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Rebecca Gordon, The Hamster Wheel of War

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How repetitive history sometimes seems when it comes to slaughter! The response to having 1,200 people in your country, including at least 29 children, brutally killed is to slaughter 5,000 or more children in the land where your enemy is hiding. Does that make any sense at all? And keep in mind that, when it comes to the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza, that 5,000 is no more than a holding figure for what could, in the weeks to come, prove to be thousands more kids dead (and who knows how many more wounded ones), some slaughtered by bombs, missiles, and bullets, some undoubtedly succumbing to starvation and disease. We’re already talking about significantly more dead children than the total number of those killed in conflicts globally in 2022. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has all too accurately labeled Gaza “a graveyard for children.” (But given what’s happening, it will undoubtedly be a “graveyard” without tombstones or monuments.)

Tell me if that makes sense. What did any children ever do to deserve such a fate? Could this truly be, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims, evidence of “the battle of civilization against barbarism”? Does such ongoing slaughter — including staggering numbers of air strikes against Gaza, the destruction of much of its housing and its hospitals, the displacement of nearly 1.7 million of its 2.3 million people, and the denial of the most basic human needs (food, fuel, and water) — add up to a reasonable response to the nightmare of Hamas’s October 7th attack? And honestly, has “the essential nation” on this planet, as President Biden likes to call the United States, done faintly what’s necessary to bring things under control (rather than rushing yet more weapons to Israel and two aircraft carrier task forces, troops, and planes to the region, creating the possibility of an even wider war of some sort to come)?

Given such a nightmare, doesn’t it make sense to think about other ways to face the violence that seems such an essential part of the human condition? In that context, let TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon explore the idea of a nonviolent response to our violent world. Tom

Is It Time (Once Again) for Nonviolent Rebellion?

On Ending Dreams of Revenge in Israel, Palestine, and Elsewhere

When I was in my early twenties, I seriously considered murdering someone. He had given my best friend genital herpes, which many health practitioners then believed was the agent responsible for causing cervical cancer in women. (It wasn't.)

Back in the 1970s, though, I believed that, by infecting my friend, he might have set in motion a process that would someday kill her. That he was an arrogant jerk made it that much easier for me to contemplate murdering him. But there was a larger context to my private dream of revenge. My anger was also fed by a growing awareness that so many of us were just then acquiring of the history of systematic patriarchal threats to, and constraints on, the lives of women. And in those heady days of second-wave radical feminism, I could imagine killing that man as a legitimate response, however brutal, to the male violence that seemed to surround me, and as part of a larger uprising of women.

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Engelhardt, World War III?

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[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Just a reminder, as you read my latest piece about our ever-more-beleaguered planet. Do consider lending a hand to this ever-more-beleaguered website. There’s no way I’ll be able to adequately thank those of you who have offered TomDispatch regular monthly donations and those who give from time to time, but believe me, you’ve made all the difference. I’m only hoping that there are more of you out there keeping up with this site who, as the year winds down, might think about giving us something. If so, please check out our donation page and then do your damnedest. A million thanks in advance! Tom]

A Slow-Motion Gaza

Or How to Carbonize Planet Earth

Imagine this: humanity in its time on Earth has already come up with two distinct ways of destroying this planet and everything on it. The first is, of course, nuclear weapons, which once again surfaced in the ongoing nightmare in the Middle East. (An Israeli minister recently threatened to nuke Gaza.) The second, you won't be surprised to learn, is what we've come to call "climate change" or "global warming" -- the burning, that is, of fossil fuels to desperately overheat our already flaming world. In its own fashion, that could be considered a slow-motion version of the nuking of the planet.

Put another way, in some grim sense, all of us now live in Gaza. (Most of us just don't know it yet.)

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Robert Lipsyte, Goodbye to All That

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Though I was no athlete — or how would you explain all those grounders that went through the legs of second baseman Tom Engelhardt or why, when I got older, I so often ended up banished to, yes, right field? — I grew up in a world of sports. As a kid in the 1950s, so long before the online universe made more or less everything available, I can remember having one of those old wooden radios with the golden dials behind my bed. At night, I would keep my ear to the radio, so I could hear the Brooklyn Dodgers night games without my parents realizing I was awake. After all, I had to know what right fielder Carl “the Rifle” Furillo did, not to speak of Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Don Newcombe, Jackie Robinson, and so many other players of that distant era. And of course, I’d regularly check the box scores in the paper, probably the New York Post (since my mom drew political caricatures for that liberal rag of the 1950s).

I remember the thrill in high school, though still a Dodgers fan, of going to a New York Giants game and the next day finding myself in a sports photo on the back page of the New York Daily News. (Mind you, I was part of a large outfield crowd watching Willie Mays catch a fly ball and only I knew it was me in that shot.) And yes, when I got older, I read the sports pages of the New York Times, too. As the years went by, that was the place I regularly turned to in the morning before even paying much attention to the front-page news. (I mean, honestly, what could have been more important than the latest in sports, especially when it came to my teams?)

And somewhere in those years, I undoubtedly began reading Robert Lipsyte. After all, when, in 1957, the Dodgers announced that they were deserting the Big Apple for Los Angeles, I felt bereft, betrayed, and bewildered. Then, in 1962, when I was 18, the Mets came to town. I naturally Metified in a major way — and one of the New York Times sportswriters assigned to cover the team that first year was… yes, Lipsyte. And we met, first on the page and years later in person, and I’ve known him ever since. So, who better than that former New York Times sportswriter and columnist, TomDispatch regular, and author of SportsWorld: An American Dreamland to offer a fervent farewell to the sports section of the Times? Tom

Farewell to the New York Times Sports Department

Or Should It Be Good Riddance?

In the spring of 1957, in search of a summer job before heading west to graduate school, I answered a classified New York Times ad for an editorial assistant. The personnel clerk at the paper was condescending. Bachelor's degrees are a dime a dozen, she told me. For their newsroom, she said, they were looking for Ph.D. candidates and Rhodes scholars. Still, sighing at her own generosity, she let me fill out the paperwork.

I did so, but not being much of a Times reader then, I quickly moved on. I spent the rest of that day filling out other applications around town. When I got home my mother said, “You had a crank call, Bobby. A man said that, if you show up tomorrow and pass a physical, you can start work immediately at the New York Times.”

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