12 November 2004

Sayonara to Yasser "That's My Baby" Arafat!

No tears of remorse for yet another terrorist sent on to his eternal "reward". A man of peace? He died in peace, at least, a slow death in a hospital bed surrounded by skilled doctors and close family and friends. Contrast that to his victims. Innocent children, fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, aunts, uncles, all sorts of people who left for work or school without their loved ones having the opportunity to say goodbye, to express their love one final time. This is a "freedom fighter"? We call a man who refused peace at every turn in favour of murdering Jews a "man of peace"? What twisted thinking. In a world where we are all so careful to "remember the Holocaust" we seem quick to forget the wanton murder of Jewish innocents in Israel.

We give credence to terrorists when we eulogize this thug, this brutal murdering monster. Can't you see? When we speak effusive praise for this slimeball, we authenticate and legitimize his methods. A terrorist is now a hero? What a message that sends! I don't care whether the cause was just or not. That isn't the question. No cause warrants terrorism. Goodbye Yasser, enjoy your stay, you'll be there a while.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you completely, but I think that the term "terrorism" can be placed upon more than its muslim adherents. It seems to me that "terrorism" is basically the use of force or the threat of such force to achieve political goals. This would likely mean that most governemtns are guilty, including Israel and the United States.

I wonder how much of a difference there is between car-bombings or driving planes into buildings as opposed to building MIRVs and MOABs. It seems logical to believe that the only differences would be those of scale and the ability to intimidate world opinion into silent acceptance.

And if one conludes that there is no difference between individual terrorism and state terrorism, how guilty should we consider ourselves for allowing our tax money to be spent on such things?


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Yes, I've heard such arguments time and time again. I suppose we could also be called war-mongering terrorists for invading peaceful Nazi-occupied Europe in '44. There is a huge difference...terrorists seek to achieve their goals by focusing on the murder of civilians. Simple as that...they cannot achieve their goals through an outright conflict of arms, so they concentrate their resources on killing civilians, which causes "terror". Their goal is not to kill off their enemies in a traditional sense, or defeat them on the battlefield...their goal is to sap the will and morale of the people by committing what the world views as atrocities. The horror and cruelty of their actions actually serves and enhances their cause.

Contrast that to the US and whoever else you want to call terrorists. We don't target civilians. Some are killed in warfare, yes, but that is a side effect, not a goal. We are NOT served by that...it doesn't increase our standing worldwide in the least. We fight under traditional rules of warfare that have been used for ages...go after the military. Unfortunately things have been changing with the evolution of the Jihadi terror fighter.

And yes, there are other terrorists than the Moslems. The IRA is a good example, though they seem to have changed their ways somewhat. But to say that America is a source of terrorism is a reactionary sort of statement that ignores the definition of terrorism itself.

Anonymous said...

The only reason that the muslim terrorists avoid direct confrontation with armed forces is because they know they would have no chance. For examples of American adherence to this rule, see Washington's tactics during the war with Britain.

Our government and the terrorists have one major thing in common that is greatly overlooked: they both seek to use power politics and outright force to achieve their political goals. The US is much better at hiding this because it can afford to undermind the security of hostile nations simply by refusing to give them financial backing. For recent evidence, try to read between the lines of US diplomatic exchanges with Saudi Arabia concerning the pricing of their oil exports.

The US can achieve their goals through military hostility when this does not work, but prefers not to because this manipulation is far too obvious.

The only difference between the US and the terrorists are of motivation and goal. While the terrorists use defence of Islam as the primary way of motiviating their followers, the US uses the defence of its own primary religion ("freedom") to do the same. The goals of the terrorists seem to keep western countries from dominating muslim countries, while the goals of the US is to continue (if not expand) such domination.

Anonymous said...

definition of Terrorism from www.dictionary.com

"The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons."

Luke (i forgot to place my name on the one above)
both 11-20-2004

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

"The only reason that the muslim terrorists avoid direct confrontation with armed forces is because they know they would have no chance. For examples of American adherence to this rule, see Washington's tactics during the war with Britain."

Silly logic. With that assumption (that losing a war is the only catalyst required to drive people to terrorism) every defeated party in every war ought to have resorted to blowing up children as a means to defeat their enemies. And there are problems with your example. First of all we had more than one war with England, and second of all, we never engaged in terrorism. There were instances of guerilla warfare, and you seem to confuse the two. A terrorist would organize cells in London who would murder civilians in an attempt to demoralize the Brit population to make the war unpopular. A guerilla would attack strategic or tactical points in America in an effort to cripple the British military. That's what we did...we didn't try to kill as many innocent Londoners as possible, that wasn't a goal of ours. Guerillas and terrorists are different things because they use different tactics. Terrorism is actually a newer invention because technological advances have made it more possible...a single man with a suitcase can kill millions. Not something they could do before recently.

"Our government and the terrorists have one major thing in common that is greatly overlooked: they both seek to use power politics and outright force to achieve their political goals."

Every last government in the world does this. People, corporations, governments, everyone does this. People use the power they possess to achieve their goals, its just the way things are. Look at the difference in people's goals, though. And its funny to hear you morally equivocate the ideas of terrorist attacks and economic sanctions, but I've heard worse from others.

Other stuff in your post could be addressed but my time is limited. By your logic any war is terrorism. France would be speaking Deutsch and they'd be saluting the flag of the rising sun in Honolulu (if not the entire West Coast).

Anonymous said...

About your analysis of my logic:

1. When I mentioned Washington's war with Britain, I meant General Washington instead of the city. My mistake.

If you think that the American Revolutionaries were simply the nice guys who only fought the British Army, then you are very mistaken. They frequently burned the homes and entire villages of people that they thought were supporting the British. During the Revolution, British-friendly property was seized, sold, and otherwise manipulated in any way that could help the Revolutionaries. I don't really see anyone could avoid calling this terrorism....it seems to me that someone knocking on your door in the middle of the night and holding a torch would be somewhat terrorizing.

2. Just because technology has advanced to where we can kill millions with a suitcase does not mean that terrorism has occurred before. And let us not forget who invented those fun weapons that can now be placed in the suitcases or shipped into harbors.

3. I understand that every government and corporation uses its power to achieve its greedy goals. This does not mean I think such a system is right or good. My great hope is that someday people will realize how retarded they act by being greedy and manipulative, and then take some action to change the way we percieve the world and its functions. I do not believe that might makes right.

4. If you think that economic sanctions hurt a government you are very wrong. The leaders of governments will get what they think they need regardless of sanctions. The only results of sanctions is that the governments end up taking more risks to get what they want secretly and the people of the country under sanction are the ones that really get hurt.

5. Linking my definition of terrorism to Nazi Europe is a ridiculous leap in logic. I use the word ridiculous because that leap is deserving of ridicule. People often try to portray their opposition as siding with Hitler and the Nazis simply because Hiter and the Nazis are the symbolic defintion of evil in the modern era. You cannot win an argument by proving your opponent is stupid or evil because their stupidity does nothing to validate your side of the argument. It doesn't matter how dumb your opponent is...if your own argument doesn't make sense then it will continue to not make sense.

Besides, invading Europe to remove the Nazis in 1944 is one of the very, very, VERY few clearly justifiable wars in human history. This is one of the few instances where no amount of diplomacy would have convinced the Nazis to give up their conquests, there was clear evidence of what the Nazis were hoping to do as far as conquering more land, and there was clear evidence of what they wanted to do with all of their conquered peoples. And, yes, there were many instances in World War II when the Allies used terrorist tactics against civilian populations in order to convince the opposition governments to surrender.

