A Soldier Cries Today
I nearly didn't write this update tonight, I decided perhaps prudence is a good thing. As Thomas Jefferson might say, "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." Plus I have a few things on my mind I want to address, but it's never fun to start on a downer note, so that'll have to wait a moment.
First up, something not so serious, "The Preacher" by Garth Ennis
The Preacher is an interesting but extremely blasphemous comic. It's about a rather messed up young preacher, Jesse Custer, who is suddenly combined with the ethereal force of a newborn god "Genesis". Genesis, the byproduct of some hot raunchy sex between a male angel and a female demon, is a being that even makes the Lord almighty himself nervous... so nervous that after Genesis is born, God decides to quit the throne, and gets the hell outta dodge. The rest of heaven, left to clean up after this whole tawdry affair and keep heaven in order while God is away, lock up Genesis, but they can only hold a being that powerful for so long. Custer, now imbued with the power of the "Word of God" which allows him to command nearly anyone to obey his will, is on a mission to find God and hold him responsible for quitting his post. Along for the trip is an Irish vampire (Cassidy) and a Custer's white trash ex-girlfriend turned assassin (Tulip). Other side characters include an invincible spirit of death in the form of an old west gunfighter called the "Saint of Killers" and a lovable young boy who mutilated himself with a self-inflicted gunshot ala Kurt Cobain who only calls himself "Arseface". Custer also has an imaginary friend, John Wayne, and who doesn't love the good ol' Duke?
Cassidy offering us a cultural history lesson, one of many gems.
This comic is graphic, in fact, so graphic that it fails to shock after the first few issues. An example of how graphic the comic is comes in the misfortunes of one of the main antagonists, Herr Starr, leader of an organization called the "Grail", dedicated to preserving the bloodline of Jesus and bringing about the Armageddon. Many terrible things happen to this man, I have compiled a short list...
Spoilers (hence the small grey text)
2. He has his ear blown off.
3. Later on, he is attacked by Reverend Custer, and has a large notch is drawn in the middle of his bald head, giving his head the appearance of a penis. This leads to much mockery and a variety of hats.
4. If that wasn't enough, this poor bastard then has his leg chopped off and eaten by cannibals... and to escape the cannibalists, he had to wipe the dirty ass of a retarded boy and hop on his one remaining leg for several miles in the desert to civilization.
5. Then a dog attacks him and rips his balls off, and he is forced to piss through a tube.
Despite sounding like a harsh series of events, each actually seem to fall in "good humor". This comic actually has an incredible amount of character development in it, more than most comics I've read in the past, in fact the character development makes it easy to overlook the audacious content. It touches on a variety of issues, the Preacher's power to use the Word on his foes makes for some interesting situations, and well, it's pretty much universally agreed that God is just a prick anyways. The acts of the various evil-doers are despicable - rape, bestiality, cannibalism, pedophilia - and the consequences are equally disturbing. I would definitely recommend reading it, but this comic is definitely not for the light of heart.
And for something more serious, an Israeli soldier cries today in the Gaza Strip
As you should well know, I am pro-Israel. I recognize the fight of Israeli independence against the British occupiers as a legitimate one. Palestine, the original territory, was mostly converted to purely Arab settlements, the territory known as Transjordan, in 1921. Arabs in the remaining sliver of that land, now known as Israel, know full well that there were long-standing Jewish settlements there that were peaceful. Did these Arabs, who had the option to be civilized human beings, help Jewish settlers against biased British immigration restrictions during the height of European WWII-era anti-semiticism, or side with them during the pending revolution? No, because the Arabs there only valued kicking out the Jews who threatened their cultural identity moreso than the British who were merely passive, remote rulers. They felt this way before Israeli independence and long after it, because that has always been their single cultural agenda: destroy anything that is not part of Islam. The Palestinian settlers did not help establish the independence of the new Jewish state, losing any claim to it they had, and instead these lowlife Arabs set out on a manifest destiny to ethnically purge the Middle East of that last major remnant of non-Islamic belief known as Israel. Those same Arabs would not be taken in by neighboring Arab nations, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Jordan - those nations told them they were on their own. Israel couldn't deal with them, since the native Palestinian settlers were constant threats of local terrorism. Hostilities have been high between Israel and the Arabs who neighbor it ever since Israeli independence and to this day.
The tension grew so bad that Israel finally decided to call it "quits" in two Palestinian-contested territories, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Having to already resort to extreme measures to prevent the rise of continued terrorism in these areas, like bulldozing Palestinian homes merely to get the terrorist families and supporters to move further from the border, the Israeli government has now successfully created a withdrawal plan and is enacting it today in the Gaza Strip. Israel is going to take all of its troops, all of its civilian settlers, and consolidate back into its currently known borders, officially giving Gaza Strip to the unruly Arabs there. You would think Arabs living there would be happy (and some were seen cheering the retreat of the Israelis), however most Arabs in the region stick by their policy of ethnic and cultural cleansing of Judaism from the Middle East, and won't be truly happy until Israel falls into the sea.
What really breaks my heart though is not so much the bitter hatred between the native Arabs and Israelis... that's a one-sided issue in my mind and I fully support Israel's actions, any nation would do the same in the face of such severe levels of terrorism. Today, Israeli troops were forced to carry out the mandate to move Jewish settlers back into Israel's borders and out of the bitterly contested Gaza Strip... for good. Settlers who have, for their whole lives, tried to build peaceful communities, are being forced to move to establish better relations with the native Arabs. The result?
The Jewish Israelis are a proud people, they've built very strong communities in a proverbial lion's den, and now many of them are giving up their long-held jobs, their homes and families. The Israeli government is reimbursing them for their troubles... but for some people, it's more a matter of principle. So today, it wasn't Arabs fighting the Jews... it was Jews fighting Jews. Young men took to the streets, doing their best to stymie armed efforts to evacuate the area. The picture above was taken after an armed Israeli guard got into an argument with indignant citizens... and it's really sad to look at.
What we do for cultural acceptance is nothing compared to what these people do. Me and you, we might cry occasionally because we don't "fit in"... but we're in America, a land that is perhaps overflowing with cultural tolerance. In Israel, it's a different matter. Your creed is everything, and the Palestinian settlers believe in destroying the Jewish way of life. It conflicts with their militant Muslim ideals. This is the result... perfectly fine communities must now be sacrificed to the altar of establishing better long-term relationships with the locals. Entire communities are now being forcibly relocated.
My gut reaction, when this idea was first proposed, was probably the same reaction of the Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip are acting on right now... the idea that yeah, it is bullshit that they have to move. But after looking over the plan, seeing that Israel was very committed to making this move peaceful, it makes a great deal of sense, given that there is no short or long term solution to the cultural conflict at hand. Simply put, short of exterminating all the Palestinian settlers in those areas, Israelis will not be able to peacefully settle in the territories of Gaza Strip and the West Bank regions. Peaceful co-existance is not an option today, and that's sad.
To see a community of civilized people tearing themselves apart today, while barbarians plot on the sidelines, is tragic. There is no way for me to expect that there won't continue to be resistance in moving Israeli settlements out of the Gaza Strip as the disengagement plan continues, the protests in the Gaza Strip today prove that, I can only hope that the relocation continues as swiftly and peacefully as possible.
Well, I guess it's not fun to end on a downer note either.
- Good ol' PA