FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Countering the Lynch Mob

As Pearl Harbor emerges as the metaphor of choice to describe September 11th’s horrendous sequence of events, screaming for World War III may be the worst response to this tragedy.

December 7th and September 11th share obvious parallels, as well as crucial disparities. As Thomas Friedman notes in one of the first New York Times editorial to appear after the attacks, Pearl Harbor pitted America against a world superpower. Then, December 7th tipped the scales after a protracted, yearlong Great Debate between intervention and isolation. We are now the superpower, and terrorism notwithstanding, we are still the world1s only superpower. The U.S. entry into World War II meant a fight at least as much against the consistent and certain record of Nazi aggression as it did against a devastating surprise attack. The U.S. manufacture of World War III will occur without any debate, against a protean enemy yet with the odds stacked in our favor.

However misguided, enemies of the U.S. see us as the equivalent of Nazi Germany. Only the most extreme fundamentalist could defend any justification for the recent terrorism. But only the most rabid patriot would deny that this country has made mistakes ? some of which seem, in retrospect, entirely consistent with Nazi beliefs. When one anti-globalization website compares the collapse of the World Trade Centers to the burning of the German Reichstag in 1933, we have an ethical obligation to heed that warning. The comparison reminds us of what the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center cannot become. The Nazi Party used the highly visible destruction of its Parliament to build its military machine and centralization of power upon the ruins of civil liberties and basic human rights. History has taught us nothing if we succumb to that example.

George W. Bush is no Hitler and comparing any political party to Nazism reeks of demagoguery. But the emerging lynch mob mentality toward financially impoverished Arab and Muslim nations is no more suited to democracy than crashing a jetliner into a skyscraper or the wholesale slaughter of civilians.

Before mounting an all-out military assault costing the lives of even more men, women and children, we must consider one of the most powerful weapons that we have at our disposal. It carries great sacrifice, but costs relatively little in terms of lives. It is a non-exclusive option, and in the long term, it will truly disable terrorist adversaries. The United States must demand an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The United States must demand that Israel completely evacuate all settlements in these areas, and a return to all pre-1967 borders. Taking terrorism by surprise, such an initiative would splinter whatever support a small band of extremists now have.

In Hebrew, Tikkun Olam means the just repair of the world. Bombing civilians abroad is neither just nor certainly repairing. If we are truly the leaders of a civilized world, then we must demonstrate this leadership now by seizing upon an opportunity, instead of wreaking more havoc. Amid the passions of their respective eras, there were plenty of justifications for slavery, lynchings, genocide, internments and holocausts ? nuclear and otherwise. We grew to regret those actions, at least in part. Let us not give in to the instant gratification of a vengeful war meant to destroy convenient Muslim and Arab scapegoats. Like past mistakes made amid passion and unreason, we can only grow to regret such self-righteousness later. CP

Steven Alan Carr is author of Hollywood and Anti-Semitism: A Cultural History up to World War II (New York: Cambridge UP, 2001).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail