Poking bee hives
Posted by aogSaturday, 08 February 2003 at 08:35 TrackBack Ping URL
One thing that's bugged me about the debate over Iraq is the use of "poking a bee-hive" analogy. We see it in the comments of this post and in a variant using hornets. This is a very bad analogy for many reasons and shows a reliance on cheap imagery instead of thought. The problems are all caught up in the soft bigotry implicit in the statement, that the Iraqis or the Arab street are basically mindless creatures that only react to outside stimulus. This makes it jingoistic as well, as it presumes that the US is the prime mover in all international situations, that other countries, groups or populations can only react to US actions. A big reason that it's not smart to whack bee hives is that if you don't, you can be sure that the bees won't spontaneously organize to ambush you later.

The analogy also fails for wasps, even if they haven't stung anyone, I still remove the nests from my house and I suspect most people do likewise. I was struck by this while reading "Lou" over at Sand in the Gears when she claimed that it was the US that was the evil force, suddenly attacking Iraq because of greed and rapaciousness. This is just the beehive analogy in another form, that Iraq would just exist quietly by itself if we left it alone. However, if there was a beehive that was sending out flights to sting my friends or neighbors, I'd do far more than just poke the hive in response. Fundamentally the invasion of Iraq is in direct response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, but apparently America's crimes are forever while Saddam's crimes disappear like the last fashion craze. It's that soft bigotry again, where only Americans can have moral agency.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
dan truly Sunday, 09 February 2003 at 16:33

great blog. but you lost me when you questioned this…:)

“that the Iraqis or the Arab street are basically mindless creatures that only react to outside stimulus.”

End of Discussion