Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Polaris of Enlightenment

“From George Washington’s admonition against a ‘Passionate Attachment’ to ‘Genocide Joe'”

The situation in Gaza

The student protesters are being demonized, as Palestinians have been. Those pretending to defend the US flag should consider actual facts.

Published 8 May 2024

This is an opinion piece. The author is responsible for the views expressed in the article.

Let’s start with a few simple facts. Contrary to what lots of pro-Israeli folks have claimed, no students at George Washington University took down the US flag. They took down the university flag from one flagpole adjacent to their encampment protesting Israel’s genocide. On the other pole, which had the US flag, they hoisted the Palestinian flag beneath or alongside it.

No students at George Washington University took down the US flag

The administration then cut all the lines so, for a period, no flags could be hoisted from the poles, and dropped a massive US flag from the building.

This compelled the student protesters to project “Genocide Joe” atop that flag:

Meanwhile, the statue in the park of George Washington was adorned with Palestinian flags, a keffiyeh atop his head, various stickers protesting Israel’s carnage and writing at the base: Genocidal Warmongering University, referring to the university’s effective support of Israel.

On Saturday, I saw someone shout “this is America!” as he pulled the Palestinian flags from the statue of Washington. The student organizers immediately shouted to everyone present not to escalate the situation, the man walked off with the flags. A couple of students immediately got to work putting up other Palestinian flags on the statue, affixing them more securely than before. A short time later, other students returned with the flags that had been removed.

It was a small incident, but it showed the discipline and organization of the student protesters.

The claim that the US flag is under attack is certainly not grounded in fact on the GWU campus, even as “flag defenders” are hyped and reportedly are having hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to them.

It was a small incident, but it showed the discipline and organization of the student protesters.

GWU administration has reportedly attempted to get the local police to clear the students out of the park, but the police have thus far refused, so it would seem the university is more repressive than the police.

The US flag is arguably being defamed however. Early on in the encampment, a student showed up with a “US flag” blurring into the Israeli one. At first I thought this might have been to protest the “special relationship” between the US and Israel. But no, it was a pro-Israeli counter protester backing it.

At first I thought this might have been to protest the “special relationship” between the US and Israel. But no, it was a pro-Israeli counter protester backing it.

This is all remarkably ironic in a number of ways.

Perhaps the most far-reaching is that it was none other than George Washington, who warned in his farewell address:

“A passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation. … Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

This is in marked contrast to Biden’s statement to J Street: “If there were not an Israel, we would have to invent one to make sure our interests were preserved.”

This notion with respect to Israel is the subject of the book The Passionate Attachment: America’s Involvement With Israel, 1947 to the Present by George W. Ball and his son Douglas B. Ball. George Ball is best known as the most high-level critic in the US government of the Vietnam War. He was deputy secretary of state during the Johnson administration.

Andrew I. Killgore summarized the book in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

If “flag defenders” were at all serious, they would object to the “passionate attachment” to the imperial enterprise of Israel which is key to transforming the US from a normal country to an Empire. What does “This is America” mean?

What does “This is America” mean?

See George Ball talking about the book on C-SPAN’s “Booknotes” from 1993 with Brian Lamb:


Sam Husseini


This article was originally published on Sam Husseini’s Substack

About the author

Sam Husseini is a Jordanian-Palestinian journalist and political activist. Currently serving as the communications director of the Institute for Public Accuracy in Washington DC, he has a background in promoting progressive experts in mainstream media. His career includes work with the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

A US citizen since 1984 and a Carnegie Mellon University graduate, he has contributed to various publications including CounterPunch, The Nation, and The Washington Post. Known for his forthright style, he has been involved in notable incidents like questioning the Saudi ambassador at the National Press Club and being removed from a Russia–United States summit press conference.

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