Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hamas, Palestine, Israel, and How to Seem Sophisticated


Don't be So Open Minded that Your Brains Fall Out

It's considered quite 'sophisticated,' or 'tolerant,' or 'intelligent,' to talk about the "continuing cycle of violence" between Israel and outfits like Hamas.

The idea behind 'open-minded' statements like that is called "moral equivalence." It's the notion that killing innocent people in a house or market is the same, morally, as destroying an ammunition dump and killing its guards in the process.

You probably won't run into that phrase, "moral equivalence," in discussions of international affairs, but it's behind a great deal of what passes for 'open-minded' and 'tolerant' discussions of "Israeli aggression" and "oppression."

" 'Moral equivalence' has been defined as 'defining distinct and conflicting moral behaviors in similar terms.' The principle of moral equivalence is behind statements like ' "all sins are equal in God's eyes," which effectively equates ethnic cleansing with stealing a pencil.' " ("Moral Equivalence, Prisoners, and Al Qaeda" (July 21, 2007))

Moral Equivalence: Your Ticket to a New, Sophisticated, Image

In Iraq, the best and brightest (their opinion) in America equated Abu Ghraib and "Saddam's torture chambers." Never mind that routine rapes, mutilations, and beatings, with the occasional mass murder, was a matter of policy under Saddam: and the Abu Ghraib scandal involved a few perverts with cameras, who got in trouble when their unsanctioned 'fun' was discovered.

My guess is that the self-styled sophisticates are already discussing the Israeli-Hamas conflict in terms of moral equivalence. And I won't be at all surprised if the United Nations Security Council, following Libya's sagacious lead, will do the same.

If you to want fit in with the 'right' sort, and display what passes for worldly wisdom, using moral equivalence as your guiding philosophy will help. I'd rather assume that taking photos of naked prisoners isn't quite the same as attempted genocide, and that bombing a market isn't equivalent to destroying a military facility, but you'll have to make up your own mind.

Related posts: Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.