Monday, April 9, 2007

Empathy For Suicide Bombers

Empathy For Suicide Bombers 

Samson has shown up in 1960s-era Italian muscleman movies, in Grateful Dead lyrics, in Christian bedtime stories, and in Marvel comic books. Peter Paul Rubens painted him. Michelangelo sculpted him. And since September 11, 2001, there has also been a great deal of highbrow hand-wringing in literary circles about how the Samson story must now be read, in light of everything that has happened.

But until Capet, nobody had figured out a way to use the Samson story to so completely turn things upside down as to reconstruct an important work of art to portray a Jew as a suicide bomber.

It's a long piece, and it ends up here:

"Capet's Samson is just another eruption of that fatally naïve misconception among a certain class of artist and intellectual -- and most pathetically, among the much of the left -- that Paul Berman calls 'a faith in the rationalism of all things.'

"Its real-world consequence has been a crippling incapacity to recognize the mass pathology at work in the phenomenon of suicide bombings. It's the failure to see it for what it is: a death cult. It's an irrationalist, anti-modern savagery that has rather noticeably singled out Jews for the construction of its corpse-heaps, just as it singles out Palestinian children for the work of executing its grisly business.

"We'd all like to think that we can reason with suicide bombers. In the real world, we can't, and we simply cannot go on 'expecting the world to act in sensible ways,' as Berman writes, 'without mystery, self-contradiction, murk or madness.'

"Suicide bombers aren't asking for our empathy, they don't particularly care if we understand them, and they don't want to be reasoned with. They want to kill the Jews. They want to kill Simon Capet. They'd be pleased to kill pretty well any of us."

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