As a regular reader of Linda Petersen’s columns, I enjoy her homespun take on issues of everyday life that many of us—especially as parents and …
As a regular reader of Linda Petersen’s columns, I enjoy her homespun take on issues of everyday life that many of us—especially as parents and spouses—can relate to.
Her observations of the human condition usually elicit from me a chuckle or two and a nod of agreement, and she comes across as a kind-hearted soul and champion of the underdog. So it was a shock to see her column of Oct. 26 (“Midnight musings about Gaza”) taken to task in these pages last week (“No moral equivalency between a terrorist organization and a democracy”) by reader Jodi Gladstone. It seems Ms. Petersen’s innocuous comments about sympathizing with victims in Gaza touched off Ms. Gladstone, who had her own agenda which she proceeded to list point by point. All valid points, Ms. Gladstone, but invalid target. Ms. Petersen wasn’t looking for “moral equivalency”—if she were, she might have mentioned the cynical Israeli leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu secretly supporting Hamas in order to weaken the legitimacy of the moderate Palestinian Authority in the hotly contested West Bank. Or the cowardly political wing of Hamas living in a seaside villa in luxury in Qatar while their constituents in Gaza barely exist in what’s been described as “the world’s largest open-air prison.”
But Ms. Petersen isn’t a political pundit nor does she claim to be one. Instead, she merely expressed the kind of helplessness and earnest sympathy for all innocent victims that I, and many others, feel. Frankly, we’ve reached a point in this country where the middle ground barely exists, where polemical hectoring has replaced civil back-and-forth discussion of difficult topics, whether it’s about the Middle East, Ukraine-Russia, or red vs blue U.S. states. For me, Bob Dylan—who performed to a packed house at PPAC recently —sums it up in his iconic song “My Back Pages”: Lies that life is black and white spoke from my skull…” Indeed, life is varying shades of gray, whether we choose to deal with that discomforting uncertainty or not.
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