Poking around the web, a friend came across “the strangest article.” It had been posted in the Israel Times in August, 2014, and was later taken down with an apology by the author. It asked, among other things: “If political leaders and military experts determine that the only way to achieve its goal of sustaining quiet is through genocide, is it then permissible to achieve those responsible goals?” The headline had given the answer: “When Genocide Is Permissible.”
I replied that the guy who wrote the commentary was “a local yokel — you can’t take him or his remarks seriously.” More interesting to read, I said, was a recent column by Paul Krugman, Errors and Lies. Of course Krugman has been saying that for years — ever since before the 2004 election — e.g. Report from the Land of Is — unfortunately to no effect.
My friend replied: “It’s exactly the local yokels who should be taken seriously. They have the votes, so we have another local yokel named Netanyahu and a coalition of far-right parties whose thinking doesn’t seem so far from the yokel in question. War makes people crazy, religion makes it worse. The Palestinian strategy has been to set Israel on course of moral catastrophe, and it’s working.”
My friend was right. The yokels and their opinions do have influence. Maybe the only influence. After reading the Krugman column, he added: “Typical America, everyone has smart words, but none of it makes a difference. The key to totalitarianism is not to suppress free speech, but to render it impotent.” Right again.