I feel the strain of trying to change discursive tracks. :-/
metal sculpture, outline of 5 fish, framed against the Bosphorus sea and Istanbul shoreline
Tejal and Jed both commented, continuing this conversation.
My words have not been meant as justification for Israeli military actions. I Do Not Support the invasion and destruction of Lebanon. I am also not trying to rationalize the violence, provide excuses, or otherwise contribute &emdash; in any way &emdash; to US imperialism. I Am Trying to diversify the ways we talk about this appalling and apparently unending conflict. I intend my comments as a small contribution to the establishment of a public space for a polyphony of knowledges about current events and historical trends in this embattled region of the MidEast.
I imagine that creating epistemologies is the task of public intellectuals. I trust that among us are persons with enough brilliance, passion, commitment, and ideological flexibility to co-create an alternative worldview that might provide leverage to those in government and business who also seek peace and shared prosperity. I believe it is the task of intellectuals to discover and implement a new language for political dissemination and media consumption.
The grooves of perspective, opinion, and insight from all angles are as deep and well-worn as the histories that produced them. Repeating the arguments is compelling and even comfortable. Polemics compel by expressing the full range of emotional and psychic agonies induced by the experience of injustice. Everyone feels wronged. The felt experience of oppression demands naming: its sources must be pinpointed and called to account.
Identifying with the claims of pain &emdash; whether they are overtly polemical or subtly reasoned &emdash; can also bring a form of comfort. One joins with others in a felt community of comradeship, of belonging. The collective “we” is reinforced (along whatever grounds: nationalism, ethnicity, religion, colonizer/oppressed); simultaneously “they” are solidified as enemy. Burke discusses the quality of self/other identification inherent in language use. Applying this lens to public rhetoric (roughly governmental statements and political posturing) and public conversations (including “elite” and alternative journalism, email networks and blogs) one can discern a pattern of canalization: in this regard we are all colonized.
I do not exclude myself. I know that my words will reveal my own complicity with the systems of oppression that have shaped me. I anticipate and depend upon others to teach me about myself. It is in this learning, if we can manage to do it together, that theories of discourse and the social construction of reality can be applied practically in deliberate collaboration.
There are risks. Friendships may be threatened. Alliances may be weakened. This, as I understand it, is the inevitable price of a politics without guarantee (Stuart Hall). I choose to exercise faith that the promises &emdash; albeit unknown &emdash; of venturing into such co-creation and dialogic relationship must outweigh fear.

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