Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Self-Destructive Self-Righteousness

I was in a very minor traffic accident last week. Backing into a parking spot on a narrow street in Manhattan, I was surprised to see that I'd sideswiped a car which had zoomed up and tried to go around me.

The driver jumped out of his car in a blinding rage. With a thick Israeli accent, he screamed "I knew it! I knew it!". He'd seen me backing up, concuded that I wasn't paying attention, and, sure enough, I (clueless asshole that I am) swiped his car. I asked the fellow why, if he'd foreseen this, he'd decided to zoom in and squeeze past. He bellowed back "Because it was
my right of way!!!"

I looked him calmly in the eye and suggested that this was precisely the same psychology that's led to Israel's West Bank settlements.

Naturally, he wasn't amused. But I was. Feeling delightfully detached, I sat placidly on the trunk of my car as he made a big show of checking every single system of his car for damage (there obviously was none; my car was the one scraped up). Finally, he drove away, still angry, his afternoon both thoroughly ruined and completely validated.

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