There’s NO Good Guys Here

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

When I did the original Pee Wee Herman show back in the early 80’s, there was a segment in the show which never made it to the TV broadcast. It was a segment entitled “Pen Pals From Around The World,” in which Pee Wee read supposed “fan mail.” One was from a child named Shlomo, and read, “Greetings, Pee Wee! My name is Shlomo. I live in Israel. I’m nine, and I’ve been in the Army for TWO YEARS now.” At the time, I and most of our audiences thought the line was funny. Just for clarity, that segment was not edited out for its controversial content, but because the child actor with Pee Wee in that segment was not a fully legal immigrant. It’s been 33 years since we did that show, but given what’s been going on, that line suddenly speaks to me again.

I have never been in any kind of war zone, but almost exactly 20 years ago, I was pretty close to one. I was doing my first gigs ever outside of North America, entertaining US army men and women stationed in various bases in South Korea. I remember all the employees at the army bases were Korean citizens who for the most part resented our presence there, maintaining that they could take care of themselves, while US authorities were (figuratively) telling them, “No you can’t.” There was one base I performed at that was less than 50 miles from the North Korean border. The soldiers there were pretty much on constant alert, and that worried me a bit, but fortunately we were only performing there, and would be done in about 2 hours, then would be driven back to Seoul 120 miles away after the show. Actually the worst part of that tour was being paired up with a complete dick of a cruise-ship hack comic who annoyed me more each day of the three weeks we were stuck with each other. Being in a car with him for hours at a time was my own war zone.

But back to Israel. What I compare it to, especially when the right wing says “But Hamas fired first,” well yeah, they’re probably correct. And the fact that Hamas continues to fire rockets on Israel doesn’t give them many sympathy votes on the world forum. I equate it to some little guy punching some mountainous thug in the face. Of course, the thug is going to retaliate with a lot more force than the little guy, mostly because he can. But if the thug decides to go to the little guy’s house and deck his whole family, then the sympathy votes go back to the original aggressor, who just meant to punch the guy’s face. When the little guy decides to land one more punch, even after the perceived retribution has been served, then nobody looks good.

Then taking it a step further, suppose the thug owns countless square miles of land that surround the little guy’s house. The little guy can’t really walk safely about, but there’s also nowhere to flee if he decides being a martyr isn’t so cool after all. The geographical placement of Gaza Strip is such that the only people that could currently flee would be those with supernatural swimming ability, but those beaches are pretty heavily patrolled too. No, my few experiences in Harlem, Watts, and San Francisco/Oakland ghettos were scary enough. I can only imagine how horrible it is for Palestinian children who are too young to know another way of life.

I’m trying to keep this as apolitical as possible, because for starters, I admittedly don’t know much more than what I’ve seen on the news. I’ve been relying on certain friends’ passionate Facebook posts and the debate that those posts ensue to help form my opinion. The US seems in a precarious position too, since they’ve always sympathized with Israel, a country pretty much surrounded by enemy nations. But if some rocket shot off by Hamas reaches some Israeli stronghold and kills two soldiers, it’s hard to retaliate with a big fireball aimed at a primary school and expect many votes of support.

I know some of my conservative friends are gonna let me have both barrels if I go too far with this one, but you can tell whose side I’m reluctantly on. I hate war, always have, and at a pub quiz I attended recently, the question was asked “How many wars are currently going on in the world?” The answer, amazingly, was 41! That’s about 41 too many.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.