Searching for understanding among the hyperbole

I feel I must preface postings of this nature with the words “I do not support terrorism. I do not sympathize with terrorism”. I resent having to do so, but it is the nature of debate in my country at this time that communications such as these that are about to follow automatically label oneself as a pro-terrorist, or at a minimum, a terrorist sympathizer. So:

“I do not support terrorism. I do not sympathize with terrorism.”

Mike Sanders posts material from Thomas Friedman an opinion journalist writing for the New York Times. Interesting opinions. Let’s just take a look at some of Mr. Friedman’s points one by one, from a purely historical context, shall we?

Friedman states:

The world must understand that the Palestinians have not chosen suicide bombing out of “desperation” stemming from the Israeli occupation. That is a huge lie. Why? To begin with, a lot of other people in the world are desperate, yet they have not gone around strapping dynamite to themselves.

Friedman implies that these acts are not born out of desperation, but are coldly calculated acts. Surprisingly enough, I would agree. I would imagine that there are people in Palestine who are, at this moment, calmly and coldy calculating the costs of a suicide bomber at this location or that.

However, I also imagine that this has happened in every violent revolt since Man first fought with something other than his own hands, including the United States Revolutionary War.

For instance, Nathan Hale was reported to have said, “I regret I have but one life to give for my country” before being hanged for treason during the Revolutionary war. He was captured and executed because he was found behind enemy lines spying for the revolutionary war effort. In fact, he was caught trying to leave New York as a result of heightened security due to a suspicious fire set in the city at the time that destroyed over a quarter of the city, putting the British commander in the area in a rather pissy mood. No mercy was shown Hale, and he wasn’t even given the dignity of a firing squad.

Hale wasn’t a “desperate” man, but he was resolved in achieving freedom for his country, regardless of the cost to himself. He was assigned to his duties as a spy from a commander who also wasn’t a “desperate” man — a man who calmly, and coldy analyzed the cost of the effort that Hale could provide compared to the cost of Hale’s life — and then sent him behind enemy lines.

No successful revolt in this history of humanity was ever based on “desperation” — it was based on commanders who coldly calculated the cost in lives to achieve a goal, and it was based on those willing to give their lives to follow these commanders, again to achieve that same goal.

Next point:

More important, President Clinton offered the Palestinians a peace plan that could have ended their “desperate” occupation, and Yasir Arafat walked away.

There’s been a lot of discussion about this — why did Arafat walk away from a peace plan that would have ended all of the bloodshed, and given the Palestinians what they wanted.

Actually, you can find the answer to this at a posting at In this posting, Meryl says:

Oh, that’s right–there are other nations in the Middle East that have Palestinians in their midst, and have had them for more than fifty years. They still live in squalor. They have no voting or citizenship privileges.

Reading the whole post, Meryl brings this fact up as a criticism of Arab unity, but look at the words. The Palestinians have been a people forced out of their home, looked down on and despised throughout the Middle East for over fifty years. Over two generations of people have been without a home, and without the dignity of a home. What would you do if you were one of these people? I’m not condoning terrorism — I’m just asking a question: what would you do? Or more importantly, what would you not do?

There is and has been one item on every peace plan that has led to failure of that plan — reinstatement of Palestinians back in their original homes within the borders of what is now Israel. Not occupied Israel territory — Israel itself. Israel has said this will never happen. Palestine has said there will never be peace without this happening.

Finally the last point of Friedman’s article that I’m going to cover in this posting:

Still more important, the Palestinians have long had a tactical alternative to suicide: nonviolent resistance, � la Gandhi. A nonviolent Palestinian movement appealing to the conscience of the Israeli silent majority would have delivered a Palestinian state 30 years ago, but they have rejected that strategy, too.

Sorry, I have no idea what this is based on. India’s independence from Great Britain? Mr. Friedman would have to explain his premise on this one in more detail before would could intelligently comment.

