Sunday, September 11, 2011

3,000 = 1 = ∞

As you might imagine, I'm not into this whole anniversary business. From what I've read, no one made a big deal out of December 7, 1951, and why should they have? It was the anniversary of a cowardly sucker punch, of our own unpreparedness, of our underestimation of depths of evil in this fallen world.

Even now -- especially now -- religious psychopaths all over the world are looking forward to another genocidal event to which we will undoubtedly look backward.

But why look back before the job is even done? Often it becomes an excuse for the villainous traitors in our midst to pretend they are actually on the same side we are, by expressing sympathy for the victims -- victims they would otherwise regard as deserving of their fate because of America's evils. They are not animated by a desire to avenge these deaths, which, after all, is the important -- and difficult -- part. With all due respect, anyone can cry. What we need are people who can fight and kill, a very different skill set.

The Sultan speaks for me in observing that

"the anniversaries have long since been reduced to a national therapy session, with pain released and healed in the media's own talking cure. But it isn't the pain that matters, it's what we do with it that counts. We have not yet lost the war -- but we are losing it, and unless we decide as a nation what we stand for and what we stand against, then we will lose. It will take time, like our banks we are too big to fail, but given enough appeasement, enough immigration and enough terrorism -- it will come."

It doesn't matter if we lost 3,000 people or one person that day, for the evil is just as extreme, even infinite. Ironically, to place a nice round number on it is to contain it, not express it.

There is more truth than we realize to Stalin's remark about tragedies and statistics. The reason for this is that one -- that is, one precious human life -- is already infinite, and the infinite cannot be surpassed.

Substituting 3,000 or even six million can only be a diminution, a drawing back from the infinite horror and pain -- the horror of, say, one young mother deciding whether to be burned alive or to be pulverized by the concrete below. Such pain can neither be conceived nor surpassed.

There is no "collective suffering." Rather, as Bolton explains, "The maximum distress is always neither more nor less than one victim." In no way can this "be made into any objective total or larger entity." What we really need to remember, always, is the infinite worth of the individual and the limitless evil of the enemies of individualism and liberty, light and truth.

A repost from five years ago:

History very seldom records the things that were decisive but took place behind the veil; it records the show in front of the curtain. --Sri Aurobindo

Everyone seems to be using this day to offer their reflections on What Changed That Day, both in themselves and in the world. I don’t know that my own personal musings would add much of anything. Therefore, some tranpersonal cosmic ones.

I remember thinking on the day it happened, “nothing will ever be the same,” as if the veil of history had been rent right down the middle, revealing to us, if only for a moment, exactly what lay behind it: the principalities and demonic powers, the Cosmocrats of the Dark Aeon -- those unseen forces that “are more than rational and which make use of lower things, things below reason, in order to conquer and rule the world of man” (Dawson).

Outwardly, history seemed to change directions that day, but the opposite is true. History arrived at the destination toward which it had been hurtling under cover of darkness -- or was it blindness? -- in a more or less straight line for two decades or more. And zigzagging toward for centuries, the moment you stop to think about it. Really, we should substitute "inevitable" for "inconceivable."

For as ever, there are two dynamic principles and social orders at work in history, the City of Man and the City of God. Or, if you prefer, there is a centrifugal force that draws the world down into ignorance, bewildering multiplicity, darkness, and death, another centripetal force that draws us up toward unity, life, love, and Truth.

We live in the midst of the worldpool created by their interaction, and the eye of that world-historical spiral just happened to focus over New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that day. Where will it touch down tomorrow? We may express shock at where it touches down, but we should never be surprised that it touches down.

For Christians, the cosmic storm touched down on a place called Golgotha some 2000 years ago. At the moment, it appeared as if the forces of evil had accomplished their ultimate triumph. And yet, the opposite was true. For if ever there was a turning point in history, that was it. What looked like the darkest night was actually the dawn.

On any spiritual view of history, history is coextensive with time itself -- cosmic time -- and historical time represents the interpenetration of time and eternity: eternity enters time, and time makes its way back to eternity, serially revealing a bit of it at each step along the way.

When someone speaks of "root causes," it is time to reach for your revolver. Those who search for them nearly always look in the wrong direction, for the causes are not horizontal but vertical.

The antievolutionary barbarians we are fighting are delusional servants of their own loathsome creature, a false god created out of their own perverted psychic substance. Why people worship their own creations is a good question, but it is hardly a new phenomenon. Most anyone who doesn’t worship the Creator worships a creature. It’s just a matter of degree and of virulence.

Here are the root causes: World. Trade. Center.

First, the World, the idea that human beings are actually one, and that, beneath our superficial diversity, there is a universal Way and Life and Truth. It is the opposite of multiculturalism, the pernicious idea that the endarkened multitude of human streams evolve in their own parallel universes and that truth is somehow embodied in each culture.

