One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Yes, abortion is for profit

undoingthedamageThis is a cute (read: atrocious) line of attack on Obama’s (two days’ belated) undoing of the restrictions that prevent any U.S. funds to go to family planning clinics overseas that so much as utter the word abortion:

“When we wake up every morning to a deepening financial crisis, it is an insult to the American people to bail out the abortion industry,” said Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life.

“Planned Parenthood is a billion dollar company and they do not need additional resources to burden the American taxpayer,” she added.

Apparently the moral imperative falls short, and anti-choicers find need to play to Americans’ real concerns: their pocketbooks.

(image from flickr user Renegade98 under a Creative Commons license)


January 23, 2009 Posted by | Feminism | | 1 Comment

Murder is illegal, states a new UN report

Another dispatch from the “No Shit, Sherlock” Department:

Sudanese forces violated international human rights law by using lethal force in “an unnecessary, disproportionate and therefore unlawful manner,” when they fired on a crowd in a displaced persons camp in Darfur last August, killing 33 civilians, states a new United Nations report.

I appreciate the fastidiousness, but did they really need a report to determine that?

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Darfur | Leave a comment

“Even-handed” is not a word to be uttered in polite U.S. foreign policy discussions

Over the past couple days, the president of the Anti-Irony Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman, has sent liberal bloggers everywhere a-mocking, having rejected out of hand Obama’s pick as Middle East Envoy, the ‘roids-reportin’ George Mitchell, because of his (gasp!) “fairness” and “even-handedness.”  And while Foxman’s blunt assessment presents this kind of logic in its most starkly ridiculous garb, the sentiment is actually a de rigueur aspect of American foreign policy.

Jon Chait comes close to identifying the problem, but his sober explanation of why Foxman’s indignant sputtering should not come as a surprise veers — unsurprisingly, given his only marginal deviation from the Peretz orbit — too far to accepting this exasperating logic.

My point isn’t so much to defend this point as view as to explain that it isn’t inherently ridiculous to oppose an “even-handed” posture in the Middle East. You can look at the facts in a fair and even-handed way and arrive at a pro-Israel position — which, again, does not necessarily require support for everything the Israeli government does.

Now, opponents of the pro-Israel posture argue that the United States can’t broker peace unless it takes an even-handed posture. But that’s only true if you assume that both sides are equally at fault.

Chait seems to be making a dubious distinction between an even-handed approach — which could result, in his eyes legitimately, in a “pro-Israel” stance — and the generic “even-handedness” with which Foxman so awkwardly smeers Mitchell.  This amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy, though, as it assumes that Mitchell’s “even-handedness” stems not from an “even-handed” assessment of the facts (which, as Chait and Foxman see them, invariably weigh the scale in a conspicuously “pro-Israel” direction), or an “even-handed” outlook as an envoy, but from an “even-handedness” that is suspiciously, and automatically, “anti-Israel.”  By skewing the balance in this manner as a matter of course, Foxman’s instinctive antipathy to even the word “even-handed” demonstrates quite clearly how it has become a shibboleth of American foreign policy discussions.

“Even-handedness,” furthermore, does not amount to an excavation of blame, as Chait seems to imply with the importance he sets on establishing moral inequivalency to justify a “pro-Israel” conclusion.  The point of an envoy, and, it seems to me, particularly in this case, should be to look forward, to open up dialogue and find mutually acceptable solutions.  If s/he is to find one side’s claims more acceptable, one side’s points more worthy of defense than the other’s, then s/he relinquishes her/his “even-handedness,” and with it, her/his credibility as a negotiator.

I remember, as a young undergraduate, writing angry letters to my Senator after seeing Howard Dean pounced upon at a Democratic debate in 2004 for proposing an “even-handed” approach toward Israel and Palestine.  It’s interesting to see Foxman mocked from the other direction, though I doubt the extent to which it will make the word more palatable in discussions re: Israel-Palestine.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Middle East | , , , , | Leave a comment