War is inevitable only due to human greed and stupidity. War is by far the greatest tragedy that humans can inflict upon themselves, and I continue to be amazed and disgusted by those who are so quick to force conflicts. War is only getting more horrible because the worldwide conflicts are becoming more and more tolerant of what must be regarded as terrorist tactics. Let's not forget that the U.S. has the nuclear arms to destroy the industrialized world 27 times over.


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Sorry its taken me so long to respond, I've been busy with work, family, school, and musical projects. And with the relief of the election I'm still in kind of a political lull and don't quite have the drive to fight online all the time these days.

But, to address your points:

1. (American revolutionaries are terrorists)

I see what you are saying here, and I'll cede some "gray area" in the sense that no side in any war is morally perfect or anything of that nature. In any war, both sides commit atrocities. But the pro-British colonists had no political sway with the Crown. If Washington was an example of a terrorist, his plan would have been as follows:

* Kill as many Brit-loyalists as possible
* Dishearten and terrorize the pro-British population
* The Redcoats will pull out accordingly

Perhaps a simplification but nonetheless you can see the problem with that "plan". First off, the Empire didn't really care all that much about the colonists (hence the war in the first place) and so killing colonists, whatever their loyalty, is not going to put political pressure on the Crown to back down. Secondly we know from history that while such incidents occurred here and there they were by far the exception, not the rule, and were definately not the core of the grand strategy to put off British rule! You could call razing villages terrorism, and yes it is terrorism in a TACTICAL sense. What I am talking about is terrorism in a grander, strategic sense. Strategery, if you will. To me, pillaging/burning/razing in the context of a war are horrific side-effects of the evils of war, not the strategic implementation of terrorism.

2. Again, using a very loose definition of terrorism, you could say it has occurred back to the end of time. Gradeschool kids threatening to beat up other kids for lunch money, that could be considered a mild form of terrorism. It depends how loose you want to stretch the definition. And yes, we invented nuclear weaponry, and as unfortunate as it was that we used them, their application saved the lives of countless Americans and Japanese by preventing the inevitable fight to the death on the Japanese islands. The push for such weapons was out of a desire for victory and ensuing peace, as well as a fear of the Germans who were working along similar lines.

3. I'm not sure what I need to refute here, as I could wax into a whole debate on the essence of moral relativism, as well as capitalism vs socialism. Much to be said but they fall out of context. I will say that I'm not particular fond of big government, as I believe they tend to get greedy as well. A small limber federal gov't with more decentralized, distributed power amongst the states is what I'd prefer...and what the Founding Fathers designed.

4. I'm quite confused by this one...was I defending sanctions or something? I generally find them the resort of the weak-kneed and ineffective. Especially when administered by the demonstrably corrupt UN. To their credit, the allegedly worked from the news from Tehran, this week, and I really hope they did, but I'm not about to trust an anti-West gov't with nuclear ambitions (Jimmy Carter and Maddie Albright did in the 90s and now we seem to have a nuked-up North Korea). I agree they end up hurting the people more than the government, and Saddam who knew how to work the system was a great example. I'd have to read back on all our comments, but I'm rather doubtful I said anything too effusive in praise on sanctions. I guess if you're not in favour of sanctions or liberation by war, then we should have just opened up the free market and started shipping missiles for the Republican Guard and bourbon for Uday and Qusay in exchange for oil. I mean, if levelling sanctions, going to war, or using any form of coercion internationally is morally wrong, then we have no right to intervene in any context...and that would include the invasion of Normandy.

5. Did you read my comment clearly enough? I never tried to portray you as supporting Nazis or any of that rot. I mean, we conservatives are somewhat sensitive to that, as we've been tarred by angry liberals as "Nazis" for years. I have a visceral reaction to that sort of non-logic, so please don't think I'm trying to do the same. I was just using an example, because you seemed to think that war was not justifiable no matter what, and if that was the prevailing notion of the day, Hitler would have never been defeated. Should we take for granted that he even SHOULD have been defeated? Again, we are knocking on the doors of moral relativism.

I find considerable inconsistency with your justification of WWII. You've been raised to think of that as a righteous war, and few liberals can bring themselves to condemn it. Why that war? I could make some jokes, here, like, "we weren't fighting communists" or "to liberate France for crying out loud", etc., but I dare not dilute my point. You basically say that WWII was justifiable because Hitler was keen to expand his empire and killed many of his own citizens. Stalin oppressed his people and launched wars to expand his territory. So did the north vietnamese. So did Saddam, even. Just about every other dictator did the same thing, and Stalin killed substantially more civilians than Hitler ever did (approximately 20 million vs 6 million). So what makes it justifiable?

War is a tragedy in and of itself. But there will always be those who would oppress and steal, and if people lost the will to fight and make war to prevent themselves and others falling under the yoke of those who desire to conquer, then is that a better scenario?

To boil it down further still, a gunfight is a terrible thing. If a man pulls a gun and starts shooting at people, a police officer can prevent a gunfight (as such) by not pulling his gun and returning fire. The gunfight is avoided but the killer is free to do as he pleases. Sometimes the tragedy of a gunfight is better than the alternative. Pardon the murky example.

Anonymous said...

Here is the main reason I see few differences between the current Muslim Terrorism and the more centralized declarations of war by organized governments:

The only reason that the Muslim Terrorists have resorted to driving planes into buildings is that they have no other alternative to resisting domination by the west. They are clearly out-gunned and out-technologied. They clearly do not have the financial means of the western governments. They have been consistently politically outmaneuvered by western governments. They simply have no viable alternative to small-scale insurgency and decentralized attacks.

I do not think that the majority of muslim terrorists are in it for the fun of killing. I think that they have political goals and simply seek to run their own countries. Example: bin Laden launched attacks against Soviet troops when they attempted to conquer Afghanistan. Does he still lead attacks against the Russians? No. Why? Because the Russians (outside of Chechnya) are not attempting to control muslim countries.

Another example is their list of demands when they kidnap people. #1 is always withdrawl of foreign troops. Usually closely followed by removal of most western power structures that dominate muslim economics.

I think too many people, particularly americans, think that the muslim terrorists are a bunch of religious fanatics who enjoy killing infidels. I'll admit that there are probably lots of terrorists who truly are sadistic sociopaths. But I think we americans have not made much of an attempt to examine or explain the political motives and goals.

How would we as americans feel if we were so obviously under the thumb of a foreign power? Would we rebel? Obviously. Would we resort to guerilla war? Likely. Would we result to terrorism that targets larger populations of whom we percieve to be the enemy? Unsure, but don't forget that we targeted many nuclear warheads on major population centers throughout the Cold War. I wouldn't rely too heavily on american morals. We don't seem to have any other than "might makes right." And that makes sense because we, as result of our obvious greed, would naturally support the strongest when we ARE the strongest.

Anyway, what would we do if we were as dominated by foreign powers as the muslim countries currently are? We weren't even patient enough to listen to the majority of world opinion in the leadup to the 2nd Iraq War. We basically called the world a Bitch and flexed our might. I doubt that americans would follow much of a different path than the muslim terrorists. There be few differences between the US and muslim fighters, the US is just better at keeping things quiet.

I'll respond to some of your other comments later. It's getting late tonight.


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Again, lots to address, I'll try to be thorough. Blogger has been wigging out on me so hopefully I won't lose this post.

To oversimplify what I'm interpreting to be "the very nub of your gist", you find that terrorism is the last and only effective means for Moslems to resist occupation and domination by the West and therefore *somewhat* justifiable. But you seem to be focusing on our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. What were we occupying prior to that? Your argument would have a little more credence if you were just talking about the Iraqi insurgents. I think they are very wrong in their decision to hate and try to kill us and our soldiers, but I grant that they are a bit more slided towards guerillas than terrorists...like the mujahadeen (however that's spelled)...that ironically (this is beside the point) did not really materialize in Afghanistan as was predicted.

