Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Colonia Dignidad - horror or thriller/love story?

There is a new English-language film just out by German filmmaker Florian Gallenberger titled Colonia.  It actually had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September, but it opened at the Berlin International Film Festival just over a week ago, and was finally released for wider distribution in Germany on February 18th.  It is up for limited release in the United States on April 15 and will also be available through video on demand. 

Since I have not seen it yet, I will leave it to others to do a proper review.  For my part, I want to comment on a question of ethics in filmmaking the film raises.  How does one bring a broad audience into a movie theater to see a movie about a piece of history most people would prefer to sweep under the rug?

I like to claim I grew up with Harry Potter,  even though I was in my fifties when the series came out, because I watched my neighbor and friend David in Japan teach both his kids English by reading them each of the seven books in the series, one each year. If you saw the eight films made over a ten-year period from the series (the seventh was in two parts), you know who Emma Watson is.  She’s not quite as famous as Harry himself, but the fact that she has gone on, as Daniel Radcliff has, to become a successful actor should bring a smile to the lips of countless numbers of fans who watched her grow up.

So imagine my disappointment when I came across a review of Colonia, the other day – it’s Emma Watson’s first leading role – and found the critic telling me it’s a real loser.  Poor Emma, I thought.  I want better for her.  I want her to succeed.

Then, it turns out, Emma is starring with German actor Daniel Brühl, whom many will remember from that very touching film, Goodbye Lenin, some years ago.  So wait a minute, I say to myself, how could these two lovely young people have found their way into a film that is going to crash and burn?  And there’s more.  Also in the film, playing the role of the sinister Paul Schäfer, is Mikael Nyqvist, who starred in the films of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, beginning with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

My sense that there must be more here than meets the eye was enough to get me digging into the background story of Colonia, tracking down information on a German cult run by an evangelical pederast named Paul Schäfer who, when it was discovered what he was up to, moved his whole cult to a remote location in Chile and began working hand in glove with Augusto Pinochet.  Not only providing a place for ex-Nazis to hide in Chile, but getting the German government to return the favor and providing a place for Pinochet thugs to hide in Germany.  For a while my interest in the film took a back seat to lots of internet speculation I have yet to verify.  But I was so taken by the story – and the fact I had never heard it before – that I began to hope that negative reviewer is wrong, and the film captures considerable attention. 

To be fair, the story did make headlines, apparently, when Schäfer was arrested in the late 80s and the child abuse story came to light.  But it obviously ran its course and, like all scandals, burned itself out.  It might have remained just another historical footnote, if Gallenberger had not decided it should be otherwise.

Actually, I began with a German television interview with a woman named Gudrun Müller 
who was brought to a place known as Colonia Dignidad by her parents as a child, where a man named Paul Schäfer had established a cult, after being exposed as a pedophile in Germany.  Digging further, I uncovered Deutsche Seelen:Leben nach der Colonia Dignidad (German Souls: Life after Colonia Dignidad).  It is available (without subtitles) here.  The story now began to unfold as a psychological drama about how people are taken in by charismatic leaders – in this case religious ones – and learn not to ask troublesome questions.  Quite unlike the Colonia film version, which is all about two young lovers making a daring escape from hell.

Doubly interesting, to me, is the way the story raises the question – but doesn’t answer it – of how it is that Germans could wake up in 1945 from the nightmare of having followed their Führer Adolph Hitler into unspeakable misery and destruction, and then turn around, a mere half generation later, and attach themselves to another Führer.

Paul Schäfer was a lay preacher with the kind of charisma, we are told, that led vulnerable people, like the San Francisco folk who followed Jim Jones to their death at Jonestown in Guyana, to sell all their worldly goods and move halfway around the world to live by the sweat of their brow, farming and praying and suppressing their earthly desires for sex and comfort for the sake of their souls.  After the war, Schäfer was employed by the local YMCA in his hometown of Troisdorf, just outside of Bonn, to work with children.   Within a short time he was discreetly dismissed to avoid scandal when it was revealed he had been sexually abusing some of the children in his care.  

