Sunday, July 30, 2006

OT: Everybody Is Kung-Fu Fighting

I don't know if this has been widely noticed, but there seems to be a strange new trend in punditry: pundits claiming that, by writing in support of a war, they are in fact brave strong warriors. To wit:

Clifford May(former New York Times reporter): "There is a war of arms. And there is a war of ideas. They are not just inter-related, they are interdependent. They are equally consequential. ... Let’s take just one example: In the 1930s, Churchill fought a war of ideas. He tried to warn the world about Hitler; tried to warn Europe and America that Hitler’s hatred and ambition had to be checked. But most people did not listen. Churchill’s ideas did not prevail. They called Churchill a “war monger.” ... So yes, Kathryn, you are fighting a war. And your e-mailer is ignorant about how wars are fought, about how wars are won and lost, and about the way the world actually works. "

Hugh Hewitt (possibly the world's dumbest talk-radio host): " I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago."

Mark Steyn: "In fact, the notion that “fighting” a war is the monopoly of those 'in uniform' gets to the heart of why America and its allies are having such a difficult time in the present struggle."
And, earlier: "I don’t particularly like journalism. I don’t particularly like writing newspaper columns. I’m sick of having to make what I think should be an obvious case again and again and again. And I’d much rather pack it in and sit on my porch in New Hampshire and enjoy the view of the mountains. But I do it because I want us to win."

This trend doesn't require much analysis; as someone else pointed out on a board, it's part of a general attempt to turn a policy dispute (is a war a good or bad policy) into a matter of courage and will-power -- meaning, if you think a war is a good policy you instantly become a superior person. It's a way of blaming the loss of a war not on the people who start it, but the people who oppose it as bad policy. Neat trick, that.

Or as Glenn Greenwald puts it: "Chicken-hawkism is the belief that advocating a war from afar is a sign of personal courage and strength, and that opposing a war from afar is a sign of personal cowardice and weakness. A "chicken hawk" is someone who not merely advocates a war, but believes that their advocacy is proof of the courage which those who will actually fight the war in combat require."

Also, note how many of these pundits compare the current situation to World War II: you can guarantee that any dictator anywhere will be compared to Hitler, anyone who wants to kill a lot of people right now will be compared to Churchill, and anyone who wants to, say, wait a week before killing a lot of people will be compared to Chamberlain. I have no idea where this WWII obsession comes from -- maybe it's a holdover from the '90s "Greatest Generation" craze -- but it's far more tiresome and pointless than those who are obsessed with Vietnam.

24 comments:

Mister G. said...

In a democracy the military to some degree depends on the support, morale and fortitude of the civilian population for it's success. That seems to be the point that Clifford May and Mark Steyn are making. That is not controversial, that's common sense. Surely someone smarter than Hugh Hewett is capable of understanding that.
Liberal opponents of the war often whine in the absence of any evidence that their their courage or patriotism has been questioned the moment their positions are challenged. It's a dodge. So is the chickenhawk charge.
If you have something constructive to add to the debate on how best to defeat our common enemy, that's great. Be prepared to defend yourself and please do it without resorting to cheap tricks that are intended to do nothing but shut down debate by attacking a persons character instead of his ideas.
You have claimed on several occasions that entertainment writers make lousy political commentators. What make you think that you are an exception to your own rule?

Paul Denton said...

You'd better not let slip to too many compatriots that you believe those who merely "write in support" of a cause, at some distance from immediate personal danger, aren't quite as heroic as they imagine. It'd just break the little hearts of those Brave Dissenters who daily congratulate themselves for Speaking Truth to the Fascist Chimpy McBushitlerian Amerikkkan Oilocratic Regime, y'know?

Hyperbole is everywhere. Oddly enough, it always seems to be worse in the other side's rhetoric, exactly where you're looking for it...

Jaime J. Weinman said...

It'd just break the little hearts of those Brave Dissenters who daily congratulate themselves for Speaking Truth to the Fascist Chimpy McBushitlerian Amerikkkan Oilocratic Regime, y'know?