In point of fact, culture -- that unreflective torrent of custom that drags most souls in its wake -- is more or less a repository of falsehood and delusion, of things that are not true because they cannot be true. Time reveals this to be the case, but it is specifically time that our enemies wish to arrest and reverse.

Trade. The spiritual evolution of which we speak is a system, and only an open system may evolve. We are specifically at war with people who object to this fact, and wish to remain in a dark, dank, and airless prison -- an authoritarian anthell with truth handed down from on high, preventing any hope for evolutionary progress.

These are literally death cultures, for death occurs whenever a system becomes closed, whether it is biological death, psychic death, epistemological death, spiritual death, economic death, what have you.

Center. The world is converging towards its nonlocal center, a spiritual telos that is located outside space and time. This center can only be reached through liberty, for “the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” While we necessarily hail this future unity of mankind from afar, we also know that it is available to each of us now. And only now.

Spirituality respects the freedom of the human soul, because it is itself fulfilled by freedom; and the deepest meaning of freedom is the power to expand and grow towards perfection.... --Sri Aurobindo

*****

I hope Will doesn't mind my posting of the poem which I just found in the comments from the original post:

ON THE LEDGE (poem)

On occasion I find myself considering an image,
Perhaps not the one you might expect,
Not the plane nightmare frozen before impact,
Not the gout of fire,
Not the empty eye socket gash in the building,
Not any of those images but
Who really forgets?

Hmm? Oh, yes:
It's this image of two people
Standing on a ledge, probably
Between floors 80 to 90.
Very tiny in the picture, of course,
Dwarfed by immensities around them,
But if you look closely,
You can make out several things -
First, they are a man and a woman,
Second, they are holding hands,
Third, they are in the process
Of jumping -
They look for all the world
Like a couple jumping into
The shallow end of a pool
Or maybe over a rain puddle,
You know, with a dainty poise -

Now, here's what I have to consider:
We all know that animals, when
Confronted with fire, succumb to
Blind scrabbling panic -
Firemen tell of how when crawling
Down a smoke-drenched hallway
in a burning tenement building,
They have to be mindful of
Fleeing rats and cockroaches
That run right over them
In panicked hordes -
This couple on the ledge, however -
Well, did they even know each other?
Maybe not, and yet here they have
Agreed to a simple comforting of
One another by holding hands,
And clearly agreed to jump together,
a calm, agreed-upon decision -
God, would You explain this equation
To me?

I like to think that they were meeting
For the first time, having circled one
Another for their lifetimes, and then,
On that morning, recognized each other!
It's you! It's you!
Destined at last to hold hands!
Oh, but more, of course -

Long ago, at a Wisconsin resort,
I turned from the pier
And saw on the green slope
Behind me two girls, sisters, no doubt,
One perhaps five, the other eight,
Holding hands, and I had never seen
Anything so vulnerable as them,
Almost lost in the tangled thicket
As they stared at the lake,
Holding hands to comfort one another -
Which, I might add, is an image that
Has always come to me whenever
I feel hopeless about the world
And it saves me -
In the fullness of time
I will find you, girls,
and thank you -

And thank you, couple on the ledge -
What you did was not an act
Of defiance,
But it did defy the evil,
All of it, just that simple hand-holding,
The power of which
Held chaos in check,
Oh good for you,
Good for you,
Bravo! -

Yesterday, a mother showed me
Her infant baby girl in a crib,
And the baby stuck her arm up
And I held her tiny hand between my
Thumb and forefinger,
And a circle of Light encompassed us both
And we smiled at each other
On the ledge
Before we jumped -

*****

Which reminded me of a few lines from Dylan's Chimes of Freedom:

In the city's melted furnace, unexpectedly we watched
With faces hidden while the walls were tightening

Even though a cloud's white curtain in a far-off corner flashed
An' the hypnotic splattered mist was slowly lifting

As we listened one last time and we watched with one last look
Spellbound and swallowed 'til the tolling ended

29 Comments:

Blogger Cond0010 said...

"Long ago, at a Wisconsin resort,
I turned from the pier
And saw on the green slope
Behind me two girls, sisters, no doubt,
One perhaps five, the other eight,
Holding hands, and I had never seen
Anything so vulnerable as them,
Almost lost in the tangled thicket
As they stared at the lake,
Holding hands to comfort one another - "

Dammit, Bob...

I need a Kleenex...

9/11/2011 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Thanks for sharing Will's poem. I don't recall reading it before, but it's perfect.

From what I've read, no one made a big deal out of December 7, 1951, and why should they have?

Indeed. Partly, I'm sure, the fact that by that point we had done what needed to be done. A war was fought, an awful war, but the victory was decisive and left no room for breast beating over what we had done to earn the ire of the Japanese.

