When George Bush, in the wake of 911, came out with the line ‘You’re either for us or you’re against us’, it was a clever line at an emotive moment, but it begs the question. Who is ‘us’? Who is ‘them’?
‘Us’, to me, is reasonable, decent people who want to live their lives and raise their children in peace. ‘Them’ is the war mongers, the profiteers stomping all over the Middle East on the western side; and in the Middle East, the terrorists.
Draw lines in that way, and it is always ‘them’ attacking ‘us’. When the terrorists fly crowded planes into crowded buildings, that is ‘them’ attacking ‘us’. When a drone strike wipes out a wedding party, that is also ‘them’ attacking ‘us’.
It’s always ‘them’ attacking ‘us’. The decent people are always the victims of the bastards.
Take Israel / Palestine. ‘Us’ are those who want to reach a two-state solution, which is pretty-much inevitable, as quickly as possible and to get on with their lives. In surveys, they are a majority in the region on ‘both sides’ if we are to separate them on the basis of Israelis vs. Palestinians. ‘Them’ is the Israeli government building new settlements on occupied territory, Hamas firing rockets into civilian areas. Again, it’s always ‘us’ getting hurt; the ordinary people getting displaced by the settlements, the ordinary people under rocket attack. What makes more sense; to draw the divide between those who want peace and those who perpetuate the crisis, or to draw the divide between Israelis and Palestinians? Who, really, is ‘us’? Who, really, is ‘them’?
That is how we should always draw the ‘us’ and ‘them’ divide. Right-thinking vs. folly. Until we start doing that we’re never going to get any sense out of the world, and we will continue to be the victims of ‘them’.