The Politics of Dancing
Talking pretty is good, writing pretty is great – it’s more portable and the emotions raised come from an internal place, not the rubbing, frictional land of chemicals and shared experience.
That being said, I also like a good poop in the morning. A poop that makes me feel like I’ve expressed a daemon -- not the vagal ones that give me referred pain and anxious moments -- and certainly not the juicy ones that use up half a roll of paper and require a quick shower as well.
So I am not without a sense of the beauty of primitive things, but still find the power of words and intelectual muscle flexing sublime and without counterpart in that other reality of the senses.
Which brings me to Alan Dershowitz.
A good poet can take a thing that you know in your head and twist the juices out of it until it’s condensed and simple. A great poet can then rehydrate it with a sum of all souls and allow you to touch god – much like a good French cook does with his rendered and endlessly simmered veal stock.
A good arguer can take a pile of pieces and, much like Legoland, use them to create a tower of reality that both convinces and persuades. Done well, it can change minds and events. In other words – it can move mountains by harnessing the abstract air of thought to the yoke of humanity.
The problem, and abuse, of words comes from the person and intent, not the words themselves. Writers seem to be a bunch of particularly atypical people with estrangement and distance a color they look at events with. This is both a power and a curse – ‘I like to watch’ does not get you invited to many parties, and wives tend to leave in anger after the roof leaks too many times.
Writers bring biases to what they write, but tend to be so self-absorbed they can’t see it. Well reasoned thoughts end up just excuses, and carefully constructed houses get made with sand on stormy beaches.
Proportionality between Hamas and Israel gets compared and found to be equal in a careful, reasoned manner, by a smart guy who is a master with rhetoric, but unable to see his bias.
It’s hard for me to escape the vision that Leon Uris created in my mind when he wrote about the Jewish resistance in Warsaw at the end of WWII. Ghettoized teaming masses of Jews surrounded by an impossible fence, hounded by Germanic efficiency until they retreated and fought from the sewers. Cut off completely from outside help (except for brave Polish resistance fighters that helped occasionally with smuggled weapons.)
Except Gaza doesn’t have sewers – they build tunnels.
It’s hard for me to see the original sin of Israel – they have no right to exist other than the power of their will. They terrorized the British, leaned on collective guilt from the concentration camps until the west gave them what they wanted – a homeland.
The fact that people lived there and did nothing with the land that we considered productive, and that they were not white, and that we had the guns and the technology to make it happen, does not take away from the sin of giving something that didn’t belong to us to a favored people.
You fight with what you’ve got against what you have to – The people of Israel should have learned that a long time ago – and it appears the freely elected government of the Palestinian people did.
Dershowitz truth is not the truth of most of the world and it’s a shame that he is making excuses for what is inexcusable.The power of an argument comes from presenting both and all sides, not from using tricks to compare apples to figs.