About a week ago, Alan Dershowitz published an execrable editorial in which he suggested that there should be degrees of "civilianality." In essence, his argument held that should you have the bad fortune to live in an area in which terrorists were being harbored, you were by that very fact less innocent than other "civilians" and presumably more eligible for being shot. This is just how far Professor Dershowitz, who has also argued in favor of "torture warrants," has wandered from civilization in this "war of civilizations."
How goes it in the real world tonight? One minute, I'm seeing video tape of the civilian victims of an Israeli attack on a Red Cross convoy. The civilian medics, drivers aides and patients (already shot) had been in contact with the IDF before setting out, had agreed upon a route, had been assured they would not be fired upon. They started out on the agreed upon route. The Israeli forces mortared them.
A test case of degrees of "civilianality"?
Then, a breaking story. Some nut has just shot several people at a Jewish community center in Seattle. As of this writing, one of the victims is dead. The guy who did this probably had an idea similar to Dershowitz's, probably thinks that civilians are somehow complicit in things with which they have nothing to do.
Whatever our other disagreements, I hope we can all join in the struggle against this kind of thinking. It's one thing to say that all of us are in some ways responsible for our government's actions. Or the actions of governments supported by our government. But once you start thinking of ordinary citizens as complicit in the horrors wrought by their states, you're well on your way to Bin Laden's cave.