March 23, 2004

ISRAEL

OK, time to step back for a minute. After a husband-inspired dinner of lil smokies and rum & coke and a rousing episode of Smallville, I'm ready to tackle the Arab-Israeli conflict growing on my blog.

I always thought the comments section of places like LGF or LT Smash was really fun: discussions growing on their own independent from the original post and blogger. I'm excited that my own readers are jumping into the game. But there are a few things I'd like to say.

I appreciate the fact that Joshua has been civil. He and I may disagree, but he politely asked me to re-grok, and I don't take that as a sign of trolldom. I also appreciate the fact that most of my readers seem to side with Israel, and I only encourage them to continue to be civil in their discussion.

That said, there are some other resources I'd like to point to, all taken from Charles Johnson's sidebar.

Myths & Facts Online: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Palestine Facts
Statistical Analysis of Casualties in the Palestinian - Israeli Conflict

I am the first to admit that I do not grok the entire conflict. I have read most of the information in the aforementioned articles, but I cannot say that I have completely understood everything. I am no expert. I tried to follow Joshua's advice and read the suggested works by Chomsky and Said, but they're both books, and I must honestly say that I don't feel comfortable purchasing their books. I would read an article online, but I don't particularly want to contribute money to their way of thinking.

I will say that I support the idea of the US being Israel's ally. They need all the allies they can get, and so do we. Seeing as we're both considered the biggest threats to world peace, we'd better stick together. Since we give plenty of money to craptastic countries like Egypt, I say why not give aid to a country that's a democracy and an ally?

I think Carla hit the nail on the head with the crux of this conflict though: "Palestinian leaders refused peaceable, 2-state solutions in 1917, 1937, 1948, and 2000. They do not want a right of self-determination, they want the elimination of the Jews." That's the main reason I can't support Palestine. They've been offered a compromise and have refused, opting for death over sharing. I can't support that under any circumstances.

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March 21, 2004

TERRIBLE TRUTHS

Like I've said before, I'm no good at fisking. I don't really like to do it; it goes back to my post about being rude. But I also said that the published are fair game, so when I found this old article from Sept 2003 called The Terrible Truth About Iraq and started inwardly grumbling, I decided a fisk was in order. I won't copy the whole article here -- it's really long -- but I'll pull out some things that made me grumble. And swear. Sorry. The more I read, the more angry I felt.

According to polls last week, some 60 to 70% of Americans still think we were justified in invading Iraq. Apparently, the majority of Americans still agree with Paul Bremer, who recently referred to the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a "great and noble thing."

Can you feel the contempt for the majority of Americans? This is indicative of how the "educated" on the Left feel about us. We're dumb and need their guidance to understand how peace is the answer. If 70% of us see something as "great and noble", it's because we've been duped, hoodwinked, or lied to. Really we just need smart people like Freeman instead of morons like Bremer to show us the way.

The terrible truth that America cannot face is that the whole thing was never justified in the first place and is thus certainly not a "great and noble thing." If the invasion of Iraq was not justified, then our continued occupation of Iraq can only make things worse. Of course it is a terrible, terrible thing to subject the Iraqi people to the horror they have been subjected to if the war was never justified to begin with. Of course it is a truly terrible thing (and thus a mockery of the slogan--"support the troops") to send our troops into this nightmare if the war was never justified to begin with. Certainly the majority of Americans can recognize what a terrible thing this war and occupation are if the whole thing was never justified to begin with.

Is it just me, or does this paragraph say nothing at all? Seriously. I'm planning my syllabus for teaching ENGL 101, and I swear I'd mark Freeman down for wordiness. Freeman's trying to prove his point in a circular way, using something that 70% of Americans don't see as truth at all. If people don't accept that the war was unjustified, then none of this other junk in this paragraph matters.

Despite ample evidence that the Administration's whole case for war proved to be based on lies and distortions and never amounted in the first place to anything more than a fig leaf for the neo-con agenda, Americans have not been able to face the terrible truth. America can never hope to even begin to try to set things right until she faces the terrible truth. As a nation we can never begin to really confront the problem of terrorism until we face the truth about America and this war and occupation of Iraq.

