1. Sing a Christmas song
2. Make broad generalizations
4. Remember that America can do no wrong
No, I didn't win anything at the Duke tournament I attended yesterday. No, I'm not bitter. One fellow, to whom I shall henceforth refer as "Sucks at Debate," or simply "SAD," did win second place. I watched him give a speech in the final round. I was not terribly impressed. What follows is something of a rant.
SAD began his speech by saying that Christmas is his favorite time of year, and we remember the lessons we learn at that time well into the new year. The message of peace is one of those. SAD then sang a few lines of some drippy song. Then we find out that the question he is to answer is what the US should do to facilitate peace between Israel and Palestine. According to SAD, we should do nothing.
SAD's first point is 'religious diversity,' which is always code for 'ethnic conflict,' which is in turn code for 'civil wars,' and is a convenient way for an ignorant Western kid to completely sanitize complex issues. He begins this point by discussing how America was founded on the basis of religious freedom, and people of all different beliefs came together to escape persecution.
Actually, the country was founded by a bunch of rich guys who didn't want to pay their taxes, but nice try. And I'm not sure "a couple of varying sects of Christianity" counts as "different beliefs." The Puritans came to America a) because no one took their crazy, extremist religion seriously in England and b) in order to tame the so-called savages that were already here. They were just a bit racist. Additionally, they thought religious freedom was ok as long as it applied only to their religion. Doesn't seem very noble to me.
But, according to SAD, those poor, backwards Arabs aren't nearly as free as we are. All of their problems are caused by their conflicting religions! In fact, the Muslims want to kill the Jews! And the Jews want to escape the horrible Jew-hating Muslims! And so there's fighting and stuff!
Again, completely simplifying a complex history. Contrary to popular Western belief, Israel and Palestine do not fight because their gods have different names. There are a number of factors that led to the recent escalation in violence: land disputes, poverty, etc. Religious extremism is ONE factor, and it is by no means the most important. And my jaw dropped when I heard "the Muslims want to kill the Jews." For one thing, it's entirely too broad a generalization, and it's false and offensive. For another, to paint this as a "Muslim-Jew" thing is completely wrong. It isn't. There are non-Muslims and non-Jews who were hit just as hard by the war, and talk like this only alienates them and makes them invisible.
SAD then makes an incredible, death-defying leap of logic and claims that America can't intervene because our religious freedom is distasteful to the Israelis and Gazans. They wouldn't listen to us because they're so put off by our democratic tendencies, so facilitating peace is futile.
The ignorance doesn't stop there. SAD goes on to say that we should do nothing because we haven't the money. Ignoring the fact that the only way to get out of a recession is to spend, we are currently sending out envoys to other places, like Pakistan. Sending ambassadors to a peace conference would be no different. And peace is far less expensive than war--if we're okay with spending billions of dollars on the Iraq war every day, we should be spending on peace too. Another bs argument.
SAD's final point is an analysis of a history of relations between Israel and Palestine. Basically, says SAD, they don't like each other. And so, for some reason, we shouldn't get in the way. Not only is this remarkably similar to SAD's first point, it's also blatantly hypocritical. For someone who blathers on about complexity and nuance, he's pretty willing to make blanket statements about entire groups of people. He concludes with another trite quote about peace. But the judges seemed to like it.
Which is why SAD, who shouldn't have advanced past his freshman year in extemp, won second place, and which is also why I tend to loathe the people in my event.
5 years ago