I recently retweeted a photo of two dead children on the beach in Gaza. I had walked on that same beach. The photo (which later appeared on the front page of the New York Times) was taken from—or near—the same hotel I had stayed in. I am the father of a 7 year old girl who I, of course, adore. I retweeted the picture with the comment that as a father, as someone who had walked that beach, I felt particularly horrified. That’s all I said. The reaction? This was not, it would seem a “Oh, yeah? well, what about..?” situation. The photo did not require, one would think, any equivalency, a countervailing argument. It’s a picture of dead children. Period. The appropriate reaction, one would think would be “How terrible!”. But, as it turned out, of course, even this image would be hijacked by extremists of both sides, the conversation devolving into ugly racist shit and accusations.
This is all too often the world we live in now—where even a simple, heartfelt, human reaction—the kind of emotion any father would have—is tantamount to choosing sides.
If I have a side, its against extremism—of any kind: religious, political, other: there’s no conversation when everybody is absolutely certain of the righteousness of their argument. That’s a platitude. But it’s still true.”
Anthony Bourdain, in an interview with Blogs of War
He also talked about receiving wonderful hospitality in Iran and from former members of the Viet Cong. There are places in this world where people don’t hold onto animosity. And there are places where people categorize whole groups as friends or foes. (The U.S., I think, falls into the latter category - a strong tendency to buy into the “poisoned M&M’s” meme.)
The full interview is at
It’s well worth a read even if you don’t watch any of the shows he’s done. And from the small amount he had to say, I’m looking forward to the Parts Unknown episode in Iran when season 4 is aired.