Paul, does anybody on the left actually use any of those terms? The only people I've ever seen use the term "Bushitler" are on the right. Sort of like the way the spelling "womyn" is only used by people attacking feminism, not actual feminists.

mister g. wrote:

In a democracy the military to some degree depends on the support, morale and fortitude of the civilian population for it's success. That seems to be the point that Clifford May and Mark Steyn are making. That is not controversial, that's common sense.

It's common sense to say that a war cannot succeed unless the civilian population supports it. What is disgusting is the attempt to turn support of a war into a morally superior position. There is no "fortitude" involved in supporting a war. Making and continuing war is a policy choice and there is no moral superiority whatever in supporting the policy you think is better.

Of course some of this "fortitude" and "morale" talk is simply meant to elide issues of policy altogether: the person who considers a war to be bad policy is now showing a lack of fortitude and will-power. It's a cheap dodge because it turns a policy argument into an argument about things that are relevant to soldiers but not civilians (soldiers are supposed to keep fighting even when all seems lost; civilians are supposed to judge a war on cost-benefit terms -- that's part of the point of civilian control of the military).

If you have something constructive to add to the debate on how best to defeat our common enemy, that's great.

Well, ditching the deranged genocide talk would definitely help. I have no desire to talk about "defeating our common enemy" as long as "victory" seems to be defined as synonymous with killing as many people as possible.

Jaime J. Weinman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mister G. said...

Of course it take fortitude for civilians to support a difficult war when it is their fathers, mother, brothers,sisters, husbands, wives friends etc. that might be coming home in body bags. If you can't recognise that basic human reality then you should stick to writing about bugs bunny.
Here's how I see it:
If an individual supported the war when it seemed like it was going to be easy only to get cold feet when things got tough, I would say that demonstrates among other things, a lack of fortitude.
In the case of national politians who voted for war out of political expedience only to withdraw support based on the same cynical political calculus, I would say much worse.
To claim that someone lacks fortitude for failing to support a war that he never supported to begin with would be silly and I'm not aware of anyone who has done it. The quotes that you provided don't back up the claim. It just sounds like another liberal straw man designed to shield liberals from legitimate lines of criticism.
Soldiers sometimes keep fighting when all seems lost, sometimes they retreat, or surrender. What they are supposed to do depends on the circumstances.
Civilians are supposed to make sober and mature judgements about war and never commit our troops to combat unless they are in it to win because otherwise they are just throwing precious lives away.
The United States has the military power to defeat any enemy, anywhere, anytime. The only thing that can stop them is the will or lack thereof, of the American people and that's the real question. Can we bring ourselves to do what it takes to win?
I don't know what to make of your last paragraph. Am I supposed to speak for Rush Limbaugh? He doesn't need my help but I'll say this:
Civilian are being killed in Lebanon because Hezbollah refuses to allow them to leave the battle areas. Who's fault is it when they die?
Cowards that they are, Hezbollah fighters hide behind women and childen in the hope that Israel won't fire back or if they do that the dead civilians will be useful for propaganda. So far it appears that they have been pretty useful.
It's a difficult position for the Israeli's to be in but what would you do if you were king of Israel for a day? You left Gaza, you left Lebanon and the attacks keep coming. Now what?
Does Israel have the same right of self defense as any other Nation.
Does it have a right to exist? I say yes, some say no. What do you say?
Lets be clear. Hezbollah is a private freelance terrorist army whose purpose is the destruction of Israel. They have no right to attack a sovereign country from the territory of another sovereign country and in fact no right to exist at all.
I think that the answer is that Israel has to wipe out Hezbollah if it's ever going to have peace and unfortunately, innocent civilians will be killed in the process.
That's cold hard reality and recognizing it doesn't make me deranged. For you to throw around a word like genocide under these circumstances is just hysterical and irresponsible. Is it really your position that when jews defend themselves against unprovoked agression it's genocide but that when people with actual genocidal intent attack jews it's okee dokee as long as they hide behind little girls?

Jaime J. Weinman said...


The United States has the military power to defeat any enemy, anywhere, anytime. The only thing that can stop them is the will or lack thereof, of the American people and that's the real question. Can we bring ourselves to do what it takes to win?


