News with Nuance March 17, 2023
Your Friday dose of News with Nuance: the week's biggest stories, unpacked + more ..
Welcome, new subscribers and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
After working on some genealogy research this year, I came upon the disappointing realization that my great-great grandfather on my maternal grandmother’s side (notably, the one branch of my family tree that is not almost entirely German/Prussian) - was likely in fact not Irish but Scottish, despite the fact that he boarded a ship bound for America in Dingle, Ireland, home to the Cliffs of Moher.
Genealogy is a strange thing that way. I’d always held out hope for that resilient, humorous, less serious Irish side of myself - and I’d always loved dark beer, Guinness stew, bangers & mash with a side of fiddles and Irish music (preferably by The Elders). So finding out I likely couldn’t trace my bloodline to the Emerald Isle was a bummer (though now maybe I have an excuse to visit Scotland and Norway?)
And don’t despair too much for the Denker Family this March 17. We found out that my husband’s maternal side likely was a “wee bit Irish” and maybe even relation to some “O’Reagans.” We’ve been eating Irish-American dishes all week (tonight is fish ‘n chips), and tomorrow we’re planning to watch some Irish dancing. Plus, we’re also indulging fully in that “other” holiday this month, lots and lots of March Madness basketball.
In a damp and rainy/snowy month in Minnesota, we’ve gotta do all the celebrating we can. I hope wherever you are, that you’re getting to celebrate a bit, too. Click on over to the Elders if you need some music to get in the mood.
March is an interesting month, isn’t it? On one hand, we are smack in the middle of the Christian season of Lent, where we retrace Jesus’ journey to his death on the Cross, awaiting the resurrection of Easter, and Christians are encouraged to repent of our sin and seek forgiveness. On the other hand, the newness of spring is so close - it’s a season of excess during Spring Break and high-octane basketball tournaments and yes, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
And still, the news of the world continues on. After this lighthearted introduction, I want to share with you some grim yet critically important stories from Ukraine and from America’s past. As always in this newsletter, I want to lift up the very real, flawed and feeling human beings behind the headlines, in hopes that their stories give life and meaning to our own stories, and make us more willing and able to listen to one another.
Thanks for reading, and
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
The Headline: After Russian atrocities, a Ukrainian town wants justice. Why the U.N. might not offer much help
I’ve been reading L.A. Times reporter Laura King’s take on world news since the Arab Spring of 2011, and I always appreciate the way she gets underneath the headlines to follow up with people impacted by global events, especially war, long after they’ve occurred.
In the frenzy of the 24-hour news cycle, it’s way too easy to forget tragedies of the past and simply move on to the next one. So I’m grateful here, even as it’s difficult reading, that Laura King takes us back to Bucha, Ukraine, site of one of the Russian invasion’s worst acts of atrocity against civilians.
As Laura writes:
“Like jagged rocks exposed by a retreating tide, the full horrors emerged as Russian forces pulled back: bodies left behind on streets and sidewalks, in kitchens and cellars, in back gardens and communal burial sites. Corpses with their hands bound, or bearing wounds and broken bones, or telling a silent, grim story of point-blank execution.”
Bucha, of course, is far from the only city or town that has become home to humanity’s worst acts of evil against itself. In the U.S. we have places like Wounded Knee and Sand Creek and Selma and, as you’ll read below, Santa Maria. Around the world today, peoples like the Rohingya in Bangladesh and the Tigray in Ethiopia and the Uighur in China (and many, many more minority ethnic and religious groups around the world) are under assault and attack simply because of the ethnic or religious group they are born into.
In this article, a year after nearly 500 people died in Bucha, many in execution-style killings and after being tortured, Laura King traces the pain and suffering that remains for the Ukrainian citizens of Bucha, who have little recourse or remedy to ensure that Russia will be held accountable. As she documents, Russia has the power to veto the creation of a war-crimes tribunal in the United Nations, and it does not recognize the authority of the International Criminal Court.
In the wake of the Holocaust and the killing of 6 million Jews and at least 5 million other victims of the Nazis and concentration camp prisoners, the world vowed “never again.” Years later, some Nazi leaders and soldiers were held accountable in the Nuremberg trials, but many were not. And genocide has continued not “never again” but again, and again, and again.
Somehow, in Bucha, life resumes. The survivors tell their stories, and people comfort one another the best they can.
The Quote: “No one can come to terms with what happened here; no one can accept it,” (Orthodox priest Oleksandr Pronyk, of St. Nicholas church in the village of Lubyanka) said. “All anyone can do is try to find their own path to God’s grace and mercy.”
Story by Laura King, Los Angeles Times
The Headline: Forced to live in horse stalls. How one of America’s worst injustices played out at Santa Anita
While I did learn a lot about Nazi concentration camps and the Holocaust during my early education, I did not learn as much about America’s own detention of Japanese Americans during World War II, euphemistically called “internment camps.”
This shameful chapter of American history seems almost unfathomable now, that groups of ordinary Japanese American families, including children, were rounded up and removed from their homes and forced to live in camps, with substandard living accommodations and food.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to I'm Listening to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.