Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gaza and the rights of the oppressed

This from Tom Carew of  Safra VeSaifa aka no surrender-ne pasaran
I listened to a once highly reputable Irish broadcaster and author, Brendan O'Brien on Newstalk 106 FM this Saturday morning, a man who has contributed probing, insightful and courageous work on NI, deal with Gaza, aided by ex-Irish Army Junior Officer and Irish Times *Security orrespondent*, Tom Clonan, with only Susan Philips to inject a note of sanity and balance and objectivity.
 I was amazed to hear O'Brien indulge in uncritical and partisan broadcasting, systematically siding with the anti-Israeli view, and even frequently  *leading the witness* in his interviews.

I began to reflect on this widespread phenomenon,  which seems to have sunk to new lows in Irish media since the recent  Israeli operations in Gaza from Sat, Dec 27, 2008.

But this is not merely about ongoing bias against Israel, or bias on just  this occasion, or sloppy, sub-professional  media operations.
There is, it now seems to me,  a terrifying, but unspoken and unexamined set of assumptions lurking behind all this, a deep, ongoing and long-festering  Western cultural crisis, an undeclared, subversive re-definition of what it is to be human, and of history, ethics, politics, and of truth itself, which might be outlined as follows:-.

1.  Its all about pain or conflict  [and possibly also loss of life ] as the main, if not the only evil. It is not about reasons or reasoning or *principles* as ways to understand or guide life or issues. It is totally subjective and beyond intelligibility.

2.  And *dialogue* is always possible, and always mandatory.
And with anybody - no matter their agenda or ideology or goals or ethics or record or priorities.

3.  All sides are always morally equal - we must never be *judgemental* - but especially when  it comes to either  the methods, or the goals, or the results, of  *The Other*. 
We must always, and without question, value and cherish not merely *other-ness*, and *the other-ness of the other, as other*, but  we must also value and cherish *difference* as such.
For its own sake.
And without any reference to our own perspective on what is valuable, or even tolerable.
Otherwise we are *racist* or *Islamo-phobic*, and guilty of *Hetero-Phobia*.

Fear or challenge of sinister principles or values is now conflated with fear, or rather with undiscriminating hatred for all people who belong to an entire tradition, and open debate or free exploration or frank controversy,  is outlawed, as *hate-speech*.

4.  Everything is *culturally-specific*,  and totally relative.

WE must never *privilege* our own insights or principles or values or concerns or interests or traditions or achievements.
That is the sole and absolute entitlement of the oppressed.

5.  There cannot be any universal rights or obligations, or even any minimum standards which might define even the outer limits of human decency and tolerability.
Therefore we can never be *impartial*  - for that would  imply some objective standards.

6.  But nevertheless, we must never be *neutral* or be *critical* - we must become *engaged* - and *committed* - we must be in *solidarity* with the *oppressed*.

7.  The *oppressed* are constituted, and identifiable, simply  by their being poorer or weaker.
 As measured by them, and by them alone, and solely by their chosen standards.

8.   The *oppressed*, those self-defined  and self-identified  WOE  [ *Wretched of The Earth* ],  therefore must define not only their own agenda and values, but also ours, as we are committed to the *Pedagogy of  [ which means always and only Pedagogy BY and FROM ] the Oppressed*, who alone are the uncorrupted, and incorruptible, voice of progress, the vanguard of the future, the sole anchor and destiny of humanity, and whose *discourse* alone must always be *privileged*, and remain free from the *cultural hegemony* of any external criticism or evaluation or challenge.

9.  The WOE [ *Wrethced of The Earth* ]   can never be responsible, in any way, or to any extent, or ever be held responsibile,  for their own plight.

10.  And the WOE are responsible and answerable only to themselves, and to those values and concerns and priorities, which they, in their oppression, are forced to adopt. .

11 .  The *oppressed* have no choice,  but are permanently forced to *resist* their cruel oppressors, none of whom can exist among the oppressed, and by whatever methods the oppressor may choose.
And the *oppressed* in turn, can never  become the oppressor.

12.   It is never for us to say, much less to tell the oppressed, how or when to *resist*.
Or to suggest who their oppressor may be.
Or to challenge their definition of their oppression.

13.    Nothing has a context or roots. 

The only context is oppression,
the only roots are those of oppression,
 the only enemy is the oppressor,
and the only goal is liberation of the oppressed.

14  Only the oppressed can tell us who is the most oppressed.   And by whom.

15.  The picture, the image,  is all -  feelings are all - there is no place for any questioning - of them, much less for any evaluation of them -  or of their *authors*, or of  their *meaning*, if their *authors* are the oppressed.
Their meanings are whatever the oppressed declare them to be, at any *given* time.
And the interpretation by the oppressed is the only valid interpretation.

Otherwise we are guilty of  Cultural Hegemony, and of the Patriarchic Fallacy,
and guilty of  *Logo-Philia* and  *Logo-Centricity*.

The sceam and suffering of the oppressed has no need for the words of their oppressor.

The resistance of the oppressor does not answer to the ideology of their oppressor.

Questioning, unless by the oppressed, and according to their own sovereign values, is always further oppression and Cultural Hegemony,  and Cultural Imperialism.

Tom Carew
An un-reconstructed Hespero-phile

No comments: