Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The normalization of evil?

The father of the late WSJ journalist Daniel Pearl, who was brutally murdered in Pakistan seven years ago wrote a very emotional and moving piece in the WSJ today:

No one can imagine what it must be like for this father - to have lost a dear and valiant son in a ghastly, barbaric death. Though the article was written, I believe, as an appeal to not condone terrorism in any form, the article jumps to the raging dispute between Israel and Hamas, and ignores the problem for what it is: a religious, yes, but geopolitical conflict about a piece of land, and the history of oppression, occupation and "resistance".

"When we ask ourselves what it is about the American psyche that enables genocidal organizations like Hamas -- the charter of which would offend every neuron in our brains -- to become tolerated in public discourse, we should take a hard look at our universities and the way they are currently being manipulated by terrorist sympathizers."

If anything, the American psyche is now programmed to not only not tolerate genocide, but on the contrary, be extremely phobic and aware of terrorism and the threats that it represents. There can be no condoning the manic killings of either one or a hundred innocent people anywhere in the world, for any cause, no matter how noble.

And that's exactly the point. Evil isn't just them. It is also us.

Whether the aggressors are a group of guerilla suicide bombers or the mightiest military in the world does not matter. The sooner the United States realizes that as a self-declared champion of freedom in the world, it cannot automatically be allowed to attack targets inside Iraq or Afghanistan at will; nor can it stand and look the other way when Israel enters Gaza to attack the Hamas governed Palestine territory, when not six months ago, there was an uproar over the Russian incursions into Georgia after it attacked South Ossettia.

War begets war. The rise of radical Islamic terrorism has certainly been a direct consequence of the gigantic failures of the United States' foreign policy over several decades. If there has to be any chance of a lasting peace in the areas of conflict, particularly in the Middle-East, it has to come from diplomacy and an understanding into the causes and history of the conflict. And within that context, certainly universities have a central role to play as enablers of dialogue and discussion, setting up a thought framework that can address the issue from a fair, balanced and holistic perspective, and far from the battleground.


Anonymous apu said...

Ha. The "American psyche" can tolerate genocide very well indeed, so long as it is not American bodies. Indeed, the biggest myth of the 20th C is the one which Americans have convinced themselves of (and to some extent convinced others) - that America is a champion of freedom!

Will read the piece.

Saturday, February 28, 2009 9:12:00 PM  

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