There’s a lot more I could have said in Us and Them but I wanted to keep it simple. Had I wanted to say more, it would have sounded a lot like Andrew Klager’s What should WE have done? Undermining the Myth of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’:
People regularly ask me the question (often in an attempt to trick me without taking the time to find real answers to it first), “What should we do in the face of ISIS?” … But this implies that our side is the good side and their side is evil; it perpetuates the “us” vs. “them” myth that not only fuels animosity and rivalry and dehumanizes the Other so that their lives—and therefore deaths—have less value, but it also forces us to choose one of only two options, however deplorable they both are, while distracting us from considering other legitimate options more seriously.
Klager puts the Paris attacks into perspective:
Given the much more destructive impact of Western involvement in the Middle East—too much to get into here in any great detail, but civilian deaths of approx. 170,000 in Iraq, 140,000 in Syria, 45,000 in Afghanistan, etc., etc.; billions in transnational corporate profit from blatantly exploitative economic incursions in oil-rich countries; taxpayer-funded billions in profits by munitions and armaments corporations in what Robert Reich has called (riffing off Eisenhower) the military-industrial-congressional complex; allied with some of the most notorious human rights violators (Saudi Arabia, esp.) who are also the biggest financiers of the same terrorism we apparently want eliminated—what should these impoverished Middle Easterners do in the face of us? And, perhaps more importantly, why—again—should we align ourselves with this “us” when the damage we’ve caused is near infinitely worse than what they have caused?
There’s also some good bits that undermine the commonly-held narrative of WWII as a “noble” war where “we” were good and “they” were bad.
One response to ““We” is Problematic”
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