Sunday, September 12, 2004

The Missing ‘Why’

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi,

One of the most important lessons I learned during my studies in the US was always to ask “why.” After the school shooting in Springfield, Oregon where I lived, all America asked why. It took ages for the questioning and debate to calm down. After 9/11, that important question was sidelined and the discussion moved instead to “what.”
Others naturally enough followed the US lead. Russia ignored its brutal occupation of Chechnya and focused on global jihad.
More savage, inexcusable attacks and hostage-taking resulted, but President Putin wouldn’t even admit the cause, let alone that Russian policy may have been to blame. India took a similar position concerning Kashmir. Sharon, the godfather of US neo-conservatives and many Congressmen and administration leaders, never asked the question. American rhetoric and its blind support for Israel helped him avoid it.
Now, the whole issue of savage occupation, daily raids and incursions, as well as the dividing wall and the stalled peace process are not even mentioned. To this war criminal, Palestinians blow themselves up for cultural, religious and genetic reasons. They are part of a global terror movement and the only way to deal with them is to kick and kill in return; no one in the shooting gallery, guilty or innocent, is spared and no civilized rules are respected.
Today, thanks to the US example, states and terrorists are playing on the same low, dirty level. The proverb “You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs” is now a virtual motto for the war on terror.
We Arabs are equally guilty of not asking the important and difficult questions. We tend to ask “why” only when it relates to others and the answer will not incriminate us. That’s why we are at the bottom, kicked and humiliated by all, including small but mighty Israel. Of course, our enemies won’t help us out of the hole; that is up to us. Colonization is history. What has happened to us in the last fifty years is mostly our own doing. Competitors and alliances conspire against each other and that is a fact of life. Why can’t we do the same? We can’t even agree on a common market and a common currency. Why do we not ask “why.”
Governments intent on implementing their own agendas and unwilling to admit errors and fix them have no reason to ask or to answer hard questions. Beyond such shallow responses as “They hate us because we are democratic, rich and free.” Well, why don’t “they” hate the far richer and freer Scandinavians.
Even more important and of greater significance, why are the rest of us not asking the question? Why are our intellectuals, our media and our self-styled academics silent? In this part of the world, we don’t have enough freedom but what about the democratic world? What are the forces influencing and filtering the debate? How can we overcome this democracy-killer dam? For the sake of humanity, some questions are worth asking — and answering.

No comments: