« Moonlight: A Study At Millbank | Main | Is This Really Necessary? »

July 07, 2005

Comments

But, again, what stops me in my tracks are the implicit instructions to hate the enemy more than I already do.

JFTR, that's not my instruction. In fact, I wouldn't presume to instruct at all. Where I'd prefer to go, though, is more in the direction of getting more serious about handling terrorist organizations: intel, infiltration, prevention, etc. than in getting people more emotional about it. Certainly emotion can lend urgency and emphasis to any situation (example: Katherine was rather passionate about our practice of implicitly exporting torture and prisoner abuse, and that lent a rather energetic implacability to her efforts in documenting and bringing-to-light of that practice).

Forgive if the above isn't all that coherent, but I just got in from transplanting some rather large shrubs, and the combined heat, humidity and beer/coolant has knocked me back a bit.

Dennis has resulted in a rather widespread storm area, which has made itself known since at least yesterday afternoon. Fortunately (and perhaps unfortunately for Mobile) it looks as if it's going to miss us by a good bit. But, as last year taught us, you just can never tell. Ivan missed us on the first pass, but then drove through the panhandle, up through Alabama, the Carolinas, exited into the Atlantic, and then came around and hit Central Florida as a tropical storm. Maybe it's all the mobile homes.

What is it that attracts recruits, from many different demographic groups, to AQ?

One of the factors that I think is among the most important is also among the most easily cured: It's not just a job, it's an adventure.

For you foreigners, that used to be the tagline of ads for joining the US Navy. I think this was a huge part of why people joined AQ in AF pre-9/11. Spend a couiple of years fighting the infidel far away, come home and be a chick magnet. Tell great stories the rest of your life.

Anyone on this list ever tour with the Grateful Dead?

This thread would've been more attractive if so many people didn't think that "Charles Bird" is Bush's nom de guerre on the internet. Lighten UP, people. You've never heard a conservative before?

(Being in Mississippi, I may just have more practice getting along with the Right?)

Bold begone!

My fault. Sorry.

Oops. It fixed it in preview.

LJ,

With regard to the $3 billion in proposed aid my point was that I'm for providing such aid so long as there is some assurance that the money will be spent as presumably intended - to build Palestinian society.

In the past, aid has not been so spent, with negative consequences for the Palestinians. Those consequences, at least, cannot be blamed on anyone but those who were guilty of malfeasance - Arafat and his associates.

I don't want to get dragged into a long I-P thread either. I bring this up just to note that not all problems are the fault of the West or Israel.

Hey, Slartibartfast, wanna post something about your gardening project and the weather in your parts on the main page?

...weather in your neighborhood, might be better phrasing.

Go away bold!

Righteous Anger, having been praised to the four corners of the globe, from the lowest valley to the highest mountaintop, veritably, to skies above, has, consequently, grown far too big for his (yes, his) britches and now resembles nothing so much as a cranked out megalocephalic raver in the last throes of his steroidal rage and hence in danger of being declared unfit for duty. He badly needs to crash for at least a few days. May one of you kind-hearted, level-headed ObWi folk show him a spot of mercy and make a fresh post on a different topic?

Thanks.

Barry: we live to serve ;)

Thanks hilzoy. As long as you don't live to serve man, that is ;-)

Oh, and what Dave Bell said today at 6:53 AM.

Sorry, Charles, but you said the first indefensible thing in the other thread.

By your so-called reasoning, if I write something that--in your perception--is indefensible, that means you get a free pass in writing something indefensible yourself? Your logic has escaped, Dan. I hope you can get it back.

These institutions, and others like them, are not useful because they are more efficient tools for some narrow task, they are useful for the legitimacy they confer on US efforts that are undertaken using these tools.

I'm with you halfway, Charley, because I support the UN and our involvement in it. First, because we're a signatory and second because it has done good and has the potential to be useful and a net benefit to world affairs. I don't think we should be in an ineffectual ICC that addresses crimes of humanity well after those crimes have been committed just because it gives people the feeling of a sheen of legitimacy or international standing.

But please don't invoke my name to defend your statements.

