Curtain Raiser

Laboring for Peace, Justice & Land, Colltalers

A handshake, and years of work, was what it took for North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in to finally meet and talk about peace. It also capped a week when the first Lynching Memorial was opened, and thousands of Brazilian natives rallied for land rights.
A common thread led it to what’s happening in Gaza and Israel. All four developments share the agony of race relations, circa 2018, and how urgent it is to repurpose them. Above all, it was a week when news about the U.S. president were demoted to the lowly second paragraph.
Trump, of course, ruminated and self-incriminated once again, and this time it may all stick. But the president stood completely pat while historic events mobilized billions. When history comes into such focus, news about the death of truth can sound like being grossly misstated.
A memorial museum to the over 4,000 victims of lynchings in America opened in Montgomery, Alabama, where almost 300 blacks, slaves, and women, were hanged for racists’ public entertainment. More will be added about those 1870-1950 years of the nation’s darkest times.
As weighty as such monument may be, it’s a crucial step to right a tragic wrong. Immorally, lynchings were normalized for two full centuries, ever since the original kill: the theft of entire villages to enslave them, thousands of miles away from home. That’s when all of it started.
For much less time Palestinians have been shouting to the world, and getting always out-shined by Syria, or Iraq or Afghanistan, about their land and misery. But their plight paralyzes and scares Israelis, who seem to have all but forgotten, or lost faith, in the two-state solution.
Or rather, they’ve been manipulated by the right-wing political elite dictating the nation’s current policies, as many have denounced before. Israel seems to be mirroring the U.S.’s toxic civil environment. Since Palestinians began weekly Friday protests, Israeli forces have killed 37 unarmed Palestinians, including two journalists. Just like in this country, victims vary and are many, while perpetrators are always the same.
Over 2,000 of one of the most oppressed Brazilians, indigenous natives, showed up in Brasilia, last Thursday. They are trying to reverse a sad, but well-known trend: the rollback of their land rights,

bitterly earned with the 1988 Constitution. They’ve got a formidable enemy.
The ‘rural caucus’ is one of Brazil’s two major political forces supporting the current regime. Big landowners, they control all businesses involving land in Brazil. To them, indigenous stand on their way to profit. The other force, the ‘Evangélicos,’ supports a candidate to Michel Temer’s succession, who’s said not long ago, that if elected, indians won’t earn propriety rights to not even a ‘centimeter’ more of land.
Seventy indigenous peoples and their defenders were killed over land clashes in Brazil, last year, even as deforestation rates retreated. What links blacks, Palestinians, and Brazilian natives, is racial injustice, due reparation, and owning the title to the land of one’s ancestors.
Variations of these themes are present in the patient work done to get the two Koreas to talk about denuclearization. While the world took a breath of relief, reunification may’ve gotten Koreans very hopeful again. Trump naturally wanted to seize the moment and claim ownership of the gesture. But he was overcome not just by the enormity of the events themselves, but by the ever deeper hole he’s been digging himself in.
Worst: it was the sole issue when his desire to be attached to it coincided with that of everybody else. By his first derogatory Kim comments, though, he’d disqualified himself. Another geopolitical gaffe when he’ll sit with Kim will further curtail the scope of his presidency. Trump’s newly-gained irrelevance, however, poses yet one added concern about this administration: what will occupy the president’s volatile disposition?
He continues to generate headlines and drive media revenues with his incoherent interviews, even to his worried allies at Fox and Friends. But that, plus the increasingly bizarre tweets, will never equate with being leader of the most powerful nation. Who, in the context of these four transcendental events, had no discernible contribution to, and actually has consistently stood on the wrong side of each one of them.
The American black legacy, the struggle for a Palestinian state, and Brazil’s centuries-long eradication of its natives, are part of a perennial fight for social justice and racial equality by citizens the world over. Their implications are as profound now as they were 50 years ago, in the turmoil of May 68. We’re still safer when we talk, not with the trillions of dollars the U.S. military complex spends using the same excuse.
While May Day in the U.S. is far from what it means globally, it’s still a date originated by the struggle of American workers. Perhaps the time is ripe to seized it back to them to demand a new, fairer, contract between labor and capital. And to celebrate the worth of laboring for peace that Koreans just taught us. The same spirit is needed to restore dignity to the U.S., the Middle East and the world. Welcome Spring. WC


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