Basically I'm saying there is a substantial difference in Osama Bin Laden and the Iraqi insurgents. There are plenty of similarities, and I think both are tragically misled, but what outrageous occupation of an Islamic country by the US prompted September 11? The closest thing to a presence in the Middle East we had at that time may have been a small bastion left over from the Gulf War, but not much. And was the Gulf War the cause of all this? The fact that we along with many other NATO countries stopped a secular Ba'athist madman from waltzing through Kuwait and Saudi Arabia? They don't all hate us, and though the Kuwaitis and Saudis don't exactly adore us there is some gratefulness there that we (being the West in general, the US doesn't get all the credit naturally) stopped Hussein the first time from expansion and conquering. OBL decided to get us because he hated us...we were Western, we were infidels, we were evil, and Allah wanted him to do so allegedly.

If you want to talk about motivation, let's do so...specifically that of the so-called insurgents. They are almost entirely composed of Sunnis (at least those who aren't foreign jihadis who immigrated recently for the opportunity to kill an infidel American and get 72 virgins in paradise). The Sunni Moslems are a small ethnic minority who had held control over the Iraqi government and enjoyed sundry benefits and powers. They lose their boy Saddam and their Ba'ath party is dissolved. Then there is all this talk of democratic elections, where they will obviously be outnumbered by the majority Shi'ite Moslems and the Kurds. They lose their power. So they aren't heroic nationalists fighting off the invaders. Most Iraqis are excited about the elections and the prospect of democracy, and have at least some gratefulness to the US for deposing Saddam. The Sunni "insurgents" are no more than a panicked minority ruling class fighting against the tide of democracy.

Look at it this way. If in South Africa during apartheid, we had invaded the country to depose the government and set up a democratic process so that the people could elect their government freely, and the white minority had started revolting and fighting our soldiers, we would all know why. Because they would have been in fear of losing their power and all that goes along with that. That is EXACTLY what has gone on in Iraq. It is naive to think of the Sunni rebels as virtuous nationalists. They are the ruling minority that resents and fears losing rule.

The example of the Russians falls far short in light of the two major terrorist attacks in Beslan and Moscow recently, not to mention the two airline crashes that (last I heard...it was vastly underreported) were believed to have been hijacked/blown up. That is four major terrorist attacks in what, a year or two? I daresay far more than the US has seen on its soil in the same time period. And to say that the Russians aren't attempting to rule Moslem countries...hehe, well, you point out the perfect example (Chechnya) and there are a lot of ex-Soviet countries in Central Asia that are still very much under the sway of the Great Bear.

As far as whether terrorists are sadistic killing machines or not...well, that is a question for people with more fondness for sociology/psychology than I have. But I'm quite convinced that a big part of it is education...from the beginning they are taught that "infidels" are less than men, subhuman. Just like the way Nazi Germany dehumanized the Jews, and even the US dehumanized slaves, this goes a long way to make otherwise sensible people commit horrible atrocities. And that isn't even taking into account that the more extreme Islamic nutjobs have been preaching the idea of a "holy war" against infidels, that killing them is not only justified but commanded and rewarded in paradise! When we talk of Iraqi insurgents, I've already mentioned my thoughts of their motivations...I don't necessarily see them as motivated by pure hatred and religious fervor, although I'm sure some of them are.

As for American rebels, well, we already had the Civil War, and...discussing that could open an entirely new can of very large worms. Were the Southerners right to fight Union occupation? There's a question. One that I am personally a bit conflicted on. State's Rights vs. Federal Preeminence...well, let's not go there...I'm tired and have no strong convictions one way or the other.

Your last paragraph opens yet another can, ie. "unilateralism" and such. World opinion isn't a big concern for me because we aren't courting popularity, and there is no true world government. As we can see from the Oil For Food scandal the UN is terribly corrupt and I saw no clear reason why we should need their approval...as I recall Clinton didn't get a UN resolution when he launched cruise missiles at Baghdad for some mystifying reason in 98. The whole "rush to war" thing was quite funny in that we took 8 months or so of preparation which is quite a long time, especially given that the UN had issued 13 or 14 (can't remember) resolutions trying to get Saddam to comply with our demands. I approach it from a very "business law" sort of context. After the first Gulf War, we had a peace treaty with Saddam. As long as he kept to the terms of it he was OK. But then he broke with the terms and was in violation of contract. In a sense we were contractually and ethically bound to go in and unseat him. We gave him 12 years of second (third, fourth, etc.) and in the end he still didn't play nice, so we finished the job. And given that we gave him month after month before invading, its no surprise that we found no significant stashes of WMDs when we finally went in. That is more than enough time to cover your tracks.

You sound very "UCBerkeley" in your obvious resentment of "corporate greed" and "might makes right". We could lapse from here into a debate on socialism vs free market, which I've done elsewhere with other liberals, but I am a bit confused by how you think the world ought to run. I agree that might doesn't make right, but I think most of us would prefer that might be on the side of right. I think personal freedom wins out over the tyranny of communist groupthink...that is a fundamental core of American values, and its a virtue in my opinion. The fact that we have so many freedoms here makes me feel extremely fortunate to have been born here, and I'm with Reagan on the whole idea of us being a "city on a hill". Not that we are superior, or that our culture is superior (that's a laugh!), but that the whole notion that government is controlled by the people (not the other way around) was something very unique back in the late 18th Century and it remains so to this day. I'm not interested at all in spreading McDonalds or American culture or any of that rot. I do believe, though, that freedom is something universal, and that all people want it to some extent, that its not culture specific. Whenever you hear people arguing against democracy and freedom for their country, a red flag should go up...there is a good chance they directly or indirectly have a vested interest in the ruling class somehow.

I don't know, this is all very mushy thinking on my part, as I have not gotten enough coffee yet...I am out of filters and so therefore must survive without my 34oz coffee keg.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Interesting article...


Going further on the idea of what drives Islamic terrorists. There is something very unique about their mindset. What other than religious fervor drives a man to commit a suicide attack? It was religious zeal for the "kamikazes" of imperial Japan. So it is for the Islamic jihadis, probably the only other major group to use this tactic with regularity. I know we all like to talk about "the religion of peace" and its all very PC to divorce religion and terrorism completely, but you have to be honest enough to know that the reason they want us dead is not simply because we are "occupiers". We occupy South Korea and Germany but I've yet to see a Bavarian jihad materialize. They want us dead because first and foremost we haven't submitted to their religion, and our very existence is blasphemy to them. It is innately religious, not economic or political. The Germans enjoy economic benefits in having us stationed over there (protection, therefore less to spend on nat'l defense, not to mention the boost in economy from over 70,000 GIs spending their dollars), and therefore they don't want us to leave. Likewise, if religion had nothing to do with it, there wouldn't be that much trouble in Iraq right now. A conquered nation typically just makes the best of it...especially one so soundly defeated. And besides, given that (due to political pressures at home) we are making every effort to be 100% good guys and not take any "spoils of war", other than the fact that we are dogs to them, we'd be rather welcome in general, having freed the people from a dictator. And if you want to claim that America is stealing Iraq's oil, go look at the gas pump prices. I think it'd be nice if they did cut us a deal on cheap gas honestly because we spent a lot of money freeing them.

Why didn't the French rise up against us as we slowly trudged through their country fighting the Nazis? Why didn't they curse us, the occupiers, as we rolled into Paris? Because we liberated them.

That's why I think this is a purely religious thing. But for religion we'd have been welcomed. There are a lot of factors admittedly but I'd say nationalism is an excuse that is made for them by sympathizers...not their true motivation. Michael Moore had the ridiculous nerve to call them, these men who videotape themselves slicing the heads off of innocents, Minutemen...what a suet-filled blowhard that guy is. Maybe he empathizes with them, being haters of America as well as amateur filmmakers.