Minus five points: using the phrase "face the truth" WAY TOO MANY TIMES. And, by the way, does this guy know anything about, to quote Ace Ventura, a little something we like to call evidence? Please point out to me how we "never adequately examined the case for war." I was under the impression that I had to watch a billion speeches in front of the UN last winter.

What is it that would justify war, if indeed anything ever justifies it?

Ah, there we go. That's what he's really saying. The "terrible truth" is that nothing ever justifies war.

If there really was any evidence at all that Saddam Hussein had indeed masterminded or provided assistance to the hijackers there would have been an obvious case for self defense and there is little doubt the United States would have gotten UN authorization for a military response. Only the most dedicated pacifist would have not found just cause to attack Iraq.

Oh please. I'm gonna have to call bullshit on that one. I seem to remember France saying they'd vote no on the resolution no matter what we said. Freeman is just making things up to advance his point, fabricating a what-if scenario that he can't possibly prove would have happened. I maintain the UN still would've wussed out and there still would've been protestors. And I'll back it up with the same evidence Freeman provides: because I say so.

The other major deception the Administration used to provide a just cause was the idea that Iraq was indeed an imminent threat to the United States.

No no no no no. Haven't we been over this a million times? I'm skipping this paragraph because it's worthless.

But now we know that it is all a moot point anyway, for as Hans Blix, the former UN disarmament chief in Iraq, has recently commented: "I'm inclined to think that the Iraqi statement that they destroyed all the biological and chemical weapons, which they had in the summer of 1991 may well be the truth." It turns out that Iraq may well have been in compliance with the UN resolution all along.

If Hans Blix says so, it's truth; if George Bush says so, it's lies. I don't give one good goddam what Blix is "inclined to think."

Freedman goes on to say that the last justification the Administration provided was latecoming and grounds for Bush to be "hauled off right then and there to the nearest insane asylum":

...we need to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein, at a cost of billions and billions of taxpayer dollars, not to mention the lives of many good young Americans, all just to--get this--bring democracy to the Middle East...

I personally don't care one flip about WMDs or yellowcake or imminent anything because I saw the big picture long ago. The Arab world is a freaking mess, and some of that mess has now started interfering with our lives i.e. the WTC. The big picture is that we most certainly do need to bring democracy to the Middle East to protect us all down the line. The fact that Freeman ridicules this notion proves to me that he doesn't grok and that we have no common ground whatsoever.

However, I will say that I personally wish the President would've addressed this before the war. I saw the big picture because I read USS Clueless and LGF and I already knew how important this antediluvian idea of jihad is to certain wackos. I wish the President had laid out the big picture for everyone to see. That's my one complaint.

Nevertheless, as so many Americans think the war was justified just to get rid of the evil Saddam Hussein, it might perhaps be worthwhile to pause and consider for a moment, purely as a philosophical question, whether it would make sense to extend the notion of just cause for war to include the idea of removing a brutal dictator in order to install a democracy.

Yep, I'm fer it. What's that, Freedman? You were just being rhetorical? You didn't really mean for me to answer yes. Oh.

In the case of Saddam Hussein, there is no question that he was a brutal dictator. However, most of that brutality, which the American people have been constantly reminded of over the last few years--that he gassed his own people for example--happened while he was supported by our government. Without that support, and with the presence of the UN and the focus of international attention, it was becoming increasingly difficult for Saddam Hussein to act as he pleased.

I'm sorry, I seem to remember jails full of children being opened during the war, a man who lived underground hiding from Saddam for like 30 years, and a poor Iraqi named Adnan Abdul Karim Enad who tried to reach freedom by climbing into Hans Blix's car only to be drug out and never heard from again. "Increasingly difficult" my ass.

Two years after 911, billions of dollars later, thousands of lives lost, and Americans are not really any safer--but we do now have a pipeline across Afghanistan and control of that vast resource beneath the sands of Iraq.

Not worth my time.