This time, a war is still being fought, yet half our country has, from the start, questioned the rightness of that war. And where the sucker-punch occurred, instead of doing something constructive there's a festering wound, which our enemies would commemorate with a monument of their victory.

Had somebody suggested, in the late 1940s, that a Shinto shrine should be built next to the ruins of Pearl Harbor, that someone would have gotten exactly what he deserved. That there is even debate about the proposed mosque demonstrates that the lower vertical influences which were behind the attacks in the first place have not been vanquished. Worse, it indicates that there is a shocking lack of will - not by everyone, but by enough - to do what is right.

9/11/2011 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"With all due respect, anyone can cry. What we need are people who can fight and kill, a very different skill set."

I had a couple words for the 'talking cure' folks in the comments on my post, but what caught my breath this morning more than anything else since 9/11, was this from my oldest son's page this morning, one of those moments a Dad gets to be so terrified and proud of, as the very worst is transformed into the very best.

"10 years ago, mom picked me up early from school. I was excited to get out until I saw the look on her face, and then she told me we're being attacked.

10 years ago, being a kid, I went to [name of his best friend]'s house where we played Ace Combat and shot back at the bad guys the only way we could; 13 years old, and both of us decided that day that we were going to defend our country, and fight back for real when we grew up.

10 years later, I'm writing this from the Middle East as an Airman of the United States Air Force, and Newman is 8 months away from becoming an Army Lieutenant.

September 11, 2001, is why we are who we are today, and I'll Never Forget."

9/11/2011 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger Kv0nT said...

Bob, thanks for the great words today. I read this post by Paul Krugman this morning http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/the-years-of-shame/?smid=tw-NytimesKrugman&seid=auto and had to search you out for some sanity, and what do you know, you addressed the exact problem. You need a job at National Review, you're more than qualified.

It never ceases to amaze me how eloquently you elaborate on the catharsis that comes with community, while expressly detaching it from the bastardizations of the left, such as utopianism and multiculturalism.

I just want to say, I really appreciate what you do here.

9/11/2011 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Leslie said...

This morning at church, the pastor showed a video, with a backdrop of bagpipes playing Amazing Grace. It was hard, and very moving. I was sitting next to my mother, who has dementia, and a few minutes into the video, she reached over and held my hand. The tear that had formed finally fell....I held her hand the rest of the service. I needed it and she needed it.

9/11/2011 10:06:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"When someone speaks of "root causes," it is time to reach for your revolver. Those who search for them nearly always look in the wrong direction, for the causes are not horizontal but vertical."

So true. When people look for causes 'out there' for decisions made 'in here', as if mind and soul can be caused to act in the same way that dominoes fall... you've just got to wonder how they see themselves and their own thoughts, if at all.

And you just know that their next breath will deny mind and soul all together and propose any number of actions to cause you to act as they determine to be best.

9/12/2011 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Hi Leslie, and thanks for sharing that.

I've seen you over at Sipp's place (so to speak); it's nice to see you over here, too.

Van, thanks for your oldest son's words as well. I can't imagine how hard it would be, but if my son grows up to be such a man, I would be so proud.

9/12/2011 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

I cannot hold my tongue in the face of this self-righteous obtuseness displayed by a fellow Christian.

First, I'm right on board with the take on the wrong-headed sentimentality going on. But what is this ominous "losing the war" talk? There is no war here, there is crypto-colonialism by a mixture of half-assed occupation and moralizing brow-beating. I don't have any issue with honest colonialism, but the US can't do that now, and I suspect that even you, if faced with the reality of the policies it would take to achieve honest colonialism, would recoil. And while I harbor reservations regarding strictly punitive measures in response to evil like the WTC attack due to the fact that any large scale loss of life in a basket case like Afghanistan will involve the death of innocents, I have no alternative. Which brings us to your post's title.

Chesterton talks about how modern man thinks if something happens slowly (like evolution), it is less miraculous, it is tame, it can be explained by rolling the dice an infinite number of times. I feel like something analogous is going on here. We in the US look on random death as something that happens in places like the Middle East, and we think that is natural, because if they don't like it they could be more like us. The barbarians killed 3000 that day, and thus declared war on us (a miracle, indicating that they are formidable, a force to be reckoned with). We, in our great goodness, decided that we don't do tit-for-tat. We will preach the good news of democracy unto them until they get it right, and keep the peace until they do. But those barbarians, they just can't get it through their skulls that we're there to help, to liberate them! So hundreds of thousands have been killed. Over the course of ten years. By authorized personnel, only. And this is much better than what they did to us, supposedly, very tame. Because it was done in the midst of a just war, by men with good intentions, targeting evil men? I have no doubt that many thousands of the dead were evil men. But what of the innocent, of whom there must be many thousands also? And those that swear vengeance on the killers of the innocent? How barbaric, no?

