finished his story, it was my time for me to step into the booth. Moments of my own past few years flickered quickly though my mind: Listening to my grandmother on the phone fighting the insurance company for my recently deceased grandfather’s hospital bills. Hugging my roommate and friend as she was deployed for Iraq. Watching my cousin kiss his week-old baby girl goodbye as he suited up for his third tour in the Middle East .The day my manager told me my dream-job was no more as our company had gone under due to economic stress. The last time I closed our front door when my husband and I moved out of the home we had lost. I wished the veteran well, and with more conviction than ever, I cast my ballot.

I sat that night in my friend’s living room with an inability to shift my eyes from MSNBC. Several of the states on the screen began springing up red and I gripped the arm of the couch to steady myself as I winced in suspense. All the analysts and pundits became a blur as they projected here, called it there and whizzed digital maps across the screen. Pennsylvania turned blue. Then Ohio. While the room when up in a raucous of laughter and claps, I have to admit I sat quietly in near disbelief.  Yes, we did.

Live shots from Harlem and Grant Park showed people huddled in masses holding each other and some with tears streaming down their faces in a manner that strangely resembled scenes from December 31st, 1999. Never in my or many others’ lifetime did we see such a celebration of an elected president.

I sipped my sparkling grape juice after a toast and we soberly watched John McCain give his concession speech. There he was, all of his fiery “fight” burned out as he spoke about his intention to support Barack Obama in his presidency. His words were greeted with loud boos from the crowd, and he grimaced and raised his hands to stifle the sound.

I couldn’t understand why. After all, wasn’t he the same John McCain who smiled and reveled in the loud, guttural voices of disdain for Obama at his rallies? What did he expect to hear? McCain, his running mate and several members of his party had spent months teaching supporters hatred, fear, disrespect and to become a true war hero’s personal enemies: sunshine patriots.

When the President-Elect stood in the bright lights at Grant Park and spoke of his opponent, in stark contrast to Arizona, his words were met with cheers. When his rally booed the mention of John McCain in Pennsylvania days before the election, he responded, “You don’t need to boo; just vote.” And we did.

With all the negative campaigning, the calls to McCarthyism from Michelle Bachmann, the “real” Virginia and “real” America nonsense from Nancy Pfotenhauer and Sarah Palin respectively, the folksy and rather patronizing and misleading speech, the ridiculous notion of Joe the Plumber, the racist and xenophobic conversations that took place in the GOP, the Bush Administration as a whole and along with all the other blows that America has taken, badly battered and bruised she finally spoke up for herself. We the people had eight, long years to feel the burn and learn the lesson of making a decision based on hate and fear. We were unwilling to stick our hands in the flames again.

I watched people in Chicago hugging and celebrating. I saw tears in Jesse Jackson’s eyes. I thought of the veteran, my retiree grandparents, my husband and my growing baby in my belly and what the future held for us all. Was the worst over? Probably not. But it was a new beginning full of great expectations and a feeling of hope that we hadn’t felt, as nation, in so long.

I couldn’t help but let the warm tears roll down my cheeks as for the first time I had pride in my heart for my country. It wasn’t because we had defeated an evil regime or some other heroic feat. It was because I felt we had set our differences, our loyalties and perhaps our preferences and comforts aside to finally do the right thing.

My phone flashed repeatedly as text messages from friends all over the country and overseas sent their congratulations. I took a deep breath (the first I was able to catch all evening), bid my friends farewell, and drove home where my husband met me at the door. We hugged and walked inside to drink the rest of the sparkling grape juice in celebration. We spent the rest of the evening watching repeated clips from Grant Park, and went to sleep a restful sleep with hope for a good morning.






Posted by: Amie | October 22, 2008

Trouble with West Virginia Votes

It was already predicted by the Simpsons:

Read more from The Zoo.

Just a coincidence that we haven’t heard a lot about this in mainstream media? I think not.

These are people’s votes! I mean come on! This should be plastered all over the news networks and dealt with! Instead we’re talking about whether Al-Qaeda is going to swing our vote. I think if we can’t cast our vote for whom we choose, it really doesn’t matter what Al-Qeada has to say.

Posted by: Amie | October 21, 2008

My Favorite LOL Cat

Look Alikes

Look Alikes

Posted by: Amie | October 21, 2008

Muslims for McCain and Mr. Powell

You all well know that I’m supporting Barack Obama in this election. And while my whole family (mostly Republican) is also turning out for Obama this year, my grandpa, whom I love dearly, is standing firm in his support for McCain. I poke fun, I argue and debate, but in the end, I do not respect anyone less as a person for voting against my political choice. After all, my freedom to choose constitutes everyone else’s freedom to choose.