Let's not forget the military establishment. One thing this war proves is that the nation with the most powerful military in the world cannot be trusted with that power. What has to be questioned now is the whole military culture that has had such a pervasive influence in shaping American culture. The military knows plenty about the value of courage in war but apparently nothing about moral courage. One simply has to follow orders--the call of conscience, the voice of dissent is just forbidden. This undoubtedly has had a powerful impact on the shallow patriotism that blinded America to the terrible truth about this war. Support the troops? I feel so badly for those brave young men and women who had no idea what they were signing up for, who never imagined their country would send them into an unjust war and force them to kill innocent men, women and children. Those that don't come back in body bags, horribly wounded, or sick from depleted uranium, will still be scarred for life when they find out the terrible truth about the war. This war will turn out to be some recruitment poster. For the military establishment and culture it may turn out to be worse than Vietnam.

To quote James Lileks: Fuck you.

What do you know about moral courage, Freeman? Have you watched your battle buddy explode next to you? Have you gotten letters saying that what you do for a living is wrong, as LT Smash did? Have you talked to one single servicemember since 9/11 and heard the determination in his voice and seen the pride in his eyes? Moral courage is an 19-year-old Marine volunteering for his second tour in Iraq so he can make a difference in this world. Moral courage is going back into the WTC to help other out like Rick Rescorla did. You know nothing about courage, Freeman.

That so many Americans were so easily misled by lies and distortions is surely an indictment of our entire educational system. It has long been recognized that education is the key to democracy, but rarely if ever has it dawned upon Americans just what sort of education is that key. ... It's only an education that stresses the development of philosophical questioning and critical thinking skills that can be the best hope of saving democracy from the dustbin of history.

The key to our future is therefore not my husband's job, but Freeman's job. Ah, I see now. The Adjunct Professor of Philosophy thinks he's the one to lead us all to salvation. And how? By educating a generation of moral relativists who discuss the zen of multilateralism while sequining NO WAR onto their baby t's.

It seems to me there is no solution to the problem of Iraq without first facing the terrible truth that we should never have initiated this war of aggression in the first place.

Read: Now that I've wasted two hours of Sarah's time setting up what we should have done, I offer no solution for the present or future other than we never should've done it in the first place. Oh, and "at the very least, no American company should be allowed to profit from Iraq, especially one with close ties to the Bush Administration." I don't know how to fix Iraq, but I sure don't want American corporations to try. I just want to pontificate; someone else can deal with the pesky details.

See I'm a philosophy teacher. My job is to think about deep stuff while drinking a latte or smoking a pipe or something. I just write about what should have been or what could have been if another latte-drinker had been in the White House. The hard stuff, like pulling bodies out of the wreckage at the WTC or charging into the 6 of Diamond's house, can be done by people who aren't "educated" enough to be insulated by a university's walls. I'll prophesy about "moral courage" and "terrible truths", but I'll never grasp the philosophy of making the split-second decision to waste a terrorist who comes running at me with an RPG.

Thanks for that article from your ivory tower, Professor Freeman. Now I'm going to post this and go back to wondering when my husband will have water and electricity to make his 14 months a little more comfortable while he risks his life to protect your way of living.

Freeman. What an oxymoron of a name.

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ANGER

Chaplain Yee is going back to work. If I understand correctly, the charges against him couldn't be proven because of the "national security concerns that would arise from the release of the evidence" and not because they didn't have the proof. So this bastard is heading back to work instead of to 14 years in jail. Please excuse me while I smash something.

A quote from the AP article: "Some Asian-American activists supporters of Yee, a 35-year-old Chinese-American, have accused the government of racial and religious profiling." Religious profiling I'll give you. I think the military needs to do even more religious profiling because we seem to have had a string of shady Muslims getting into trouble in the past year. Profile away, I say. But racial profiling? Not in this case, bud. I hardly think anyone said, "Keep an eye on that Chinese fellow; they're known for passing secrets to the brown guys." Doubt it. But in our world, if you're non-white, you've got an excuse for everything.

Feeling bitter today, Sarah? Just a tad.

