Reconsider the ‘Blame Game’

To the editor,

We disagree with Mr. Weimer’s thesis (“Hussein to blame, not the U.S.”) in his Viewpoint of Sept. 17, 2003.

Mr. Weimer does a disservice to the facts when he resurrects a false report that Mohammed Atta was in Prague meeting with Iraqi officials prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

The report was false, and even U.S. intelligence officials have abandoned it.

However, Mr. Weimer does us an even greater disservice when he reiterates our government’s rhetoric that skillfully, though not admirably, places the blame “solely” on Saddam Hussein and the Baath party.

The growing recognition that President Bush and his advisors were intent on making war against Iraq almost immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, reinforces the visibility of the disservice.

Weimer’s disservice gives us all an opportunity to consider our laziness, boredom with life, and refusal to come together as a people who are honest enough to engage in the hard work of living life as a community of moral beings.

We prefer the “blame game.” We live as if life is a series of moral absolutes, when we should instead honestly address the difficult moral contingencies of our everyday existence.

We are so bored with life that we propagate the logic of war, which is the logic of appearances: make “the other” evil, and in doing so preserve our righteousness.

We pledge allegiance to those who renounce the hard work of considering moral complexity and moral contingencies.

We admire the people of action, whose words are persuasive, and books best-sellers. They reduce a morally complex problem to its simplest terms. When we imitate them, we vindicate our basest-instincts, impress our friends, and isolate our enemies.

Essentially, we give in to the easier way of Thrasymachus. Remember “might makes right?” An encounter with moral truth, however, challenges our choice to follow Thrasymachus. An encounter with moral truth ushers us into the contingency and complexity of morality.

As for the Iraq situation, when we consider it without respect to nationalistic interests, we find ourselves facing a more complex moral story, one that perhaps lays the blame at our own feet.

The moral issue is not merely whether responsibility for conditions in Iraq rests with either the U.S. or the Hussein regime. On the contrary, the moral issue is our laziness, boredom with life, and inability to relate to each other in any way other than polarization and violence and blame.

Of course, the truth of the matter is that we probably will not even address that issue. After all, we prefer the easy stuff – violently determining who gets what slice of the Iraqi pie, fighting over whether the U.S. should be honest enough to admit that we bear a huge portion of the responsibility, and then fighting among ourselves because we are bored, disinterested, and incapable of agreeing.

Jason Borgett Chase, fourth-year student

Charles Haselwood Chase, third-year student