The Irascible Neufonzola said...

To steal from Limbaugh, its "Neufeld Echo Syndrome"!


Olly North has a well researched column on the striking similarities of our current conflict with WWII, specifically our conflict with Japan. Amazing to read this a day after I first started musing on the exact same subject. It is excellent, and drives home with a steam-powered mechanical hammer what I (in comparison) tried to tap in with a tiny little rubber mallet.

I don't think the major American misconception is that these people are all evil. I think the major American misconception is that this is something new that we haven't faced before. Solomon wrote that there's nothing new under the sun, and I believe it! Bushido or Jihad, its just about the same thing. And he makes a remark that I find poignant as well, and causes me to rethink my previous remarks. This ISN'T so much about religion. It is a race war executed with religious zeal, as North says. Just as it was in the early 40s...an effort to drive out a race esteemed as inferior. Oh well, enough chatter for now. This is the most discussion I've had on this arid expanse of solitude I call a blog in...ever!

Anonymous said...

Here are my responses to most of your last post.

1. A powerful state does not need to "occupy" foreign areas with troops to control them. A truly powerful state does so via economic and political manipulation. This is how the US "does business" with other states, and it is likely the easiest and most desirable means of domination. But it is still domination. A bloodless coup is still a coup.

2. I don't think OBL hates us; I think he hates our desire to dominate Muslim states and populations. I think that from his view the US can go on being infidel sinners so long as the US government and corporations release their hold on Muslim areas. This is a very common misconception amongst Americans. OBL is a power politician. Listen to what he says: he has offerred peace treaties to the west if the west were to remove its troops and in the newest tape he said "you undermine our security so we undermine yours."

3. I agree with your statement that many of the Iraqi Insurgents are those afraid of losing political power. But I also think that many Iraqis understand that a democracy highly resembling the US, created by the US, and protected by the US is unlikely to disagree or fight any US policy. Can the voices of the Iraqi people really be heard in this situation? Unlikely, and I think they know it. Right now it is illegal for the Iraqi Provisional Government to pass its own laws. No Iraqi government will have that power until at least 2006...3 years after the invasion. That seems to me a very nice time window for the US to solidify its position as the patron of future Iraqi policy.

4. So, yes, most Iraqis love the fact that the US rid them of Huessein. US dominance of Iraq would be much preferrable to any Iraqi not in the Hueseein government. We at least give them the chance to vote. But will the US control who is eligible to run for office? Will the US determine Iraqi foreign and domestic policy once the Iraqi National Assembly takes office? I think that both of those are highly likely.

5. All the attacks on Russia that you described were claimed by Chechen rebels. The Chechens have very few ties to al-Qaeda other than taking money. So few links, in fact, that even the Bush Admin. refuses to label them "terrorists." Or perhaps because Bush has no interest in taking control of Chechnya if the west and Russia were to win a war against their rebels. The Middle East would obviously be a much more lucrative "ally."

6. I think any person who wants to control a population in order to convert them into any specific religion is ridiculous. I use that word because people with that goal deserve to be ridiculed. Such a system would be highly damaging to the principles of liberty, equality, and opportunity that the US uses as its battle cry. The War of Religion has been contant throughout history. The sad thing is that I know many people who support Bush's policies because they want to convert the Muslims into Christians.

7. World opinion should matter to you. The US clearly wants to be leader of the world, and hopes to lead the world into a new era of human freedom. The problem is that you cannot lead without listening to the constituents. I think that the problem with the US population now is that most cannot remember a time when the US was not the world leader. This makes them think that the US is inherently right and good, and that nearly any policy that the US adopts is for the benefit of the world. The US seems to think that having the biggest stick on the block makes it right for them to impose their will on others.

8. Of course I want might to be on the side of the right. But that is not always the case. It seems to me that the right will be powerful due to the strength of its argument, not the strength of its stick. Again, this is where world opinion matters. I also agree with you that people of all cultures want the freedoms you described. I just question the validity of "freedom" and the US opposition to "group think" when we only get to choose between two presidential candidates whose policies are the same. Is that freedom or group think?

I think that the Bush Admin. is dangerously close to labelling anyone who disagrees with their policies as anti-American or anti-freedom. And, yes, I do think that our government attempts to control the lives of its population. They just do it quiety by limiting our choice. They let us choose between A, B, or C as long as A, B, and C are acceptable to them. You should read Animal Farm by Orwell.

I just wish more people would think for themselves. Whenever I go a mall I see a great many sheep. Buy more stuff. Support our troops. Don't let the fags marry. Pay your taxes. Don't do drugs, except alchohol...which the government can tax.

Drink your coffee? (ha ha, just a joke)


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Because of the increasing lengths of our posts, I'm liking this numbered point system...I haven't read your full post prior to responding (my brain can't process too much at a time) so I'll hit it as it comes...

1. Economic manipulation is a two-way street...you can't truly force someone to go your way that way...you make an offer and they accept or refuse. I think its entirely ethical for us to say, for example, you Arab states stop funding suicide bombers, or we start limiting our oil purchases and look elsewhere. Thats the free market in the world. Just as you can boycott Walmart if you don't like their ethics or what-have-you. A citizen boycott is fundamentally the same as what you call "economic manipulation". The UN putting sanctions on Saddam is the same, just like regulations on Indonesian exports due to human rights failings. Is it by nature ethical or unethical? I think in and of itself, "economic manipulation" is neither...it can be an instrument of either good or evil, like many things.

2. I don't buy that at all...his "conciliatory" appeals to Europe, in particular, for peace seem to me at least to be an attempt for a temporary ceasefire to regroup. He's still on the run...put it this way, we may not be doing everything perfectly, but we certainly are going after him and his group with a lot more ardency (if that is a word) than we used to. OBL doesn't strike me as a political leader...there is too much jihad in his blood...it'd be nice to sweep that under the rug, but there is something unique about that mindset, and I think he'd like to broker some semblance of peace. Put it this way, when he offers the olive branch, he has the advantage. If the Europeans accepted, he looks like a master statesman and no doubt he'd quickly be given a Nobel Peace Prize, and he gains time to regroup and reorganize (with this sort it is always a temporary peace...never a permanent one). If they denied, he looks like the one on the moral high ground, begging for a "reasonable" solution and compromise. Whereas in reality he is a murderer and a nutjob, and his days are numbered and shrinking, and I think he knows it.

3. The great thing about democracy is the people have the right to vote for whatever government they want. It seems those in opposition to democracy over there are in favour of just keeping the ethnic minority Sunnis in power and denying the majority of people any say. Sure, my cynical side thinks the "installed" government will be pro-US, definately...we'll enjoy that for a few years, and then the next elections will come (we'll probably be out by then) and they can decide to continue that way or not. Democracy is not a purely Western thing...I think its applicable and proper in any society. It doesn't have to be a US puppet government.

4. Again, could be, but only for a time. Like you've said, they don't want us to be there really and I dare say we don't want to be there either. As soon as the threat of a Ba'athist uprising and reacquisition of power fades, I think we'll be out of there. And then we'll have no control.

5. Chechen rebels are Muslim terrorists! They are innately tied with Al-Qaeda as well, in my opinion, and from what I have read. I know our gov't and our press tries to play them off as revolutionaries and rebels but I think they are also religiously motivated for the most part. Do I think Russia is right to go in? Ehh, well, maybe now that they've started hitting civilians regularly. I think its partly their fault, but now they've got to squash it completely, because I don't think caving to their demands will stop the violence...caving is percieved as weakness. Bush's interest in playing nice about Chechnya is all about diplomacy. We aren't exactly on good terms with their current retro-Soviet gov't and they haven't exactly backed us up at the UN, so I think Bush is not exactly going to leap to Russia's defense. I still think 50+ years of Soviet-Western angst hasn't totally faded away. I was hopeful that in light of the attacks in Beslan Russia would start cooperating more with the West but I think they have actually been driven more inward and are ever distrustful. Not that that is much of a change, given our historical relationship. Hehe, Patton wanted to finish the Reds off right after we took out Germany...since we had the army over there already!