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NEON

I know a German girl here whose parents are Syrian; she's friends with some of the wives I know. One of them last night said that this girl was offered $500,000 to go work as a contracter in Iraq "because she speaks...whatever language it is that they speak there."

Big neon reminder:
Very few people have a freaking clue what goes on in the world.

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March 19, 2004

AMENDMENT

I said yesterday that I believe in the a priori goodness of people. I have to amend that statement. I regret to admit that I don't necessarily believe in the a priori goodness of many Muslims in this world. I wish I didn't have to say that, but it's true. However, it appears that some Muslims in London assume all Muslims are peaceful and good.

Zeiad, 56, an Egyptian who has lived in Britain for 25 years, told AFP: "It's not al-Qaeda. Why would they do that? The Koran condemns such activities."

"How could a Muslim, praying five times a day, do such a thing?" asked Rovshan Kharim, a 25-year-old Azerbaijani, who arrived in Britain just two weeks ago.

I hate the fact that these claims make me want to laugh, but they do. I have a really hard time believing in the inherent goodness of people who are devoted to Islam. I wish it weren't so, but it's true. It makes me sad to know that I've built up that prejudice in my mind, but it has grown out of two years of reading LGF and learning about the horrific deeds carried out in the name of Islam.

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March 18, 2004

A PRIORI

I still can't get over the fact that I know people who think that Bush has Bin Ladin and his going to pull a big TA-DA right before the election. This shocks me, and I think this morning I figured out why.

I operate on a daily basis on the a priori assumption that people are inherently honest and good. I assume that the people I meet are decent upstanding human beings, faithful to their spouses and honest in their jobs. I operate under that assumption until proven otherwise. I also assume that people naturally want what's good for them personally, what's good for others, and what's good for their country. I assume that, because that's the way I behave myself.

So when I read something like this, where people are constantly rehashing the idea that Bush lied and that he'll stop at nothing to stay in power, I can't believe it's true. I can't believe someone wrote this

He's also the first president to pre-emtively, unilaterally and illegally attack another country. I put NOTHING past these people and I mean NOTHING, including murder. If he's still down in the polls in Sept./ Oct.......we will see a terrorist attack and elections will be canceled and martial law declared. No doubt in my mind. These people are capable of anything.

because I do not operate under the a priori assumption that someone would resort to murder to get what he wants. I can't even fathom it.

I believed President Clinton when he said that he had not had relations with that woman. I believed him because I assume that people tell the truth. Naive? Perhaps, but shouldn't we assume that, for pete's sake? I believed him over all the rumors because I wanted to believe in the inherent goodness of the Presidency. I was wrong, I guess. And if Kerry were President, I would want to believe that he would tell the truth too. I might not be voting for him, but I would hope that he turned out to be worthy of our respect. I want to believe that others are trustworthy and good.

But it appears others don't.

How many times have we seen President Bush get the benefit of the doubt? With AWOL? With his Thanksgiving trip? With WMDs? With anything at all? People hated him from day one, and they've never even listened to what the man has to say. They a priori call him a liar. Geez, they even say he's going to resort to martial law if he's down in the polls in October! I can't understand that.

I re-read today QandO's Justification: A Post-War Review. It's so obvious to me that no one lied, that no one unilaterally did anything, and that no one should've been shocked that this was coming. It was justified. Period.

But people are blinded by their a priori assumption that Bush is Hitler.

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March 17, 2004

ROUND-UP

There's a lot of buzz out there about Spain; I found tons of interesting things via The Best. I don't have the time before work to comment on everything individually, but I recommend that you read all of these:

The Spanish dishonoured their dead by Mark Steyn

an open letter to Jose Blanco by Al Maviva

Subspace Crystal Ball and The Stampede Begins over at The Best. And follow the footnotes.

Annika's posts 1, 2, and 3.

