Sharon Wins Gaza Test

Here’s an opinion piece from the Toronto Star (login: my e-mail address starting with jbow; password: jamesbow).

It’s fascinating that Ariel Sharon, the man who I thought had enflamed the Palestinian situation immediately before coming to office, now leads Israel’s most credible effort to secure Israel and restore the peace process. And he’s being opposed by true extremists who believe the territories are theirs by Biblical fiat.

Whatever Mr. Sharon felt or thought when he came to office, perhaps his understanding of the situation has changed now that he has the reins of the country. He believed (and clearly still believes) that negotiations with the Palestinian Authority was impossible, but perhaps he’s come to understand that bombing Palestinians into submission is equally ineffective. Disengagement, pulling the Israeli targets back behind the wall and allowing the Authority to stew in its own juices, now seems the most sensible solution to him, and I agree with him.

The move has probably damaged Sharon politically, and the fact that he followed through on his policy anyway speaks volumes. Clearly, he knows that the decisions he has to make transcend politics, and are worth the sacrifice of a career. And for that, he has my respect.

Now if only we could pull the settlers out of the West Bank, and complete the wall, we might have the prospect of a lasting peace. But I fear that Mr. Sharon isn’t strong enough to accomplish that feat.

The Consequences of Blogging

We’ve heard about people fired because of their blogs but, if this is true, we may have the first case that I’ve heard of someone getting a visit from the secret service due to their blog.

It’s clear from Annie’s post and from her other posts (warning for swear words) that Annie likes to speak her mind loudly. And although she has removed the post that caused the secret service to pay her a visit, she admits that her post, written in jest, may have been “misconstrued as a threat to (the President’s) life.”

Making jokes about serious acts of violence is illegal in some parts of both our countries (don’t ever, ever, ever make cracks about hijackings in airports. It will get you arrested and charged with mischief), but despite what Annie said, and despite the fact that the visiting agents were professional and polite and realized quickly there was no threat to national security here, you cannot help but be rocked back on your heels by what has taken place.

I’ve always maintained that one should treat a blog as though it were a seat in a crowded restaurant, and that you should say nothing on a blog that you wouldn’t be comfortable saying, loudly, amongst strangers. But while one can expect to receive certain reactions for strongly worded political posts, surely a visit from the secret service should not be one of those reactions. It makes me wonder, do I have a record with the FBI thanks to my five part series on why the Bush Administration deserves defeat?

And people who have tried to deflect criticism of the wide-ranging powers of the Patriot Act by pointing to real and imagined attacks on civic rights by the Clinton Administration, are bathing themselves in hypocrisy by not investigating this incident, and taking up this individual’s defence if there is truth to her report. It is inconceivable to me that, to defend terror, we must subject ourselves to intimidating visits from secret service officers because of intemperate things that we say. And if some of us honestly believe that these steps are necessary to fight the War on Terror, I think these individuals have forgotten just what it is we’re fighting for.

Link courtesy Kate Orman.

Update: I’ve read the original post (cached on Google, for now), the one that got this woman a visit from the secret service. It’s nasty. Basically, she prays (facetiously) that God strike Bush down. I don’t think that’s cool. However, at no point did I think this woman was anything more than a normal person with a loud mouth who’s sensitivity to politics is a bit blown out of perspective. Okay, maybe that’s putting it mildly, but just because she speaks like Dennis Miller doesn’t lead me to think that calling the secret service on her is at all justified.

Further Update: AnnieSJ clarifies her post, acknowledging that she had made a mistake with her original post, and that she did not feel that her free speech rights were being violated. She also notes that she was reported by a fellow LiveJournal member and that this whole incident may have been the result of an internet grudge. Again, the secret service personnel acted professionally and politely, and the real villain of the piece is the person who reported her.

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