Not long afterwards, in 1954, he became a lay preacher and formed a mission organization with another Baptist preacher which they called Private Sociale Mission e.V. and which preached an end-times message of fear.  It was the Cold War era.  This was Germany, and the memories of the Russian occupation were still fresh and it didn’t take a whole lot of fear-mongering to persuade the naïve in the population that the Russians were about to roll over them once more.  An ascetic life of good honest farm labor in the mountains of Chile far away from it all obviously held some appeal.   

When a warrant went out for Schäfer’s arrest in 1961 for abusing young boys, his followers enabled him to resettle some 240 miles south of Santiago, in Chile, which they named Colonia Dignidad.  The children who were to testify against him in Germany were secreted out in a single night, all 150 of them.  For reasons I have yet to discover, no one, apparently, found this move suspect or worth pursuing.  As one witness put it, “This was the Adenauer Era.  We didn’t talk about things like sex.”  And apparently the mindset which ran the Third Reich, the belief one was simply not entitled to know certain things, was still working in this instance.

Once in Chile, Schäfer separated the men and the women and the children all into separate housing and preached a message of sexual abstinence, all the while not only engaging in sex with children, but beating and torturing them as well.  This was made possible because Schäfer had organized his most ardent followers into a band of unquestioning loyalists, (who were called “Sprinters” for some curious reason).  Obviously religious faith in a man who speaks for God can cover a multitude of sins.

In Chile, the residents of Colonia Dignidad lived behind barbed wire, guarded by spring guns.  Tunnels were dug under the dormitories where conversations could be monitored and outliers punished.  Everyone lived in fear of being denounced, resistance was met with electric shocks and beatings, and nobody went in or out.  Almost nobody, that is.  Soon after Pinochet came to power, aided by the CIA overthrow of President Allende in 1973, he began to use the facilities to torture, a fact corroborated by an Amnesty International report, and to train his own men in torture.  Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal claims that Josef Mengele was there for a time, before he made his way to Brazil.  

Since interns were not paid, Schäfer was able to turn the agricultural compound into a financial success.  Meanwhile, Western leaders, most notably Margaret Thatcher and Bavaria’s President Franz-Josef Strauss, openly supported Pinochet.  The CIA under the Nixon Administration put him in power.  Strauss visited Colonia Dignidad on his visit to Chile to receive an honorary doctorate, and the German Embassy was redecorated by workmen from Colonia Dignidad.

Following Pinochet’s demise, several members of the cult brought complaints to the German Embassy about the goings-on under Paul Schäfer’s totalitarian regime, but were rebuffed and sent back to the colony.  Moreover, several attempts were made by family members of abducted cult members to get the German Foreign Office to take action.  They too were rebuffed.  Ambassador Erich Strätling is said to have been a close associate of Paul Schäfer and this association has now been highlighted due to the Gallenberger film. 

A Spiegel article from 1987 reports that Strätling declared he visited the place looking for underground torture chambers and found none.  The following year, the German government rebuffed the Chilean Supreme Court's attempt to remove immunity from two West German diplomats operating in Chile in a turf battle over who had the right to investigate the Colonia Dignidad abuses. To this day, according to a German Wikipedia article, the German government has taken no stand on the case.   No mention is made in the film of the connection between the colony and CIA assassin Michael Townley, now living in a witness protection program. Townley has testified that a toxin that killed former Chilean president and Pinochet opponent Eduardo Frei Montalva was made in a laboratory at Colonia Dignidad, although that report has been officially contested.

Eventually the jig was up for Paul Schäfer.  He managed to get away to Argentina, where he turned up in March 2005, but was extradited back to Chile for indictment.  He had already been charged in absentia the year before for the abuse of twenty-seven children and found guilty.  He died in a Santiago prison hospital in 2010 at the age of 88.  Twenty of his senior loyalists have now been convicted of aiding him in his abusive activities.

There is a bizarre postscript to this story.  Not only are some 120 members of the colony still there, but Colonia Dignidad has been renamed Villa Baviera and turned into a tourist attraction, which somebody has suggested is not unlike what it would be to open a MacDonald’s at Auschwitz.  On the other hand, who knows what survivors are up against psychologically?  Perhaps enabling them to stay on as a community with others who understand what the outside world finds largely inexplicable may be a lot less cruel than sending them out into a world they have never known.  The only question is what is to be said about whitewashing a history of abuse and depravity with beer festivals, dirndls, lederhosen and oompah bands?  And, once the sadistic perpetrators of Schäfer’s enterprise are separated from victims and others claiming no knowledge of what went on, one has to wonder how they can go on living side by side.

