A couple of thoughts on the aftermath of the attacks in Paris on Friday, November 13.
What's With This "We"?
Patrick Smith at Salon has written much on this topic since then. In one column, he rightly takes to task those who come to the issue of terrorist extremism without context; in the case of current events, without the context of Western (not the least of which, French) meddling in the Middle East and North Africa. I will not cite anything directly on this subject, but he offered an interesting point – one that some have passed through more easily than others, and more easily than Smith, apparently:
I wrote above that I fail to understand why the question of responsibility is controversial. I take it back: This is why. Facing one's part in others' deprivation, repression, violence and all the rest is an errand requiring humility, resolve, commitment, and an enlarged vision. We Americans score poorly on all counts these days. But summoning all four—if it helps to think of it this way—is a matter of self-interest now.
There is no "one's part in others' deprivation…we Americans" responsible. There are individuals, individuals who act. The point – ignored or easily missed by too many: why do so many self-identify with the state? Why are the actions of those employed by the state deemed to be "our" actions?