Friday, January 27, 2006

Moments of Clarity - first of a series

It's a common phenomenon; you know something, but you don't have clear, empirical evidence to support your position. Then something happens and it all becomes clear. As we start to get further into the new year, we are getting a few moments of clarity.
  • A democratically elected Hamas -- this one has something for cynics of all ages. Hamas is and continues to be a terrorist organization; despite that, you are already hearing stories about how Hamas has had a history of providing mutual aid for impoverished Palestinians and how they have demonstrated compassion in the wrecked precincts of Gaza. It's not clear how those gestures are exculpatory for the murders of Jews and Palestinians in Israel, but we don't want to dwell on those sorts of things, now do we? That a corrupt group might provide good works as a cover for their more nefarious activities is hardly a new story. Here's a history lesson. Back in the 1960s there was a particularly vicious Chicago street gang called the Blackstone Rangers and they managed to convince a lot of people that they were some sort of mutual aid society. The Rangers made an ostentatious display of feeding poor citizens, helping some kids get to school, taking meals to shut-ins and other similar endeavors; in a hilarious but cringe-inducing moment, they even managed to get a group of "youths" with their imprimatur a chance to sing "My Beautiful Balloon" on the old Smothers Brothers show on CBS. Given the low esteem earned by the Chicago Police Department in that era, it was not surprising that the Rangers were given a bit of a pass. But while the Rangers were publicly doing their good deeds by day, they continued to be the prime supplier of drugs to the neighborhoods of the south side, eventually killing off most of their competition. Once they completed their consolidation of power, they then mutated into a new organization called El Rukn, taking on some of the trappings of Islam while continuing to kill anyone who got in their way. Their leader, Jeff Fort, eventually decided he wanted to have more power and volunteered El Rukn services to Moammar Khaddafi, even volunteering to undertake terrorist activities and attempting to get a rocket for terrorist attacks. No word on whether or not they were brought down through a FISA wiretap, but they were brought down during the 1980s and Fort and his colleagues are aging gracefully in the Illinois correctional system. It's all quite clear now that Fort and his acolytes were simply gangsters, but a lot of otherwise bright people made excuses for them for years. Perhaps members of Hamas may get a chance to perform on American Idol in the coming weeks. And it's also quite clear that those who have been blaming Israel for building walls and barriers to protect its citizenry have not understood what the Israelis are up against. Perhaps now that the Palestinian citizenry has chosen an organization that expressly wants to destroy Israel as their government, they might begin to understand.

More moments of clarity anon.


Execu-bot said...

I wonder if this will make good Mr. Bush will reconsider his strategy for the mid-east region? The lynchpin of all his efforts is that democracy will somehow make the area more stable and more peaceful.
But Hamas was put in power by the people.
Hitler was put in power by the people.
The Khmer Rouge was put into power by the people.
...I'm not advocating other forms of government, but I do think we need new (or older) solutions for mideast peace. Government is only a small part of everything in play...

Mark said...

Execu-bot, you are right that democracy alone won't get it done. The key is to ensure it's not "one man, one vote, one time," as we've seen in Weimar Germany, Cambodia, Venezuela, etc.

What Iraq should be (and what the Iraqis are attempting to build) is a representative republic. It does not have to take the American form; in fact, most free countries have parliamentary systems. What matters is that elections are available and that all parties respect the results. You know, kinda like Al Gore did - after litigating it all the way to the Supreme Court. :)