6. What a weird idea. I don't know anyone who believes that, personally or in government. Well, Ann Coulter made a crazy statement about invading countries, deposing governments and converting them to Christianity, but I think that was more of a "say something fiery and controversial" in the wake of 9/11. Something for rednecks to guffaw about basically. But yes, I think that is worthy of ridicule to!

7. I don't think there is a "world leader". We have not been elected by anyone to lead them, so we have no obligation to follow any constituency. Countries have the right to do what they choose to do, and accept consequences good or bad. I'm not huge on interventionism, but I am in the interests of national security. I think the only obligation our government has...the ONLY one...is to its people. Not to any other group of people in the world. Frenchmen don't fill out income tax forms to send to the U.S. IRS...and therefore, they have no say in our government. We paid for it, so we decide its policies. As for caring what the world thinks, ehh, we can agree to disagree on that. I think its worth listening to and considering, but the only criteria for making a government decision I'm interested in is the welfare and interests of the American people...not the latest breeze of popular thought to waft over from Paris.

8. Strength of argument is definately good...but in an imperfect, real world, doesn't hold a lot of water. Churchill could make logical speeches to the Nazis all day long but that wasn't about to stop them from Operation Sea Lion. You have to back it up with the strength of the stick. Our nation's first president said "If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war." It's a cliche but "peace through strength" is a very logical concept. Do you think the world would have been a utopia if we had not actually engaged in the arms race with the Soviets? If we stopped developing nuclear weapons but let them do so? What would have deterred them from using them to expand their empire? A sense of social conscience?

As for only having two major candidates...there were a lot of fundamental differences between Kerry and Bush. The problem is both of them were "campaigning". Bush isn't really a hardline conservative...he's signed a lot of legislation the Democrats have been talking about for 40 years (rx drugs, education, etc). But Kerry was striking...a complete dove on foreign policy BY HIS VOTING RECORD. However, he campaigned as a conservative. I imagine true liberals were very frustrated by that...and I genuinely sympathize. I wanted to see Dean win the primary. I thought he was a nutjob, but an intellectually honest nutjob. He said what he believed. Kerry was groomed and handled into being this vague, anti-Bush candidate who ended up arguing for the same things "just done better". He really was an awful candidate. I respected Dean...not Kerry though. As a liberal, what can I say...its your party, take it back. And you can vote for the third parties...they just tend to lose. Its not a fundamental unfairness or anything, its just how democracy works. Minorities don't tend to have the rule over majorities. The unfairness that minorities perceive here is best remedied by federalism, of which I am an avowed proponent. Scale back the federal government significantly and let the states make their own decisions. I don't care if Massachussetts wants gay marriage, let them. I think it should be a decision made by the people (or at least the people's appointed legislature) and not by unelected, unaccountable judges. The polls indicate a general mood of Americans that they don't hate gays and think they are free to live as they please, but the majority still sees marriage as strictly defined. Three people can't marry, for example. Its an issue of definition for me, but thats an entirely different issue. It brings up moral relativity, and my main problem is that people arguing for gay marriage will say that morality is relative, but still draw arbitrary moral lines on more "repugnant" practices. Its something I've gone into many times before and I don't have the time right now, nor do I wish to divert the topic.

I don't think anyone called anyone anti-American or anti-freedom. You could say on either side that a position is either in America's interest or not in America's interest (ie., pro or anti America), like you could say on either side that a position was for or against freedom and liberty in general. I've certainly born a lot of insults implying I am "anti-freedom" from the gay marriage lobby! The Left keeps trumpeting that there is this "atmosphere of fear" the Bush administration has caused...something more based in their overactive and self-righteous imagination than in reality. For example, actors-turned-political-activists such as Tim Robbins whining about how they endure hardship for speaking their minds. The Bush admin has nothing to do with this, its just people (us hillbilly red-staters no doubt) having a dislike to their ignorant rhetoric and refusing to watch their movies or whatever. Nothing to do with "censorship" or any of that rot. As for government control, I'm all for limiting it! Like I said, I'm rather a libertarian. Liberals have traditionally been the big government...dare I say, Big Brother, party.

And yes, I've read Animal Farm. Orwell is great. The irony is both sides of the intellectual spectrum think it is a biting critique of their opponents. Animal Farm was probably written more about socialism/communism, given its historical context...but its applicability is broad. As with 1984.

And I see sheep too...MTV, Rock the Vote, etc. I definately respect more extreme liberals such as yourself who at least have the honesty to admit that Kerry wasn't really their guy than those young, ignorant, unthinking morons who showed up at rallies to "rock the vote" whatever the crap that meant. Its insulting how the Left takes certain voting blocks for granted...blacks and youth, typically. A young black person voting for Bush? In their world there is something wrong with that person!

And yes, I've got my coffee back. Thank heavens. It was a long week. It's not really caffeine, I never notice a caffeine effect, I more just fancy the taste, especially as it gets colder.

Anonymous said...

I agree that these posts are getting too long. Maybe you should start another thread. I usually write these while sitting in classrooms, and school computers are usually so slow that it takes quite awhile to bring up a post that has 20 comments attached. Just a thought...

There are a few funny things about these posts. The first is that I don't feel like I need to explain my position anymore, offer evidence to support it, or ask for your response. These have pretty much been going in circles, as net conversations tend to do ad infinitum. I really don't see much point in continuing the argument until we have a few days to discuss it.

Clearly, my opinion is that fighting and manipulation are used by organized governments and decentralized terrorists to achieve their goals. I just don't think that there is much difference. Of course some wars are justified, but those instances are extremely rare. These instances seem to only occur when one state is willing to pursue its greed regardless of the destructive consequences that the rest of the world is willing to accept. This is how the vast majority of free peoples have chosen to cage Hitler, Stalin, and even Huessein. I am afraid, though, that the US is on the path to this level of greed.

And when you say that bin Laden shouldn't be construed as a statesman because he offers a peace when fully willing to go to war...well, then that should also apply to George Bush. Bush offered peace to Iraq if Hussein would leave the country, but had been preparing that invasion since 2001. True, bin Laden uses religion to justify his actions, and that is ridiculous. But I think he knows that he could never muster the support he needs without invoking Allah and the 72 friendlies. Honestly, though, I think that the US uses American-style freedom as its mustering religion and "serving your country" as its 72.

I don't think that 3rd parties lose because they can't get votes. I think it goes a lot deeper than that, but then again I have studied several 3rd parties in my time as a history major. It seems that every time a 3rd party begins to grow in the US, the major two parties collude to undermine and eventually destroy it. But we can talk about that a lot more later.

The thing I loved most about Animal Farm is that the revolutionaries, full of optimism and the will to create a utopia, are slowly but eventually led into being exactly what they previously overthrew. What makes it even better is that the "people" are convinced of their intrinsic roles and are made slaves through their dedication. Clearly, it was aimed at Stalin and the Soviet Union. But I think it is also applicable to the United States, although to a lesser extent.

Oh well, I didn't intend for this post to get this long. You should see the class I am subbing for right now. They are currently debating the extent to which a girl is "a real mexican." This can be a depressing job at times.


