The era of nuanced conservative leadership that ended with Ronald Reagan has been replaced over the last twenty years by arrogant polarizing led by President George W. Bush's administration and the GOP media.
When former President Jimmy Carter traveled to Israel and Egypt last to discuss the situation in Gaza, an area in the Middle East with a 70% poverty rate, the chorus of naysayers from the GOP's ranks was ripe with the usual polarizing platitudes. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice derided Carter's plans to meet with the "terrorist organization" Hamas, who, by the way was democratically elected two years ago as the ruling party of Palestine in elections which were strongly supported and encouraged by Rice herself.
In a Townhall.com article, former Pentagon smuggler Oliver North called Carter's visit to the Middle East "an ego trip." Now, before jumping to conclusions and accepting the whole "Jimmy Carter is bad" mantra of North and other GOP blowhards, consider this for a moment.
North claims that Jimmy Carter has ignored "the entreaties of the Bush administration not to meet with the leaders of Hamas" and "broken bread with the sworn enemies of the United States." This summer, the U.S. will be attending the Summer Olympics, hosted by a Chinese government who performs forced abortions on its citizens, tortures political prisoners, and persecutes practicing Catholics. Yet, has Ollie North ever expressed concern about President Bush attending this event and meeting with Chinese leaders? Does terrorizing and killing their own people make the Chinese government any better than that of Palestine?
The Palestinians in Gaza, ruled by Hamas, live in a ghetto surrounded for miles by a massive Israeli-built "security wall," much like the people of East Berlin during the second half of the 20th century. The Israelis claim that the fence is in place "to keep dangerous terrorist infiltrators out of Israel," however, in doing so, the Israelis have achieved a decidedly different effect.
Instead of stopping terrorism, the wall has actually increased it, as the Palestinian people naturally lash out against the Israelis for "being caged like animals," according to a peace negotiator in the region.
Palestinian men, often the sole breadwinner in their families, find it increasingly difficult to pass beyond the Israeli wall in order to go look for work. Children, therefore, are often forced to sift through garbage dumps in order to find food, a fact not helped by the U.S. cutoff of economic aid after the 2006 elections produced Hamas as the new ruling party, which we proclaimed to be the wrong winner.
The situation in Gaza has long been ignored by the United States, where it is broadly painted in bland terms by the government and the media, who quickly dispatch anyone who cares to challenge their long-propagated notion that the Israelis are all noble warriors for democracy and the Palestinians are all a bunch of nasty terrorists. In fact, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Palestinian rockets have killed 13 Israelis since 2004, while Israeli soldiers have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians since 2006.
People like Oliver North, who loves to wax eloquently about the American can-do spirit on Fox News Channel, finds it abhorrent when the same spirit is applied to the troubles in Gaza. Jimmy Carter may have been a failed President, but people like North ignore the fact that Carter is trying to find a solution to a grave injustice, while Ollie lends his support in the matter by throwing peanuts from the cheap seats.
Fr. Manawel Musallam is a Palestinian priest living in Gaza who said that the Israelis "have decided to kill us [the Palestinians], and are doing so slowly, in an indirect way, without weapons, but by depriving us of food and medical care; if the international authorities are unable to stop Israel's violence against Gaza, we at least ask that they guarantee us a burial fitting for human beings".Condoleezza Rice once claimed that it is the mission of the U.S. to "spread freedom and democracy throughout the globe." How ironic it is that the United States claims to be pursuing this goal while allowing an entire people to be oppressed for the crimes of a few.