Reading 'round the Web as Israel keeps slamming Lebanon, and Hezbollah improves its deadly aim, one finds a variety of theories being tossed about, since dealing directly with the ongoing violence is, at least Stateside, becoming a redundant exercise in military analysis, and the cheerleaders for more death and destruction are getting hoarse from weeks of shouting. There is, of course, the conspiracy theory that Hezbollah somehow staged the assault on Qana in order to embarrass innocent Israel and rally more Arab support for its nefarious cause. While we've not been on good terms of late, I must in all fairness cite Marc Cooper's strong reaction to this ridiculous and insulting concept. But please, Marc, don't go and ruin your fine work on this front by trying to link Noam Chomsky to pro-fascist forces wherever -- at least not for another week, anyway.
What interests me, though, is not mock outrages supposedly staged by Hezbollah Productions, but the general tone that makes such theories possible, if not probable. One complaint I've seen more than a few times deals with Lebanese relief workers who hold up dead children to the cameras after an Israeli attack. This is seen by many war lovers as bad taste and further proof that Arabs view life differently than do we civilized Westerners. Apart from the obvious paradox that those who support Israeli aggression are somehow offended by viewing the results of what they advocate, I'm not sure what's so "uncivilized" about reminding us what bombs and missiles do, especially to those least able to defend themselves. Indeed, as I've said many times before and have demonstrated through my choice in photos from the war zone, we who pay for this carnage should have our noses rubbed in it. Again and again and again. To me, ignoring or glossing over the deaths we're responsible for is what's uncivilized. But save for war porn freaks and related snuff fanciers, Americans by and large blanch at facing this horrid reality, so much so that our government feels that it must sneak the dead from Iraq into the country for burial, lest We The People get a whiff of what's happening in that other part of this happy world. So far as I've seen, said People have no serious problem with that, except for those doing the burying, of course.
When those photos of smiling Israeli children writing on missiles destined to fall on Lebanese children (among others) exploded across the Web, there were some who said that this proved how cheaply Israelis view Arab lives, and how monstrous it was to encourage children to share and express this hatred. Well, teaching children tribal hatred is certainly an awful thing, but we all know that it's not uniquely an Israeli trait. Every culture in some way does this; and when bombs and bullets are involved, this hatred is taken to a deeper, more malicious level. News Flash: war fucks with people's heads, and children are the most vulnerable to any spreading psychosis. I'm sure you've seen the depictions of violence drawn by Palestinian children over the years (they've had plenty to work with). Even in those simple, intersecting lines you can see the child just wanting it all to go away, no matter how many times they may have been dressed up in jihadist costume and given a toy gun to wave at the cameras. It'll be interesting to see what the children of Beirut, Tyre, Sidon and Gaza are drawing, as well as the young in Haifa, Maghar, Safed and Kiryat Shmona -- that is, if they survive the present insanity.
There are many reasons for what is currently happening in Lebanon, Gaza and Israel (as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan, areas I've been remiss in examining and hope to do just that in the near future), and I've given my takes since the slaughterhouse has gone 24/7. But at bottom, beyond all the geopolitical realities and ideological justifications, this murderous moment in time reflects poorly on all of us. I won't go so far as to employ the cliché that "we're all to blame," but I won't completely dismiss it, either. If you're calling for more killing, then you're getting what you apparently desire, regardless of actual influence. If you're calling for the killing to stop, then you're not doing a very good job of convincing those who can stop it. Maybe they can't be reasoned with (the Bush gang is impervious to humane appeals), but that's no excuse. I don't know what it will take, but shrugging our shoulders and shaking our heads ain't cutting it.
AND: The wife, after reading the above, sent along an excerpt from "A Long, Long Way" by Sebastian Barry, which she's currently reading. About an Irish kid who gets sucked into the slaughter of WWI, apparently. Might have to read it myself, once I get through the stack of Middle East books on the floor of my office.
"And all those boys of Europe born in those times, and thereabouts those times, Russian, French, Belgian, Serbian, Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, Italian, Prussian, German, Austrian, Turkish – and Canadian, Australian, American, Zulu, Gurkha, Cossack, and all the rest – their fate was written in a ferocious chapter in the book of life, certainly. Those millions of mothers and their million gallons of mother’s milk, millions of instances of small talk and baby talk, beatings and kisses, ganseys and shoes, piled up in history in great ruined heaps, with a loud and broken music, human stories told for nothing, for ashes, for death’s amusement, flung on the mighty scrapheap of souls, all those million boys in all their humours to be milled by the millstones of a coming war."