Thursday, November 30, 2023
"Kissinger’s profound intellect and scholarly exploits offered definitive proof that genius does not breed wisdom or moral strength, nor does firsthand experience of human atrocity lead one to eschew it. In my grandfather’s own oral history, he explained the impossibility of understanding the Holocaust if you did not witness or experience it. “You can read and study all the books,” he said. “If you weren’t there, you cannot imagine what it was.” Henry Kissinger was there. He saw the horrors. He saw, in his own words, the “skeletons in striped suits,” the heads “held up by a stick that once might have been a throat,” “the empty faces, the dead eyes.” He knew that he may well have been among the dead if his Jewish German family had not fled the Nazis in 1938. And yet, when future regimes sought to unleash unspeakable violence against civilians—in some cases, to wipe out entire groups of people—he assisted and encouraged them."
If I may, if this is what defines Kissinger as a world-historical monster - the fact that he was a first-hand witness to atrocity, and nevertheless enabled atrocities - then this seems to me to be why Israel's retaliation against civilians in Gaza is horrifying. Because when a person, or a nation, is intimate with the worst things that humanity is capable of, that person, or that nation, should refuse to commit to commit such acts. Perhaps it's just personal, but I expect better from such people, or such nations- my own included. The United States is useless it is aspirational, and that's true of Israel as well.
Tuesday, November 07, 2023
Number 55 at my poling place this morning just after 8:30