Tag: Middle East

The Rationalist’s Defence of Injustice

(Originally Published at Irishleftreview.org in May 2016)

Gandhi, when asked what he thought of Western civilisation, supposedly replied that he thought it might be a good idea. Taken at face value, we can presume that he was both contemptuous and cynical of the idea of civilisation of any kind existing in the West. Being on the receiving end of Western civilisational endeavours such as the one he experienced in India during his life, he would have been well aware of hollowness of the idea that actions and ideas emanating from the West were inherently virtuous. Indeed, very few people, especially in Ireland, need to be reminded of the great altruism with which the British Empire undertook the task of civilising the world. Although Great Britain is no longer the empire it once was, it continues to play the civilising game along with its master, the United States. Meanwhile, the notion that great powers undertake certain actions for the benefit of the “uncivilised” of the world continues to hold sway, along with the concomitant idea that such actions are inherently virtuous. They are inherently virtuous simply because said actions are being carried out by the U.S. and its allies. Nothing more needs to be said in their defence according to the reigning orthodoxy. Said orthodoxy resides not only in and around the centres of power, and not only emerges from the mouths of the most devoted nationalists and neoconservatives but can also be found in those who are considered to be sceptics and rationalists.

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Islam and the West

(Originally Published on Corkhumanists.weebly.com in March 2013)

Many in the atheist movement have been extremely outspoken about what they see as the dangers Islam poses to the West, notably Pat Condell, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens. They use the terrorist attacks of 9/11 or the election of Hamas in Gaza to prove their thesis that Islamic Fundamentalism is on the rise and needs to be stamped out.

Zero Dark Thirty and U.S. Foreign Policy

(An edited version of this piece appeared in the February 2013 edition of the UCC Motley)

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last few months, it would have been impossible to not hear about the then upcoming, and now released, movie Zero Dark Thirty, which puts onto celluloid the decade long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Taking as its starting point the attacks on the Twin Towers, the movie charts the mission from the perspective of one female CIA agent up until Bin Laden’s assassination at the hands of a SEAL team. This depiction of the hunt for Bin Laden has been much lauded and it has thus far been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and four Golden Globes, with the director, Kathryn Bigelow, specifically coming in for much of the praise; her portrayal of strong women in it earning her the title of a feminist hero in some quarters.

Palestine, Palestinians, and Israel

Definitions of citizenship and what it means to be a citizen of a particular nation has been used to justify discrimination against various groups of people for centuries. These people are generally in the minority in a particular region and are seen as an underclass, and/or something to be dealt with in whatever manner those in the majority deem appropriate. History is full of examples where this thinking has led to egregious levels of discrimination and violence aimed at the minority or undesirables; from the Catholics in Northern Ireland to the Tutsi in Rwanda, where in both cases discrimination and ostracisation eventually led to full-blown violence. This is also the case when it comes to the Palestinians in what was historic Palestine and is now, for the most part, considered the modern state of Israel.

Palestine: Looking Into 2011

(Originally Published on Indymedia.ie in January 2011)

This time two years ago, Gaza was being bombarded ceaselessly, from land, sea and air, by the forces of an illegal occupying force. Civilians were deliberately targeted along with schools, power stations, and other non-military targets. Overall, the occupying forces managed to kill 1,416 Palestinians, of which 926 were civilians and 255 were police officers. The occupying force which I am speaking of is of course the Israeli Defence Forces. The supposed reasoning behind this illegal, three week long incursion into Gaza, was in order to stop rocket attacks when in matter of fact it was simply an exercise in military domination. As testimony from Israeli soldiers who took part in the offensive, dubbed Operation Cast Lead, shows, Israel “used insane amounts of firepower”; firepower used indiscriminately against a civilian population. This is the kind of existential but also very real threat that the Palestinian people have to live with on a day-to-day basis.