A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Welcome To Democracy

Hamas has won the Palestinian elections. You aren't happy? You think the Palestinians don't deserve democracy? After all, no one so stubborn as to believe that they ever had a real grievance against Israel could possibly have been ready to vote on their own, right? They are mere children, playing at being adult, right? Grievance against Israel? How could such a thing possibly be? Our best friend in the Middle East, and the showplace in the region of Western values and Western freedom--the tiny David armed with nothing more than a sling against the huge Goliath of Radical Islam? Grievance? Give me a break!

Welcome to democracy. And to reality. It's good to have you back. It's getting a little dangerous around here for anyone to be in La La Land anymore. Democracy is no cure-all for international strife, and it doesn't repeal the Law of Gravity or make a silk purse out of as sow's ear. So it is not going to "undermine Islamic terrorism", particularly. All democracy does is allow people to act on how they think. That means that you have to take what they think seriously.

The Palestinians are not thinking the right things? They're not thinking the things we tell them they ought to be thinking? Too bad. They have democracy now and they are going to act on how they think. So now we all have to begin asking ourselves what they are actually thinking.

You really don't know what they think, you say? Well, confidentially, neither do I. I wonder why that is, don't you? We have all these fine news organizations and newspeople covering the globe. We always knew what Arial Sharon thought. We always knew what Benjamin Netanyatu thought. But, somehow, it was never clear just what any Palestinian thought, in power or out of power. For all those years all we knew was that Yasser Arafat always wore a funny houndstooth burnoose.

I never really heard anything more about him for all those years than what his enemies thought of him. Did you? And did he really refuse to tell anybody?

Could it possibly be that no one in all those fine American news organizations took the trouble to ask? Or that no editor let the story off the spike if they did? Or that no publisher or media executive thought it worth the news space or the air time?

And what about ordinary Palestinians, the sort who voted for Hamas in such numbers? Have we ever heard anything in the American news media of their views, or even the fact that they exist when they are not being "suicide bombers"? I can only remember one fairly decent story on 60 Minutes, which I caught by accident and on the fly, where Palestinians of no great fame spoke at length, beyond soundbites, for themselves. Did you see any others?

I suppose it was inevitable that my good conservative friends would get a prime case of the vapors over the Hamas victory. The ones I take a look at now and again are all calling this election the equivalent of the election won by the Nazi Party in Germany in 1933. And we are being shrilly warned not to "appease" Hamas.

But it's time to calm down and note that the actual situation in Palestine has not budged an inch.

The Israeli choices are still one of two: either impose "disengagement" or ethnically cleanse all of the Palestinians from the occupied territories. Disengagement, by the way is essentially the solution that the South African apartheid government tried to impose, in the form of autonomous black "homelands", shortly before it fell.

This is what those choices always have been, though Arial Sharon was the first to realistically face this fact. Before Sharon's bold and rational steps to finally make a real choice, the Israelis were in La La Land, too. For nearly forty years they blithely told themselves that if they simply kept planting settlements on the Occupied Territories, the Palestinians would, sooner or later, somehow, go away. Any "negotiations" undertaken by Israel were mere means of convincing themselves of this patently absurd belief. Any military or covert ops action taken by them was merely a means of trying to make this absurd belief come true.

The choices of the rest of the world are still one of one: to allow Israel to do whatever it pleases in the occupied territories no matter what opinions they may hold about it, or what mere noisy nuisances they may make of themselves with those opinions.

This choice is essentially imposed on the world by the United States, and I don't see that piece of our foreign policy changing anytime soon, no matter what party is in power here, as it has not changed since 1967.

People truly interested in the health of our democracy might conceivably end up asking themselves why this is so. But they won't ask it very loudly and of too many other people. They haven't since 1967--and there are very good reasons for this--so good, in fact, that it is probably better to leave the matter there.

And the choices of the Palestinians are still none of none. They still have no capacity to make genuine war against anybody, their capacity to infiltrate Israel with suicide bombers has severely diminished by the slowly growing "wall" surrounding the West Bank, and there is no likelihood at all that any Islamic state anywhere will ever offer them any serious help.

By the by, I really don't think anyone, even if they are Palestinian, would consider an Iranian offer to nuke Israel "serious help" to fellow Islamics living nearby or downwind.

So all the Palestinians can really do is to sit and wait to see whether they will be ethnically cleansed or not, and, if not, how high and how deep the new walls which surround them will be. Electing Hamas is merely a rude gesture made by people who have never been anything but totally impotent in the face of vastly superior military force and a willingness to use it.

So terms such as "appeasement" and comparison's to Hitler's Germany are beyond being ludicrous.

Do you suppose when the new leadership takes over the Palestinian Authority that we will get a straight story on what they think?

The world is astonished by the Hamas landslide in the Palestinian elections. I'm astonished, too.

But, somehow, I'm not really astonished that we all find it so astonishing.