I found a web page at MidEast Web that lists documents  that basically map the history of the current state in the Middle East. Documents, not opinions. I would suggest that all of those who point to one side as being more entrenched in hatred than the other might consider exploring the documents in this page. In fact, I think it’s time we all stopped with the rhetoric and the hyperbole and started learning a bit more about the situation in the Middle East.

Along with the historical timeline and documents, I also found the following words at this web site:

If any one person, viewpoint or source had the �straight story� about the Middle East, it would an easy matter to solve all our problems. It is easy to read a biased summary of �talking points� regarding any issue and march off on a crusade, disseminating more biased opinion and rallying followers to the attack. We have far too much of that in the Middle East. If you read a �fact,� consider the source. If you hear a news story, check that that it is true. Getting the facts straight is the beginning of understanding. Making sure that everyone gets the same facts – all of them – is the beginning of dialog and understanding.

I just discovered MidEast Web. I hope it lives up to words of understanding I’ve seen so far. I’ll know more after I spend time looking around. The beginning is promising.

Getting the facts. It might lead to understanding. And understanding might lead to peace.

Just Shelley People Political Weblogging

Where weblogging shouldn’t go

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I made a mistake last Friday — I thought to introduce conflicting viewpoints to demonstrate that one can, intellectually, appreciate more than one viewpoint on an issue. This was a mistake because there are some issues that one cannot discuss from the detached, bloodless core that exists at the root of all intellectual discourse.

We’re seeing the collapse of the Arab Summit amidst more suicide bombings in Israel. We’re witnessing a seemingly non-ending spiral that can only have devastating consequences. Ira Riftkin writes of the conflict:

Israelis cannot kill Palestinian aspirations without obliterating the Palestinians, and no number of Palestinian attacks will force Israel to surrender meekly, certainly not after the Holocaust.

Faced with such stark words, what possible intellectual spin could we put on this issue? Without sounding hollow and vain?

I was a foolish woman who forgot for a moment that blood issues such as this go beyond any form of “reasoning” one can do with the written word, no matter how eloquent the writing, no matter how intelligent the communicator, no matter how erudite the audience. To have brought this topic up in my weblog was the absolute height of vanity and arrogance. And I have paid for this attempted intellectual encapsulation of such a dire, incredibly sad, and heartbreaking situation as exists in the Middle East.

My desperate hope is that there are others out there more capable than I that can find a solution to this tragedy before we are faced with the complete extermination of a people — whether the people be Israelis or Palestinians, or both.

And now I apologize to all of you for having originated this topic in this weblog, first out of intellectual vanity, and later in a fit of anger and self-righteousness. If I decide to continue with this weblog, I will not do so again in the future.

Connecting Political Weblogging

Moral Equivalency

Meryl and Mike Golby are both giving their opinions based on this term “moral equivalency”.

Since neither is referencing my weblog, I am assuming that this effort on both their parts is related to something else other than my posts of this morning.

Update: I hadn’t planned on pursuing this issue because “moral equivalency” is a lose/lose situation — if you want to be informed, or to inform others, and the information isn’t agreed with by someone, you’re indulging in moral equivalency. However, when I searched on the term “moral equivalency, I found a wealth of information that was both scary and fascinating. I had to share some of it.

“Media Bias” says one article titled Creating Moral Equivalency. This article accuses CNN and other publications of media bias against Israel, based on the reporting of the deaths of the Palestinian Thabet and the Israeli Kahana.

“…Amnesty International issued a report demanding, as its top priority, an end to the war against terrorism, giving that an even higher urgency than the elimination of terrorism itself…”, says an extraordinary document by John Eastman titled “Moral Equivalency in International Law”. I found several Amnestry International reports regarding the prisoners at Guantanemo Bay but nothing about ending the war on terrorism. And Mr. Eastman negleted to provide a specific reference point to his claim.

