A Tale of Two Realities

Ivanka Trump, Gaza protesters

Thursday

The contrasting images were stark: as Jared Kushner and Invanka Trump celebrated a U.S. embassy in Jersualem, Israeli soldiers killed over 50 unarmed demonstrators in Gaza while wounding many more. I can’t be the only one who thought of Marie Antoinette’s “let them eat cake” moment. Or of the scene in Tale of Two Cities where a marquis’ recklessness leads to the death of a child.

The marquis, Dickens tells us, loves the effect of crowds scattering before his stagecoach:

 With a wild rattle and clatter, and an inhuman abandonment of consideration not easy to be understood in these days, the carriage dashed through streets and swept round corners, with women screaming before it, and men clutching each other and clutching children out of its way.

Unfortunately, those who act without heeding the consequences, whether in 18th century Paris or current day Jerusalem, sometimes face a whirlwind:

At last, swooping at a street corner by a fountain, one of its wheels came to a sickening little jolt, and there was a loud cry from a number of voices, and the horses reared and plunged.

But for the latter inconvenience, the carriage probably would not have stopped; carriages were often known to drive on, and leave their wounded behind, and why not? But the frightened valet had got down in a hurry, and there were twenty hands at the horses’ bridles.

“What has gone wrong?” said Monsieur, calmly looking out.

A tall man in a nightcap had caught up a bundle from among the feet of the horses, and had laid it on the basement of the fountain, and was down in the mud and wet, howling over it like a wild animal.

“Pardon, Monsieur the Marquis!” said a ragged and submissive man, “it is a child.”

“Why does he make that abominable noise? Is it his child?”

“Excuse me, Monsieur the Marquis—it is a pity—yes.”

The fountain was a little removed; for the street opened, where it was, into a space some ten or twelve yards square. As the tall man suddenly got up from the ground, and came running at the carriage, Monsieur the Marquis clapped his hand for an instant on his sword-hilt.

“Killed!” shrieked the man, in wild desperation, extending both arms at their length above his head, and staring at him. “Dead!”

 In his speech, Kushner blamed the demonstrators for their deaths:

Kushner said in his speech, which was broadcast on TV, that “as we have seen from the protests of the last month, and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution.”

The French marquis does pretty much the same:

“It is extraordinary to me,” said he, “that you people cannot take care of yourselves and your children. One or the other of you is forever in the way. How do I know what injury you have done my horses. See! Give him that.”

He threw out a gold coin for the valet to pick up…

All previous presidents have had the wisdom, regardless of what they said on the campaign trail, to avoid enflaming the Middle East by opening an embassy in Jerusalem. Trump, who delights in upsetting conventional wisdom, plunged ahead. Now scores of people are dead.

Not that he cares.

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