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

I agree, much regurgitation of viewpoints has gone on on both sides...I'm not really trying to convince you of anything, because I've realized that for people with the depth of our convictions, its virtually impossible to "reason" someone into accepting your viewpoint. The thing I've tried to do with most liberals I "debate" with is just sort of explain the viewpoint to the point that it may not be shared, necessarily, but at least it is understood. A lot of liberals just like to cry "bigot" and avoid discussing the issues entirely.

Pardon me if you don't like the title "liberal" for various reasons...I'm not trying to pigeonhole you as you have some unique views that defy categorization...some that even the most rabidly Left-leaning politicians would never voice out of fear of political suicide, lol. Likewise I flirt with libertarianism. Not that this is any consolation for your dissatisfaction with the Dems, but I understand your sentiments as the current crop of Republicans are hardly conservative in anything but foreign policy. Bush's leaps to the Left have befuddled and frustrated a lot of us on the Right. A lot of lib pundits have tried to snipe Bush on that, but its disingenuous coming from them, who laud every Dem-proposed spending bill as a marvellous feat of our legislature.

The use of the word "greed" pops up a lot. Its a dangerous word because it can be applied so inconsistently. The thing to realize is that humans by nature are not selfless, and you could make the argument (I'm not saying this is the case, but the case could be made) that all actions are selfish in some way. Greed is selfishness. You could say just about anything was motivated by "greed". To say that self-interest is an invalid or immoral motivation, well, that invalidates just about every action you and I take (from a certain perspective). It's really weird because the idea of selflessness being a virtue is a very, very Christian ideology, whereas humanism/atheism seems to (I'm not a philosophy major, just an amateur) suggest a more cynical side of things...that there is no true selfless action, and that that is not to be condemned. I'm wavering on the edge of moral relativism which is an expressway to a REALLY long post, so I'll inch back. But suffice to say, condemning "greed" in reference to Big America and Big Evil White Corporations without condemning personal, individual greed...and I mean more than money here...is in my mind inconsistent.

As for OBL, I don't know if he's the master politician or just the lunatic mass murderer he is most often portrayed as. Maybe we'll find out for certain someday. Although its quite fashionable to be cynical (and assume that he isn't simply the barbarous religious warrior the administration says he is), I wouldn't discount the simple explanation either. I just read a good deal on David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) and there's not really a whole lot to read into him...sometimes one can do them unwarranted favours by trying to rationalize their actions or give excuses. I don't see anything more justifiable in OBL than in any serial killer. He's not fighting for a country or anything...that's another reason I see him as motivated by religion.

3rd parties influence a lot, though. You could say they cost the republicans the elections in 92 and MAYBE 96 (I forgot the figures, maybe it wasn't that close) and the dems in '00. Although parties shift and change. The current Democrat party could very well be going the way of the Whigs (in a long term sense), and in their place, it would be interesting to think...would the party be more socialist and Left, or more moderate, ie., FDR style, pre 60's Democrats?

Part of my continuing education on such issues is my ravenous appetite for columns. I would say my favorite columnist is Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post, a thoroughly brilliant man, especially on foreign policy issues. For more of the political side of things, Peggy Noonan is as brilliant as anyone, with a soft, cool insight, as opposed to Ann Coulter's incisive rhetoric and one-liners. Noonan is more political analysis and insight as opposed to partisan sniping and humour. Coulter reminds me much of Maureen Dowd, and while Coulter makes some devastatingly good points, and is by no means anything but a very bright person, she is just too belittling and affrontive to persuade anyone but the "converted". But one of my favorite writers in terms of general conservatism vs. liberalism is Jonah Goldberg who writes for National Review Online. Younger guy, his stuff reads well, very entertaining, and also a great source of insight and reflection on ideology and such. And last but not least, the great Walter E. Williams, an economy professor, is easily one of the most understandable, funny, and sensible teachers of economic theory, and he has some pretty interesting things to say about race relations as well.

Notwithstanding I do read some Lefties too, just to balance out. Dowd, Clift, Alter, Krugman, Helen Thomas, etc. You have to keep stride with what the other side is saying. And in that spirit, lol, I'd recommend my aforementioned favorite columnists to you (Noonan, Krauthammer, Williams, Goldberg). While I doubt you'll scratch your head and say, "hey, these guys are RIGHT!!!" it might at least make me into less of a bogeyman, hehe. For some reason, given that we've chatted about economic issues, I'd recommend Walter Williams most...he's just so funny, first off (and a good radio host) and his economic theories have a brazen honesty that might seem extreme but...well, I don't know. If you get bored!

Substitute teaching...egads. Well, you got to do what pays the bills, I suppose! Most people think of the phrase "children are the future" as a somewhat sunny and optimistic phrase, which to this cynical old curmudgeon is a bit comic.

Anonymous said...

I don't read many columns. I get most of my news from various associated press sources. The thing I don't like about columns is that they express a lot of opinion instead of focusing on reporting facts. That is fine for entertainment, but if you want to know what is happening you should try to weed out opinions from facts. I mean, I read and watch a lot of comedy that is loosely based on facts, but I still realize that it is comedy. Another problem with lots of columns is that they are argumentative....they try to convince you of something. Again, opinion plays a large part. I am very wary of being bombarded by opinions that many regard as facts, but maybe that is the history major/researcher in me. I always try to find my own answers.

I would define greed as the personal desire to want more of something that you don't NEED for everyday survival. Especially when you consciously know that your greed is dependent upon the manipulation or deprivation of other people's survival needs. In other words, you are greedy when you are willing to hurt other people/things in order to get what you want simply because you want it. Hopefully that makes sense.

Just because bin Laden doesn't lead a state does not exclude him from being a politician. That would mean that Howard Dean or anyone else who ran for office but lost is not a "real politician." To me, a politician is somebody who watches what they say and do very closely because they are attempted to convince the masses to accept their opinions and policies.

I don't care about being called liberal or conservative. That is up to other people, which I have no control over, so is not worth the effort of worrying about. I would say I am much more balanced than you think, its just that you've chosen topics that I am pretty liberal on. In one of his comedy pieces, Chris Rock said: "Anyone who says they are a liberal if a fucking moron. Anyone who says they are conservative is a fucking moron. Anybody who makes up their mind before they hear the issue is a fool." I am inclined to agree.

Oh well. I guess in the end I just want the world to get better. I realize that a utopic, peaceful world free from war is not likely in my lifetime. I don't think I will ever see a William Morris world. I do not think that the key to eliminating war is getting rid of enemies or weapons, but has a lot more to do with shifting the way people percieve the world and themselves. This is why I want to teach.

And, if you are that pessimistic about the future generations, you should watch the Breakfast Club. Great movie. Somewhere in there, a very cynical teacher says he is afraid of the future because the moron students he sees every day will be running the world. I say don't worry. The non-thinkers that dominate the high schools will end up in retail and labor jobs....it is the top 1% of honors students that will end up running the world. How's that for optimism?


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Responding paragraph by paragraph...I'm just not organized mentally enough.

As for columns, I view them as entertainment innately...I enjoy the heated exchange of views and as a lover of writing, I enjoy a persuasive and well worded piece as much as the next guy. Peggy Noonan used to be a Reagan speechwriter...and say what you will, the man was good with words. So reading her writing is a little like listening to a fine violinist. Words are her medium, and its art. I don't get my views from columns, but reading both sides of a heated argument provokes a lot of thought on the issues and helps me come to my own conclusions. But ultimately, its entertainment.

The greed issue...your definition is interesting because it becomes entirely dependent one your definition of need! If desire beyond need equals greed, then where do you draw the line at need? What is "personal survival"? 99.9% of things purchased in America are not needed for survival. Over half of the world's population lives on less than 2 USD a day...and while many starve or die of illness, many of those people in such poverty will live to an old age. So is wanting anything above their standard of living "greed" and therefore immoral? It's interesting to think about. No one needs a car, or decent clothes, or even a normal American house to survive. Lol, in SoCal you barely need clothes or a house at all given the weather. Here is what people mean by "what you need to survive" all to often...what you need to maintain a given standard of living. Who defines that?

