Saturday, September 15, 2012

Something's Happening Here

Something’s Happening Here
P. Schultz
September 15, 2012

Here is a passage from an article in the NY Times from today.

“The wave of unrest not only increased concern in the West but raised new questions about political instability in Egypt, Tunisia and other Middle East countries where newfound freedoms, once suppressed by autocratic leaders, have given way to an absence of authority. The protests also seemed to highlight the unintended consequences of America’s support of movements to overthrow those autocrats, which have empowered Islamist groups that remain implacably hostile to the West.”

Just a couple of questions. First, “Middle Eastern countries…newfound freedoms…have [led] to an absence of authority.” Can we be sure this is accurate? Or does it reflect a particular and peculiar view of what “authority” means, viz., what we call “law and order” or an absence of protests? Protests need not reflect “an absence of authority” and could express assertions of a suppressed authority or the emergence of a different kind of authority, the authority of the street, as it were. “When I’m out on the street, I walk the way I want to walk…..I talk the way I want to talk.” [Bruce Springsteen]

Second, “The protests highlight…groups that remain implacably hostile to the West.” Can we be sure of this? Perhaps these groups are not “implacably hostile to the West” but are hostile to what Western nations have done to them, are hostile to certain policies of Western nations, you know, like supporting dictators and their dictatorial policies that have led to years, even decades of oppression, including religious oppression. Like almost any other human beings, these human beings don’t like being oppressed, having their most passionate beliefs oppressed and being treated unjustly and inhumanely. And this would actually be “good news” as it would mean that we in “the West” are not powerless to protect ourselves from these actions or reactions. All that is required is that we change our policies or, rather, just stop supporting dictators and those who would or are oppressing these people who are allegedly “implacably hostile to the West.”  

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