After tonight’s debate between candidates running for the republican nomination in the next presidential elections, many newspapers quickly published articles which highlight in their title the fact that Ron Paul was “booed” for his views on 9/11.
I don’t have time to watch the entire debate, but I watched this compilation of Ron Paul’s answers, and I think it’s significant to point out that only during one question was he booed.
He was booed was while he was describing the explicit motives for 9/11 as described by Bin Laden and Al Quaeda. I’ll write it out in full because I think it is significant to notice the exact moments when the “boos” appeared.
…Osama Bin-Laden and Al Quaeda have been explicit and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment. And you had been bombing…I didn’t say that, I’m trying to get you to understand what the motive was. At the same time we had been bombing and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis for ten years. Would you be annoyed? If you’re not annoyed, then there is some problem.
The “boos” come in two choruses. The first is right after he says”Osama Bin-Laden and Al Quaeda have been explicit”. I’m not sure what the motivation for this could be. Is it just that the “terrorists”, as the radical evil enemy, can not be allowed to speak for themselves? Or is it that people listening assume that the kind of empathy required to understand the motivations of others is the same as sympathy – the support for other people’s positions and goals. Either way, the first boos are not very interesting.
The boos stop, and significantly there are no boos at all while Ron Paul says “because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia”. This is significant, I think, because Ron Paul has already mentioned the issue of foreign military bases several times in the debate, receiving many cheers. So the “bases” talking point is not a new issue – and if people thought that America had the god given right to have bases over there, maybe they would boo at this moment. But they don’t, so maybe we could think about that.
The second chorus of boos actually happen immediately after Ron Paul says “you did not give Palestinians fair treatment”. I wonder if there is a significant portion of Republicans who simply programmed to “Boo” whenever the term Palestinian is used. This joke aside – this I think is something we should think about.
I have to wonder what it sounds like to a Christian zionist like Glenn Beck even to hear the term “Palestinian”. I imagine the mere saying of it invokes the presence of a people who’s very existence appears as a threat to his beloved Israel. I’m not one for “understanding both sides” of an issue, at least not for knowledge’s own sake – but maybe the word “Palestinian” sounds to extreme Zionists pretty much the same as the word “Zionist” sounds to anti-Zionists – it is after all the very presence of the Zionist movement which threatens the rights of Palestinians to exist as a people. So, while I won’t say there is anything symmetrical about the situation, I will acknowledge that there is some reciprocality to these terms and their meaning.
It’s kind of funny to imagine the same statement in a very different context. Imagine if Ron Paul were talking about the zionist motives behind the King David Hotel bombing
…Begin, Ben Gurion and the Hebrew Resistance Force have been explicit and they wrote and said that we attacked Britain because you had bases on our holy land in Eretz Israel, you do not give Jewish refugees fair treatment…
Imagine if a chorus of boos launched out – not only after the the mention of the names of the Zionist leaders, but also a second chorus after the phrase “you do not give Jewish immigrants fair treatment”. This is helpful, I think, changing the context – because while anti-Zionists likely have no problem booing the very idea that Begin and Ben Gurion should have their motives taken seriously, so we can boo that, we shouldn’t be booing the very idea that we (“we” here would mean Britain) were mistreating Jewish refugees. That would be racist. I might disagree with Begin and Gurion’s views on unlimited jewish migration to Palestine in the mid 1940s, but I would never boo if someone were to raise the issue of the mistreatment of jewish refugees.
So, I think the American right, or whoever it was, is not just disagreeing with the Palestinian cause but genuinely being very racist if they are going to boo at the mere mention of the treatment of Palestinians.
Incidentally, if anyone is interested, the treatment of Palestinians was central to the motivation of Al Quaeda in planning the 9/11 attacks:
While I was looking at these destroyed towers in Lebanon, it sparked in my mind that the tyrant should be punished with the same and that we should destroy towers in America, so that it tastes what we taste and would be deterred from killing our children and women
God knows that it had not occurred to our mind to attack the towers, but after our patience ran out and we saw the injustice and inflexibility of the American-Israeli alliance toward our people in Palestine and Lebanon, this came to my mind