You've just parroted one of the most pernicious myths of all: that the only way a military conflict can be lost is through domestic opposition. It's wrong on the merits (the U.S. lost in Vietnam and Iraq because big armies are lousy at conter-insurgency and such, not because of domestic opposition), and it's part of the stab in the back syndrome by which the loss of a war is blamed on the people who bothered to point out that it was lost, not on the people who actually lost it.

If an individual supported the war when it seemed like it was going to be easy only to get cold feet when things got tough, I would say that demonstrates among other things, a lack of fortitude.

That's like saying that if you support a particular government policy initially, it shows a "lack of fortitude" to change your mind when the policy fails. War is a policy choice, and once the Iraq war proved to be a failed policy whose costs outweighed the benefits, changing one's mind shows not a lack of fortitude but a lack of delusion.

Mister G. said...

I am speaking about American military power in the present tense. Obviously, our military power relative to other nations has fluctuated throughout history but today in 2006 it is a fact that in both absolute and relative terms the US military has an advantage that is greater than any country in history has ever enjoyed. By any measure: spending, training, equipment, technology, the quality of our troops etc. it is indisputable.
We can't be beaten unless we allow it through a loss of morale at home or by forcing our military to fight with one hand tied behind it's back.
Or by the latter causing the former as was the case in Viet Nam where we won every battle and still lost the war because we held back the full weight of our military and allowed the war to drag on for too long.
I fear that we may be in danger of doing that today but you have no way of knowing how Iraq will turn out and neither do I. For you to declare Iraq to be lost because it's been more difficult than anticipated or we haven't won on an arbitrary timetable is defeatism at best and wishful thinking at worst.
Losing Iraq would be a disaster for America and the civilized world. It ought to be unthinkable for an American but as I read between the lines of your leftist doublespeak you seem to be rooting for just that outcome. If you are an American that's shameful.
So, other than surrendering, what's your plan?
You were right, entertainment writers make idiotic political pundits.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Or by the latter causing the former as was the case in Viet Nam where we won every battle and still lost the war because we held back the full weight of our military and allowed the war to drag on for too long.

This is the Rambo view of Vietnam: "Somebody wouldn't let us win." The reason the U.S. "held back the full weight" of its military is that, then as now, it's rightly unwilling to bomb the civilian population back to the Stone Age (the way they did to Japan and Germany) unless the war is really a war of necessity and survival.

But there is, despite the crazed theories floating around (white women must have more babies or the Muslimonazis will outbreed us and take over the world!) no current existential threat to the U.S., so there is, quite rightly, no will to do to Iraq what was done to Japan and Germany. But without doing that, the occupation is pretty much as doomed as most such occupations.


Losing Iraq would be a disaster for America and the civilized world.


Why, exactly? The U.S. lost in Vietnam and the Soviets were no closer to taking over the world. The people who say that "losing" a conflict will pose an existential threat to a great nation are always, always wrong; existential threats come more from a country bankrupting itself with too many unwinnable conflicts, as the Soviet Union did.


So, other than surrendering, what's your plan?


Other than staying forever, what's yours? What you call "surrendering" is simply maturity -- the maturity to recognize that an occupation can't magically be "won" through sheer will, and the maturity to recognize when costs outweigh benefits.

Mister G. said...

