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Don't do it, Charles. - Grin with cat attached
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Don't do it, Charles. Jan. 23rd, 2004 10:57 am
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Politics/libdems/story/0,9061,1129505,00.html

Empathy and recognition of extreme circumstances is not a crime.



Here we have an MP showing admirable honesty, empathy and recognition of extreme circumstances.

She has done nothing worse than to bring attention to the appalling situation that is ongoing in the occupied territories, while making it perfectly clear that she in no way condones terrorist action.

Charles Kennedy should be proud to have such honest and intelligent MPs in his party.

From: robinbloke
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:06 am (Link)
Indeed; but declaration that you'd be willing to kill civilians is a somewhat borderline subject at best, very delicate ground she is treading. I'm not sure about this myself, I can understand how the pressures could drive someone to do this, but... more personal rumination required here.
From: djm4
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:18 am (Link)
Indeed; but declaration that you'd be willing to kill civilians is a somewhat borderline subject at best,

Every single MP who voted with Blair for the Iraq war declared this.
From: robinbloke
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:25 am (Link)
Indeed so, that being the more publically politically (something?) acceptable state as 'war' rather than 'terrorism' although where exactly one ends and the other starts in situations like that are a mystery to me.

In strict terms

From: wechsler
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:33 am (Link)
Terorrism is a form of "government by fear" created by the post-revolutionary leaders of France. Usage has admittedly migrated, but that is th original meaning.

War is a pre-declared sequence of hostilities conducted under strict codes by one country or people against the infrastructure and military of another.

Since I'm not entirely convinced that "we" ever declared war on Iraq, deciding which category the "Iraq conflict" falls into is an interesting task.

Re: In strict terms

From: robinbloke
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:37 am (Link)
I think the answer to your question depends on how cynical you are regarding the whole situation, and who knew what, etc etc.

Can. Worms.
From: ciphergoth
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:51 am (Link)
The media like to say that if you say you understand why someone does something bad, you're condoning it. This of course obliges us to stay in a state of permanent incomprehension about bad things, which makes it hard to draft policy that reduces their frequency.

Exactly

From: wechsler
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 12:03 pm (Link)
To drop to my most cynical avaliable level, I would say that it is very much in the interests of the meeja and those in power to maintain confusion about "understanding" and "condoning".

If it's unacceptable to understand certain things, people are a lot less likely to cause trouble by asking difficult questions.
From: djm4
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:15 am (Link)
For what little it's probably worth, I have now sent the following e-mail to Charles Kennedy:

"I have just re-joined the Liberal Democrats after a gap of about 15 years, because I strongly support Jenny Tonge's efforts to bring some understanding to the Palestinian debate, and to help people realise that many terrorists started out as rational, ethical people too. I am proud to belong to a party whose MPs are free to express such personal thoughts (just as they were free to express support for decriminalisation of cannabis at a time when that wasn't party policy)."

"I hope the next few days don't make me regret this decision. Please support Jenny Tonge's right to speak on this issue without censure from the party."
From: nevla
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 11:36 am (Link)
I agree with you.
I interpreted this statement as an empathy for the desperation these people face, and an understanding of the reasons why they feel they are forced to do it.
Can nobody have an honest conversation any more?
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
From: dennyd
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 01:52 pm (Link)
Yes, the bit about 'understanding' stood out particularly for me. Surely it's a good thing that someone (particularly someone in politics) is trying to understand... if you don't think about what's wrong with the world, how are you supposed to fix it?

I entirely agree

From: despondentdiane
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 12:05 pm (Link)
I sypathise with the plight of the Palestinians. Surely Terrorism now includes freedom fighting. Surely the war of independence was freedom fighting too?

Re: I entirely agree

From: valkyriekaren
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 01:17 pm (Link)
Can't remember where it comes from, but from somewhere I acquired the idea that freedom fighters don't have democratic representation, so use violent means to secure rights etc; terrorists do have democratic representation, but choose to use violent means as an alternative to voting and peaceful demonstration.

Re: I entirely agree

From: dennyd
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 01:50 pm (Link)
Whereas I gained the impression that 'freedom fighters' are terrorists whom American approves of.

