View the h-world Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in h-world's October 2001 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in h-world's October 2001 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the h-world home page.
Montgomery College Rockville, Md. email@example.com Responding to Jack Betterly, I must respectfully dissent on the following grounds: (1) I see no sign of "superpatriotism." As an historian Betterly might want to compare the public attitude toward the current war with that of, say the Spanish-American War, or of W.W.I. Today there are no crowds of people cheering, there is a minimum of hyperbole from the government, there is no public desire to impose a "superior civilization" upon others of to conquer foreign lands. I find an admirable restraint in the current displays of patriotism. Quite resolve, not bluster is the order of the day. (2) To call the current crisis a "tragic example of the inadequacies of present world systems" is to say very little. When has mankind witnessed adequate systems of dealing with crises? And when have any group of human beings said about their share of the wealth - "ENOUGH! I DON'T WANT MORE?" Every time I hear the phrase "just distribution of resources" I have to wonder just what does this mean? Does it mean paying tribute to avoid attack? And to whom should we redistribute the resources? The present regimes outside N. America and Europe (plus a few others) appear to be interested only in lining their own pockets at the expense of their peoples. No one seems able to define this concept other than to say MORE FOR ME. As an example, two weeks ago in a course dealing with U.S. Reconstruction after the Civil War, I broached the current issue of Reparations to African-Americans. Several students rose to the occasion and voiced their agreement with the proposal. I asked them how much would satisfy them. How many $$$ would be considered adequate? No one would place a $ figure on the demand. So goes humanity. What we have and what we can get is never enough. Why should we expect anything different in the current crisis? (3) I disagree with the underlying assumption of Betterly that it is a maldistribution of resources which has caused the crisis. When I listen to Taliban spokesmen, when I listed to translations of the tapes offered by Osma bin Ladan, I don't hear this issue raised. What I do hear is something else - a conflict of values; hence a conflict of cultures; a conflict between those who have adjusted to the dynamics of modern life replete with the institutional changes (for better or worse) and those who cling to the values and institutions of the past. "Get out of the Holy Lands" is not exactly the same as "Raise wages by 10%." (4) To bring up the issue of reason, and ask whether it is being ignored or distorted under present circumstances is to to misread the mind set of those on the other side of the table. For reason to prevail there must be reasonable people on both sides of the table. Those who allow reason to guide their actions are more willing to compromise than those who are guided by their values, their beliefs or their religion. Several decades ago I recall listening to the Israeli PM, M. Began, who being asked if he were willing to negotiate land for peace with the defeated Arabs answered "No! God has given us the land." Sorry, if those on the other side of the table believe they are acting in accordance with the dictates of God, there isn't much room for reason or compromise. War exists because it is the ultimately arbiter of disagreements. Disagreements arise out of difference of values and wants. Wants can be negotiated. Values seem to be a bit non-negotiable.