1. Israel is so powerful that it could, if it chose, simply by an act of the will, make peace or defend itself without hurting anybody. That it doesn’t do it is an indication only of the malice and stupidity of its leaders.
2. America is so powerful that bad things happen in the world only if America wills them, or if America is so utterly negligent as to allow them.
3. Yet America is not sufficiently powerful to act for the good or in the spirit of its stated values and norms.
4. These are fundamentally the assumptions of conspiracy theory. We’d rather believe that the bad people were flying the plane, in their own bad interests, then that nobody is at the controls.
5. It is self-infantilization dressed up as skeptical and mature wisdom. We put ourselves in the position of children, powerless next to the grownups. We relieve ourselves of our share of responsibility for what happens in the world by positioning ourselves as victims of the adults. We oppose, we rebel, we speak truth to power, we have tantrums, we declare “not in my name”, but we never take responsibility.
6. Our only anger is with our own adults, who are responsible for everything bad; we have no anger for others, who are fundamentally driven by passion, incapable of reason, victims of circumstance and who are successful in frightening the grown ups more than we can manage; this gives us a frisson of excitement.
7. Sometimes when things go badly it is appropriate to be angry with those responsible, to denounce them and to demonize them; othertimes when things go badly it is appropriate to empathize with perpetrators and to understand why really our own “grownups” are responsible. Which of these two responses is required depends on whether we wish to punish our enemies or whether we wish to infantilize them and find somebody else responsible.
8. If you want to unsettle the grown ups, be nasty to the Jews. Jews are “us”, “our grownups”, but not quite “us”. They’re a bit “other” too.
9. There is no legal, moral or political distinction between intentional killing and other sorts of deaths which are deemed to be avoidable. This is also conspiracy theory; if our grownups willed it, deaths by smoking, sugary drinks, poverty, AIDS, war, disease would all be stopped. Our grownups profit for these deaths and so decide not to stop them. This is the same as murder, genocide, crucifixion and ethnic cleansing.
At the demonstration for the Yazidis at the weekend in London there were about 300 people. There was a chant: “Who are the terrorists?”.
Normally, this question is understood as “Who are the REAL terrorists?”. The answer is Israel or America.
At this demonstration, the answer was “ISIS”.
Q. “Who are the Terrorists?”
A. “The Terrorists are the Terrorists”.
A radical subversion of the dominant paradigm.