I am agnostic with regards to the blow-back crowd, given the haze of ignorance, cant, and outright lies that shrouds our understanding of history. Most of that crew is so compromised that I can't put much faith in their view of the world. But given the events of the ten years since 9/11/2001, I have just as much trouble looking at the US as anything like the City of God, and so I must doubt that we were any closer to that ideal before the attacks.

9/12/2011 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I should hope you have difficulty seeing the US as the City of God!

9/12/2011 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

"What we need are people who can fight and kill..."

What do you mean by this? Who do we need to kill now? Look, 9/11/2001 happened because of the hate of extremists and the stupidity of a nation. I don't doubt that the number who hates us is not small. Do you think it's smaller now? The number that has a good reason to hate is definitely greater. And despite this, the odds of them being successful again are tiny! And our efforts to decrease those odds further reached the point of diminishing returns long ago. And we are still trying to convince them to love us with our guns. Or are we just trying to kill them?

Do you doubt that war is the health of the state? Are you in favor of a One World Order? For our military efforts to be successful in the Middle East, I think that would be a pre-requisite. And who would run this new order? You get the idea. I don't consider America the root of all evil. But it is a global colossus, and its wrath is becoming increasingly wanton. For this reason, I think one of the last things we need is more people with that particular skill set.

9/12/2011 12:20:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

gecko rube said "The barbarians killed 3000 that day, and thus declared war on us (a miracle, indicating that they are formidable, a force to be reckoned with)."

No miracle necessary, entirely attributable to mere man. You kill 3,000 on the home turf of any people, let alone one ringed with the defensive capabilities of the U.S., then... bing! bing! bing! Congratulations, you win the Formidable Enemy Sweepstakes! But wait! There's more! You also win the right to see the lands, govt and people where you hail from, and/or of those who support you, completely obliterated!

Welcome to modernity!

"We will preach the good news of democracy unto them until they get it right, and keep the peace until they do. But those barbarians, they just can't get it through their skulls that we're there to help, to liberate them!"

A questionable strategy from the get go, personally I was all for immediate obliteration and a promise to return at the first sign or sound of sympathy with those ideas that qualified them as formidable in the first place. Problem is, especially with barbarians who like to babble 'bar-bar-bar-deathtoamerica-bar-bar-bar', that can become a tedious, costly, never ending routine of globetrotting bombing and boots on the ground butt kicking.

Hence the attempt of a poorly thought out plan of imposing 'democracy' by democratic means. Ridiculous. The only plan that had even a slim chance at success, was the Japan/Germany model of post WWII: "Here's your new form of govt. Learn it or die. Once you get the hang of it to our satisfaction, we'll let you borrow the keys."

"So hundreds of thousands have been killed. Over the course of ten years. By authorized personnel, only. And this is much better than what they did to us, supposedly, very tame. Because it was done in the midst of a just war, by men with good intentions, targeting evil men?"

And your problem with that is what? Did the fact that Japan had a recognized capital "N" nation status, make the deaths of their civilian populations during bombing raids and the firestorms which often followed them, somehow make their deaths more acceptable? Or did that war not measure up to your kantian standards of cant either?

"I have no doubt that many thousands of the dead were evil men. But what of the innocent, of whom there must be many thousands also? And those that swear vengeance on the killers of the innocent? How barbaric, no?"

How barbaric? No. Brutal? Yep. Other options? None. The idea that war can be made clean and fair, is itself a deadly dangerous conceit. The idea that any war can be won with anything less than total defeat and hopeless surrender, is an example of the soft discrimination of low expectations of the proregressive mindset (right or left).

9/12/2011 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

gecko rube said "And we are still trying to convince them to love us with our guns. Or are we just trying to kill them?" Kill.

As the quote from Wretchard says at the end of my post,
"The story of September 11 must for all time become the story of how a certain date became unspeakable to al-Qaeda and its followers; a tale of how this day of all others, became the blackest day in the history of Islam. It should forever be a date that can never be mentioned without arousing a deep sense of shame throughout the Middle East so that in generations hence, people should still come up to strangers unbidden and say, “I’m sorry for September 11. “ Until then it is unfinished business."

And until then, however many of them want to hate us, is how many we have left to kill, until that point is reached where hate turns to crushing horror and shame and surrender. If ever.

The idea of War is not something that should be civilized, prettied up or bandied about by boisterous barbarians out to get attention from their target audience. As the saying goes, war is hell - issue invitations at your peril.

"Do you doubt that war is the health of the state?"

War is the status of relations between one people and another. Its affect on a people, even upon the just, is undeniably awful, but to speak of those who are engaged in war due to the depredations of another, as in any way, shape or form as being equivalent to that of the aggressor, as if turning the other cheek to evil would somehow be noble, is immature, ignorant, and sick.

