I chanced upon a man today, gathering signatures for Socialist Equality Party candidate for US Senate from New York Bill Van Auken, who was yelling, “sign this petition for our anti-war candidate, get the U.S. out of Iran now.” I was intrigued enough to stand and watch a bit longer – he was getting many signatures in the East Village from people who heard his superficial cry, but did not bother to ask him about his overall views. It demonstrated to me a shallowness of some who dislike George Bush, his policies, or both so much that they would sooner help elevate a far more irresponsible regime to a whole other extreme of what they consider the Bush administration to be..
The man declared to hungry listeners, “the Democrats attack Bush from the right, they claim we are not being Zionist enough!” That got me mad. I approached him to demand an explanation of this rationale. He went into a tirade about illegal wars in Iraq, attempts at U.S. Imperialism and desire to control oil worldwide – all expected arguments. When a passer-by told him that pulling out of Iraq fast without a plan to withdraw that protects our interests is irresponsible, the Bolshevik asked, “who is the ‘our’ you’re referring to?” I said, “The United States.” To which he ranted about America not being a homogeneous country and the he did not see any threat to his security or interests.
I prodded him on his Zionist comment and he went into another invective over Israel and Lebanon. When I asked him straight out, “When an illegal militia lobs bombs into Israel and kidnaps soldiers, what are they do?” First he suggested that it was a mere border dispute that all Israel had to do was swap prisoners.
I was appalled at that, and asked about the morality of seeing his “tactic” as an acceptable form of negotiation from non sanctioned terror group. He replied that Hizbullah is not an illegal militia, but a bona fide political group in Lebanon that had a right to protest for what it believes in. I asked him then, as a member of the Socialist party, a political party, could you take up arms here and bomb Canada? He said, “of course not, but we have different laws here,” and then said that Israel has been the instigating factor in the Middle East since it illegally stole and occupied land in 1948. Even though the United Nations recognizes Israel, this Bolshevik does not – he believes that Israel has no rights and that all of the wars and deaths are a direct result of Israel’s “land grab in 1948.”
I humored him. I asked, “Let’s say we leave Iraq, Israel disappears and no Americans or Jews are left in the Middle East, do you believe that Osama Bin Laden, Hassan Nasrallah, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the like will be happy and leave us all be?” I recapped history for him and he even acknowledged that fundamentalist Muslims are historically imperialistic for the sake of religion. I argued that his condemnation of capitalism as the trigger for the woes of the world ignores fundamentalist religion, and that ridding the world of capitalisms would not eliminate the religious call for the ‘godly’ destruction of infidels. He was blank and stammering.
When I said, “where were the Bolsheviks when Hitler was killing the Jews, creating the clear necessity for Israel’s formation,” (oh, right, the Jews were purged by the Bolsheviks in the 1930s and the movement sought to eliminate Judaism); he said he had no time to talk, he had to finish getting his signatures.
I can not say what captivated me about this guy more, his ridiculous historically ignorant logic and presumably by extension, that of his party and the candidate, or the fact that so many in New York’s East Village were scurrying to sign on. Have Americans become weak, squeamish and so self absorbed that selfishness consumes rational behavior?
They say Israel is a selfish imperialist entity, they say the U.S. is an imperialist looking for oil and dominance. What they are really saying is that they themselves are selfish. They are fearful for their lives, fearful that their lifestyle will abruptly change if we do anything to upset the apple cart of excess in the United States. They want to be the land of the free, but not the home of the brave. It is curious to me how many of these hipsters (or trust fund babies) speak and walk with an air of morality as they rage over their disgust in the U.S. and Israel, but never stop to recognize that what they are mad at most is the fact that our war on terror and Israel’s very existence is threatening their carefree lifestyles. The Bolsheviks this petitioner represents, ironically, find perplexing allies in these circles.
The U.S. is not selfish, Israel is not evil; they are flawed, but as democracies go, they are defenders of common decency in a world filled with self-centered cowards who would never take a take a bullet for a belief in anything but their own existence.