America should remove the mote from its eye before it brags about righteousness | Opinion | Salt Lake City Weekly

America should remove the mote from its eye before it brags about righteousness 

Taking a Gander

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Regardless of how one feels about religion, there’s a wealth of truth in the parables of Jesus. His “Sermon on the Mount” provided a worthy guideline for how all of us can deal with our fellow men—focusing largely on the matters of kindness and understanding for others and the avoidance of prejudice in our lives.

I particularly like His parable of the “Mote and Beam,” in which Jesus exhorted mankind to self-assessment and critical introspection. His admonition in Matthew 7:1-5 was poignant and astute:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”

Listen up, America!

The reference to motes and beams is a simple analogy, comparing individual faults in terms of their magnitude. A mote, in its Biblical meaning, is merely a speck; but a beam is a log or a large chunk of wood. The question is, how can one judge another, when their own fault may be even greater?

As more and more Americans rise up to decry Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, and cries ring-out for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the persecution and killing of Israel’s Arab neighbors, it seems that the U.S. may be guilty of a horrifying absence of introspection.

Certainly, those who demonstrate against Netanyahu’s determination to destroy the Palestinian people are showing the appropriate outrage.

Bravo for the young people who have reached out to their Palestinian brothers, taking the risks of speaking out against the policies of the Israeli Zionist “right.” Our university students, bless their hearts, have had the courage to face civil or even criminal consequences and the interruption or termination of their educations in order to state, with fervor, that they are not going to stand by and tolerate genocide in Gaza and the West Bank.

Genocide is the correct word and, were it not for the politics of the U.S. Jewish population, President Joe Biden would have surely supported the U.N. and other organizations that have demanded an end to the madness. Sadly, the U.S. has, for political reasons, actually supported and encouraged the killing of Palestinians. While the International Criminal Court has issued warrants for Netanyahu and others in the Israeli hierarchy, the U.S. has abstained from condemnation—all because of its political ramifications.

That said, Biden’s statements about Israel’s bad behavior are suspect and largely meaningless when our own country has essentially kept another nation in poverty and misery for more than 60 years. Our policies toward Cuba are a case in point.

How can we decry Netanyahu’s barbaric behavior while somehow absolving ourselves from the suffering of the Cuban population, which has been kept in a sort of incarceration since the early 1960s?

It isn’t like some of our leadership hasn’t addressed the problem. Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama had all attempted to normalize relations with Cuba—a country that had infinitely benefited from trade with the U.S. until the Fidel and Raul Castro era. Since our country decided that it would no longer have any humanity to this Caribbean neighbor, the Cuban people have been constantly punished for the sins of their leaders.

Unfortunately, the continued embargo of Cuba has been largely encouraged by Florida’s Cuban-American community—particularly those whose families lost property during Castro’s nationalization of American assets, ending the corrupt reign of President Fulgencio Batista, who had been sharing a bed with American business.

That sounds strikingly familiar. Could it be that the U.S. has a mote in its own eye? The Biden administration is allowing Netanyahu, by its continuing military support, to punish the Palestinians for the “sins” of Hamas.

Despite a realization by some of our better statesmen—that it’s time to forgive and forget—there are some people who loathe the idea of ending America’s bad treatment of Cuba. Just like Netanyahu and the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians, it is the politics of a small community of still-angry Cubans that has interfered with progress.

Politicians understand the power of this group, and that has resulted in a continuing embargo of Cuba, one that even restricts vessels that have landed there from entering U.S. ports. Tourism, sugar and cigar imports, educational partnerships and medical cooperation are things of the past, and the embargo has forced Cuba to cultivate economic relations with countries we consider our enemies.

It is estimated that, over the past 60 years, our country has hurt Cuba to the tune of $144 billion. For a tiny island-country, that’s a whopping price to have paid for its 1960s change of leadership and political alliances.

Whatever happened to the Safeway grocery store jingle: “Since we’re neighbors, let’s be friends.” Our treatment of Cuba has been deplorable, and we could mutually benefit, greatly, from normalizing our relations.

Sadly, Biden has been sidetracked by the more-pressing matter of Netanyahu, but that doesn’t mean that Trump’s thoughtless revitalization of damaging policies toward Cuba—ones that spit in the face of Carter’s, Clinton’s and Obama’s attempts to embrace the Cuban people, shouldn’t be a priority in America’s foreign affairs.

Clearly our country has a “mote” in its eye. It’s time for introspection, and that means a policy of friendship toward our Cuban neighbors.

The author is a retired businessman, novelist, columnist and former Vietnam-era Army assistant public information officer. He resides in Riverton with his wife, Carol, and their adorable and ferocious dog “Poppy.”

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