LJ, I included your name with a list of others to make a serious point that I do not consider you and a great multitude of my political opponents as idiots at bests and traitors at worst. Rather, the opposite if anything. I really don't understand why you would feel offended about that. I included others' and names out of respect, acknowledging that we have wide political differences but are on the same side in the larger scheme of things. But if you prefer that I never mention your name unless directly addressed, fine.

However, when you refer to those posts to defend your current positions, it gets much more murkier as to what can fairly be used in discussing these points.

I did not refer to my previous posts here, others did. Your concerns about murkiness should be with them, not me.

but I will say again that we cannot build any sort of international community if we continually exempt ourselves from it and lecture everyone else on what total schmucks they are.

We haven't, nous. We're active participants in the UN, NATO, WTO and many other acronyms. Just because another international body comes forth, doesn't mean we have to sign on to it, especially a well-intended but unproductive group like the ICC.

2shoes, I'm not going to provide cites for things that anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention in the past 4 years should be a aware of. And for the single non-obvious case, whenever bin Laden talks about turning back the "tragedy of Andalusia" he means that Islam should retake Spain (and parts of France I think but I'm not super sure about the border issues from the 1400s).

Your response to most of my points is basically (with an implied tone of shock) "So you are offering up this as one of the reasons AQ has taken up arms against the West?"

The answer is yes. Absolutely, undeniabley YES. Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda attack the West because it is Western and because it pollutes the minds of pure Muslims everywhere with its very tempting decadent culture. The only ways to stop that is to either destroy the West or cut it off entirely from the Islamic world. And Spain isn't gonna like which side of the divide OBL thinks it should be on. And OBL isn't going for the second option anyway. There are lots of reasons why we aren't fighting Islamist terrorism very effectively right now. Some are good, some are bad. But you can't contribute much to the discussion of what is going to stop terrorism if you aren't willing to accept basic facts about Al Qaeda. It isn't just an anti-colonialist group. It is an anti-Western group.

The West's position on gays and women is not why Saudi engineers fly planes into towers.

You need to understand why OBL's "message" has resonance. I can tell you with certainty, it has nothing to do with the reasons mentioned.


Your dismissal of the anti-woman message shows very little insight into the greivances you want to investigate. More than almost ANYTHING else, the liberated women of the West symbolize how strange and scary and decadent the West is in the minds of an Islamist or Islamist recruit. You can't look for purely logical reasons why an engineer would fly a plane into the WTC and attempt to kill 30,000 people. There has to be an emotional reason as well. And the disgust, the loathing, the hatred of how women are allowed to act in the West is a huge fuel to the emotional rage which Islamists harvest. Over more than 30 years the other reasons for hating the West come and go, but that one is always present. And that isn't just Islamists, there is a whole contingent of fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East who are repulsed by the same thing. You see 'moderate' Saudi clerics work themselves into a rage over it all the time.

If there is a single failure in understanding that leads us to underestimate the problem, it is the failure to understand how the greivances which piss them off the most are things that we absolutely cannot change.

Responding to lily:

We shouldn't let AQ's use of these resentments interfere with our acknowledgement of their basic validity. After all, Charles Manson claimed to be fighting for racial equality. We haven't, as a society, rejected the idea of racial equality just because some vicious wacko used it as a rationalization.

This is a big sidenote. Some people may say that we shouldn't try to do any good things that Al Qaeda might happen to accidentaly mention because it will be seen as giving into the terrorists. I'm certainly not one of those people, von certainly isn't, charles certainly isn't and Cheney, and Rice and Bush and a whole lot of other people not well liked by the left certainly aren't among those people.

But neither should you believe that dealing with the legitimate or even arguably legitimate portion of the greivances is going to be much of a solution to our problem with Islamist terrorism. Hundreds of millions, if not billions of people share the legitimate greivances. Certainly hundreds of millions of people have it far worse than the Saudi middle class from which Al Qaeda seems to draw many of its recruits. If greivance-looking the only way to deal with the problem, we're seriously screwed because the greivances that set Islamists APART from these hundreds of millions of other people are things that neither the left nor the right want to change.

If greivances are the problem when it comes to recruiting, you need to explain why the whole world isn't full of millions of suicide bombers. There is something different to Al Qaeda, and you aren't even trying to figure out what it is.

I'm not going to provide cites for things that anyone who has been paying the least bit of attention in the past 4 years should be a aware of.

Well, it's your argument, if you dont' want to support it, fine.