Re: I entirely agree

From: djm4
Date: January 23rd, 2004 - 02:27 pm (Link)
For the second time this week, I am reminded of the following vintage Joss Whedon dialogue (apologies to Buffy-haters):

B: "I don't know what I'm supposed to say."
G: "You needn't say anything."
B: "It'd be simpler if I could just hate him. I think he wanted me to. I think it made it easier for him to be the villain of the piece. Really he was just scared."
G: "Yes, I suppose he was."
B: "Nothing's ever simple anymore. I'm constantly trying to work it out. Who to love or hate. Who to trust. It's just, like, the more I know, the more confused I get."
G: "I believe that's called growing up."
B: "I'd like to stop then, okay?"
G: "I know the feeling."
B: "Does it ever get easy?"
G: "You mean life?"
B: "Yeah. Does it get easy?"
G: "What do you want me to say?"
B: "Lie to me."
G: "Yes, it's terribly simple. The good guys are always stalwart and true, the bad guys are easily distinguished by their pointy horns or black hats, and ... uh ... we always defeat them and save the day. No one ever dies, and everybody lives happily ever after."
B: "Liar."
From: flewellyn
Date: January 25th, 2004 - 02:25 am (Link)
NO. Bad. Wrong. Sorry.

It's all well and good to say "hey, the Palestinians are in dire circumstances, and we should help them live better." I am ALL for that. So, you might be surprised to learn, are a majority of Israelis. With the exception of a small number of militaristic idiots (Ariel Sharon unfortunately being among them), most of the Israeli people don't want to conquer or lord over the Palestinians. In fact, many of them want everyone in the region to be better off. So sympathy for the plight of impoverished Palestinians is not wrong.

HOWEVER.

Nothing, nothing, nothing excuses deliberate attacks on civilian targets, which is what the suicide bombings are. Expressing a sympathy for such actions is morally reprehensible. I think the Israeli government was entirely justified in objecting.

Lest someone raise the point, the IDF moves into Palestinian towns to destroy terrorist cells are not "deliberate attacks on civilian targets"; they don't WANT to kill civilians, though it's sometimes difficult to avoid. This also goes for the US and UK troops in Iraq, except they aren't being nearly as careful.
From: wechsler
Date: January 25th, 2004 - 09:24 am (Link)
Oh for fuck's sake Flew, judge her on what she said not your own personal misinterpretation thereof.

She was perfectly clear that she opposes terrorism in all forms. She did not say that she sympathises with such attacks. And to say that we should condemn her for trying to understand the problem is patently absurd.

Furthermore it's well documented that IDF actions are at best absurdly reckless towards the lives of civilians and at worst deliberate attacks on them. Hence the refusal of an increasing number of IDF pilots to carry out their illegal orders.
From: flewellyn
Date: January 25th, 2004 - 09:59 am (Link)
Oh for fuck's sake Flew, judge her on what she said not your own personal misinterpretation thereof.

I did. She said that if she lived in the West Bank or Gaza, she'd consider becoming a suicide bomber. That's abhorrent to me. Trying to understand the problem is not.

She was perfectly clear that she opposes terrorism in all forms. She did not say that she sympathises with such attacks. And to say that we should condemn her for trying to understand the problem is patently absurd.

I don't condemn anyone for trying to understand the problem. But this looks to me to go well beyond that. I agree with the statement made by James Purnell in that article: there's real suffering on both sides, and the British Parliament (and my government, too) should be trying to find a way OUT of the conflict.

Furthermore it's well documented that IDF actions are at best absurdly reckless towards the lives of civilians and at worst deliberate attacks on them. Hence the refusal of an increasing number of IDF pilots to carry out their illegal orders.

It's well propagandized, not well documented. The Israeli government has made mistakes, yes; plenty of them. Witness the missile attack against the Hamas official last summer which struck his apartment and killed his whole family. The general ordering that attack was brought up on charges, though. (I could provide links, but I don't have the time. Google is thy friend.) But, and this is a big but, that's not the same thing as a governmental policy on deliberate attacks on civilians.