“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.”
— Final social media post of Charlottesville martyr Heather Heyer; may Hashem avenge her blood.
We are living in days of rage. During the first 11 weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., America’s billionaires have hoarded over half a trillion additional dollars, becoming 19% wealthier, even as over 40 million Americans have lost their jobs, supported by an insulting, one-time, $1,200 check. Some of these billionaires have hoarded headlines and accolades for charitable donations that amount to less than a tenth of 1% of their wealth. The obscenity of American oligarchy has been further exaggerated in the last couple of weeks of exploding police brutality and the astonishing popular uprising, led by young Black people across America’s cities. Police, as is their long-standing custom, have unloaded on Black people, protesters, press, and legal observers with ferocity exceptional even for police — even destroying water and medical supplies for protesters — as fringe participants in the uprising threatened seats of American capital. American police have always been, existentially, about protecting rich people’s hoarded, — looted — wealth. In fact, policing in America began in the slave patrols designed to ensure that America’s inaugural looters, the enslavers of humans, didn’t lose their stolen wealth in human flesh. Police brutality, synonymous with policing, has always been in service of capitalism’s greediest, most entitled, looting, hoarding tentacles. Days of rage!
The Prophets and Sages share our disgust at this greed and hoarding. Jeff Bezos’s sprawling mansion compound and the precious Macy’s and Chanel stores that are the object of so many crocodile tears are the Towers of Babel (Genesis 11) of today. How did the Sages understand the essence of the sinfulness of the people of Babel? “If a man fell and died they paid no heed to him, but if a brick fell they sat down and wept, saying, ‘Woe is us! When will another one come in its stead?’” (Midrash Pirkei DeRabbi Eli‘ezer 24:6). A culture which values property — gaudy, obscene, boastful property — more than human life earns Divine wrath and destruction and condemnation in the World-to-Come (Mishna Sanhedrin 10:3). This obsession with wealth hoarding and disdain for human life finds even more extreme manifestation in the city-state of Sodom – the body politic so irreparably cruel that God obliterated it with fire and brimstone (Genesis 19:24-25). The prophet Ezekiel, lashing out at the utterly corrupt Israelites, compared them to the people of Sodom, getting to the root cause of Sodom’s culture of gang raping foreigners and their supporters. “Look: this was the crime of your sister Sodom: Arrogance! She and her daughters had plentiful bread and tranquility and quiet, but did not strengthen the hand of the poor, the pauper” (Ezekiel 16:49).
So, yes, we’re pissed off. Our Torah requires no less. God promised Avraham that if there were even ten dissidents in Sodom, God would have spared it: they could turn the culture around (Genesis 18:23-32). It is only our protest hollering that saves this Sodomite country we live in from being destroyed.
In that spirit, we recently asked on Facebook, “Can we post a thread of our favorite, furious, anti-capitalist songs?” Over 160 comments later, we went through, edited this crowdsourced list down to 50, with no artist getting more than one song, attempting to include a diversity of genres, genders, and volumes. So here it is: Our favorite (more or less) furious, anti-capitalist songs to keep us energized in rebelling, turning the culture, and saving this country from its well-earned Divine Wrath.
Bring the noise.
(You can find link directly to the full playlist here).