Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ignorant idealism, postponed

The only thing I'd enjoy less than a play celebrating Rachel Corrie would be a play celebrating Rachel Corrie at which everyone was forced to eat fake-butter popcorn. I wrote an article for the Chicago Criterion about Corrie, but since that publication is very much defunct and offline, and whatever copy I may have of this is at my parents', you'll just have to trust me on this. But regardless, reading about Rachel Corrie is nauseating in much the same way as sitting in an artificial-butter-smelling room is nauseating. There's just no escape. I'm glad that this play has not been wholeheartedly embraced by all, and if it is produced eventually, with no context, would happily protest. Not burn cars, but protest. Not to prevent the playwright's freedom of speech, but to make use of my own.

Among a certain set, it's "cool" to "care." And caring is, in this context, having trendy politics, and taking those trendy politics as far as they go. Being a martyr for a trendy cause you don't even understand, well that's so hip, you probably think this play was about you. And seems it was.

Should Rachel Corrie have died for her stupidity? No. But that is, in effect, what happened. Did Jewish groups violate freedom of expression by urging the postponement of a play that is apparently an ode to Corrie? Of course not--part of freedom of expression is that all are free to express, including critics and naysayers. And since "Jewish groups" do not, in fact, equal "the American government," and these groups were not threatening violence, where does censorship come into this?

The Times article describes how the postponed play presents Corrie as a generic do-gooder, ignoring the fact that, well, the IDF, which she was fighting because that's apparently what the do-gooders do these days, is also trying to do good, to save lives. Both causes are plenty "left," but one gets to be shown on the London stage and the other merely gets a nod from American campus Hillels.

This is worth taking a look at, while we're on the subject.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The Times article describes how the postponed play presents Corrie as a generic do-gooder, ignoring the fact that, well, the IDF, which she was fighting because that's apparently what the do-gooders do these days, is also trying to do good, to save lives."

Y'know, you really ought to take a giant step back and look at what the settlement policy has been about.

The past 30 years of Israeli history have morally sullied the Zionist project in a particularly bad way. Political decisions have put the IDF in a position where it is most definitely not trying to do good.

I'm sure there were plenty of reasonable white Southerners in the 1950's who felt their police were just trying to protect life and property, and thus were "doing good". And I'm sure they thought outsiders coming down to try to change things were "ignorant idealists" too.

Anonymous said...

Well written, Phoebe.

Petey - "I'm sure there were plenty of reasonable white Southerners in the 1950's who felt their police were just trying to protect life and property, and thus were "doing good"."
The difference being here that there was real subjugation of blacks in America (in exactly the way that there isn't of arabs in Israel) and those who were subjugated chose non-violence, not walking into a Sbarro and blowing up everybody there.

Anonymous said...

"The difference being here that there was real subjugation of blacks in America (in exactly the way that there isn't of arabs in Israel)"

The issue is not the treatment of arabs in Israel.

The issue is that Israel has spent the past 30 years trying to expand its borders by military force.

The territory the IDF was trying to protect in the Corrie incident was Gaza, not Israel.

"and those who were subjugated chose non-violence, not walking into a Sbarro and blowing up everybody there."

If Southern blacks had chosen violence instead of non-violence, that wouldn't have changed the moral culpability of Southern whites who defended an indefensible system.

Anonymous said...

To make up for pointing out the inconvenient truth that Phoebe's beloved IDF has been used in the service of a rather monstrous political goal over the past several decades, I will offer the link to a rather funny Natalie Portman video, apparently from SNL.

Anonymous said...

There's a nice book club at TPMCafe this week on the history of the settlement policy.

If folks are interested in what drew Corrie into the fray, it's a useful read.

Anonymous said...

One money quote from the aforementioned TMPCafe book club:

"A brave Israeli, Yitzhak Frankenthal, whose son was kidnapped and murdered by Hamas but who now favors unconditional negotiations with it, told me that what terrorism is for Israelis, the expansion of settlements is for Palestinians.  During Oslo's last three years, although the Palestinians had virtually ended terrorism (six Israelis killed in three years), the settlements kept growing and growing."