Having dug into the background of this “dignity colony” – was there ever a better combination of chutzpah and irony? –  I am now curious to see this thriller and love story with a feminist pitch (this time it’s the girl that performs miracles to save her man), if only to see what Gallenberger has made of this piece of his country’s history.  Oscar-winner (for best live action short film in 2001) Gallenberger is also known for his 2009 film about German businessman John Rabe (City of War: the story of John Rabe), credited with saving 200,000 Chinese lives during the Nanjing Massacre.  No doubt the success of that film figured in Gallenberger’s decision to once again fictionalize history for effect.  City of War – which also featured Daniel Brühl, by the way – was also criticized for being overly melodramatic, but in the end it received pretty good ratings (75% on Rotten Tomatoes, for example.)

I mentioned a negative review of Colonia which got me going on this story.  As of this writing, four of the five reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes have panned the film, as well. One complains it’s too over-the-top good guys/bad guys and suggests the happy ending stretches credulity, not unlike Ben Affleck’s Argo.  Another complains the film has shlocky horror-film techniques, including music, suggesting that the filmmaker’s intention is to bypass the political importance of the Pinochet era and make a cheap thriller, complete with prison escapes and car chases, just to put bottoms on theater seats.  To take one of the darkest periods in Latin American history and turn it into a Hollywood love story – a fictionalized one at that – you can see why the protests are coming in.

On the other hand, look at it from Florian Gallenberger’s point of view.  If you don’t get those bottoms in the seats, you don’t get people paying attention to the story.  Hitler is credited with the question, “Who remembers the Armenian massacre by the Turks?”  Actor Daniel Brühl says when he was first given the script to read he had never heard of this ugly postwar German story.  I had never heard of a German religious colony in Chile, either, or of this evidence that human gullibility didn’t stop with the fall of the Third Reich. 

The silence is underlined by the fact that there are still questions looming large not only about hushed up child abuse, but about possible German government enabling of a notorious pederast operating in Chile, possibly with their tacit approval.  Roman Catholic bishops, it would appear, are not the only authority figures – if these allegations about government complicity are to be believed – to circle the wagons to protect the ruling class.  How, in this day and age, does one get people talking about this horror?  What better way than to promise a thriller and hope, once the curtain goes down and the lights come up, that people will ask questions they have not asked before.

It shouldn’t be an either/or proposition, of course.  You should be able to make a first-rate work of art – or jolly good entertainment, for that matter - that still works to get people asking political questions.  But you can’t blame a guy for aiming for the largest possible audience. 

Or can you?

photo credit:  Photo credited to Majestic/Ricardo Vaz Palma

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Where to Invade Next - a review

Absolutely wonderful hour and fifty minutes.  I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I despaired.  I did everything filmmaker Michael Moore no doubt intended when he made Where to Invade Next.  Preaching to the choir!  Beating a dead horse and making you cheer all the while.  It’s Michael Moore at his very best.

Moore goes off first to Italy, then France, Finland, Slovenia, Germany, Tunisia, Portugal and Iceland, and looks at the way they educate their children, especially about sex, provide their workers with six weeks of vacation, assure equal rights for women and make prison a place not for revenge but for reintegration into society – in large part by not spending half their GDP on weapons but mostly by summoning the will to act collectively for the welfare of all instead of just one or another king of the mountain.  And by treating drug use as something other than a crime and the death penalty as unworthy of a civilized state.

It’s not a fair picture, and Moore admits from the start that he is cherry-picking the good parts of European cultural practices and setting them against the worst of American ways – “I went to pick the flowers, not the weeds.”  But this is not America-bashing.  It’s constructive criticism, for those with the eyes to see it that way.  Despite the title and the silly device of carrying the American flag around with him and planting it in Italian living rooms, German factory lunch rooms and Finnish faculty meetings, he’s not really “invading” these places so much as he is discovering American inventions that Europeans have improved upon and Americans have allowed to decay.  It’s time, he declares, to bring these ideas back home, and admit we have much to learn from others.

