Avishai Margalit

1. Three Observations and a Problem

We all watched with horror the helpless and hapless people, survivors of Hurricane Katrina crying desperately for help but to no avail. This apocalyptic scene created a strong impression that the voters of Bush, those who brought him to power, do not care a whit for the wretched survivors. They view them not as “one of us” in spite of the fact that they are United States citizens. Citizenship in itself does not secure solidarity.

We are still in the dark as to the exact causes for the torch-lit nights in the rioting suburbs of Paris, when alienated youngsters set ablaze thousands of cars. Here too we are under a strong impression of facing a severe crisis of solidarity. In the case of Paris we learn again that the Republican creed that citizenship should secure solidarity is under tremendous strain.

The murder of Van Gogh in Amsterdam is very different from what happened in New Orleans and Paris. Yet, it conveys the feeling...