You could call him a politician I guess, but I'm just a traditionalist I suppose in my definitions...Dean (besides already being a governor) was running for political office...it doesn't necessarily mean you have to win. Whether this is narrow-minded or not, I think of politicians as a certain breed, especially in democracies, who run for government office via elections, ie. appointed officials and dictatorial despots would not really qualify. Unelected officials and dictators don't have to run around kissing babies...politicians do. That's just how I define them in my head, at least. I forget why this was a dispute...

Liberal and conservative labels are highly misleading. It can mean so many different things. In abortion rights the Left is conservative (seeking to avoid the erosion of Roe v Wade) and the Right is progressive, seeking change. In many senses I am a liberal in that I believe in personal freedom and a small government that does not rule the lives of its constituents. I call myself a federalist mainly...a classical liberal, you could say. I'm somewhat indifferent about the major cultural issues...if a state wants to legalize drugs or gay marriage, I think it is their prerogative...likewise for outlawing it. I think people have a right to choose their government, and if the federal gov't would lax off a bit, and let the blue states have their drugs/gay marriage/whatever and let the red states retain their stricter, conservative law, a LOT more people would be satisfied. That's the beauty of states rights...you don't have to agree on everything...51% can't impose their will on 49% as much. Additionally, I find a lot of people (not all) who call themselves independents or moderates to be possessed by a certain narcissism...they like to think of themselves as the free-thinking intellectual who rises above partisanship and makes the truly rational, independent decision. I find a lot of times those people are just choosing from a grab bag of ideas, whatever sounds good to their ears at the time. I respect liberals for at least having a relatively consistent philosophy behind their issues...it may be a derivative of Marxism, but still, its a consistent philosophy, not just a jumbled mishmash of whatever positions are most en vogue at the time. I for example, as a states-rightser, sometimes have to support decisions that I personally don't really agree with. For example, I would support California's right to legalize pot. I wouldn't vote for it as a Californian but as a Missourian, I would not want the federal gov't stepping in to change things. Just as if Massachussets voted (not ruled...I despise judicial legislation) to legalise gay marriage, I would not want the federal gov't stepping in to change that either. That's why I'm not really big on the FMA...I see its purpose as a counterpoint to activist courts, but I despise it as yet another blow to federalism and states rights. I would prefer an amendment to restrict the powers that have been hijacked by unelected judges. So sometimes it costs to have a consistent viewpoint. I see too many people who make decisions on the surface value...what seems right to them. They never really consider government from a philisophical standpoint. And no disrespect to Chris Rock's comic prowess, but that was a comedy routine? I'm not a party man and I have my share of differences with the current GOP, but because I've come to a point in my life when I understand my political beliefs more that I ever have, and while the titles "liberal" and "conservative" are limited and sometimes misleading, as it is popularly used, I recognize I'm a conservative in many ways and my recognition of that isn't moronic...its observant.

Now its my turn to be the cynic. I don't think the world has ever seen peace or ever will see it in its current state...I could go into my religious beliefs but I don't want to broadcast those in the same context. But to boil it down, as a Christian, I believe that the sin nature all men and women are born with is what stands between us and the perfect, peace-filled utopia people dream of. But that's a whole other issue. If I was to put on an atheist hat and temporarily ignore my religious beliefs I would say, no, you'll never see a world without war in your lifetime or any other lifetime...as long as there are humans, there will be war. And again, as George Washington said, the best way to avoid war is to be known to be prepared for it. It makes perfect sense! To quote from Dr. Strangelove, deterrence is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy the fear to attack. Wouldn't it be lovely if our soldiers carried tulips instead of rifles...but to all but the most blind optimists, thats a recipe for disaster.

I'm really not that pessimistic I suppose, regarding future generations. I think the education system has deteriorated into abject failure...OK, that's a bit pessimistic, but I wish more students today knew more about US history. Geez, I wish *I* was taught more about it. Recalling the boring, politically correct gibberish in my high school history text...well, the idea of multiculturalism and similar concepts brings up a whole other issue...I recall that there were sections in each chapter that were specific to either women or minorities during that period. Yes, the liberal uberclass is extending a hand of friendship and a historical leg-up to the weak and pathetic minorities and women of history. Why do you need a special section for them? Report history as it happened...don't whitewash it or write into it in the interest of "diversity" or whatever political motivation you have. Sorry, off topic rant...that incited some old irritation I had forgotten as its been a long time since I had to read a biased history book. Well, aside from Ann Coulter's book on McCarthy! ;)

Anonymous said...

I am trying to shorten these posts down, so here is what I think of your stuff paragraph by paragraph.

As I have said, I don't consistently read columns by certain writers. I regard your idea of the "heated argument" as an oxy-moron. Arguments only become "heated" when they become emotional. At that point the conversation ceases to be based in logic and it spirals into the slush of unexpressed emotion. If it keeps proceeding in that direction, the conversation will end in "fuck off", "i hate...", or "that's stupid." This is not logical argument; it is emotional purging. The problem is that most people do not know the difference, and have never been trained in to how to create a good and valid argument.

I would define "needs of survival" as having a home (with electricity, kitchen, toilet, and shower), food, water, air, and some type of job that pays enough income to provide reliable access to the above. I understand that the vast majority of things that Americans buy are not needed, that is why we call it a Consumer Culture. And I would define greed as the pursuit of this consumerism with the knowledge of and apathy toward the manipulation and deprivation of other people that is its result. And the more willing you are to hurt other people to get the things you want, well then the more greedy you are. I don't see how it can be much simpler than that.

Well, my definition of politician purposefully includes everybody. We all practice politics to get what we want. Everybody at some point pretends to be someone they aren't or says unoffensive things to bosses in order to move further up the ladder. I am not claiming to be exempt...I just filled out four applications to Graduate School. And yes, all people demonize their opponents in a political move to justify their criticisms. Bin Laden is a very easy one to demonize due to his willingness to kill lots of people to get what he wants. I am just saying that you should put other leaders up to that measuring stick...see how much death has been caused by elected officials in order to get what they want. Pretty sick world we live in, isn't it?

Like I said before, I don't care about the labels. People can call me whatever they want. I would also tend to agree with you on the state's rights issue, as long as a state does not attempt to enact laws that disenfranchise this statement: "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men (currently changed to "people") are created equal and as such have the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Making gay marriage illegal would seem, to me, to fly in the face of such rights. Making certain drugs illegal, to me, is permissable because the masses are too stupid to use drugs responsibly. If people could use cocaine or heroin without being dangerous to the rest of society, then they should be legalized. Unfortunately, there are legal drugs in our society that cause mass public danger...alchohol being the best example.

Chris Rock's quote wasn't intended to slam observant people, but to do the opposite. He intended to call out all those unthinking drones out there who take a certain stance on an issue simply because it is argued by a certain political party. Do you know any republicans that support the legalization of marijuana? Do you know any democrats that support the death penalty? That is what Chris Rock was talking about. When seeing his comedy from that perspective, it becomes obvious (to me) that he is rewarding those that are observant.

I agree that I am unlikely to see a time when there is no war. I would disagree, though, that war will exist as long as humans exist. I would argue instead that the goal is within reach if we can begin to understand how dependent we are upon eachother and how important life is. To me, this will require a HUGE shift in the way people view the world, their role in it, and their needs for sustained life. I feel distressed on a daily basis because these ideas are not at all what are being taught in the educational, political, legal, social, or international systems. I think children, and most people at large, are being taught that their insatible greed is fully justified and will somehow make them feel like a complete person. This seems to be a poor argument because the person who contantly wants more can never be satisfied.