But there is one thing that I want to comment on in depth. Tim pointed out a WaPo article that unfortunately you have to register for, but it's worth the time doing so to read it. It's called Madrid Bombs Shook Voters: Distrust of the Government, Anger at U.S. Fueled Upset. It contains a little anecdote that nearly sent me through the roof:

Many here contend Aznar has adopted a servile stance toward the United States. In contrast, Socialist party leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero stressed his independence and willingness to criticize Washington. Many approvingly cited an incident during last October's Columbus Day military parade when Zapatero sat down as the American flag passed by. "It's not my flag," he reportedly said later.

You bastard. That speaks volumes to me about what kind of man Zapatero is. I knew a girl like that in high school, a girl whose family had dual Brazilian-Scottish citizenship but was living in the USA, never intending to become American. Yet they'd gripe and moan about the government, and this girl would talk and be rude during the National Anthem at sporting events. I've never forgotten or forgiven that. You show respect for someone's country during ceremonies, regardless of how you feel. There's a time for public disagreement, and there's a time for ceremony and respect. A Columbus parade is not the proper time for a political figure to point out how much he hates the US.

Here in Germany, we fly the German flag over our post. And at ceremonies, we stand in reverence for the German flag and national anthem. Does it burn me up inside that we have to do this for them when they don't support us in anything except spending our dollars in their economy? Yes, but I stand quietly while their flag is being raised. Because that's good manners and common courtesy.

But if Zapatero thinks he should make a political statement during a public ceremony like that, then I have no respect for him at all.

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March 16, 2004

WTF?

This has to be a joke, right John? Frank J made it up, right? Holy crap, it's true? Anyone here who thinks that Bush hatred is not something to worry about needs to read this post on RWN today. John found an extremely frightening thread on the DU. The intro:

As we’ve heard again and again recently, if we are going to beat this bunch of rule breaking GOP misanthropes, we’re going to have to start fighting as dirty as they do. I started this thread for one reason, to get everyone’s ideas on a list of things we as Democrats can consider to stop the takeover of this country. This isn’t going to be a thread for the squeamish, or for the ideologically pure. Best to steer clear if that describes you.

Now we've already heard people like Moby say that lying is OK if it will help Kerry win. But these DUers lay it all out, provide strategy, and pat each other on the back when they come up with a new way to lie. I think my jaw dropped to the floor as I read these comments. I can't believe these are real people.

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March 15, 2004

GRRR

Already not a good morning. So far I've had to listen to my two co-workers talk about how President Bush has Bin Ladin already and is going to bust him out right in time for the election. Then I had to take a Sexual Harrassment test for my new job that really irritated me. All I had to do though was answer the exact opposite of my own personal feelings and I ended up with 100% correct. Grrr.

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March 14, 2004

HELLHOLE

Amritas pointed to a comment on LGF that really made me mad. An Israeli family was in a New Mexico bookstore speaking Hebrew to each other when an American woman overheard them:

Suddenly the other mother said to my girls 'wow what a beautiful language ! What is that?" Eden innocently and very cutely told her " its Hebrew.. we're visiting from Israel" this womans smile vanished and she gave them a blank stare, said " oh. really." and than.... started telling her partner" do you know, I am going to start taking that Arabic language course,, it has a really cool Palestinian teacher, and I think it will be really broadening to learn it, blah blah;ah blah;ah" very very loudly. I was shocked.

The first thing I thought of when I read this was that Point-Counterpoint on Nigeria from The Onion. The American kid is envious of the rich cultural Nigerian heritage, and the Nigerian simply says, "Get me out of this godforsaken hellhole." It's a wonderful parody of how Americans multiculturalize everything and truly don't understand the vicious struggle that goes on in other countries.

I got a new button yesterday for my sidebar: I'm a Proud Friend of Israel. If I had been in that bookstore in NM, I think I would've beat that woman with a sack of Valencia oranges.

Idiotarianism makes me violent.

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March 13, 2004

&%$@ WMDs

Dogs made a funny statement yesterday that I can relate to: "I visited all 4,593,299 available weblogs this morning. I can't find anything to comment on that hasn't already been commented on in exactly the way I would have commented. What this means is that I must scratch around in the recesses of my mind for some other 'original content,' which I don't have right now." I read this morning thinking that I would come up with something new and interesting to say, but all I keep tossing around in my head are things that I've already shouted into a cave.

