Yesterday, Noah Pollak pointed out how the current Israel-Hamas conflict is being discussed over at the Netroots blog known as FireDogLake. Against my better judgment, I meandered over there to see just what was being said. And as I read the comments lambasting Israel and (occasionally) defending Hamas (or, at least minimizing what they have done), a certain phrase came to mind:
The soft bigotry of lowered expectations.
There was on commenter at FireDogLake who felt that instead of striking militarily, Israel should have “negotiated in good faith.”
Just how the would that happen?
Negotiations are how civilized people settle their disagreements. But for negotiations to succeed, there have to be two parties interested in settling their differences peacefully. And Hamas has — by word and deed — consistently asserted its utter disinterest in settling its differences with Israel peacefully.
The recent events are no aberration, but affirmation of that policy. They unilaterally declared a “truce” that was merely a diminution of attacks. Then, they declared an end to the truce and escalated the attacks.
Hamas has also repeatedly affirmed their commitment to their charter:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.
These are the words and deeds of Hamas. They offer no reasonable hope for negotiations or compromise.
So, is it fair to judge all Palestinians by the words and deeds of Hamas? no. But Hamas is the legal representative government of the Gaza Strip, both de facto (by their lethal purging of Fatah from the Strip) and de jure (they won in fair elections, supervised by the international community). As a government ought to be liable to its people, so too a people must be liable for the actions of the government they choose. Hamas did not seize power, it was granted it by the populace.
As someone once wrote, “Freedom is the right to be responsible for your actions.” To deny people the responsibility of their actions is say that they aren’t capable of truly being free, that they need special considerations and compensations to fit in with “normal” people.
That is what the commenters at FireDogLake and other Hamas apologists are saying. They are saying that the Palestinians are somehow inferior, somehow less worthy of being treated as full human beings. They are little more than children, whose words and deeds you can’t take at face value, that they need to be indulged and protected from the same standards to which we hold others.
Hamas itself rejects this approach. They constantly reaffirm that they do, indeed, mean exactly what they say and do, and go to great lengths to prove it.
Taking a group like Hamas at their word, and reacting accordingly, is not racism. Insisting that “they don’t really mean what they are saying and doing,” however, is. And it is being practiced by those who, most often, denounce racism and racist behavior.