The Sorrow and the Pity

I’ve never actually seen the movie listed in the subject line of that title, but it’s a reference to Annie Hall. For those of you too politically correct to be properly versed in Woody Allen movies, Alvie Singer, Allen’s alter ago in Annie Hall, is obsessed with seeing The Sorrow and The Pity, a eight hour documentary about the Nazi occupation of Poland. Great date movie.

Alvie’s preoccupation hits home. I actually avoid about 80% of movies and books about the Holocaust for my own mental health, but I find myself obsessively drawn to the other 20% – particularly ones that try to make sense of why it happened, why the world responded the way they did, Jewish resistance, etc.

Lately I’ve been reading The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which is an alternative version of history, had isolationist Charles Lindbergh been elected president instead of FDR, and Memoir of a Jewish Extremist, by Yossi Klein Halevi. It’s making the world feel a little unsafe as a Jew. On the other hand, Halevi is writing as an Israeli journalist who has seen the shortcomings of extremist views, but also the appeal of those views. Both as a Jew and a queer, I have felt unwelcome and judged at times by other people around me. It is tempting to want to retreat into as homogenous a community as I can find, and adopt a posture of self-defense. But it gets tiring, and more often than not those communities break down because of other differences. Isolationism is not an option, on a small scale or a large scale. We must learn to live with one another, even if we fundamentally disagree or dislike each other. We must learn to live with each other’s anger, and our own.

But what do we do with people who continue to express violent, hateful urges toward us? There is no reasoning with them, and if we kill them we become them. This is the fundamental problem in Israel, and in Iraq – how to respond to hateful, violent terrorists without becoming them.

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~ by realsupergirl on June 16, 2006.

5 Responses to “The Sorrow and the Pity”

  1. I think it’s interesting that you haven’t mentioned that we’re currently watching the final season of Queer as Folk on dvd. That season, among other themes, depicts the campaigns for and against a strong anti-gay ballot proposal that would take away just about every known human right from out queers. As we observe the hate and violence escallating, one charicter references her grandfather’s experiences during the holocaust, especially how his friends and family could not believe conditions for Jews would ever get so bad until they did, and how they had missed their opportunity to flee because of their disbelief or denial.

    I think my personal thoughts aren’t as much about isolationism as they are about where is the line between caution and paranoia?

  2. Eve, I have totally written this 3 times now because I wanted to say something that might make you feel better, safer. I admit that there is not much I can say that might make the world seem more hospitable. I feel like the loudest one in the room is the one heard by the masses…which is why gay rights has become a vehement issue for the christian right. They are loud. They have a strange ability to get their masses moving toward the voting booth and find ways to get themselves onto tv, so that the rest of us in the country feel like we are outnumbered. WE ARE NOT OUTNUMBERED! It takes time to change the way a whole society acts and thinks. This is frustrating and at times dangerous to those who are attempting the change. BUT change always happens, and typically over time people become comfortable with “different”. I can not begin to figure out why it is that people insist on violence over God. It seems to be constant across all cultures that we don’t like what is different and will remove it if we feel threatened. However, I can say confidently that in many places in the world humans are actually learning to like “different”, learning that many ways are acceptable. We are pulling ourselves out of the dark ages of our evolution. Now that we have kinda figured out how to keep ourselves from dying from bacteria and learned about our environment(the Earth really is a round! small and fragile planet), maybe this is the time where we can stop hating things because they are not like us. Seemingly that trait was to keep us alive…until now…now people are dying because of it. That probably doesn’t really answer your question. However, know that there are people who WILL put up a resistance to discrimination in this country. There are people who do care, and put effort into the fight against ignorance. You don’t stand alone.

  3. “WE ARE NOT OUTNUMBERED!”

    Man, it sure felt that way in the last presidential election, when I saw how many fundies there were who turned out to vote.

    “There are people who do care, and put effort into the fight against ignorance. You don’t stand alone.”

    I know this. I do. It’s just so easy to get discouraged. is right, Queer as Folk has also played a part in this…perhaps I need some light reading or light movie-watching this weekend. Or none at all. The Cambridge River Festival should be a nice escape from all this in my head. And it looks like we’ll get to see and . Friends are always good.

    Thank you.

  4. OOO, for a good up lifting social movie watch You Can’t Neutral On A Moving Train with Noam Chomsky! Terrific, it’ll get you outta that funk and give you a direction to go with your thoughts!

  5. amen, sistah. after all the stuff going on over in my lj world i really liked what you said. ❤ ❤ ❤

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