Yesterday I met a Reservist who was the most conflicted man I've talked to in a long while. He went off on a tirade against the USA and then switched gears mid-rant and slammed the Germans for a while. Then he talked about his recent tour in Iraq and what a good thing it was that the US had gone to help Iraqis, but then did a half-gainer and started saying that the US is the most dangerous country on the planet. He thinks the war in Iraq is just, but he wants Hillary to be President. He has some serious issues.

But one of the things he brought up was the WMD. Those jävla förbannad WMD. Sweet Jesus, I wish we could all look at the big picture here and forget about those stupid weapons for a minute. What did that Marine say the other day? "You can't even find an AK-47 in someone's home" so how can they expect us to find all weapons in Iraq right away?

Look, we should all agree on one of two things. Common ground, you know. Either Saddam had WMDs and has hidden them or gotten them out to Syria or somewhere else, or Saddam was so mean that no one told him the truth that they really weren't able to make any WMDs. So, if we must be forced to keep talking and thinking about those mfing WMDs, we have to assume that no one lied. President Bush honestly did think that Iraq had weapons or the potential to make weapons, just as both Clintons, Albright, Kennedy, and many others said back during the last presidency. And we have to assume that Saddam himself thought that he had WMDs, for what else would have made him feel so gutsy? Either he had them, or he was duped big time.

So when a Reservist says that we were right to go to war, but it was under false pretenses because we haven't found any WMDs yet, I want to rip his everlovin' head off. Especially when he's just finished telling me a story about how he stumbled upon dozens of dead bodies in a Ba'ath Party meeting house in Iraq that had been rotting for months. Months. Why hadn't anyone found those bodies before? I mean, they had months to find them, right? Well how come they weren't found earlier?

He also said that since the US has WMDs, we shouldn't be allowed to tell others who can and can't have them. Hmm. So since my husband carries a weapon in his job, he shouldn't be able to say that others can't do the same? If Iraqi shopkeepers, farmers, and reporters think it's OK to carry and use weapons as often as a soldier does, then that should be OK, right Reservist man? Who are we to say they can't, after all. Why don't you go back to Iraq and do your job again under these new "we're all equal" conditions?

And to say that the US is the most dangerous country in the world is just plain stupid. I asked this man straight out if he thought that head-to-head the first country to use a nuclear bomb would be the USA or Saddam's Iraq, and he said us. He is a damn fool. I know plenty of wives here who would love to see him proven right. I've heard many of them say we should've just nuked Iraq into a parking lot and not wasted our time and money on this stupid war. I know wives who don't give a flying leap about Iraqis and would push the button themselves if it meant their husbands didn't have to go spend a year on the other side of the earth. If this Reservist actually believes that our government is more ruthless than Saddam's, then he needs a big reality check. And I'm tired of hearing this nonsense.

I'm just sick of it. Of Michael Moore and John Kerry and Sean Penn and Jacques Chirac and everyone else whose image of the United States is that we're just itchin' to start somethin'. I'm tired of people saying we're a bully, as if we enjoy sending our troops to all these jacked up countries all over the globe to try to straighten out some centuries-old mess. I'm tired of people glorifying the UN, which couldn't even buy peace without a hefty contribution from the US. And I'm so tired of trying to explain world events and foreign policy to people in the military, people whose job it is to enforce it.

And I'm tired of hearing about those f-ing WMDs.

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March 06, 2004

RIGHTS FOR WHOM?

I went on a tour of Nuernberg today with my German class. One of our stops was at the Germanisches National Museum, which is constructed with an interesting entryway. Nuernberg is trying to improve its image from the city that gave us the Nuernberg Laws to a city that stands for Peace and Human Rights. The entrance to the museum was created by an Israeli artist whose name I can't seem to find on google. It is a series of pillars with the different articles from the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Each pillar has one article carved in both German and another language. And I nearly slugged a lady from my class who asked why the Israeli artist didn't include the Palestinian language as one of those featured on the pillars. I pointed out that Arabic was included, and she said that wasn't good enough and that the Palestinians should specifically be recognized. I had to force myself to breathe deeply and let it go, but I'd have liked to have socked her.

