Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Radical Challenge to Social Justice

In the recent past, the slogans of "peace" and "justice" have become sacrosanct in the activist community, and have been taken at face value in the media and public mainstream. Yet, particularly among those focused on the Israeli-Arab conflict, a growing number of activists who proclaim themselves to be striving for peace and working for justice are increasingly deploying tactics and heralding outcomes which appear to be add odds with the noble sentiments they espouse.

From "human rights" flotillas provoking violent armed struggle on the open seas to "peace" activists delegitimizing negotiators involved in conflict resolution, to crusaders for "justice" courting bloodshed in advocating the destruction of a member state in the United Nations, the divorce between slogans and actions is glaring for all but the most casual observers.

While the slogans are well synchronized with the humanist ideals of Western civilization, the confrontational tactics, an absolutist attitude that disparages compromise, and extremist goals of these campaigners are reminiscent more of violent European Marxist-socialist radicals in the 60's and 70's than the American social justice peacenik culture.

Indeed, it is the gentle passivity and welcoming inclusiveness of the American peace movement which has enabled it to be so thoroughly infiltrated by the the European-style Marxist radicals. The radicals undermine the prospects of peace by introducing inflexibility into the negotiating process, scuppering efforts at coexistence in favor of polarizing confrontation and leveraging the politics of bloodshed over building brotherhood, among others. Such actions have so undermined the credibility of the American social justice movement and its international peace efforts, that many now question whether the movement has itself become a party to the very conflict it once sought to diffuse!

There are good people working in the American peace movement to bridge deadlocks and overcome mutual suspicions that prevent the implementation of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Their ability to remain credible brokers and rally public support in times of necessity are held hostage to the radicals in their midst. It is only by recognizing extremist sympathies, purging their ranks of nonconstructive attitudes, and focusing on the core mission of building a more peaceful, just and tolerant world that our confidence in their otherwise tireless and good efforts will be restored.

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