The arendt files, p.13
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       The Arendt Files, p.13
 

           Ivan Rosemblatt
He cut an incongruous figure standing in jacket and tie at the far end of the landing strip; a tall, remarkably barrel chested black man, hands behind his back, feet spread wide. The landscape of that part of Mexico was arid and the vegetation sparse; saguaro, tumble weeds, interspersed with small and large dusty brown rocks stretching out miles into the distance where the land rose up to become the Sonoran Mountain range. Along those same mountains, almost 800 miles north was his home country.

  It had been an incredibly difficult trek but far more people made it than they had expected. “We are resilient, we suprise ourselves in overcoming adversity. Yes, that is a good thought. Those are the kinds of thought you want to have. The next generation has already being born out here. If we don't take action they will think of this as their home.”

  As he stared at the expanse he thought, “How the hell would I describe this place to anyone?” He had never been a desert person, always preferring to live near the ocean. “Maybe the lighter color there would be two month old baby shit brown.” He laughed to himself but the image immediately brought his son to mind, a dark, twitching smiling baby. He would change his diaper and marvel that he had been able to love even his shit. Then he remembered his own sternness towards the boy, how hard and irritated he often felt around him, his sense of uncontrollable irritation and aggravation he felt in his presence. He couldn’t help himself from constantly berating him and lashing out. His wife would point it out to him often, and chastise him for it. He could tell how upset it made the child, how much the boy wanted to please him. The taste went bitter in his mouth, regret and disappointment in himself.

  “Now he is either dead or a slave. A slave! What an outrage!” He hadn’t spoken to him for a year when the invasion happened. The boy had been in California, and to this day it was nearly impossible to get any word from that land. His sorrow quickly shifted into rage and indignation. He would try to find his son and hold him again, but if he couldn’t he would try and save other men’s sons, help them find their way back to each other. “May all families be reunited lord.” He prayed in his mind. “I pray so often now for a non believer.”

  “Well that’s one thing we will have to correct with time. We will have to create a solemn language for us atheist. We can’t address ourselves too our hopes for the future the same way we write a newspaper or call a friend.” So many traditions and institutions he had often wished to eliminate, he now found that he wanted them back. “I wanted us to leave them behind like old tools that are abandoned when better ones emerge. I didn’t want the enemy to take them from us.”

  As much as he had always considered the American military a bastion of racism he had felt warm pride for them when they allowed black soldiers to return home with their weapons and had opened up military arsenals and cache to them, in fact he always wondered where the order came from. Many of his comrades had shared stories of rushing to the distribution centers and having white men look at them purposefully and give them extra ammunition. “Here, take more.” They had had in fact taken a lot, as much as they could carry, often choosing it over of food, carrying it over mountain ranges. They conserved every bullet they could and still did, kept dry and ready in caves, hidden in caches spread out over hundreds of miles. It had allowed them the space they needed in order to stave off immediate annihilation and start building lives for themselves.

  Looking back again at the rugged landscape they had crossed he knew they would not have been able to make it without the help of the Chiricahua. During the depression he had been struck by the poverty and the conditions of both blacks and whites he had me; but when he had gone to the reservation he had been truly shocked. He felt that as a black man in America he had insight, a direct line to the suffering of other oppressed people’s. While in a sense that was true, he realized quickly that somehow, perhaps due to the movies he had seen, or his focus on the struggles of his own people he had never really grasped what had happened to the native peoples. To him it was the poorest most oppressed place he had ever seen.

  They had been extremely kind and welcoming to him although he could tell that many of the people were suspicious of a black man being treated as dignitary. It seemed to him that the people were as tough as the landscape, not so different from where he now stood so many years later., hard, stark, open, clean. They clothes they had on, long skirts for the women, old jackets and dress pants for most of the men, were ill fitting and seemed to be an affront to their natural shape. The shacks of corrugated steel, held together it seemed with chicken wire and newspaper, the old trucks and abandoned trash that littered the space all, looked as if it had fallen from an apocalyptic sky or risen up from hell to torment and degrade them.

  When he looked out onto the crowd gathered in the only decent building left by the Bureau of Indian Affairs he thought that he would speak and try to share his ideas on the commonalities of their struggles but realized that most of his audience spoke no English at all. Instead he sang in his melodic cavernous baritone and he filled the hall with the sounds of the sorrow they knew so well and also with music of redemption and hope.

  He saw the older ones nod at each other and some of the women break into smiles. The poorest of the poor, these people knew what was real and by the time his performance was done there was a good feeling in the air and the surroundings looked cleansed and fine. People gathered round and smiled at him and touched him. Rattles and drums started to appear. Outside they set up an enormous bonfire and sang their powerful piercing songs into the night.

  He had stayed with the son of the Chief, a man in his forties who had been raised by nuns and had seen the world and even attended classes at University of Nebraska, he had never finished because his father had asked him to return and help him and he did what he had to do for his people. Robeson let him know that he was part Delaware himself. They had spoken far into the night and agreed that their struggles might not be same but that they were entirely connected. From then on they had remained friends and had corresponded for a number of years. He had learned about their history as some of the most rugged and fierce native american warriors, feared by other tribes. He had turned to them immediately when the need for escape had become clear.

  To his back were the Sonoran mountains where they had all made their home for eight years now., a semi nomadic people, officially unwelcome by the Mexican authorities, demonized as a constant threat to their national security. Upon their arrival Robeson had immediately focused on establishing military discipline and a policy of strategic alliances. Always their color worked against them. It was as if racism were a tectonic pressure constantly trying to close up the mine shaft they had carved out to the rock with immense struggle and sacrifice. He was steadfast and over time had cemented good relations with the local tribes. He had met with both the political and military leadership and learned that despite their inflammatory rhetoric and sabre rattling they were completely cognizant of their vulnerability and saw the refugees in their country as powerful allies against a common enemy.

  Now at last they were establishing both supply lines and production capabilities. It was nowhere near what they needed but it was a start, a good start. It had taken two years to coordinate this meeting and although it was naive to expect momentous events from first meeting he was surprisingly hopeful, a feeling he had grown unaccustomed to. Part of his optimism probably came from the fact that he had had the opportunity to meet Arendt before the invasion and had been impressed by both her work and her demeanor. He had never met a person with such a strong intellectual and theoretical background who was so practical and grounded in her thinking and her person. She didn’t expect more from people than they could offer and therefore one could sense that she didn’t take the world to task, her thoughts and feelings were completely her own. She could also joke and smile, in fact when they met at a fundraiser she almost immediately told a joke, “An immigrant Jew finally gets an audience to see Mr. Rosthchild personally, whereupon he asks him for alms. Impatiently Rothschild asks
, “If that’s all you wanted, couldn’t you have seen my secretary?” To which the immigrant replies, “You may be very competent in your field, but don’t tell me how to run my business.” her delivery had been impeccable. That he thought was the most auspicious start he could ask for in friendship.

  Chapter 14

 
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