Ants, Angst, Death and the Middle East- After all, it is Beer Night
I've been waging a war against pavement ants almost since the day we finally became homeowners a little over a month ago. The driveway is not in the greatest shape, but having just bought the place I haven’t got the money for a good case of beer
, let alone a driveway replacement. Anyhow, on an average day there are thirty or more little anthills popping up in the cracks in the pavement. I see the industrious little brown buggers swarming over any little piece of digestible organic matter that happens to fall on the ground (a lot, actually, since we have kids who regularly snack out there).
One day there was in incredibly large knot of these beasts lumped over an errant puddle of orange soda and suddenly I’d had enough. Out came the Raid can and they were dispatched, forthwith and with extreme prejudice. Next came the strategic bombing campaign, blasting each neat little anthill with a solid dose of chemical nastiness.
Now, I’m not entirely stupid regarding these things, I recognized right away that this was little more than an opening salvo in a war that has no realistic endpoint short of repaving the driveway. I went to Google and started searching under Pest Control, Ants, etc and after wading through all the Orkin pages I came across a couple of helpful hints, mostly having to do with pesticides, spray tanks and just how long you should keep the kids and pets away after application. Not entirely reassuring. Then I hit the jackpot- a little environmentally friendly bit of advice that also appealed to my more macabre side: A suggestion that all it took was a little patience, a narrow-tube funnel and a pot of boiling water.
It all makes perfect sense- fill the nest with boiling liquid and the ants die; even the ones in the little “safe” rooms they create get cooked by the steam. It kills the eggs the same way, a little poached ant-larvae on toast, as it were. If you can’t visualize it think Middle Ages>Castle>Siege>Wall Assault>Boiling Oil . So there I was one fine morning before many of them had stirred from the nests, clutching my funnel and a teakettle full of Bubbling Ant Bane. I swear I could hear the ultrasonic screams as I unleashed my wrath upon them.
“Drink boiling death, wretched arthropods!”
It is, of course, a futile expectation that this is a war I can actually win. The best I can hope for is to coax them off my driveway and in to the lawn where they belong. Keep your silly nests out from under my driveway and we’ll get along just fine, that’s what I’m thinking. I have my reasons, such as that they encourage water seeping under the pavement, making a bad situation even worse, but dammit, I’m a member of the dominant species and I don’t have to explain myself to them. Just pack up and move.
It is working- the nests return after each treatment, but they become fewer and fewer as the industrious little hives determine that this is a battle not worth fighting. They are slowly moving on (or being wiped out- I shed no tears as there are plenty of ants in the world) and I am willing to bring an end to my campaign once they fully accept the inevitable.
Of course, almost unavoidably, I began to draw comparisons between this little act of insect suppression and the on-going madness that is the Middle East. I even had all sorts of oh-so-witty (at least to me) little jokes and metaphors to toss in to the mix. I could blog this and the few friends who looked it over would chuckle and maybe one or two of them would be disturbed. Who knows?
But I couldn’t do it. Not because I lack the talent or the wit (quiet, you!), but because there are lines that I just refuse to cross. You see, I tried to do it, I got as far as what there is above… and then I got mad. At myself. For being an asshole. And as soon as I decided to shelve the entire mess I immediately started to feel better. Still…
“Silence doesn’t cut it, John. There’s something you want to say.”
There are a lot of folks who have things to say about the situation in Israel, and they are quite eloquent
, even poignant
. I look at the words and I wonder if I have anything really constructive to add to the mix. Perhaps I should take my amateur scribblings and toss them in to the box in the closet and leave it to those better equipped to bring real meaning to the text. I even said as much the other day. Then I check back at Amish Tech Support
and I find that Mr. Simon has a little faith in me… and out comes the box.
When I was growing up I had a vague awareness of what was going on in the Middle East. Even then I had the firm notion that the Israelis were the Good Guys and the “Arabs” were the Bad Guys. I finished high school, went to college, left college, went back to college, left college again, and that view pretty much remained constant, even in the face of what passed for “enlightened thought” on campus back in the early eighties. Oh, I came to the conclusion that the Palestinians were in a pretty crappy bind, but I couldn’t agree that it was the Israelis’ fault. But throughout that time it was all “over there.” I never really paid a whole lot of attention to it.
It wasn’t until Gulf War One that I really began to follow what was happening, mostly because of the news coverage here in the US that portrayed the Israelis as some sort of slobbering beast that had to be held in check as Saddam chucked Scud missiles at them. Somehow I knew that the Israeli government was both smarter and more sophisticated than everyone in the US media (and Saddam, for that matter) gave them credit for. So I started watching more closely, and I’ve been growing steadily more despondent ever since.