MORE TO GROK:

In my search, I found this disturbing list of words that "should be used" when talking about a Palestinian state.

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March 05, 2004

RACIST OR NOT?

I was kinda bored with the blogosphere today, just loafing at work and avoiding my German homework, when I stumbled on a post at RWN about Gut Rumbles' vitriolic rant.

Seems Rob dropped the n-bomb.

So I read lots of posts and comments from people who were de-linking Gut Rumbles because they no longer want to be associated with him, and then curiosity got the better of me and I went to the horse's mouth itself. I read all his posts and all the comments and have started to think.

My first thought: Rob actually said more than he was quoted as saying. His actual post is much longer than the expurgated versions I saw on other appalled people's blogs. It also has more "substance" than just repeating the n-word over and over. And he wrote a follow-up post as well.

So what do I think? I don't really know. Gut Rumbles has never been a place for sunshine and kitty cats, so I'm not surprised that this rant came out. And like other commenters, I think that Rob's below-the-surface message includes some valid points that just aren't considered acceptable for anyone to talk about. Do I like the way he expressed his message? I'm not as horrified as others, but I can certainly see how this would put him on the outs with other bloggers. I don't particularly like the n-word, but as a person who listens to a fair amount of rap music, I'm sorta numb to it now.

But it's still just a word. Someone in the comments section asked how it's different from using words like "Islamopuke" to describe Muslims. Another commenter said he hates the words "honkey" and "redneck", but no one gets upset when they're used. Personally I felt quite offended when people from the UK pejoratively called me a Yankee, but we've named a stinkin' baseball team after that word so I guess most people don't mind it. What happened to "sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me"?

I guess I don't have a definitive answer as to whether Rob is a racist. In my life I've met very few people who were true racists, and that included both people who were white and black. But I have met many people who get upset at the way we walk on eggshells in our country to avoid talking about race at any cost, and maybe those feelings came to a head for Rob this week.

I won't say Rob was wrong to say what he said, but I also won't say sites like RWN were wrong to de-link him. I'll just say you all can judge for yourselves.

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March 03, 2004

ANOTHER

The office is empty and slow today, so I've been doing a lot of reading.
Here's another great Solzhenitsyn quote 30 pages later:

One thing is absolutely definite: not everything that enters our ears penetrates our consciousness. Anything too far out of tune with our attitude is lost, either in the ears themselves or somewhere beyond, but it is lost.

That's how I feel when I try to explain something to someone who leans Left.
I feel it might have entered their ears, but never their consciousness.

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IDEOLOGY

I've been enjoying my reading of The Gulag Archipelago, as much as one can enjoy reading about imprisonment in Stalinist Russia. I hit a passage today that struck me with its simplicity. It's in the chapter on the Bluecaps:

To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to see a justification for his actions.

Macbeth's self-justifications were feeble--and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagination and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.

Ideology--that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jocobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experience evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that destroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.

Many have condemned President Bush for his label of The Axis of Evil; they thought it simplistic, sanctimonious, or ridiculous. Yet there is indeed evildoing in this world today; it's not confined to the twentieth century. And I agree with Solzhenitsyn that ideology is often the way that individuals justify their actions.

Would a Palestinian strap on a bomb and blow up a bus if he hadn't been told from day one that the Jews are the source of all of his suffering and he would be rewarded in heaven? Would one of Saddam's henchmen have been more likely to say "hang on a minute" when instructed to kill someone in a plastic shredder if he weren't backed by the Ba'athist ideology? And would individuals actually be stupid enough to do this yesterday if everyone else around them weren't doing it too?

The old question is If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you? You're supposed to answer No, but a group ideology makes it hard to not jump. But maybe that one person who refused to jump would make a couple of others see their error, and someday the whole ideology might come tumbling down.

Posted by: Sarah at 07:37 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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