However, I will under no circumstance tolerate ignorance and unfortunately, it has been passed like a rampant disease among McCain supporters. We’ve heard everything from Obama’s a terrorist “paling around” with Bill Ayers to being a Muslim jihadist, to a Black-supremacist Christian. While we all have had the truth about Ayers regurgitated over and over thanks to Hilary and John, which is it? Is he an extremist Muslim or and extremist Christian? It’s certainly hard to make someone into both – unless you’re Fox News, of course.

The word Muslim in the United States has undoubtedly become synonymous
with words such as “terrorist,” “hatred,” “death,” and “destruction.” And where did all this Islamophobia come from? If there are Muslim Americans (like myself) they certainly didn’t come here to stir the pot. The converted (like me) into Islam after being born and raised with American culture and values, they left their countries of tyrany to come here, or they came to live out the American Dream – just like everyone else.

September 11th and other acts of terrorism around the globe are just as condoned by Muslim Americans (and Muslims around the world, mind you) about as much as black lynchings and abortion clinic bombings are condoned by Christian Americans or dare I say, the Holocaust by Germans. After all the KKK and Neo-nazis are ” Protestant Christian” organizations, are they not? …only as much as Al-Qaeda and other such groups are “Muslim” organizations. But people seem to forget the past and Islam has become the scapegoat for all modern evils. It’s foreign, relatively new and misunderstood, and therefore “scary” and conveniently easy to distort.

At a McCain rally in Woodbridge, VA, a man and a female partner were spotted by an American News Project journalist. While shouting anti-Islamic balderdash, anti-truths about Obama’s history, and anti-socialist remarks, he handed out bumper stickers that said, “Obama for Change.” The ‘C’ was replaced with an Islamic symbol, the crescent moon and star, and the ‘G’ with hammer and sickle made (in)famous by the Communist Soviet Union.

He was approached and refuted by a group of Muslims, a Muslim campaign worker, and other McCain supporters attending the rally.

I think his female partner has learned her press skills from Sarah Palin, and I’m glad they walked away. They were obviously very wrong, as most people are, with their opinions and assumptions that Obama is in any way a Muslim, or that being a Muslim, in general, is something to be ashamed of.

When I saw this clip on CNN today, it reminded me of the rally in Wisconsin where the lady stood up and said she can’t trust Obama because he’s an Arab.

While John McCain corrected her, and rightly so (kudos, John), it makes me wonder how many people let their votes me swayed by such ridiculous bunk?

My attention snapped back to the screen when I heard mention of Colin Powell. I’ve always personally respected Colin Powell – how could you not? Regardless of party, I’ve never heard anyone have too many negative things to say about him.

While he donated a great amount to John McCain’s campaign in the beginning, and it was speculated he may become McCain’s running mate (which would have made a world of difference in favor of McCain in my opinion), he recently denounced his support for the McCain campaign on Meet the Press.

While I was more than happy about his decision to support Barack Obama’s campaign (obviously), I was overjoyed and impressed by the other content of his interview. He spoke about the [Republican] party straying too far to the right for his liking, McCain Camp straying from real issues that need to be addressed and about the Islamophobia that has gripped the nation.

What he said about being Muslim is true. When did choosing your own religion label you as unpatriotic and impossibly American when our on first amendment states FREEDOM of religion? Why is it so hard to comprehend a Muslim president?

Gen. Powell mentioned a mother who was photographed in The New Yorker at Arlington National Cemetery over the headstone of her son, Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan. He was 20 when he died, and 14 at the time of September 11th.

Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan

The Gannett News Service said he was “spurred by the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center
[and] wanted to show that not all Muslims were fanatics and that many,
like him, were willing to lay their lives down for their country,
America. He enlisted immediately after graduation and was sent to Iraq
in July 2006.”

I feel sad for this mother to have to constantly listen to the anti-Islam banter knowing her son gave his life for an unappreciative country. I feel sorry for those who turn out to support their candidate and meet haters along the way. I feel scared for my children and my family as we live in and face a nation of ignorance and intolerance.

However, Mr. Powell gave me a second wind. Finally someone stood up to speak the truth and the reality of the situation in a mature and educated fashion. And all out of the mouth of a Republican, nonetheless. Who’da thought?

Posted by: Amie | October 18, 2008

Don’t Vote

Celebs tell you not to vote

Older Posts »

Categories