His reputation has been built up over the years by previous successful investigative documentaries.  He started with Roger and Me, in 1989, about how General Motors had beggared Flint, Michigan by firing everybody in Flint and moving their factories to Mexico for its lower wages.  Then came a short (23-minute) documentary titled Pets or Meat (1992) and his only non-documentary film,  Canadian Bacon, in 1995, in which he satirizes the notion of declaring war on international terrorism.  Then The Big One, in 1997, in which he singles out Nike as an example of a corporation – but hardly the only one - that puts profits ahead of the interest of workers, a theme which he revisits in Where to Invade Next.  Then came the major hit, Bowling for Columbine, in 2002, about guns and violence in the U.S., a film many consider one the best documentaries of all time.  He then broke his own record with his next film, Fahrenheit 9/11, in 2005, the highest-grossing documentary of all time, about the links between the Bush administration and the bin Ladens.   (He takes on the Bush family in Dude, Where’s My Country? one of the eight books he has to his name, as well.) Two years later, in 2007, he came out with Sicko, about the American health care system.  He took on both the managed care industry and the pharmaceutical industry and pushed the envelope by taking 9/11 rescue care workers to Cuba to get health care unavailable to them in the U.S.  He followed those with two more, one on capitalism and democracy. (Capitalism: A Love Story) and one on the politics of college students (Captain Mike Across America).  Where to Invade Next is his first new film in six years. This time the focus is not on any one particular outrage, but on how many good ideas there are out there we might take to heart.

Obviously Moore’s reputation preceded him and gave him entrée onto the factory floor of the Ducati motorcycle plant in Italy, the Faber-Castell pencil factory in Germany, and into a school lunch room in France.  At one point, he even presuades Borut Pahor, the president of Slovenia, to grant him an interview.  And Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, the former president of Iceland, the first woman ever elected as head of state in a national election.

To know the work of Michael Moore is to know subtlety is not his game.  He’ll take a sledge hammer over a scalpel any day, as when he puts Norwegian prisoners with access to knives and the keys to their own prison apartments up against what he calls the re-enslavement of the American black man in U.S. prisons, complete with regular floggings.  Or when he shows a child being frisked at an airport.  And yet, there is method in his ability to get you to guffaw at his outrageous satire at the same time you are shaking your head in disbelief.

There are wonderful moments in Where to Invade Next.  My favorites are the sessions with the French school children who get a four-course meal served to them on real plates and drink out of breakable glasses, who turn up their noses at Coca-Cola and express a preference for Camembert over other cheeses, one of which is served at every school lunch.  And the interviews with Icelandic women, in which he gives them plenty of time and space to declare that the problems of the world can and will be solved by women, as soon as the world can get its act together and let them have equal access to power.  Another favorite moment is when he appears at the Berlin Wall, announces that nobody thought it would ever come down, just as nobody thought a few years ago that gays and lesbians would have the rights they have today.  The world, he concludes, can and does change, if we just get in there and make it happen.

Only an idealist could take on the miseries created by human incompetence and greed which Moore has dealt with over the years.  A cynic would have folded long ago.  I always liked that about him.  Until Where to Invade Next, though, I never realized he was such an optimist.

photo credit

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Doris - a Celebration of Life

I was not going to put these remarks on my blog because I already commented on Doris’s passing two weeks ago and don’t want to repeat myself.  But I’m still riding high from the Celebration of Life service her colleagues and my friend Cathy put together yesterday, and it’s a way of keeping the good feeling going.  Hope nobody minds.

Doris’s brother and two sisters and a brother-in-law were all there from Switzerland.  I think they were working on the assumption they were coming to a funeral.  They weren’t ready for the fact that in the circles Doris and I and all our friends move in, funerals have been replaced with celebrations of life. 

The first time I heard of such a thing was about twenty-five years ago.  My first reaction was, “Oh, what a bad idea.  How ridiculous Americans can get, insisting on putting a smiley face on every damn thing – even death.”  My best friend, Craig Buchanan, had died unexpectedly, like Doris in his fifties, and thus arguably way too soon.  It was pure tragedy.  Absolutely the last thing you’d want to put a smiley face on.

But Harriet, his wife, and some friends put together a table full of his favorite food, and we loaded up on champagne and all gathered around, forty or fifty of us.  We began with a toast, and then started telling Craig stories.

