JUST A THOUGHT
Regarding our comprehension of current events in the Middle East, the biggest problem we have here in the U.S. is that we don’t know what it is like to be under siege. Sure, there was the attack on 9/11; but, spectacular and (for some, but not me) shocking as it was, the actual human impact of 9/11/2001 pales in comparison even to that of some of our lesser foreign involvements.
Our cultural experience and historical memory (warped and self-serving as they both are) were formed from a perspective of us being the conquerors and the aggressors. Even our initial ‘revolution’ was a revolt orchestrated by landed provincial nobles who wanted to control the colonial pie without having to pay tribute to the Crown. (Roughly speaking, all the founders’ lofty words and structures of ‘democracy’ and ‘liberty’ were little more than clever bits of hot air originally designed to maintain their own oligarchy; subsequent concessions to the working classes were done under threat of all-out class warfare, which would have found the oligarchs outnumbered and outgunned. If there is any genius to our constitutional structure, it is that it has smoothly absorbed such concessions– so far).
Anyway, back to the point: Europeans, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Russians, and most of the poorer Asian and African countries have a clear cultural and historical awareness of what it is like to be under brutal foreign attack/occupation/siege (all the more reason why the EU’s tacit acceptance of Israel’s Lebanon atrocity is especially reprehensible). These regions/nations still have living citizens who experienced the horrors of war brought to their doorsteps.
We here in the U.S. have our vague recollections and rehashed propaganda about the Civil War, but that was before the era of Total War. For U.S. citizens, Total War is something that happens Over There. So when the corporate media show us pictures of the effects of warfare (I’m specifically referring here to that which we are involved in directly or indirectly as a nation), we can maintain the psychic clearance necessary to cluck our tongues and go back to voting for the next American Idol. This happens for two reasons, of course: first, the aforementioned cultural and historical inexperience with Total War; second, the heavily censored and politically tailored nature of the images we are spoon fed. That’s why the images I reprinted and linked to in my last post carry such resonance (for people with operating brains and consciences, that is). While the majority of us don’t possess the psychic context to translate that two-dimensional horror into a four-dimensional empathetic experience, our unfamiliarity with even the two-dimensional imagery gives those photos a measure of shock value just the same.
All that said, though, I’m not excusing us (the U.S. electorate) from our responsibility and culpability in these matters. It is our tax revenue and our political clout that gives Israel its colonial beer muscles, and we all know it. For example, the shells being signed by those smiling Israeli girls were likely built right here in the U.S., as were the guns that fire them, and the planes that bomb what the shells couldn’t reach.
Those dead Lebanese children have left blood on our hands, too.