Ocasio-Cortez’s decision was typical of the effects of an age of absolutist moral judgments, where Twitter bombardments allow for no nuanced positions and people cave or are canceled. If “the pursuit of justice” and taking “risks for peace” are not rich themes for her, I have to wonder. What stopped her, I believe, was not some misunderstanding about whether she would explore broad themes or focus on Rabin, but rather critics saying Rabin was a war criminal and murderer and nobody should be involved in honoring him.
The congresswoman might have shown political courage. She might have spoken at the event of how Rabin’s brutality in putting down the first intifada led to his reflection on the ultimate futility of such methods and his embrace of peace. She might have mused on the painfulness and necessity of compromise in any healthy society.
She might have suggested that every human being contains Whitman’s “multitudes.” She might have said Rabin was not perfect but was heroic in his about-face from sword to plowshare.