Craig was the closest friend I ever had.  We met in the army at a time when we were both beginning our adult lives and we shared everything.  Our insecurities, our dreams, our vulnerabilities, our fears and inner thoughts and the wildest of imaginings.  I was convinced I knew everything there was to know about him.  But then as the reminiscing went on, and more and more people began sharing the Craig they knew, I was struck with how wrong I was.  Looking back now, it’s obvious.  No one can possibly know all there is to know about another person.  But at the time I was shocked.  And ultimately delighted.  In that room, in those couple of hours of reminiscing, an image of Craig was beginning to appear that none of us had ever seen before or could have seen before in its entirety.  Harriet made the same comment some time later when we shared with each other how surprised we were by all the aspects of Craig’s life we had not been privy to.

There were two Israeli friends of Harriet’s in the crowd.  At some point they had to leave.  “This is just too much,” one of them said.  “This is not how we deal with death.  We cover the mirrors, we rip our clothes and we wail to heaven.  You guys are laughing like it’s some big joke.”

It was a good example of culture shock, of two entirely different ways of approaching one of life’s basic rituals.  We were laughing, yes, but we were crying, too, and somehow they missed that.  We were not missing the tragedy of the event.  On the contrary, we were giving full vent to our feelings.  Only our feelings included a respect for a much loved friend with a joy of life.  To just feel sorry for ourselves and miss the opportunity to see the full breadth of his humor and the power of his personality on others, would have only added more tragedy.  It was not an either/or proposition.  We would grieve and mourn.  We would wail to the heavens, actually.  But we would also celebrate a life well-lived and a create a version of Craig that could only be put together collectively.  A life too short, but definitely well-lived and worth celebrating.

The memory of that first celebration of life and of the several I have experienced since then all came to mind yesterday when Doris’s colleagues put together this marvelous service, with poetry readings, songs and testimonials.  And out of it came a much richer image than any of us had had before.  I think her family were amazed at the fact that over a hundred people showed up to honor their sister.  They had no idea that she had made such a good home for herself.  Suddenly, I think, her choice to take American citizenship made a little more sense.

Lots of laughter and lots of tears, yesterday, as I have now come to expect from a celebration of life, this wonderful substitute for dressing in black and listening to some preacher-man talk about how the dearly departed is now flying around in heaven.  If anybody is flying in the clouds, I’m sure Doris is.  But what matters to me is that I received a great gift yesterday in seeing a richer and more complex picture of a good friend than I had ever seen before.  And I sincerely hope her siblings and her other friends can say the same.  It was a wonderful way to say good-bye.

I was one of the speakers at the event.

Here are my memories, the view I had of Doris, reduced to about five minutes.

*          *          *

When I think of Doris, I think of her smile.  And her amazing abilility to make friends easily.  The two obviously go together.

German teacher and biker chick
My connection goes back over twenty years now to when I first met Doris at work.  She was teaching German at the same university in Japan where I was teaching English and our offices were four doors apart.   The workplace was stiff and there were lots of rigid people around.  I could feel the tension as soon as I stepped off the elevator in the morning.  Then, one day, things changed noticeably.   There was this new person on the floor.  Bright and cheery and completely out of character with all the self-important folk playing their cards close to their chest.  She had flaming red hair and a look of adventure about her.  It was as if somebody had thrown open all the doors and windows.  Suddenly the stuffiness of the environment had been replaced with fresh air and sunlight.  I began seeking her company at lunch and before long we were hanging out together.

At some point Doris reached the conclusion it was time for her to leave Japan.  She ran into a problem with her lease, though.  She wouldn’t be there another year, so it made no sense to pay several months rent to renew.  I had an extra bedroom, so I suggested she move in with me.  I had a house about ninety minutes down the coast from Tokyo.   She took me up on the offer just as I was leaving for two months home leave here in the Bay Area.  I was concerned about leaving her there on her own.  I had found the neighbors a bit stand-offish, and suggested she should not expect too much of them.  

Two months later I returned only to discover that she had not only met all the neighbors, but she was already walking their dogs and baby-sitting their children.  And suddenly I had a network of people around me popping in unannounced.  My life changed completely.   Suddenly it was filled with neighborhood barbecues and political action groups.  Doris had done her magic. 