Thanks for recanting. As you acknowledge, we did not use the full weight of our military in Viet Nam. Some have argued, and rightly in my opinion that we had no business fighting that war unless we were fighting to win, with everthing we had. I mean, why bother fighting to lose in any war under any circumstances?
There may not be an existential threat to the United States as you define it, but how many cities would we have to lose to terrorist nukes for you to decide that the threat is great enough? How many would have to die in a nerve gas attack before you said to yourself "Hey, I feel existentially threatened"
The reason that you can't see the threat is that you simply lack the imagination to do so. Our enemies are hard at work every day trying to make the unimaginable happen.
Post 9/11 your kind of thinking is unforgivably dumb.
A minute ago, you declared Iraq a loss as a matter of settled historic fact, now you say it's probably doomed. Which is it?
Both? Neither? Does it change according to the momentary needs of your argument? Or are you recanting again?
Don't ask me, ask the Cambodians why losing south east asia was a disaster.
If you really need me to explain, post 9/11 why losing Iraq to terrorists would be a disaster for America and the civilized world than you are light years beyond stupid. I don't think a word has even been invented to describe how dense you are although I bet light bends and gets sucked into your head. Try thinking about it for five minutes. You'll probably come up with something.
One last thing,I already gave you my plan for Iraq. In one word, WIN. Open the biggest can of whupass we have and fight as ruthlessly (within established laws of war of course)as we have to in order to win.
Make an example out of Syria. Regime change. No occupation. Just take out the regime.
If Iran isn't cowed by then, take that government out next and their nuclear program. No nukes for Iran under any circumstances. No occupation for them either.
Offer them both our assistance in establishing free societies that are not threat to us but let them know that if they cross us again, they are doomed.
Your "mature" plan is to surrender and then what? You've offered no suggestion so I'm guessing that you haven't even thought about it. We'll just hope for the best I guess. And if you happen to be at ground zero during the next 9/11?
That's what passes for mature in your circles, huh?
You can have the last word but I won't be back to read it. Today you have proven that you have less than nothing to add to the debate. And I don't even care what you think about Bugs Bunny anymore.

Paul Denton said...

Paul, does anybody on the left actually use any of those terms? The only people I've ever seen use the term "Bushitler" are on the right. Sort of like the way the spelling "womyn" is only used by people attacking feminism, not actual feminists.

If over-the-top sloganry is ever thrown back at its users ironically, it must be fabrication? Really? So, I haven't actually seen self-declared "progressives" and "peace activists" marching on Parliament Hill with my own eyes, waving all manner of signs containing such rhetoric? I don't have photos of such people, proudly displaying their particular creative variations on the Bush = Hitler, Bush = Big Oil Tool, or Bush = Monkey memes? Well, that's certainly a relief.

Sarcasm aside, yes, there do indeed seem to people who genuinely believe all of those premises at once, and use such epithets. That these (many of which are helpfully and proudly listed here, by dKosopedia, and here by Democratic Underground's similar Wiki) are absurd and juvenile reflects badly on the users, not those mocking them.

All of which, of course, is to reply to what was a rhetorical dodge: attacking the veracity of the language used to satirize a certain group, rather than the fact of the sentiments many of them freely and unapologetically express, as casual browsing of the left-blogosphere and its favoured pundits will demonstrate. Do you sincerely believe that only (or predominantly) right-wing pundits and bloggers are guilty of the kind of self-aggrandizement you're talking about?

Me, I kind of doubt it.

(P.S.: I've also seen the spelling "womyn" used in earnest. By campus activists, true, but I don't think that diminishes the sighting.)

Jaime J. Weinman said...
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Jaime J. Weinman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jaime J. Weinman said...

Mister G. wrote:

One last thing,I already gave you my plan for Iraq. In one word, WIN. Open the biggest can of whupass we have and fight as ruthlessly (within established laws of war of course)as we have to in order to win.
Make an example out of Syria. Regime change. No occupation. Just take out the regime.
If Iran isn't cowed by then, take that government out next and their nuclear program. No nukes for Iran under any circumstances. No occupation for them either.



Shorter Mr. G: Kill, Kill, Kill.

You've pretty much proven the point: you want to "win" by killing lots of people, indiscriminately. You think "9/11" requires the toppling of every Muslim country you can think of, and you don't even care if it could possibly work (how the hell can the regime of Iraq be "changed" by force without an occupation? do you think a better regime is just going to magically appear in the wake of a brutal invasion?). This is not only disgusting and barbaric but stupid, guaranteed to make the world more dangerous.

You've basically revealed yourself, Mister G., as a genocidal lunatic, a death-cultist, a person who won't feel safe until all the Muslims are dead, and all because your snivelling cowardice caused you to freak out after 9/11 (unlike the people of New York, who actually got hit, recovered, and went on with their lives).

