17 November 2003

ok, so i had to come back pre-tomorrow with a shocking announcement: i think thomas friedman may have done something right.

the article, whose headline appealed to me immediately, is titled "wanted: fanatical moderates." now, i'm not actually a moderate -- i just play one at swarthmore -- but i have often felt that, no matter how righteous their cause, left radicals often screw themselves (and/or the people they're trying to help) by being mean to moderates. the best moments of the anti-war movement of the past couple of years involved seeing signs like "suburban homeowners for peace" at rallies. the worst involved knee-jerk conflations of the iraq war and...any left-wing idea that comes to mind.

i don't really know enough about mumia abu-jamal, and i sure as shit don't think it's good strategy to try and stop a war by invoking him. same with che, fidel or the abolition of the state of israel, to name a few topics that got front-and-center attention during anti-war rallies.

it's not that some of these issues don't deserve attention. i'd be entirely willing to believe that mumia was framed by a racist justice system. while i'm no communist, i'm also not a laissez-faire capitalist or a freetrader. the anti-israel people, well, they're obviously confused (where "confused" = "wrong"). israel has a perfect right to exist, given certain major concessions to the folks who were there first.

anyway. the point here, which i think could apply to a wide variety of issues, is that coalitions are good and moderates are necessary to coalitions. friedman is writing about the reaction of the likud to the recent "virtual accord" authored by yossi beilin and yasir abed rabbo; he could just as easily be writing about the reaction of some anti-war radicals to churches, homeowners, and [other viable political symbols] for peace.