A Sacred Narrative
"Palestine awareness Week" about which I blogged here is a good example of what kind of fruit is yielded by the"sacred narrative" of pity and victimization. This analysis by Richard Landes offers simplicity and clarity:
The media – purveyors of this pivotal tale – subsequently remained loyal to the framework they had helped shape, reporting virtually every and any Palestinian claim of Israeli brutality, piling up statistics of Palestinian civilians, children, and non-combatants casualties that made Israeli soldiers look like ruthless mass-murderers, despite the fact that there are no documented cases of the IDF deliberately murdering innocent children. When the real mass-murderers of children, the suicide bombers and struck Israeli domestic sites, the media found few problems empathizing both with the victim and the terrorist. Moral equivalence and the politics of pity had obliterated the difference between firemen and arsonists; indeed for many it had inverted the moral universe: the arsonists were rebel heroes and the firemen hegemonic oppressors.
...I make a stink about this particular case because this is not “just one of many.” On the contrary, it is the framing narrative – indeed, to use Daniel Dayan’s term, a “sacred narrative.” It serves as the procrustean bed in which all subsequent data is crammed no matter how mutilated it becomes in the process. Your 800 dead minors – presumably an “objective” “fact”, but also a source of great moral indignation –is both a construct of that sacred narrative and it obtains its ability to solicit moral outrage within that framework. “We’ve killed 800 of their children!” as if they were all innocent, defenseless 12 year olds whom the IDF wantonly killed. And the applause that greeted your remark with all the force of a flagellant’s whip, comes from their approval of your defending that sacred narrative against my blasphemous assault.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Sunday, February 24, 2008
A Sacred Narrative