Rachel Corrie, the Olympia, Wash., college student killed trying to protect a Palestinian house -- a house, remember, not even a human being -- against an Israeli bulldozer, will probably not merit a footnote in history books. That's too bad, because her life and death, the way she has been portrayed in some media, and the reactions of her college are powerful examples of an America with many morally confused individuals.
A Seattle Times columnist described her as a martyr. Her hometown paper, The Olympian, published numerous pictures of a sweet-looking woman from childhood on. It omitted the one photo of Rachel Corrie that USA Today, to its credit, published -- Corrie screaming anti-American invective while burning an American flag in Gaza.
Anyone with a heart must extend the deepest condolences to Rachel Corrie's parents. But anyone with a conscience must regard Rachel Corrie's activities with contempt. One hopes that it is not asking too much of people to entertain simultaneously two conflicting emotions -- grief for the parents and contempt for the daughter.
Rachel Corrie chose to side with a society that breeds some of the cruelest murderers of innocent people in the world. Rachel Corrie gave her life trying to protect people whose declared aim is to annihilate another country. In the name of saving children's lives, Rachel Corrie chose to defend a society that teaches its young children to blow themselves up and which deliberately targets children for death. And Rachel Corrie went to America's enemies to burn her country's flag.
She was one of the many fools our colleges annually produce. Evergreen State College is reputed to excel in such production. Is anyone aware of a single student or faculty member who repudiated her activities?
We are told repeatedly that Rachel was idealistic -- as if that matters. Virtually every person who commits great evil -- the Nazi, the Communist, the Islamic terrorist -- is idealistic. Idealism is morally neutral. It is good only when directed to good ends. But in young people, idealism is at least as likely to lead to bad as to good because few young people are wise -- and idealism without wisdom is very dangerous.