Avoiding war by preparing for it has been proven wrong. If that axiom were true, then the US would never have to worry about facing any type of attack. The US is now more prepared for any type of war/attack than any state or society in human history...yet the US government can also be taken among the most paranoid and aggressive. And if the axiom were true, then it could be logically argued that every state has the right and the full justification to be armed just as highly as the US. That would be the axiom's ideal of the perfect avoidance of war. Not a world in which I would hope to live.

As for history teaching, I agree that the past is past and should be studied. That seems obvious, since I am pursuing the paths set up to get me into teaching history. I think that the argument in favor of minority history is that younger students will not care to read/learn about people and decisions they feel no connection to. I would advocate instead for those students to find their own truths. There is a reason that most things taught in high schools and lower college courses are referred to as "mainstream history."


The Irascible Neufonzola said...

Nuts, I just lost a very amount of text...I resume the next day to restart my reply. Likewise, paragraph by paragraph...its about all my comp sci brain can handle. A nice parsing algorithm, so to speak. I wish I hadn't lost this first paragraph, as I no doubt put it better last night than I could ever aspire to this dismal Thursday morning...the blood vessels to my brain are still somewhat iced over. But regarding the alleged oxymoron "heated argument", I think that "heat" aka zeal, enthusiasm, spirit, etc. and logic are not mutually exclusive necessarily. If a person can't remain logical when they feel strongly about something (all too common) then it is their flaw. It doesn't mean a passionate argument is an illogical one. I think passion and logic are at their highest degree of effectiveness when they are woven together symbiotically. It doesn't have to degenerate into an "f off" fest. Trust me, if I have a leaning or a fault, its to the logical side. I have to work to add a bit of zest/gusto/enthusiasm to my writing, because few people would be very interested in reading my writings otherwise. Not that many are anyway! But I see your point, and believe me, I've got my share of disgust at the illogical, shallow-minded screamers on both sides. I waged a huge battle of rhetoric throughout election season on another political blog frequented by teens and such, and my Lord that was a desert of rational thought. But regarding columnists, the ones I've listed are my favourites, and being quite left-brained myself, I tend to favour those that lean more to the logic side than the emotive side. Jonah Goldberg and Walter Williams are quite logical and enlightening, and Williams had a bit to do with the development of my near-libertarian views. Krauthammer and Noonan (her especially) on the other hand have more of a gift to weave powerful emotions into their work without resorting to an abandonment of logic. When you don't sacrifice one for the other you can have highly effective writing. But thats just me...I am entertained by it, most people my age would rather watch reality TV...but as for me, I savour Thursday and Friday mornings Noonan/Krauthammer columns. I know, a bit weird.

As for "needs of survival", why do you consider electricity, a shower, a modern kitchen, and a toilet needs of survival? Millions/billions live today without these amenities and survive against the odds. Our ancestors lived without them a few centuries past. Kings and emperors lived without the basic needs of survival you list. It seems your "needs of survival" are much closer to "needs to maintain a certain arbitrarily-fixed standard of living with which I am comfortable". And as for the greed argument, if you approach from a logical perspective (as opposed to the rather hysterical perspective of reflexively blaming spoiled fat Americans and evil corporate white guys who forcefeed them Big Macs for the world's ills, which I might point out long predated this country) you could argue quite cynically that greed thus defined is just about the only motivation any of us have...an innate selfishness. When you accepted a job you potentially deprived a needier person the opportunity to work. When you deposit a tax refund check you place a heavier burden on other taxpayers...who, surprisingly enough, aren't all evil white corporate guys. When you eat a snack after you get home from work, the food you are eating that is nutritionally unnecessary to you could be nourishing a starving child on the brink of death. Basically, I'm saying that the evils of "greed" could logically be argued into just about any action you take, so it loses its effectiveness as an argument.

I'm going to break free from the paragraph-by-paragraph form here for the sake of brevity (that's a laugh). Addressing your points on Washington's quote (be prepared for war to avoid it) first off. You say it has been proven wrong by the fact that we have been embroiled in various wars in our history. Citing the historical occurences of wars is an imperfect method of proving your point, because while you can say with certainty which wars did occur, neither of us really know what wars have been avoided. Although Korea and Vietnam were by no means cakewalks and were horrific, drawn out wars, what would they have been in comparison with a confrontation with the USSR? Or more currently, a direct confrontation with China (soldiers coming across the border into N. Korea doesn't count really)? What prevented a nuclear holocaust? I believe it was detente, and though we are brainwashed into shuddering at the thought of "the arms race", it was because we represented a mutual threat to them that Western Europe wasn't overrun by the Soviets. If we didn't have a presence in Western Europe, do you think the paltry, tired, and wounded armies of France, Germany, and the UK could have stopped the Red Tide? Of course not. And can you think of one reason the Soviets never used nuclear weapons besides the threat of retaliatory strikes? Out of concern for appearing "nice"? Hardly.

On to gay marriage and legalisation of drugs. In the interest of full disclosure, here are my positions...I would vote for a local ban on gay marriages, and a local ban on drugs. I would not support a federal ban of either. That said...my views don't really matter. I had this discussion with Lisa before on her blog. Basically, there are two ways gay marriage is opposed...the moral argument and the definition argument. I don't think the moral argument ("it's just WRONG!") is logical and I don't use it. The definition argument, that it contradicts the meaning of "marriage", is what I would side with. Let's just say the accepted current definition of marriage is "the union of two adult humans of opposite gender". You want to amend the last part, to take out "of opposite gender". If that is the case, and this is a genuine question, not just a simple minded slippery slope argument, but would you allow changing any other of the words? Could three gay men marry? Would you deny them the right to do so? If so, on what grounds? Could a man and his pet fish marry? Etc etc etc. I'm not being facetious...if you want to make the argument for gay marriage by claiming that the definition is relative, then there is no way for you to oppose further redefinition. It's often a case of relative morality half-applied...morality is considered relative up to a certain (again) arbitrarily-fixed point where it becomes absolute truth. Most people have visceral reactions to necrophilia, bestiality, etc., and will say that those things are "just wrong". It is intellectually inconsistent.

And as for drugs...well, again, I think states should have that right to allow or disallow it. My personal opposition to legalisation would be again on grounds of safety. I grant you the abuse of alcohol poses a numerically more lethal danger, but keep in mind its abuse is so much more prevalent...if you could buy crack as readily, legally, and cheaply as vodka you'd probably see a substantial increase in health-related issues. I'd rather be on the road with a man who has downed one pint of ale than a man who has taken one snort of cocaine, personally. And if states want to impose prohibition, fair enough. I don't think a federal one worked very well, but again, state's rights seems to solve a myriad of potential problems. People can move to states where the laws reflect their values...the maximum number of people can be contented with their government. As silly as this sounds, that was kind of an abbreviated version, especially with regard to moral relativity, but hey, there you go.

And regarding history as a self-esteem/motivating tool, I may be an old curmudgeon for saying so, but I don't think students should be taught to focus on their own ethnicity and skin colour. Saying to them, "look, you're not so bad, other brown people were successful!" sends absolutely the wrong message. The best thing to do is to go colour-blind and realize it just doesn't matter. It may matter to some old, dying breeds who foolishly cling to racist views but to the new generations, it doesn't have to matter. We should stop saying "have pride in your race" because that was exactly the problem with the KKK. That is my principle beef with multiculturalism...on the surface it is well meaning but in its celebration of skin colour it is as purely racist as, well, Robert Byrd. You notice they don't have "Green-Eyed Person History Month". Why does skin pigmentation mean more than eye pigmentation?

Anyway, enough for now, I've gotten busy again. Have a nice day!