You are immensely evil.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Paul wrote:

Do you sincerely believe that only (or predominantly) right-wing pundits and bloggers are guilty of the kind of self-aggrandizement you're talking about?

No, I don't believe that. But it's a question of which side's self-aggrandizement could actually lead to people getting killed. The self-aggrandizement of the right is basically leading farther along on a path to genocide; read mister g's last post, as he basically advocates "winning" by slaughtering as many people as possible in Iraq, Iran, Syria and any other place where brown people live. This is the diseased logic of people who believe that this is 1938 all over again and that the only way to be "resolute" is to advocate killing more people and faster. And Mister G is not just some isolated crank; the talking points he's reciting are on Fox News and talk radio and conservative journals all the time -- they're basically advocating genocide to make themselves feel tough, and people listen to them.

The people who think they're being brave by "speaking truth to power" may be annoying but they're not helping push the culture in the direction of genocide, nor feeding into a new political correctness that makes it politically incorrect (or worse, "pacifist") to ever, in any circumstances, say that killing isn't the answer.

You know, recently I was in a record store listening to two people talk about politics, and they were saying that 9/11 was planned by the U.S. government, covered up, etc. All I could think was: "Damn, I miss the time when I could enjoy making fun of people like that." In normal times, I would make fun of people like that. But they're basically harmless. The genocidal freaks like mister g and the pundits he listens to, on the other hand, are not.

Paul Denton said...

You've basically revealed yourself, Mister G., as a genocidal lunatic, a death-cultist, a person who won't feel safe until all the Muslims are dead, and all because your snivelling cowardice caused you to freak out after 9/11 (unlike the people of New York, who actually got hit, recovered, and went on with their lives).

You are immensely evil. [...]

The self-aggrandizement of the right is basically leading farther along on a path to genocide.


You know, this sort of thing is why it might be a good idea to avoid political topics. You're losing all sense of perspective, and ascribing motives to Mister G. (and others) that aren't actually evident, based on your own worst fear: that those who favour war as a policy tool are secretly (or openly) genocidal. Militaries exist only to slaughter thousands at the whim of their bigoted paymasters, not for any legitimate geopolitical reason. By this logic, to believe that war might be the best option is only because one wants to kill as many of Johnny Foreigner - as the old British colloquialism used to go - as possible, not because one hopes it may be the course likely to cause the least amount of human misery on all sides in the long run.

Regime change, as Mister G. is calling for, can theoretically mean no more or less than that - removal of the political power structure at the very top; executive, cabinet, and praetorians/republican guard/secret police/palace guards/whatever. As an (impossible) ideal, it might not even involve any bloodshed. I don't see where he's proposing, as you imagine, that as many Muslims should be killed during such a process as is possible. Whether a policy of regime change is good idea in a particular circumstance is certainly a fair topic for debate; raising it as a possibility certainly does not implicate some kind of cartoonish bloodlust. It's a shame that you've concluded differently, and I think it's blinding you to part of the argument.

Now, consider what you've said to Mister G.: He's evil. He's bloodthirsty. He's a lunatic. He's very nearly inhuman, for goodness' sake. With such immoderate rhetoric coming from one faction, is it any wonder another seeks to justify itself in recalling another war now remembered as believed to have been unambiguously just and right at the time? (Never mind the ahistoricity of that premise, but it's now the common wisdom, if nothing else.)

If you don't care for the escalation of rhetoric that implies pacifism to be somehow weak or shameful, think about how you're similarly attempting to delegitimize your opponents' good-faith arguments.

Jaime J. Weinman said...


If you don't care for the escalation of rhetoric that implies pacifism to be somehow weak or shameful,


You know, I've always kind of thought that pacifism is weak and shameful. What I object to, therefore, is the conflation of all opposition to war with "pacifism" (which was one of the favored rhetorical tropes in 2002-3; people who opposed the Iraq war on tough, realistic grounds -- namely on the grounds that it was obviously a bad national-security move -- were called "pacifists").

think about how you're similarly attempting to delegitimize your opponents' good-faith arguments.

