Monday, August 04, 2014

Good Guys vs. Bad Guys :
Bringing the Conflict Home

Suppose, in a major American metropolis in the 1960’s, the City government decided that it would try to improve its run-down black neighborhoods by utilizing eminent domain, evicting the residents who had lived there for decades, razing their homes, and offering the property to developers from out of State. Modern homes are built and bought by people from around the Country who had always wanted to live in this city because of its long and rich heritage. Perhaps some of their grandparents had even lived there!

Those evicted are not happy about their involuntary removal, and black rights groups from around the Country took up their cause, urging them to ‘fight back!’ Initially, the resistance involves spray-painting graffiti in the new neighborhood, yelling insults at the new residents, and throwing stones at their cars. The police naturally get involved and set up sub-stations on the avenues between the old residents and the new. They stop and frisk the black youth for minor infractions, arresting some, trying to “send a message.” Black families are incensed by this presumption of guilt and set up community action groups to protest. Some out-of-state black activists come in to participate, and during a series of demonstrations, they attack the police, burn down a number of the new homes, and there are deaths on both sides before the rioters are repulsed.

Bad blood has now developed between the old residents and the new and their police protectors. After several years of sporadic fighting that periodically claims innocent lives, the Mayor decides that there needs to be more strict regulation of the contact between the old and new residents. Playgrounds are fenced off; police are stationed at bus stops to monitor the movements of the black youth, licenses for black businesses are delayed, infrastructure is allowed to deteriorate in the black neighborhoods. A succession of Governors tries to resolve the tensions, but a succession of Mayors, dealing with budgetary issues, decide to condemn more old-neighborhood buildings, selling the property off to new developers to raise revenue. The Governors, while urging a peaceful resolution, are also seeking re-election and provide State funding and training to the City police so that they can expand their peace-keeping presence.

In the deteriorating neighborhoods embittered black youths form gangs and ally themselves with gangsters from around the State. They arm themselves and decide to ‘teach Whitey a lesson.’ They engage in random drive-by shootings, uncaring whether politicians, police, little old ladies, or school kids are the victims: White is White. The City sends SWAT teams into the neighborhoods. Doors are kicked down, innocent families are terrorized, some are killed when they resist. Homes are bulldozed to create a firebreak between the neighborhoods. The Mayor decides that water and electrical service will only be provided during certain hours of the day, and black workers trying to get to their jobs in other parts of the city must endure long queues and humiliating searches before they are allowed to proceed.

Some black neighbors try to organize alternative civic groups to the gangsters and militant activists, but they are marginalized. The State and City government demand that they “rein in” the gangsters before they will work with them. Nothing less than zero violence will be accepted before they will talk. Militant groups from outside the State mock them as “Uncle Toms” and raise funds and provide gang propaganda, urging them to strike back against the people who have stolen their neighborhoods. Moderates are openly mocked; their stores are boycotted and firebombed, some are abducted and executed by thugs as a warning to the others. White Supremacy groups have gotten involved in the controversy, urging citizens to take up arms against the Darkies – it’s simple self-defense! - and even getting members elected to the City Council. A hundred black barbarians are not worth one civilized White man, they declare!

The gangs have established networks of gun runners with gang-bangers in other cities; the City police have munitions supplied by the State under the authority of the Governor. Gangs unify and escalate attacks on any whites they can strike at, in cafes or on buses; the police begin to bombard the black neighborhoods with military-grade weaponry including artillery and air-support. The police chief prevents the press from getting near the conflict, citing prejudicial reporting.

The question is: is it Moral and Just for the City government to carpet-bomb the black neighborhoods into submission regardless of casualties to get the gangs?

Of course I am talking about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. And no, this is not a completely exact analogy.

I have no answers. All I know is that a lot of innocent people are getting killed by uncaring and manipulative governments and gangs, and everybody is declaring that ONLY one side or the other bears ALL of the guilt for the tragedy.

I call bullshit on that position.


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