Yesterday I posted the following sentence. It was deemed unrealistic and naive and anyone who has watched 24 knows that the world is being more or less set up to believe that a sentence like the one I wrote is … the height of wishful thinking. Here it is in italics:
You fight terrorism by rising above its barbaric laws and enlisting all nations and all civilized persons to engage at a level that will isolate, divide and render absurd the entire edifice of terrorism, its thoughts, its beliefs and its actions.
My response begins with what I will call the Falstaff Ploy — remember in Henry IV Part One when Falstaff plays dead on the grounds that it makes more sense to live as he does than to die for a false honor.
Idealism and naivete are no match for anything, but the Falstaff Ploy is a different matter. That is the point of view that easily sees the testosterone-based honor politics of most inherited nationalist and patriot-gore thinking as simply stupid. It need not be argued. It cannot be argued. There is too much support that has nothing to do with reason. It is redolent of the sort of “strength politics” that we have in DC now. It is redolent of our war on terror which was lost the moment that a decision was made to ignore the advice, indeed the policy, above.
We should have differentiated ourselves from the barbaric code if terrorists. Instead we went lex talionis. Instead of an extended period of building an international structure of civilized support for civilized behavior universally — dividing, isolating and essentially ending the terrorist threat by something truly surgical — we chose shock and awe and unconscionable evasion of reasonable military tenets when there was a chance to get Al Queda at Tora Bora.
If the US wished to go into Osama’s Lair, it would have helped to do so with more than token force.
We need to create and act on a value system built on democracy, tolerance and helpfulness and anchored in the prophetic tradition of non-idolatry.
Democracy is not our democracy. It is every person universal right to have a voice. This is not a right that can be won at the point of a gun, nor when advanced in transparently hypocritical ways.
(Interests should be acknowledged and negotiated — oil, for example.)
Tolerance is not permissive tolerance. It is the recognition that our human family has differing understandings that need to be given enough slack to keep us from one anothers’ throats.
Helpfulness is not throwing first aid at problems but the sorting through of things that work to overcome the endemic crises in the realm of health, education and the overcoming of poverty.
The foundation of a value system for the coming millennium is a move beyond idolatry, a move beyond messianism and celebritization, the discovery of the person and of an understanding of public good that is universal.
Naive? You tell me what else will work. What else will not condemn us to more of the lethal brew that war creates?