I'm sorry, but I don't think Mister G is arguing in good faith. There simply is no other logic to his collected arguments -- that the U.S. was too squeamish in Vietnam and is too squeamish in Iraq; that the only way to be safe is to forcibly change the regimes of various other countries -- than that he wants the U.S. to be killing lots more people than it is.

The pundits go for this all the time; so does Limbaugh, who said "until those civilians start paying a price for propping up these kinds of regimes, it's not going to end, folks." The comparisons to WWII are important here because they're advocating doing to Iraq what was done to Japan and Germany -- which, in the context of a very different and asymmetrical kind of war, would be hideously barbaric.

So, no, I no longer believe that these people are arguing in good faith. I believe they want genocide. That is what they are arguing for every day.

D said...

Jaime,

You've embarassed yourself here.

Jaime J. Weinman said...
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Paul Denton said...

I don't think it's over-the-top hyperbole to say that people like Mister G are evil; he genuinely wants to see nothing but death, war, destruction and demonization of inferior races.

Well, I obviously disagree - and think you are tending towards some remarkably unreasonable and embarassing positions, here - but let's take a different tack, and say that's a hypothetical given. What do you do about people like that? What would you do about Mr. G., in your ideal world?

What do you do when people who genuinely want to "see nothing but death, war, destruction, and demonization of inferior races" aren't speaking in coded language that only you and a select few others are picking up on? What do you do when they're openly calling for the slaughter or subjugation of those who don't fit into their ideal world order? There are such people in this world, and they're not nodding along with Red-State talk-radio pundits while they down a six-pack of Bud Lite. They're grabbing a Kalashnikov and actually going off to put their attempts at genocide into action, in Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, Indonesia, and elsewhere. Is there a non-military way to prevent the dedicated killers from achieving their goals? It certainly doesn't seem that way.

So, no, I no longer believe that these people are arguing in good faith. I believe they want genocide. That is what they are arguing for every day.

I'm sorry to hear you think that, because to my mind it displays a downright bizarre, historically-ignorant view of the world that - from your other writings - I wouldn't have expected of you. You've made up your mind that anyone arguing in favour of war must necessarily be genocidal. I mean, what can I, or anyone, say to that?

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Is there a non-military way to prevent the dedicated killers from achieving their goals? It certainly doesn't seem that way.

I have to admit, I just don't see that as a major issue. Terrorism is a problem, but it's not an existence-threatening, all-pervading problem, particularly in North America. The people who want to Nuke Mecca have a lot more power and influence in North America than the people who want to bring back the Caliphate, so I worry about the former more than the latter.

You've made up your mind that anyone arguing in favour of war must necessarily be genocidal.

No, that's not what I think. But I do have deep suspicions of anyone who, from a position of comfort and safety, considers war the one and only solution to any problem, and who -- when a war goes bad -- argues that the solution is more and bloodier war. There aren't a lot of people who have this John Bircher mentality, and I doubt it represents a majority or even a plurality of war supporters -- but it does command a scary degree of respectability nowadays. And my fear is that this view is getting more, not less, powerful; the genocide talk wasn't nearly as rampant right after 9/11 as it is now.

Paul Denton said...

The people who want to Nuke Mecca have a lot more power and influence in North America than the people who want to bring back the Caliphate, so I worry about the former more than the latter.

Wow. Again, I'm not even on the same page, because I have no idea where this perception comes from. Yes, I've seen random idiotic blowhards make the "glass parking lot" suggestion - usually on Fark, or other similar outlets where facetiousness is high and stakes are low - but never anyone with any degree of real credibility or influence. I read a number of centre-right blogs, and don't listen to or watch many pundits' shows; none of those people are saying "Nuke Mecca." Nor is the administration, nor GOP, nor allied governments, nor think tanks, nor media, so far as I'm aware. If they were to, I think such an event would rapidly make itself known, by virtue of its sheer disgusting audacity, rather like Mel Gibson's recent self-immolation. If they're making the suggestion in so many words - dog whistle politics, and so forth - then I just must not be tuned to that frequency.

And my fear is that this view is getting more, not less, powerful; the genocide talk wasn't nearly as rampant right after 9/11 as it is now.

