Tuesday, February 3, 2004 - 14:40
Ralph E. Luker
Juan Cole on Black Holes ...
Juan Cole has a long post up this morning which responds to a challenge from Matt Yglesias about Arab/Israeli relations. This excerpt says much of it:
the Arab-Israeli stuff is a Black Hole that sucks up time and energy with no obvious positive result, ever. I once compared having anything to do with it to"tangling with the Church of Scientology while living through someone else's nasty divorce." The problem is that everything one says about it is dissected to death until it doesn't mean anything anymore. And, most people in public life have frankly been intimidated into just being quiet about it (including every single sitting member of the US Congress, not one of which ever criticizes any action of the Sharon government [and survives the next election]; this is an incredible degree of political intimidation).Do read the whole thing.
We historians mostly do not believe that nations are natural or inevitable or"right." In this we differ from most of our contemporaries, and have done since at least Renan (who rightly remarked that when a historian studies a nation he must first betray it). Nationalists do not like us to question their pieties, especially their essentialism and attempt to justify the nation as always necessary and always right.