21 March 2006

Lay down those rocks?

We always wonder what would happen if the Palestinians were to lay down their rocks and peacefully demonstrate for peace. Surely, in the face of peaceful protest, the world would be forced to listen. Right?

If history is to be believed, the answer seems to be a resounding "Hell no". Examples of unlawfully-occupied peacefully-protesting peoples abound. One such case, discussed by Carne Ross in a recent Slate article, is that of Western Sahara. For as long as I can remember, every globe or world map I've looked at has listed the country as "occupied" by Morocco. It seems that cartographers and everyone else firmly believes the occupation lacks legitimacy. And the Western Saharan people themselves have been relatively peaceful. So where's all the news and outrage?

I suppose the fact that Morocco is currently a friend of Uncle Sam's might help explain why the mood of the Western press is that we frankly don't give a damn. Little can change this. Nasty terrorists/insurgents/freedom-fighters (take your choice) would make the area a little more worthy as a newsbite in a Shrub speech (as the embattled prez drones on in his faux Texas accent about saving the world for apple pie and freedom fries) but unfortunately (from the perspective of Western Saharan nationalists) the area's short on terrorists.

I must confess that I'm not bringing this up due to any strong feelings about a dusty country the size of Colorado with only a quarter of a million people in it. Instead of creating little countries for every ethnic group on the globe, I'd rather see the national borders erased altogether, to tell you the truth. But the situation does point to the hypocrisy of U.S. politicians, who, like Dr. Seuss's Horton, are somehow able to hear every Who in Whoville as long as there's some financial interest involved but in all other situations, find themselves suddenly deaf.

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