Your dismissal of the anti-woman message shows very little insight into the greivances you want to investigate. More than almost ANYTHING else, the liberated women of the West symbolize how strange and scary and decadent the West is in the minds of an Islamist or Islamist recruit.

If you care to offer supporting evidence.....

Until then, I tend to give substantially more weight to the "political grievances" many Arabs feel as the primary motivation for taking up arms against the West. Indeed, these are the only things the West can collectively address.

I would be and am first in line to fight any attempt to restrict the civil rights of female and gay citizens so as to conform to religious sensibilities.

Note, for example, this AQ missive "Why we fight America"

After the typical "America is evil" preamble, it cites specific acts in justification of its violent and self-described retalitory actions. Not one has to do with any sort of internal American "social policy". No they are, entirely, perceived violent acts or support of violent acts against Muslims around the world (whether AQ is fair in this condemnation is another subject, we are simply examining their primary motivation).

These are, though, the things AQ piggybacks most successfully on.

Sebastian: Some people may say that we shouldn't try to do any good things that Al Qaeda might happen to accidentaly mention because it will be seen as giving into the terrorists. I'm certainly not one of those people, von certainly isn't, charles certainly isn't and Cheney, and Rice and Bush and a whole lot of other people not well liked by the left certainly aren't among those people.

I don't know about the posters here, but you're absolutely wrong in certain regards: there most definitely is a powerful, vocal group within the Republican Party (and, I'd argue, the Administration itself, including people like President Bush) who are opposed to actions precisely because those actions are believed to be what Al Qaeda wants. [See, for example, the GOP reaction to the Spanish withdrawal of troops after the Madrid bombing.] I'm particularly aware of this because I raise this question every time something similar comes up and no Republican has ever responded: if an action is considered to be in the best interests of the country, but it also seems to be "what the terrorists want", should we do it nonetheless?

2shoes, your link only shows them to be insane; it doesn't do anything at all to clarify the source of their insanity. Other than to point the finger at Islam, which I'm guessing most of the REST of Islam will (should, at least) take issue with.

Notably, this item:

We have the right to kill 4 million Americans - 2 million of them children - and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the [Americans'] chemical and biological weapons."

Sweeeet.

2shoes, your link only shows them to be insane

If you say so. I'd say it show them to be extremely.....doctrinaire and Manichaean. But again, the internal consistency of the AQ "message" is not the point. It's why they appeal to some in the first place.

We have the right to kill 4 million Americans - 2 million of them children - and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands.

It's Western deaths for Muslims deaths...an advocation of an eye for eye - sentiments all too commonly expressed on some Western internet site, like Free Republic and LGF, too. "Nuke them 'til they glow", and so on.

2shoes aside for a second, the Spanish electorate could, of course, decide it doesn't care for OBL's fantasies about 14th century Andalusia and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent its fruition, and still legitimately hold fast to the position that garrisoning Spanish troops in Iraq or Afghanistan is an unwise move.

And, as a little chiding sidenote to your big sidenote, it could be that one way the Bush Administration could use to get the anti-War Left more on their side would be to quit embracing the domestic enemies of decadence like, say, James Dobson, who seem to believe our increasing tilt toward decadence is bringing bad stuff down on our heads.

We could have billboard and bumpersticker campaigns aimed at the vaguely decadent Democratic Party, like, say:

"Kill Osama and Keep Those Nipple Rings"

"Enlist Now and Make Your Community Safe For Porn"

"Is Medicare Mentioned in the Constitution? OBL Thinks Not!"

"Contraception For Single Women -- Pull Out (8) Of Iraq And You'll Lose It"

"Did You Know That OBL Finds No Originalist Language in The Koran For Brown Vs. Board Of Education"

"Young Mothers Bending Over In Short Shorts -- Don't Let Osama Catch You Looking"

And, my favorite, because it is amusing, once aimed at Edward by a person of renown (who probably just got carried away):

"The War on Terror -- Defending What You Are Even Though It's Fundamentally Decadent"

Actually, that's not my favorite. This is:

"Osama Bin Laden -- Good For Nothing Except Helping Us to Destroy Federal Tax Receipts"

I'm being silly.