9/12/2011 01:15:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Van, while I have slightly lower tolerance for collateral damage than you, I will be the first to acknowledge that this does not make me a superior human being to you, or to the people that make these decisions.

Even given my squeamishness, I admitted that I have no idea how we could not have responded militarily, short of unconditional surrender and cooperation by the authorities there, such as they are. I would have preferred a response along the lines of what you suggest. But they aren't listening to us, are they?

So when will you be satisfied? The cry that they hate us only gets you so far. What guilty to innocent death ratio would you be comfortable with? And bear in mind that the resulting ratio of of people there who hate us to those that don't is orthogonal to that ratio. I submit that the longer we are there, the worse both of those ratios get for the US, even with the best efforts of our military.

So if you are OK with the extermination of everyone there, then we may as well turn the place to a sea of glass and get it over with. But you should say so. And about that post title...

9/12/2011 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gabe Ruth said "So when will you be satisfied? The cry that they hate us only gets you so far."

Satisfied?! War isn't something to be satisfied with. They can hate us to their hearts discontent, I don't care about their opinion one way or another, it's when their choice to violently act upon that hate, that we must respond to.

"What guilty to innocent death ratio would you be comfortable with?"

Comfortable with? How could anyone be comfortable with any of it? The way you choose to speak of this is truly bizarre, and not a little disturbing. My son is in a place where he could meet a horrible fate at any time - who... what... kind of mind could be satisfied or comfortable with even the possibility of that?

This isn't an option we sought, or would choose over any other reasonable alternative. But reasonable debate was taken off the table by their choice to kill us, that left us only the option of war, and it becomes no longer an option, only when they surrender - and that choice is theirs. This is a war we have been drawn into, it's ending is up to the willing surrender of those we are fighting; if they made that choice, and we chose to continue it one moment more, then I'd be willing to talk about our position, but until then - nope.

"So if you are OK with the extermination of everyone there, then we may as well turn the place to a sea of glass and get it over with. But you should say so. And about that post title... "

Nope. Your question I mean, not the option. You need to come to terms with the fact that you choose to take the moral responsibility for their position from their hands, and place it with us. Again, that is either very sloppy, or extremely sick. They have made this choice, and whatever means we choose to respond to them with, or finally decide is no longer in our interests to not choose, the responsibility for that is upon them, not us.

Should things come to a glassy end there, I would feel deep sadness, but not remorse. Their choice, not ours.

9/12/2011 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

The difference between us is that I will not concede that there is a monolithic "them", at least not yet. Our continued war is in the process of bringing that gross distortion closer to reality every day. I pray for your son and those with him every day.

Will you concede that there are people in the Middle East that are blameless, yet who have suffered at our hands, and that they may look on your requirement of unconditional surrender to an occupying force as sort of odd, especially considering that demand isn't even on the table, officially? What exactly do you want them to do?

My choice of words was indeed poor, considering the topic. When will you consider us victorious, then? And what are you willing to have done in your name, by your son?

9/12/2011 04:01:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Gabe Ruth said “Will you concede that there are people in the Middle East that are blameless”

Again, I can’t help but be curious about not only your words but your assumptions – of course there are people in the middle east who are blameless, as there were in Germany and Japan. The quest for faux fairness does strange things to a persons thinking, I suppose, that and the unbalanced, uber-libertarianish cult of individualism. I will take the side of the individual against the collective any day of the week, the society derives it’s authority and power from the individual, each of whom has to make their own decisions and judgments.

But being an individual – which is all those societies are made up from – does not give you a escape-responsibility-free card for what that society unjustly condones or does in their name. Individuals own judgments are made through the common attribute of all people, their ability to reason; law is derived from that natural ability of the individuals within a society to reason, to determine their proper behavior, and whatever govt, or substitute for one which holds sway in a region, its power and authority is derived from that same source.

If an individual sees the incompatibility of their societal norms and actions with their own judgments – they either have to leave that society, or strive to change it; and if they decide to stay, they have to accept the possibility that they may reap the consequences of that societies actions, which there cannot help but be – eventually. And if you decide to say ‘Eh, what can I do, just me against the world’ you have no right to complain if and when those consequences come – as a member of that society, even if you do not agree with it, you do bear responsibility for the actions done in the name of its people.

Doesn’t mean that it isn’t horrible if they, or horror of horrors, their child, is injured or killed as a result of being a part of that society. Of course it is. Their own personal actions may indeed be blameless, but by staying in that society, they risk taking part in what justice it is that society reaps.

“What exactly do you want them to do?”

That is not my responsibility, it is theirs. I would like them to do what they think is right... but that is their choice, not mine.

“When will you consider us victorious, then?”