Then there’s the one at applauding the Death of Moral Equivalency. I have to quote this one directly. As it was, it was so frightening I originally thought the words were satire. But they’re not:

    • Those humanistic, “can’t we all get along,” “profiling potential terrorists is racism,” “we’re all God’s children,” Kumbaya, “all we are saying is give peace a chance” moral equivalency equivocators will soon be back. They’ll try to wear down our resolve. They should be ignored. They have lost all credibility, just as the “peace in our time” crowd did at the start of World War II.
    • We know the enemy. We know where they live. Let’s got get them before they get any more of us, and let the moralizers sort it all out later.

There’s the WorldNetDaily’s Moral Equivalency in Left’s Condemnation of Israel. This one says:

    • This refers to the killings at refugee camps outside Beirut in 1982 – crimes committed by Lebanese militiamen. (Long apparently believes the Phalangists had converted to Judaism and joined the Israeli army.) When Time magazine implied that Sharon was responsible for the killings, the general sued for libel and was vindicated, not that this stops Israel-bashers from recycling a decades-old lie.

Fact: I am neither for or against Israel. I am neither for or against the Palestinian people. I believe that the situation in the middle east is between two peoples who are so caught up in hatred of each other that I doubt there will ever be a peaceful solution to this situation. And innocents on both sides of this issue will die as well as active participants, be they called military or terrorist. And there is no right, and there is no wrong — there’s only continuous death. And an overwhelming, sickening, cloying self-righteousness. On both sides.

And if you say that I’m indulging in moral equivalency with these words, then so be it. I’d rather be thought to be indulging in moral equivalency then that bullshit you all believe.

P.S. And let this be a warning — I’ve tried to be reasonable and open and maintain an intellectual discourse regarding my opinions. I’ve tried to respect the viewpoints of others and encourage dialog. And I’ve been slammed in the face with a 20 pound Halibut for my efforts. Some people will not listen to reason, they only listen to animosity. They don’t hear whispers they’re too busy listening to the screams. They won’t hear anything other than me admit I’m wrong and they’re right.

Since I’d rather be hated then ignored, or treated in a condescending manner — so be it.

The line is drawn here. Cross it at your own risk.


Bush on Korea

Our beloved President, Bush, has decided to take his “we’re peaceful and if you don’t believe us we’ll beat the crap out of you” diplomacy to Korea. I imagine that his continued use of the word “evil” when discussing North Korea is going to win us even more friends throughout the world and in Korea — both North and South.

Normally I don’t repeat politics or news events in this weblog — I leave that for the mainstream journals — but I grow concerned that Bush’s popularity is so heavily tied into war, fighting, terrorism, evil, and enemies. I keep hearing about this new security agency and that new patriotic policy and these new laws, and it seems as if the constitution becomes dustier and less used all the time.

It’s ironic, but before I got into weblogging, I wouldn’t have questioned Bush’s comments about North Korea. I wouldn’t have questioned much of what he and Ashcroft are doing — I would have just got along with the public reaction to the events of 9/11. Not because I’m stupid or dense or unconcerned; but because the US reports focus so much on what impacts us, what’s important to us, our security, our economy, our everything. After a while, it’s easier just to accept the patriotic cocoon and to let the government take care of me as it sees fit, because the continued reports of terror become overwhelming.

Now I hear the voices of other peoples and I can’t participate in this isolationism. Worse (better?), I’m starting to see more of a threat within the government than without.

I wonder when Ashcroft will decide that weblogging is anti-patriotic?


Enron and Freedom

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Thanks to Lisa ReinCBS MarketWatch and SF Gate more on Enron, the Jr. Bush White House, and Freedom of the American People.

Mr. President, your “critic free zone” from September 11th is up — time for us, the American people, to take a closer look at what you’re doing. And so far, you and your buddy Ashcroft scare the hell out of me.

Two planes took down the World Trade Center. Two men are trying to bring down the Constitution, break it apart, and sell it cheap. Enron and Freedom — and the year’s just barely started.

Folks, take that red, white, and blue flag out of your eyes and see what’s going on.