So, Sarah Palin tweeted this. Of course she ripped off a meme that began on Reddit. So much for originality.
The problem is that this meme is simplistic and ignorant, much like the person who perpetuated it in her tweet. The issue is not that Syrians are killing Syrians, it’s that an oppressive regime has decided to use chemical weapons on their own people, people they SHOULD be protecting, not killing. Is it the place of the US to do something about that? Considering the skewed priorities of the last 75 years, the US, rather than position itself as a purveyor of peace, has cast itself as a purveyor of “freedom” through military intervention. Instead of spending as much as the next 14 countries combined on social programs that would have offered true freedom, we invested that into military spending. We had 75 years to change course and did nothing. So, now, in our self-cast role of policeman of “freedom” and a superpower, there is a responsibility to intervene in some way. And we predictably fall back on military intervention. There is no winning this scenario the way it is set. There is a humanitarian crisis in Syria and it needs to end. How do we help that happen? And how do we as citizens reduce such complexity to a goddamned meme?
Answers? I wish I had any. I am very torn on this. This is obviously a humanitarian issue, but the US has never been terribly consistent when it comes to humanitarian issues (Darfur, anyone?) that do not directly affect the US economically or politically. I think a possible answer might be found in the words of Gandhi. “All humanity is one undivided and indivisible family, and each one of us is responsible for the misdeeds of all the others. I cannot detach myself from the wickedest soul.” But it is not violence that will get us to a place where men like Assad are left impotent. The road of non-violent opposition to a violent regime is exceedingly difficult, but, as Gandhi claimed, has there ever been a non-violent opposition that has failed? The road of non-violence is not a quick fix, or a short-term solution. It also has to be carried out in a very organized manner. With the anniversary of the March on Washington, wouldn’t this be an epic opportunity to find a way to both make Assad impotent and keep our souls intact?
But then again, if my family were being threatened by chemical weapons, if my neighbors were dying, what would I want to happen to those who were killing us? The path of non-violence requires a moral courage I am not sure that I have, much less expect anyone else to have.
The sad truth is that until this became a political issue that captured the “oh-so infotainment” media headlines, the majority of Americans really did not care. Syrians killing Syrians? If we really are connected as human beings, we should all be screaming out in our shared pain. But in this era where we can share information instantaneously, we have become moral hermits.