I frankly do not expect that date to come, but if it does, I suspect it will only come as a result of massive, overwhelming, public, inescapable humiliation and defeat – not the humiliation of being demeaned in public, but the humiliation of being unable to evade or deny the truth of the evil that was done in their name and with their tacit approval. That won’t happen as a result of recent or present policies.

In a somewhat related sense, I’d suggest that the Muslim world take note of the history of the American Indian, with my apologies to the American Indian, who was far more blameless than they are.

And what are you willing to have done in your name, by your son?”

Again, you seek to have someone take responsibility for another, or give assent for something I have no right to pretend to offer, but if you’re asking what I would be willing to stand by my son for having done, that would be anything which was justifiable in the context of his mission as an American servicemen.

9/12/2011 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Oh, now I see the error of my ways... I was not accounting for the Middle East's vaunted tradition of physical and social mobility, or their consensus seeking methods of collective decision making.

Re-reading some of this, it seems to me that you took some of my sarcasm at face value. I do not regard "them" as a serious threat to the West. Our problems are mostly internal (both in the sense that they are domestic and largely mental). I was not opposed to an immediate, devastating, and awesome retaliation to the attack, which would have been purely retributive. I am opposed to a never-ending occupation which you seem to think is a way to shove their faces in what "they" did to us, but which our leaders, and many or most of those executing their orders, see as something like rehab. I have trouble understanding why you think both of these approaches are equally valid.

I see that you have some negative things to say about Distributism (which I mostly agree with; to attempt to implement that system from the top down is absolutely no different from socialism), so you probably don't think all that much of Chesterton, or of someone who respects him greatly. But the modern idea of "rehabilitation" was one he regarded with horror. The idea that there should be no limit to punishment, that the transgressor must be rehabilitated for his own good, to the satisfaction of society, is tyranny. You cannot remake the mind by force, at least not into anything good. To quote a poem by Lewis: "God, in His mercy, made the fixed pains of Hell."

So when we've been there for several decades, as you glibly acknowledge we would likely need to be to accomplish your goal, do you still think that their hatred of us will qualify as irrational, implacable, and worthy of being buried in a sea of glass?

9/13/2011 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Gosh - if I didn't know better, I'd think Gabe was William...

9/13/2011 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

As I am not William, would you explain that for me?

I found my way over here on a recommendation by a commenter at Bruce Charlton's blog, and I like it. An interesting mix of perspectives. I've gotten a little side tracked from my main point, which is the statement that we need more killers in the context of a post lamenting the dehumanizing aspect of statistics. Each life has infinite value, eh? Can you see why one may question whether that is a sincere belief, given this thread?

9/13/2011 09:10:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Gabe Ruth "Oh, now I see the error of my ways... I was not accounting for the Middle East's vaunted tradition of physical and social mobility, or their consensus seeking methods of collective decision making.'

Heh, no, you were not taking into account my not giving a rats ass for their not having that tradition.

" I do not regard "them" as a serious threat to the West."

I do not take their ability to credibly threaten the West as a culture or its states and institutions, as a measure of their deserving the destruction they asked for. I take their ability, willingness and stated intent to kill any of us, such as my daughter, with the enthusiastic support of an actual or quasi state, to fully entitle them to as much destruction as we might see fit in delivering to them.

But then I was calling for massive military retaliation on Iran back when the Ayatollah called for bombing American bookstores - which Bush 41 did nothing but bluster about. That, IMHO, was the last chance we had of stuffing the evil genie of islamism back into the bottler. We blew it. It's out. And we’ve got to deal with it.

"I am opposed to a never-ending occupation which you seem to think is a way to shove their faces in what "they" did to us"
Nope. My first choice would be massive retaliation and announcing that 'I'll be back' at the first peep of any new threats against us.

That method, which I think would work just fine with a Western state, is unrealistic and ineffective against the more primitive & barbarous middle eastern cultures. With Iraq or Iran... maybe such a policy might work... with the PLO or Afghanistan, no way. I don't have any interest in shoving their faces in it, I also do not have an interest in punishment for punishments sake, I have an interest in delivering such a shock to their system, that they drop the idea of blowing up my daughter, or shooting a fellow in the back as he boards a bus, as a legitimate and publicly laudable way of promoting islam.

If that requires staying there in order to head off any attempt to regroup, then that's what it takes, but I'll leave such strategies to the military to decide upon, and our political leaders to evaluate and agree to - if they think that is the best route, fine. If someone like Petraeus thinks they can best eliminate POS's like Moqtada al Sadr & his minions by holding and clearing an area, then that's what I'll go with.
Not because it'll 'rehabilitate' them, but because it has the most promise for stopping them there, before they can bring their death here.

"I have trouble understanding why you think both of these approaches are equally valid."

