March 18th, 2003


On Rachel Corrie's Death

On eschwa, someone asked "What kind of fucking idiot steps in front of a tank?" I'd like to take a stab at answering that.

Someone willing to lay their life down for what they believe is right. (I know - that's the same thing the terrorists did, the same thing the suicide bombers do. But the latter groups aren't just laying down their lives - they're taking others with them, and I'm not convinced that any non-sociopathic human being feels at heart that such an action is not questionable and has to be rationalized in some way.)

But I digress. A willingness to give up your life - or, more importantly, to act as though doing what is right is matters more than your life, is surely what defines a hero, and we don't have a lot of them lately, or so it seems to me.

Did her death accomplish anything? I don't know. Suddenly people are talking about the ruthlessness of the Israelis in a way they weren't when it was only Palestinians being bulldozed. (And not just once - the driver actually BACKED UP over her again. How chilling is that?) And her death says to the other peace activists, yes, yes, this is important, so important that people are dying for it. And it is important, because if it continues, more and more people will die - not just by bulldozer, but to callousness, to carelessness, to an increasingly normalized notion that people die, so what?

My friend Mark went to see the new Bruce Willis movie (released with such "serendipitous" time, and edited heavily at the end to make sure the American people got the right message) this weekend and was describing it over lunch. One of the movie's messages is: it only matters when people on our side die.

I'm sorry, but that's not a message I'm prepared to accept. I want a world where any death is seen as tragic and it doesn't matter whether the deceased came from American or Baghdad, Israel or Palestine. Rachel Corey felt the same way.

Rachel Corrie's death was a tragedy. Letting other people go on killing is a tragedy. Bombing Iraq and killing hundreds of thousands of people would be a tragedy. Maybe listening to what she was trying to say would be a step in the right direction towards making some of those tragedies cease. Maybe being willing to give up some things much much smaller than a human life would be another.

Pray for peace - but work for it as well.