Again, I don't even know what to say. Where is this "genocide talk" coming from? Who is saying this? Where are they saying it? Most importantly, are they actually saying it? Or, as with Mister G., are you reading rather a lot into their words?

Terrorism might not currently be an all-pervading, existential dilemma in everyday life in North America, as it is, say, in Israel. However, to put off any kind of proactive movement against it and its backers until the moment when it is that kind of problem - and it does therefore become necessary to put metal detectors on buses, and armed guards in pizza shops - strikes me as foolish. That does, in fact, seem to be the same kind of isolationist wishful thinking, combined with projection of existential fears onto domestic politics, as led to (yes, I know, you don't like the suggestion, but...) some very unfortunate foreign policy choices on the part of many nations, prior to WWII. It also suggests a rather callous attitude towards the rest of the world, if They should suffer so that We can keep our hands clean. That used to be the kind of attitude for which the old right was derided, and correctly so, in my opinion. (Besides, the people who want to bring back the Caliphate don't need to necessarily be in North America to cause problems. Just because they're far away doesn't mean we ought not to be concerned.)

I don't really want to continue this discussion, because it's not seeming very constructive; I can't convince you out of deeply held attitudes. Please, though - next time you think about a political post, consider very carefully whether or not your perceptions of domestic political opponents could be mistaken. What if they're not actually advocating genocide, or bigotry, or general bloodthirstiness for its own sake? What if outside the fringe they do, indeed, have genuinely-held beliefs not revolving around hatred, greed, or stupidity? Reflection on that point might well surprise you.

Jaime J. Weinman said...

Again, I'm not even on the same page, because I have no idea where this perception comes from.

try this for a start. The editor of National Review said that his e-mail from readers contained "lots of sentiment for nuking Mecca" in response to a "dirty bomb" attack; he said while it seems "extreme," "then again few people would die and it would send a signal."

I know there's all sorts of qualifiers there -- he's talking about what if there was a terrorist nuke, he's not absolutely 100% advocating nuking Mecca... but it was there, and it still is -- more so now, because that was 2002.

As for whether it's "dog whistle politics," it's not; it's a way of advocating genocide while remaining within the bounds of respectability. If you say "let's kill lots of civilians," you're not quite respectable, but if you say "we need to be tougher and more ruthless in Iraq like we were in WWII," you're respectable even though you're arguing for exactly the same thing (killing lots of civilians).


Terrorism might not currently be an all-pervading, existential dilemma in everyday life in North America, as it is, say, in Israel. However, to put off any kind of proactive movement against it and its backers until the moment when it is that kind of problem - and it does therefore become necessary to put metal detectors on buses, and armed guards in pizza shops - strikes me as foolish.


Well, I'm not against pro-active movement against terrorism, but nobody's advocating that as far as I can see -- instead they advocate counter-productive things like invading lots of Muslim countries, which is being pro-active in support of creating more terorrism. Pro-activity against terrorism would be more in the nature of the boring, much-derided beefing-up of nuclear power plant security, making sure federal law-enforcement agencies have good staff -- terrorism really is a law-enforcement issue and disaster ensues when you try to pretend that "the terrorists" are a nation you can bomb into surrender.

What if outside the fringe they do, indeed, have genuinely-held beliefs not revolving around hatred, greed, or stupidity? Reflection on that point might well surprise you.

I don't think so. I think that outside the fringe they do have some genuinely-held beliefs that are not genocidal. But the fringe is bigger than it used to be, and getting bigger. That's what scares me.

Anonymous said...

Seldom have I seen a blogger hoisted on his own petard to this extent.

Mr. Weinman when you are trying to get out of a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging.

Jaime J. Weinman said...


Mr. Weinman when you are trying to get out of a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging.


This assumes that I'm in a hole... but I don't think of it that way; I think of it as an interesting argument on both sides.

If you think I'm crazy for saying that conservatism now has a genocidal streak; fine. But with Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Rush Limbaugh -- people who basically advocate genocidal racism on a daily basis -- as prominent spokespeople for the "conservative movement," I have no problem saying that this is a problem.