You have trouble understanding why I think both of those approaches are equally valid, because you think I see more than one approach. I don't. My approach is to kill, destroy and or disable those who attack or intend to attack us. Whether the best approach for doing that is to turn the entire region to glass, or to clear and hold the region one city block at a time, is a question of strategy, which I'm willing to leave to the military to decide upon, at least for a while.

(break)

9/13/2011 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)
"I see that you have some negative things to say about Distributism..."

Correct.

"so you probably don't think all that much of Chesterton, or of someone who respects him greatly."

Incorrect. Hugely, massively, wildly, incorrect. While I think Chesterton was wrong with distributivism, the man was a towering intellect in most other areas, and I have a great amount of respect for him.

Likewise with Aristotle, who is at the top of my list of fav's, he was, I think, horribly wrong in his view that the state had first claim to children and their education. Doesn't mean I'm ever going to stop rereading his metaphysics and ethics, etc. An error is not the same as an intentional wrong or evil, and I easily forgive both, and others, for that. Not the case with scum like Rousseau, who I think knew exactly what he was doing.

"But the modern idea of "rehabilitation" was one he regarded with horror."
As do I. If you look, you'll find that my opinion of the modern father of rehabilitation, Jeremy Bentham, is that far and away the best use for his head was what school boys used to use it for at night, when they'd pluck it from his preserved corpse and play soccer with it in the hallways.
I've no doubt it sucked as a soccer ball also, but that's still an improvement over using it to produce ideas, as he did. Bentham’s ideas of the Panopticon, rehabilitative prisons, utilitarianism, individual rights as 'nonsense on stilts'... play ball!

"You cannot remake the mind by force, at least not into anything good. To quote a poem by Lewis: "God, in His mercy, made the fixed pains of Hell." "

No argument. I don't want to remake radical islamists minds, I want to end the ones who attempt to hurt us with them.

"So when we've been there for several decades, as you glibly acknowledge we would likely need to be to accomplish your goal, do you still think that their hatred of us will qualify as irrational, implacable, and worthy of being buried in a sea of glass? "

Being realistic is not equivalent to being glib. And again, I don't give a rat's ass whether they love or hate us, or want to live out their lives as a collection of irrational inbred camel humpers - their choice, and I couldn't care less if some or all of them choose it.

Because a threat might unavoidably drag on for decades or even centuries - Rome and the Germans & Gauls come to mind - is not a basis for deciding whether or not that threat should be confronted, only the fact that the threat exists, is.

What determines our best defense against them, is their intent, willingness and ability to act on their hate. If at some point our military, and political, leaders throw up their hands and say "We've tried everything we can think of. Glass it is.", then that will be something which they succeed in bringing upon themselves... sorta like the people who commit 'suicide by police' - it's not the policemen’s choice (or blame) whether or not to shoot the man running at them with a gun, it's the choice of the nut with the gun, and why he's doing it is also of no concern whatsoever, or even whether or not the gun is later found to be unloaded.

The only valid criteria at the point of decision is that the guy has a gun, and is running at the cop and screaming that he's going to kill him. Bang. And if necessary, Bang. Bang. Bang.

And if the cop does anything other than shoot that nut where he has the best chance of hitting and stopping him, then the cop would be in the wrong, especially if there are innocent bystanders in the vicinity.

Bang, boom or ka-blooey, are only matters of degree, the issue and decision is the same.

9/13/2011 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "if I didn't know better, I'd think Gabe was William"


Ehhh... I don't think so. I did, hence my first 'gecko rube', but I don't think he's of the same stuff.

I could be wrong of course. Not like it'd be the first time.

9/13/2011 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Oh, I know he's not William, I was thinking more of the underlyin structure of his style of argument.

9/13/2011 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "... I was thinking more of the underlyin structure of his style of argument"

Well... I was too. The earlier ones I did think that, but not the later ones... but we'll see.

At first I thought he was the recurrent troll who likes to mix up baseball players & existentialist characters names... but we'll see.

9/13/2011 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

I hope you're right. Lord knows, I was a real gem when I first jumped into the conversation.

9/13/2011 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Gabe Ruth said...

Julie,
I recognize the cast of mind here, also. The guy who said Bob should write for NR pretty much nails it. Thing is, I was a pretty orthodox NR type myself until fairly recently, and I still have much that I agree with them (and thus, you here) about. But it seems to me that on this issue, conservatives take a very hard headed stance that will accept no room for consideration of what we are trying to accomplish, and whether the current course is likely to succeed in any sense of that word. For me, the most troubling thing about the NR mindset is the reluctance to question the military. I concur that once we have decided to go to war, you need to let the military do its job. But the goals need to be decided politically. In the NR universe, we just need to keep going back to the generals and asking if they've seen any terrorists in the last week.