I would watch her repeat that magic again when she came to visit my husband Taku and me in Berkeley some years later.  She was around when Taku and I first met and we loved seeing her again. 

Next thing I know she is announcing this looks like a great place for her next great life adventure and we’re helping her find a place to live and work.  In no time, she had made friends with my friends Dov and Cathy and was once again baby-sitting and becoming a regular at family gatherings. By now she was more a part of my chosen family than just a friend, and over the years, at shabbat dinners, birthday parties, Thanksgiving and other holidays, Doris became part of the scene. Many of you here are part of that scene also, and those of you here from Leapfrog can attest to her power to make friends of her colleagues, as well.
Doris and Ziva

We asked people to submit photos of Doris and I posted them on a Flickr page.  If you haven’t seen them already, let me know and I’ll give you the link.   We started with a half dozen or so, and I believe the number at last count was up to 89.  As I look over the array of photos there, I’m moved especially by the ones of Doris and the little girls she played auntie to and at how she was able to come into our lives and make such a lasting impression.  Doris showed up at our house one Saturday morning and said, “Come on, the Pet Food Express on Broadway is having one of their mobile adoptions.”  Our two little girls, Jack Russell terrier/Chihuahua mixes named Miki and Bounce, now the center of our lives and pretty close to the meaning of life, come from that day when Doris took the initiative and put us in the right place at the right time.

Doris’s life was cut far too short.  She should have had two or three more decades of adventures, and time to share her love of birds and of dogs, of hiking, and her notions of healthy living and the importance of good posture, the need to buy organic and to organize your kitchen cabinets so you use your food up well before the shelf expiration date.

Doris and I didn’t see eye to eye on everything.  She had an appreciation of homoeopathy, which I thought was just nuts.  She loved Hawaiian music - at least she did at one point - which doesn’t do a thing for me.  But when it came to the important things in life she had much to teach me and others she came in contact with.  She had no patience for incompetence or violence or deceit or laziness.  She was inevitably up and at’em.  I think what I admired most about her was that although she was no Pollyanna – God knows she could peel the paint off the walls with her criticism of crooked politicians and self-serving bureaucrats – somehow her response to the bumps in the road was always to keep a cheery disposition.  She had an ability to get back in the fray with that big smile that filled her face and gave off a sense of almost boundless energy.

The day she died I didn’t know what to do with my shock and grief, so I put something on my blog on the spur of the moment.  And the photo I picked to go with it is that wonderful one of her with the leafy green trees in the background, the blue-rimmed glasses and the bright red lipstick, looking every inch the wise and mature lady she had become over the years, that combination of cheer and warmth and wisdom that was Doris Kyburz.

That smile will always be there for me.  It will always be there.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kids on the rocks

Get off that damn Bible, kid.  It’ll kill you.

If you’re a Babylonian, at any rate.  Or, I should imagine, anybody else who has pissed God off.  He’s got quite a temper.

Came across this image on Facebook this morning and I thought to myself, aw, isn’t that cute?   Maybe I ought to have a closer look.

Fascinating, the Bible is.  Started out as a history of the Hebrews, a tale told by Hebrew people writing with a heavy Hebrew slant, creating a God who loves them above all others.

Check out Isaiah 12, for example.  Beautiful inspiring words.  If you’re a Jew or a Christian who has assumed the Jewish tradition and are inclined to see America as some kind of “Zion on a hill,” Old Testament style, especially.

“…O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away and thou comfortedst me…”

Lovely, don’t you think?

But read on.  In the very next chapter, in which the writer turns to “the burden of Babylon,” we read:

“And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth…  Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate…”

Now here’s the part that jumps off the page at me:

“…I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity…Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes... Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children.”

Now if you’re going to create an imaginary friend who lives in the sky and loves you, do you have to make him out to be somebody who blames babies for what their parents do?  Even supposing that pissing off the Hebrews deserves a death sentence, I mean?

This child brain bashing is spoken of not only in Isaiah.  They actually sing about it!

Psalms 137, Verse 9 reads, in the King James Version:

“Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.”

The NET Bible puts this into modern language:

“How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock.”

Wow.  Some serious stuff going on here.

Better not mess with Jehovah, looks like.

Glad I read my Bible.  I might have missed that.

Thanks Facebook.