Uncategorized 05 Dec 2003 11:10 am

Sartre’s Insight into Terrorism

The Chronicle: 11/21/2003: Sartre Redux
is a review of current scholarship around the work of Sartre. It’s approrpriate now to look back at a recent thinker’s analysis of the human struggle for freedom and how violence helps or hinders that struggle. The big question being about where terrorism falls along that continuum. I fall firmly in the camp that violence only hurts freedom. I also realize that it is probably an impossible idealism to think that we can fully overcome our violent nature as a world.

I saw Bowling for Columbine recently. It was a very striking film. It brought up a lot of questions about the condition of being an American. Why do we have so much gun violence compared to other gun-toting countries such as Canada. H posits that we are a very fearful people made more fearful daily by our news coverage. In one part he shows the surveillence camera footage from Columbine. It was the most hideous thing I have ever seen. Other parts of the film are encouraging.

Moore and two of the victims of the Columbine shooting went to KMart’s headquarters and stood in the lobby until they were allowed to talk to the ammunition purchasing agent. They told him about the pieces of KMart ammunition still in the one boy because it was too close to his spine to be removed. The other boy, in a wheel chair for life, also talked to the purchasing agent. They managed to pressure KMart into ceasing ammunition sales. The PR rep for Kmart read a statement about it publicly. (On a side note, I went to the local KMart yesterday, and there was ammunition for sale in a glass case behind the counter in the sports section)

It is weird to see Moore employ a certain level of intellectual manipulation (I don’t know if I would call it violence, but it comes close sometimes) in his pursuit of lessening physical violence. He gladly bullies and confronts those propagating violence to realize the consequences of their actions.

We have to stand up to violence somehow I guess if we are to overcome it. The key is preserving human dignity. If we humiliate another human then we are just fueling the very cycle that we want to escape. According to the article, Camus held this belief, and it actually led to the demise of his friendship with Sartre. I think I need to go re-read Camus.

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