I think 2shoes is correct in a way, and I think Sebastian is correct in a way. The phenomenon of Al Qaeda can be traced to grievances of one kind or another. Legitimate or not.

But it has morphed into something resembling rabies.
Nihilistic foaming at the mouth.

My 2 cents. The invasion of Iraq, and its presentation by the crowd in power, poked a stick at a very pissed off sick dog and spread the infection and wasted resources which could have been used to, at least, throw a net over the dog, or better, kill the dog and conduct an autopsy.

Well, a cent and half, because I really don't have any better idea than George Bush does on what to do about Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, it may be that no idea was better than stupid idea.


2Shoes, you have been presented with evidence, you are quite selective in your reading of what you have available. Osama bin Laden has a vast number of speeches decrying Western decadence--which is not a complaint about our support of Israel. The theme of Western decadence as a motif to inspire hatred has deep roots in modern Middle-Eastern Islamic society. You can feel free to ignore that. You can ignore the fact that more substantial 'greivances' come and go with the wind while that has remained constant for longer than my lifetime. You can ignore the fact that other people in the world have greivances at least as bad but somehow avoid creating monstrous terrorist organizations which bomb Spanish and English trains to get at the US, but you are only deluding yourself if you think you are getting anywhere near the question at hand by ignoring those questions.

"Until then, I tend to give substantially more weight to the "political grievances" many Arabs feel as the primary motivation for taking up arms against the West. Indeed, these are the only things the West can collectively address."

That is your political choice, not your weight-of-the-evidence choice. And since you aren't interested in engaging, I'm done with you.

And since you aren't interested in engaging, I'm done with you.

As you wish, but I've now cited two AQ documents, and you haven't cited any, so who really is the one who isn't "engaging"?

The archive of said documents has been cited twice in this thread...why not peruse them and point something out that supports your argument?

We are here to learn, right?

2shoes aside for a second, the Spanish electorate could, of course, decide it doesn't care for OBL's fantasies about 14th century Andalusia and take whatever steps are necessary to prevent its fruition, and still legitimately hold fast to the position that garrisoning Spanish troops in Iraq or Afghanistan is an unwise move.

Of course. But what do you think primarily motivated the Madrid bombers: Spain's actions now, or Spain's actions in the 14th century?

Charles--We're active participants in the UN, NATO, WTO and many other acronyms.

We actively participate in the UN only to the extent that we can control things through the Security Council. Otherwise, we ignore it or use it as a scapegoat to justify our own unilateralism. See your and Sebastian's comments above.

We shall have to see what happens with NATO as we continue to push it in opposition to the EU's CFSP.

And the WTO is the cause of much consternation in the EU, Japan, and Australia, among others because the US is using it to override restrictions on hormone treated beef, pesticide residues, etc.

Not that the EU and others aren't exploiting the WTO in the exact same way for overriding our EPA standards.

The WTO courts are commonly used to allow corporations to dismantle national environmental and consumer protection. In that sense it is anti-democratic. It's one more example of the free market over politics thinking that the neo-con/libs are touting to the profit of big corporations at the expense of grassroots politics.

Trying looking into the teachings of "Muhammad Abdel Salam Al-Farag" if you want some more background.

I'm not in the habit of providing links to common knowledge items. If prefer to believe that bin Laden is serious when he says that he hates America for supporting Israel (but only starting saying so very recently) but not serious when he says he hates American decadence (though he has said so throughout his entire career and is well in line with a huge number of fiery Muslim scholars) that is your choice. If you want to believe bin Laden when he says that he didn't like US bases in Saudi Arabia but choose not to believe him when he says that he wants to regain Spain for Islam, that is your choice. You provide no reason for making that choice and in your initial responses you also chose to feign ignorance about the list of greivances which I named. That leads me to believe that you are not interested in discussion--but rather in verbal flamethrowing. This conclusion is strengthened by the dismissive response which Bernard has already brought to your attention.

I don't have time to look up links for people who aren't engaging in discussion.

LJ, I included your name with a list of others to make a serious point that I do not consider you and a great multitude of my political opponents as idiots at bests and traitors at worst.

If that is the case, you could have pointed that out rather than say

You are accusing me of saying that Edward, Hilzoy, Katherine, von, Phil, Gary, Jes, LJ, nous and legions of others--here and elsewhere--are idiots at best and traitors at worst. Instead of digging in your heels and stiffening your neck, you should be backing away from such an absurd statement. How can anyone, left or right, see you as credible when you unbendingly defend this tripe?

