Shooting at the Tree of Life

Poems

Here’s how to make Trump’s toxic soup, as shown and promoted by Fox News:
Begin with a broth made from the rhetoric of fear and violence; add cinnamon
sticks of hatred, racism, and xenophobia; remove any tiny tea leaves of empathy
that may have accidentally dropped into the liquid mix; throw in a flavoring
of subtle and overt appeals to the coming-up-from-the-underground white power
movement; and then add the final secret ingredient—thirteen herbal drops
of near and far scapegoating that will motivate a portion of soup eaters
with the most extreme tendencies to act in predictably murderous ways, one
of which will be the worst mass killing of Jews ever seen in American history.

The country that did so much to help defeat Nazi Germany now has a choice
between ceasing to make or support this kind of toxic soup, or turning the Pittsburgh
shooting into America’s Kristallnacht, a beginning. What a week—a Saudi-American
journalist murdered, acid-washed, and bone-sawed into pieces; the killing of two black
grocery shoppers in Kentucky which would have been worse if the black church’s
front door wasn’t locked; mail bombs sent to over a dozen of Trump’s high-profile
opponents by a Trump fanatic who probably believed Trump’s previous public offer
to pay for lawyers for people who would beat up those protesting his political rallies;
and then the semi-automatic shooting of 11 Jews praying peacefully at the Tree of Life.

Meanwhile, a neo-fascist president has just been elected in Brazil, promising
to cut down swaths of the Amazon Rainforest, which will speed up climate
change as much as anything that any country could do. How did a species
like humanity evolve with such a mix of intelligence and ignorance, inventiveness
and destructiveness, empathy and sociopathy? When a Tree of Life is shot up,
the choice of whether to create a human future or not becomes urgent, a choice
that for the moment could go in either direction. Will the roots of the Tree of Life
next be watered and nurtured or ripped up? Do you know?

Eliot Katz
October 2018