Sunday, October 7, 2018

Israelis, Palestinians, and Brett Frigging Kavanaugh

As a guy with Jewish ancestry who has nothing against Muslims (and, indeed, loves Sufi poetry and Arabic literature, music, food, and culture, has dated Palestinian women, and who publicly declared himself Muslim the week after Donald Trump's election in an act of solidarity), I've settled on a framing of the Middle East conflict:

The Israelis are right. The Palestinian leaders have been awful - every bit as bad as the Israelis paint them. And Palestinians are right. The Israeli leaders have been awful - every bit as bad as the Palestinians paint them. The grievances on both sides are massive and legitimate. So anyone who surveys just one side's bad actions and concludes that the other side is noble and justified is being stupendously dishonest. There are no good guys. There's no side of righteousness. Pull back the self-delusion and it's quite obviously monstrous assholes fighting monstrous assholes, each sanctimoniously feeding off the sins of the other.

(This is an unpleasant and cynical view. It's desensitized and clinical. I'm not happy holding it, but the natural impulses that are supposed to make me pull for "my team" don't work with me - I'm not just non-tribal, I'm anti-tribal. And, besides, I'm politically impervious to dramatic narratives of pain and woe. Not because I'm a monster, but because I've observed that people who dramatize their pain and woe are inevitably trying to score points, and it nauseates me to see victimhood thrust forward as some sort of glorious trophy - the pernicious virus of the late 20th century.)

I've been a political centrist for a long time now. I've always strongly disliked the doctrine and tactics of both the extreme right and the extreme left. And I've recently watched in horror as the moderate wings of both sides have collapsed and radicalized. But it wasn't until last week that I began feeling unpleasant and cynical, desensitized and clinical, in my view of the two sides of American politics.

You know the feeling of anger and disgust you have in the pit of your stomach re: the Brett Kavanaugh saga, whether you're Democrat or Republican, pro or con? The distraught certainty that the other guys have reached a new level of loathsomeness? I absolutely feel that way about both sides. I've finally reached the point where it looks to me like there's no genuine righteousness on either side. Just monstrous assholes fighting monstrous assholes, each sanctimoniously feeding off the sins of the other.

1 comment:

Ted Rakowski said...

Thanks Jim, excellent food for thought.

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