The problem is, I agree with Asparagirl’s
recent evaluation of events, even if her words were written in a moment of depression. I don’t see any grand plan that is going to “solve the problem.” I think the last, best hope for that was lost when Arafat refused to accept a deal that gave the Palestinians 95% of what they wanted, and quite frankly, it may have been too late even then. Still, I’ve done a very nice job of maintaining a state of denial, but that’s been breeched and obliterated by the events of the past few months. This will end when the Arab nations finally develop nuclear weapons of their own. As soon as the more strident of them have the Bomb the pressure will build and the only thing holding them in check will be their own sanity.
Forgive me my lack of faith in their sanity.
Once Israel is faced with the threat of nuclear attack it will only be a matter of time.
So when a bunch of kids were blown to bits on a bus in Jerusalem, it was just another step on the road to total destruction. I stopped being able to be horrified. Disgusted yes, but not horrified. And that is where I was when I stumbled across Mr. Simon’s little thought experiment. I wanted to write something because I knew I should be horrified, but I couldn’t make myself feel it, not in my bones. The best I could do was black humor and I knew that that was a road I just didn’t want to follow because doing so would somehow make me complicit. Sure, humor has its place in every situation, but in order to make it work one has to possess and be able to express a deep-rooted understanding of the fundamental manifestation of pure evil the events represent. Once you grasp it, and can be certain that others understand that you grasp it; then you can try to make jokes.
I wasn’t there before. I am now, but I’m not in a joking mood. And it’s Beer Night
, so here it goes:
I don’t see how any person whose worldview is rooted even remotely in reality can see any “negotiated” path to peace with people who can do this
and cheer about it. What we are dealing with here is naked, unmitigated evil. It does not matter if the “ordinary Palestinians” are not so committed to the fight as the death-warped “martyrs” who bring their brand of righteous murder down upon school children and secretaries, the fact is that they tolerate these animals, and by tolerating them they are complicit in their actions. After the Second World War the Allies did not accept the protestations of German civilians who clamed not to know about the atrocities of the Holocaust so no thinking, reasoning person can give me any damned reason to start accepting excuses now.
To the “ordinary Palestinians” I say: “If you are not actively opposing those of your people who would sow random death then you are guilty of murder. You are damned.”
Damned. I’ve never been a terribly religious person- more of a Den Beste style “Engineerist
” than a Bible thumping Christian, but if there is a better word for a person or a culture that glorifies the wanton slaughter of innocents, that wallows in blood-lust, that knows no solution but death and destruction, well I’ve yet to find it. You are damned. Damned by your actions. Damned by your inaction. Damned by your words. Damned by your martyrs. Damned by this warped perversion of your religion. And in case you do not believe me, I think you yourself can make a convincing argument that you are burning in your own little Hell, right this minute. A Hell to which you hold the keys. A Hell you can escape any time you like.
I can discern the “Good” from the “Evil” here by a simple little exercise in hypotheticals:
The Palestinian people rise up, toss out their leaders, muzzle and lynch the fanatics and declare in a single voice “Enough! No more war! No more Death!” How long until there is a real Palestinian state?
The Israeli people rise up, toss out their government, muzzle and lynch their own fanatics and declare in a single voice “Enough! No more War! No more Death! No more Apartheid!” How long until another jihad-addled maniac immolates a busload of children?
I know the answers to these questions, and anyone who is honest with himself agrees with me.
I no longer feel despair over this mess. It is more of a grim resignation to the idea that this is unlikely to end in a joint Israeli/Palestinian chorus of “Kumbaya.” Unlike many, I don’t believe that the Palestinians will push the Israelis too far- they have a cultural imperative against genocide. No, it is the aforementioned specter of the “Islamic Bomb” that will likely prove to be the proverbial straw. So far only Pakistan amongst the Muslim nations has nuclear weapons, and the government, at least for now, is not run by fanatic mullahs. But eventually there will be nuclear weapons in the hands of people who would dearly love to see Israel destroyed, and I need not remind anyone that right up there with Israel is the United States. For that matter Western Europe has no reason to be feeling all snug and secure in such a scenario, either.
When that time comes Israel will act, with or without the support of the US. What comes next is just a ghastly uncertainty.
So, we have Damnation. Present tense for the Palestinians. Looming for everybody else. And Israel lodged right in the middle of it all. The Apocalyptic crowd ought to be going nuts right about now.
There. I’m done. Sorry, friends and neighbors, there are no new ideas here, no “if only…” scenarios. No answers. Today a Palestinian gunman attacked an Israeli settlement
, killing a mother and three of her children…
God help us all.