Parashat Ki Tetzei, and Humanity vs. Law

Parashat Ki Tetzei (l'milchama...) /When you go out to war... (war against whom, or against what?  Against inhumanity, perhaps?)

    This week we read about the requirement, from which the RAMBAM draws his famous order, not to return a fugitive slave.  Ironic, for a country claiming to be founded in principles based on the Bible, to pass a law ordering the contrary, no?  This parashah, as well as the inhumane law which it prohibits, figures prominently in Black Historyfugitive-slave_kidnap_post_1851_boston  which, of course,  is also American history.

  The_Fugitive_Slave_Law....Hamlet_in_Chains

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10 thoughts on “Parashat Ki Tetzei, and Humanity vs. Law

      1. Typically human, what we all may need to brutally endure in order to survive the very-long-term from ourselves is an even greater, non-humanoid nemesis than our own politics and perceptions of differences — especially those involving skin-color and creed — against which we could all unite, defend, attack and defeat, then greatly celebrate. Maybe a humanicidal, multi-tentacled extraterrestrial invader, like that from the 1996 blockbuster movie Independence Day, would suffice.

        During this much-needed human allegiance, we’d be forced to work closely side-by-side together and witness just how humanly similar we are to each other. (Although, I’ve been informed that one or more human parties might actually attempt to forge an allegiance with the ETs to better their own chances for survival, thus indicating that our wanting human condition may be even worse than I had originally thought.)

        Still, maybe some five or more decades later when all traces of the nightmarish ET invasion are gone, we will inevitably revert to those same politics to which we humans seem so collectively hopelessly prone — including those of scale: the intercontinental, international, national, provincial or state, regional and municipal, and etcetera, etcetera.

        ____

        P.S. I’ve heard that, before non-white people became the primary source of newcomers to North America, thick-accented Eastern Europeans were the main targets of meanspirited Anglo-Saxon bigotry. As a thick-accented/broken-English 1950s Eastern-European immigrant to Canada, my (now-late) father experienced such mistreatment. Therefor, hypothetically, if Canada/America were to revert back to a primarily-white populace, if not some VDARE whites-only utopia, I wouldn’t be surprised if Eastern Europeans with a thick Slavic accent would inevitably again become the main target of the dominant Euro-Canadian ethnicity.

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  1. In Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved, the narrator notes that, like the South, the Civil War era northern states also hated Black people but happened to hate slavery more.

    Given a fair chance, a Black child can achieve greatness. Nonetheless, Black people have been brutalized for centuries, and in the U.S. told they were not welcome — even though they, as a people, had been violently forced to the U.S. from their African home as slaves! And, as a people, there has been little or no reparations or real refuge for them here, since. …

    Human beings can actually be consciously or subconsciously perceived and treated as though they are disposable and, by extension, their suffering and death are somehow less worthy of external concern, even by otherwise democratic and relatively civilized nations.
    While obviously no person should ever be considered disposable human life, one can also observe this immense injustice with the many Canadian indigenous children who’ve been buried in unmarked graves.

    [A somewhat similar inhuman(e) devaluation can also be observed in external attitudes, albeit perhaps on a subconscious level, toward the daily civilian lives lost in protractedly devastating war zones and famine-stricken nations: the worth of such life will be measured by its overabundance and/or the protracted conditions under which it suffers. Those people can eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page of the First World’s daily news.]

    Meanwhile, racist/xenophobic sentiment is typically handed down generation to generation. If it’s deliberate, it’s something I strongly feel amounts to a form of child abuse: to rear one’s impressionably very young children in an environment of overt bigotry — especially against other ethnicities and races.

    Not only does it fail to prepare children for the practical reality of an increasingly diverse and populous society and workplace, it also makes it so much less likely those children will be emotionally content or (preferably) harmonious with their multicultural and multi-ethnic/-racial surroundings.

    Children reared into their adolescence and, eventually, young adulthood this way can often be angry yet not fully realize at precisely what. Then they may feel left with little choice but to move to another part of the land, where their own ethnicity/race predominates, preferably overwhelmingly so.

    If not for themselves, parents then should do their young children a big favor and NOT pass down onto their very impressionable offspring such bigoted feelings and perceptions (nor implicit stereotypes and ‘humor,’ for that matter). Ironically, such rearing can make life much harder for one’s own children.

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