Sunday, April 06, 2003


Rachel Corrie, the professional activist who was killed by an Israeli army buldozer, is now a celebrity. Lebanese women are now naming their children after her, reports the Deborah Sontag in the Times today.

According to the article "she began her education at an alternative elementary school that her mother helped found. In fifth grade, she and her class gave a press conference on world hunger; in seventh, she helped organize a student walkout in support of striking teachers."

Now she is dead.

. . . And so concludes a brief, but no doubt unproductive, career of speaking out about things she understand poorly. It is a shame and a sick thing that we encourage people to speak before understanding what they are saying. The fact that everyone is entitled to their own opinion does not mean that everyone's opinion is equally valid. The fact is we encourage people to speak and we do not really emphasize the relationship between language and thought. Rachel Corrie did not understand the situation, neither do most of the groups there. They understand that they do not like someone or some situation. So they react.

When Rachel Corrie was in fifth grade she did not understand much about global poilitics, or the economics of feeding the poor. In seventh grade she certainly did not understand the issue of striking teachers. Anyone involved in higher education knows that this is a mst complicated affair. In both cases, to employ a favorite expression of hers, she was a tool of some organization that wanted a little girl's face to put on their stupid campaign.

In elementry school she was a tool of Sally Struthers and her teahcers. Now she was a tool of the American Left and the palestinians. First they put her behind a striking barracade. This time they put her between an army and a terrorist. This time she was killed.

There is a line from Zamyatin's We that comes to mind: "In her case the velocity of the tongue is not calculated correctly: the velocity of the tongue per second should always be a trifle slower than the velocity per second of thought, and not by any means, the reverse.'' In Corrie's case the velocity of her actions was a trifle slower then her thought. There is nothing noble about being impulsive and making mistakes. IF (and this is a truly big if) she meant well, she should have given her actions a bit more thought. She should consider what the army was doing, and who she was protecting and why. If she meant well, whe should have considered what the best way to generate peace in the region was. Defending the home of a terrorist is not the way to achieve peace.

I wonder how many more "martyrs" these peace organizations plan on creating to support a cause they simply do not understand and do not comprehend the stakes for both sides.