Van, I will not argue with you about the prevalence of their hatred (because I know that's hopeless, given your monolithic, collective guilt views), but I have to quibble with the ability part of the equation. Given the level of capability they had before (or that it took to accomplish their one victory in the US), I really don't understand how we could diminish it further. Which leaves us with convincing them that trying to kill Americans is not a productive move, and kick the habit. Again, awesome retaliation gets this point across. Carrot and hollow stick nanny-state occupation causes not just loathing on the part of the occupied, but a belief that we are fundamentally unserious and thus that they have a chance. And I would submit that from the point of view of a person born under American occupation, it would take the charity of St. Francis to feel anything but loathing for the US, and further, I think that the charge of collective guilt is much more realistic when leveled at us.

And guess what? As far as capabilities go, your trusted authorities seem to be doing their level best to increase them, as they don't share your immigration concerns a bit, and a great many Americans look on your views much more harshly than I do. Political reality is a horrible guide to action, but as long as this is a democracy it behooves us to bear it in mind, for it is real. My father places great faith in the tea party. Me, I'm not so sure. For all their righteous anger, they are products of the American education industry for the most part, and cannot counter the accusations the left levels against them. Plus, they are for the most part unwilling to accept the fact that the American standard of living is built on fairy gold, and so if faced with taking care of their grandparents' medical bills themselves, will grovel back to the arms of the cradle to grave nanny state.

9/13/2011 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

I think I need a hand to hold...

9/13/2011 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

gabe ruth said "But the goals need to be decided politically."

Who is it here you think has said differently? Don't assume, go back and read, best to embarrass yourself privately.

"nanny-state occupation causes not just loathing..."

In case you are thinking that I said differently, I'll try again. The occupational model, because of the nature of the people being fought, and the near guarantee of having to return - often - has been proposed as an unfortunate necessity. Given that, the Japan/Germany model of an imposed govt is the only model that has a chance of working, IMHO, and present attempts to democratically impose 'democracy' was, and is, idiotic.

And I'll happily take the loathing of our close-enough-to-friends-for-me friends in the modern day Japanese and Germans, over whatever extended period of peace, love and suicide bombers scenario you might have in mind as an alternative. Sorry if that doesn't identify your position, but you've neglected to state a position, opting for the easy ground of sniping instead. I eagerly await your bravely coming out to state your case.

" I will not argue with you about the prevalence of their hatred... "
Uh-huh. Couldn't have anything to do with your inability to state, much less argue, your own case, I'm sure. And seeing as though you've yet to correctly restate or summarize my position... I'm skeptical of your being so big about things.

"... because I know that's hopeless, given your monolithic, collective guilt views..."

You seem to have a need to see things collectively, and to assign meaning to others which you have no basis for assuming. Part and parcel of being a collectivist yourself, I suppose (whether hyper-leftie or hyper-libertarian, it amounts to the same).

I did not say, and do not believe in, collective guilt. And no, a society bringing war upon itself is not the same thing. But you'll have to figure out the nature of individual rights, law and the state, before there's a chance of explaining that to you.

"Again, awesome retaliation gets this point across. Carrot and hollow stick nanny-state occupation causes not just loathing on the part of the occupied, but a belief that we are fundamentally unserious and thus that they have a chance."

Again, that I agree with. The whole notion of 'fostering' democracy by people like Paul Bremer, Bush, etc, was one that shows little or no understanding of democracy - let alone why we are not a democracy ourselves, but a Republic, and why.

As far as the military, while you seem to assume that they call the shots, I'll remind you that they've been given a mission by our elected leaders, and they've designed strategies to carry out the orders they've been given, which I'll go along with while they seem reasonably sensible. Our situation is a result of civilian leadership - not military choice. Take off the glasses which let you see the world as you'd like it to be, and try looking at it as it is.

(break)

9/13/2011 04:24:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

(cont)

"As far as capabilities go, your trusted authorities seem to be doi..."
Whose 'trusted' authorities? Who is it you think you are talking to? Maybe you should go find them and try continuing the conversation with them, you might get be more comfortable

"... as long as this is a democracy it behooves ..."

If you want to be behooved, best figure out yourself that we are not a democracy, and why. Until you do, you're bound to continue on spouting such foolishness as this.

"For all their righteous anger, they are products of the American education industry for the most part, and cannot counter the accusations the left levels against them."

Actually, the idea that a people can be 'a product' is itself a tenet of modern American education. Surprise.

If you look beyond the template, you'll find that most of them have discovered that the public education system failed them miserably, and have been busy reading and getting their own education, something I have some fairly extensive firsthand knowledge of, and which is a fine thing to see. I'm actually far more encouraged for the future (long term) than I was three years ago, because of just that.

"... the American standard of living is built on fairy gold..."

The people who do not have that illusion, is the Tea Party folk... not a bad description of most everyone else though.

9/13/2011 04:24:00 PM  

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