I’ve just been watching some television news and was struck by the nature of a rhetorical question, asked in a discussion about the prisoners at Camp X-Ray: “Shouldn’t we just lock them up and throw away the key?”
There is an implied community in this question (i.e. “we”) to which the audience members normally assume themselves to belong. But how safe is it to make this assumption? Arab-Americans have recently found themselves to be outside the collective “we” in new and unimaginable ways.
There’s nothing remarkable about the question, really, other than the obvious ease with which I was initially sucked into the unstated premise as well… and thus, the clear danger to open societies which rhetorical questions like this one represent — a given audience member is likely to believe that the lines of circumscription in the sand are obvious, until he realizes that they are not as he imagined them to be — and by then, at least for him, it may be altogether too late.
For the record, I think there is nothing wrong with being an Arab, and I also think that people ought to be allowed to practice Islam if they want to, at least as long as we also allow Christianity and Judaism to pollute our futures as well.
This is an unpopular view right now. I suppose I, too, have just been excluded from the “we” of the New America. I hope I’m not soon to be included in the “them” for having such views.
We must all be very vigilant.
And also: most people don’t seem to understand what a “cease fire” between Palestine and Israel means. A “cease fire” does not mean peace, it means only “stop shooting and leave things the way they are for now” — with Palestine still occupied and checkpoints still in place.
The Palestinians only want a cease fire if further negotiations toward a land-for-peace inpdendence are going to follow, something which Israel and the US will not promise. The point is that like the US colonists hundreds of years ago, the Palestinians are much more interested in independence than in saving their own lives.
So what they are being offered with a “cease fire” is effectively nothing — “you bring your terrorists back under control and we will stop shooting… but we will leave our soldiers where they are and you will still not have independence.”
The US colonists wouldn’t have agreed to such a “cease fire” either. Since the US envoy was only authorized to discuss “cease fire” and not “land for peace” the mission was really a non-starter from the beginning… yet another illustration of the truly broken foreign policy which has characterized the second Bush administration thus far.