This is one of those times when it’s difficult to avoid binging on corporate news-product. Under normal conditions, my consciousness of TV news falls somewhere on a spectrum between watching wallpaper and seeing a skunk on the path, but events that auger wars are things that I probably don’t have enough character to avoid getting sucked into. Not having enough character to simply ignore it, I’m stuck with a three-part work-around policy.
1.) Give in. Feel all the shock. Listen obediently to the experts. Experience the hurried, thrown-together look of the on-site reporter. Be convinced he cares (how could he not?). Bite into the hook they give you before they cut to commercial. Experience a homicidal or Nationalist urge or two (how else can you deal with these fanatics?) Find yourself eating more comfort food or blowing some money at Target or Walmart. Later that night, feel like things are different now and that this will lead to a long overdue new era. Experience a thrill at the possibilities.
2.) Spend an hour or two with the opposition. Chomsky is a contrary voice for anything in the news, though for the present story I watched Graham Fuller too. Experience the event as eminently rational, even what you yourself would have done or sympathized with were the shoe on the other foot. In fact, experience how this event is just the normal human response of someone who felt like you at stage 1. If President Netanyahu were killing persons in the Midwest with, say, cruise missiles, drone strikes, or embargoes that tolerated mass-starvation, I could understand someone dancing the streets if group of Kansas college kids shot up a diner in Tel-Aviv.
3.) See what I’m left with. Since step #2 can’t debunk #1 or make it any less awful, and since it even makes the event worse by depriving me of the comfort of believing that everything that is horribly evil must be craven, insane, and Disney villain-esque, I’m left trying to make sense of evil done rationally.
In part, all these events are a history of confirmations of Murphy’s law. The massacre was a failure in the eyes of those who did it (there’s never been one where the killers weren’t planning on death tolls ten times higher). That said, the motive for the massacre was a previous government sponsored massacre that failed through half-measures, unavoidable mistakes, folly and hubris. The motive for the government massacre was another atrocity, and the government planners responding to that atrocity marched off with very reasonable hopes, high spirits and patriotic fervor… and so on ad infinitum.
Yeah, yeah, cycle of violence and all that. But none of this argues for pacificism, moral equivalence, or even the futility of the cycle. It’s contrary to experience to say that violence never solves anything or that all aggressors are equal. But violence can be just while still being a failure. Appreciate the place of just war theory in the Summa.