At no point did you say that you treat us as serious commentators, that despite our disagreements we are all working blah blah blah. You know, the acknolwledgement that there are certain ground principles that we agree with. Earlier, I suggested that I really think that you get taken away by your own words and end up saying things that seem self-evident to you, but are rather insulting to others. and this stands as a prototypical example. I certainly hope that you feel that the people listed are all working towards the same goal, but quite honestly, I've never seen you mention that here. (and I would be happy to be refuted on this)

Also,
I did not refer to my previous posts here, others did. Your concerns about murkiness should be with them, not me.

I believe that you have referred posters to your beliefs when Iraq was invaded (when you weren't posting here) as well as consistently citing your own posts on Tacitus to underline your positions. This leads to other commentators examining the comments and back and forth. If you re-read my point, you will see that I am not trying to fix blame, merely pointing this out and suggesting that it is not helpful.

Obviously, it is a distraction to talk about your rhetoric rather than the subject(s), but if you are unaware that your rhetoric is a distraction, I wish you would take some time to consider the possibility. Other people have also complained about similar points.

I don't have time to look up links for people who aren't engaging in discussion.

Wow.

If prefer to believe that bin Laden is serious when he says that he hates America for supporting Israel (but only starting saying so very recently) but not serious when he says he hates American decadence

Ugh...I've picked myself up off the floor...I don't know if you got up on the wrong side of the bed or what, but for the last time we aren't talking about OBL, we're talking about what attracts people to AQ.

As for Farag and The Neglected Duty, yeah, it's all very intolerant and unyielding. Sort of how you are beginning to sound.

At no point did you say that you treat us as serious commentators, that despite our disagreements we are all working blah blah blah.

I don't recall having said anything like that of late, myself. Do you therefore conclude that I regard that lot as a bunch of dumbasses?

I don't recall having said anything like that of late, myself. Do you therefore conclude that I regard that lot as a bunch of dumbasses?

I'm sorry, the 'you' refers to Charles. I realize that I thought von was Charles (and apologized for that), but I'm pretty sure I didn't think Charles was you. This is just an observation, because I do appreciate your calming influence on this blog, but I don't recall you having posted any substantive post recently. Comparing your rhetoric with Chas is like comparing apples and pipe wrenches.

"Calming influence". My mom would get a chuckle out of that.

I didn't think you mistook me for Charles, I was simply pointing out what I thought was a rather large problem with your argument. Of course, it could be that Charles is somehow programmed to be thinking bad thoughts about people he's not praising, in which case never mind.

And it's always possible that you meant that another way entirely, in which case give me a virtual slap upside the head with a week-dead flounder.

John, re your 2:56 comment, Tom Tomorrow makes a similar connection in this cartoon (though he takes it in a different direction).

Charles,

"Sorry, Charles, but you said the first indefensible thing in the other thread.

By your so-called reasoning, if I write something that--in your perception--is indefensible, that means you get a free pass in writing something indefensible yourself?"

Hardly. It means that if you feel under no compulsion to retract indefensible statements when others point them out to you, why should anyone else feel any when you do?

Slarti: I didn't think you mistook me for Charles, I was simply pointing out what I thought was a rather large problem with your argument. Of course, it could be that Charles is somehow programmed to be thinking bad thoughts about people he's not praising, in which case never mind.

Given the context -- in which McDuff asks "All on the same side here, aren't we?" to which Charles responded "You tell me" -- I think your position of neutrality is somewhat misplaced.

I didn't think you mistook me for Charles, I was simply pointing out what I thought was a rather large problem with your argument. Of course, it could be that Charles is somehow programmed to be thinking bad thoughts about people he's not praising, in which case never mind.

I hope this isn't a week dead flounder, but I really tried to underline the fact that I think what Charles says is _not_ a true reflection of what he thinks. Perhaps this is more insulting than assuming that what Chas says is a mirror to what he thinks, but I think giving people the benefit of the doubt is a worthwhile thing to do.

