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the obvious

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A recent uptick in the bloggers that I read apologizing for “stating the obvious.” We’re all doing it, including me. The problems of the world have become, over the past half-decade, so much less interesting, so resistant to nuance, so devoid of argumentative running room, the space to turn on a dime, to snap it over.

We find ourselves speaking like children. We can’t help ourselves – we wail and kick at the obvious. There is nothing complex left to say, no tests of our intelligence, our subtly intuitive sense of things.

And so I come with more obviousness tonight.

In certain ways, what is happening in Lebanon right now seems more upsetting than even the Iraq War was at the outset. I feel more hotly disturbed by it – and I can tell that others do as well – others who like me were extremely troubled by the occupation of Iraq to begin with.

And, to my eyes, the reason has to be something like this: to a significant extent, the rhetoric of justice and democracy, the warm euphemistic language that hid the cold blooded killing, when it came to Iraq and Afghanistan, or even a potential war with Iran, is slipping away. No one evoked a doctrine of proportionality when it came to the earlier conflicts; no one suggested that we were bombing these places in order to convince them of the error of their ways. Whatever was really afoot, the powerful still felt an obligation to lie. That obligation is now disappearing, very nearly gone, apparently.

There are a few half-hearted attempts, whose distance from reality is almost laughable. Condi Rice’s press-conference the other day almost made it sounds as though the Lebanese government itself had invited the Israelis to destroy Beirut, so intractable was their problem with Hezbollah. Just a reflex, I guess. But moments like these are exceptional: Israel doesn’t apologize, and makes little effort toward a justification for their actions couched in the language of civilization-seeding and general democratic benevolence. The US punditocracy has gobbled it up, this opportunity to push the bar a bit further in the direction of madness – scoffing and chuckling at the notion of a humanitarian crisis tonight, a few days ago labeling dead-children “sand bags.”

On the global scale, as my undergraduates love to remind me when we talk about such things, we are still at a relatively small and locally contained level of crisis at the moment. 400 or so deaths, though there are hundreds of thousands of refugees. But there is a qualitative development emerging out of – actually alongside of – this quantitative tally of dead.

They no longer feel that they need to lie to us. And we, sensing that there are ever fewer lies to parry, sink into a dreadful apprehension that the rolling-out of the obvious has only just begun.

Written by adswithoutproducts

July 26, 2006 at 12:00 am

Posted in distraction, war

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