Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Naomi Shihab Nye: Thank you, Bernie Sanders

Even Walt Whitman was confused. Who has rights

and who doesn’t? Are white people superior to others?

How did we miss this news in grade school,

holding Whitman’s words on our tongues

like honey lozenges? Or recently,

reading new biographies of Whitman,

where is this confusing detail?

Whitman, what was wrong with you?

You were a product of your generation – no excuse.

May we still love your poems?

But wait! Why is it so amazing

when Bernie Sanders says Palestinians have been treated unfairly?

Thank you, Bernie! We rise from our seats, stunned.

Finally!

A politician speaking truth on this topic! At long last.

Brilliant!

Even Hillary Clinton (who once read from my poems

at a dinner celebrating Palestinians) seems to forget

(children flattened in school buildings, Gaza the giant prison,

decades of thievery, lost land/orchards/roadways, intense oppression,

daily insults at gunpoint, cruelty glamorized, no due process)

when she intones about Israel protecting itself.

Why has Israel needed so much protection?

Where is your sense of story?

Could there be a problem with this story from the start?

Thank you, Bernie Sanders!

Bernie knows about injustice. Isn’t afraid to say.

President Obama knows. Jimmy Carter knew,

could say “apartheid” – got in trouble for it.

Try crimes.

Bernie saw things with his own eyes

when he lived in Israel on a kibbutz.

We get everything, you get nothing.

Nothing plus nothing equals years of nothing.

Hand in hand requires shared place to stand.

Enough Inequity wearing pious clothes!

Decades of spin. Respect and dignity still abiding…

though kid soldiers with weapons purchased by us

tried to muffle it.

Bernie knows – one-sided life won’t work, has to end.

Says it straight.

Try balance, justice, care.

Not looking for a pay-off. Say more, Bernie – could be

the turn history has needed.

Since when did honesty become this rare?

Copyright 2016 Naomi Shihab Nye

2 comments on “Naomi Shihab Nye: Thank you, Bernie Sanders

  1. david walton wright
    August 1, 2016

    Sanders is a human being, not a saint. No reason to expect or ask for sainthood from him. He’s beautiful as he is. If you think you’re a saint you are repressing and denying insights and errors. We don’t need saints, martyrs, Christ-figures on crosses. We need more decent people like Sanders badly.

    Like

  2. mlord102014
    May 13, 2016

    I love Bernie Sanders- he is a modern day saint.
    The Isreali question has so many facets it is like a diamond. Israel Is a small country.
    It is surrounded by powerful arab states, this produces a fear of annihilation. It is paranoia which is never accessible to reason- you can not reason with either a paranoid individual or a paranoid state.This is why the problem is intractable.

    Liked by 1 person

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