The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Western role in the Middle East

Letter to the Editor | Friday, September 1, 2006

Clare Feeney raises a valid-sounding objection (“Beware stereotyping,” Aug. 30) to my recent Letter to the Editor (“An invalid assumption,” Aug. 29), suggesting, somewhat sarcastically, that I am merely propagating negative stereotypes, and falling only about half an inch short of simply calling me a racist.

This is a brilliant rhetorical move, but not stopping at simply lacking in substance, Feeney goes on to engage in moral equivocation worthy of Ward Churchill. Suggesting that our possession and historic use of nuclear weapons makes us the moral equivalent of Iran displays moral blindness of the first order.

I never made the argument that the West is morally blameless. It is possible for a civilized state to have engaged in terrible acts. Everyone has blood on their hands. But I did advance the suggestion that terrorists are uncivilized and that dealing with them as if they were civilized is a grave mistake.

Civilized people do not deliberately launch rockets into densely populated areas with the express intention of killing civilians. Civilized people do not strap dynamite to themselves and blow up cafes. Civilized people do not use hospitals and churches as staging areas. Civilized people do not routinely use children as human shields. Civilized people do not execute women for being raped. Civilized people do not recruit illiterate teenagers for suicide missions. Civilized people do not fly passenger liners into office buildings.

The wrongs may or may not have been done are completely irrelevant – there is absolutely no justification for acts such as the ones listed above. These things are beyond the pale and bar the people who commit them from the ranks of the civilized world. Attempting to deal with those who perpetrate such unspeakable acts as equals or acting as if we’re no better than they is naive.

Ryan Davidson

grad student

off campus