Monday, April 16, 2007

The Plague of Nationalism

I found this to be enlightening, and it applies to Arab nationalists as well:

"Archeology, folklore, and the search for what is defined as authenticity are the tools used by nationalists to assail others and promote themselves. They dress it up as history, but it is myth. Real historical inquiry, in the process, is corrupted, assualted, and often destroyed. Facts become as interchangeable as opinions. Those facts that are inconventient are discarded or denied. The obvious inconsistencies are ignored by those intoxicated by a newly found sense of national pride and the exciting prospect of war.

To speak of the Israeli war of independence with many Israelis, in which stateless European Jews established a country in a land that had been primarily Muslim since the seventh century, is to shout into a vast black hole. There is an emotional barrier, a desire not to tarnish the creation myth, which makes it difficult for many Israeli Jews, including some of the most liberal and progressive, to acknowledge the profound injustice the creation of the state of Israel meant for Palestinians. As Americans we struggle with these myths as well, only grudgingly conceding that many of our founding fathers were slave ownders and much of our nation acquired after a genocidal campaign against Native Americans.

In peacetime this collective amnesia is challenged by a few intrepid scholars. Indeed, some of the best scholarly work on the 1948 war and what it meant for the Palestinians has come from Israeli historians - but their voices are muted or silenced in times of crisis. Our own nation is no different. We embrace gross and overtly racist notions of Islam that paint all Muslims as having a tendancy to violence, anger, antimodernism, and close-mindedness. Questioning of the nationalist line, or an attempt to address historical injustices committed by us against our foes, is branded unpatriotic, intellectual treason, just as it was in Argentina in 1982."

--Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

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