Setting aside Chas' mental state, my impression (and I don't think I am alone in this) is that Charles starts out saying something attention grabbing and then slowly backs up from it. From some standpoints, it is quite effective, because if Chas simply said things that everyone agreed with, it would be rather anodyne. But the general absence of any markers of agreement (or, as Anarch notes, the demand that those who disagree with Chas prove that they are on the same side) leaves people to wonder, as well as serving to increase the temp in here. Which, I hope we can agree on, would not be a good thing.

If you're basing all that on the "you tell me" comment, I think you're concluding something from what he said that doesn't necessarily follow. Of course, asking him what he meant by that may still be an option open to you.

And is the assumption that we're all on the same side really warranted? After all, there's substantial disagreement as to what the proper course of action re: terrorism is, and that sort of goes contrary to the idea of unified side-ness. Not so much of a with-us-or-against-us thing as...and here words fail me. I mean, can we even get concurrence here that terrorism ought to be opposed? I know we had at least one frequent poster that disagreed with that.

If you're basing all that on the "you tell me" comment, I think you're concluding something from what he said that doesn't necessarily follow.

I think Anarch was simply providing an example that was readily at hand.

And is the assumption that we're all on the same side really warranted?

errr, you tell me.

Slarti: Of course, asking him what he meant by that may still be an option open to you.

Sure, but we're not likely to get an answer, are we? After all, if Charles wanted to explain what he meant by that comment, he's had every opportunity to do so.

And is the assumption that we're all on the same side really warranted?

Given the context - a thread discussing the terrorist attacks on London - I think it would be warranted to make the assumption that we're all on the same side, yes: we are all opposed to terrorist attacks. You don't think so?


I mean, can we even get concurrence here that terrorism ought to be opposed? I know we had at least one frequent poster that disagreed with that.

Cite?

Given the context - a thread discussing the terrorist attacks on London - I think it would be warranted to make the assumption that we're all on the same side, yes: we are all opposed to terrorist attacks.

To which I would add that CB was responding to a Briton, on July 7, 2005.


Ah, let me amend that a bit. Frequent commenter. Can't recall his name right now, but I'm looking. He's been banned, FWIW, but not for thinking terrorist attacks are justified.

Which kind of brings up the question of whether one can be justified in defending oneself from a justified attack, but I never understood how anyone could think terrorist attacks justifiable to begin with.

But all this is not going to make much sense to you, lacking comments to place it in context, so you're going to have to wait until I can dig them up.

I take it you mean DQ.

I'm not sure that you've made a fair characterization of his views -- there being a difference between understandable and morally justifiable -- so I'll be interested to see the comment where he says we shouldn't oppose terrorism.

On the bigger point, in any society, you're going to find pacifists. Hell, a Republican congresswoman voted against declaring war on Japan in December 1941 (as she had done when confronted with a declaration of war aginst Germany in 1917). This hardly meant that one could then say 'I'm not sure whether Republicans are in favor of the war effort' or 'there's no consensus among Republicans that the war ought even be fought.' Much less, 'Republicans don't think we should fight back after a direct attack.' While there might be a sense that these statements could be said to have been true, they are at all times unfair.

At no point did you say that you treat us as serious commentators, that despite our disagreements we are all working blah blah blah.

I had to actually say it? Well, OK, LJ. Just so you know, if I didn't believe my fellow editors and most commenters were not serious, I wouldn't be here.

About my "rhetoric", sometimes it is strong and sometimes it is taken in a way that I did not intend. I still maintain that if my facts are wrong, my policy is to fix them and have done so. If my opinions are "wrong", then that remains a matter of opinion.

Hardly. It means that if you feel under no compulsion to retract indefensible statements when others point them out to you, why should anyone else feel any when you do?

Dan, there's a difference which you do not seem to understand. Hilzoy has mentioned this very subject on several occasions. We are all free to express to strong opinions about various public figures. I've read countless incredibly harsh opinions about Bush, Cheney and others which are beyond outrageous. Which is fine. I expressed my opinion about Durbin and Kennedy, and you expressed yours that my opinions were "indefensible". All well and good. You can make any old "indefensible statement" you want about any public figure, and I'm not going to demand a retraction. I may challenge you on it, but that's a separate issue.

But when you state something about a commenter or editor, you're in different territory. When you write as fact the following: "No, you are just saying that people who do not wholeheartedly support the President are idiots at best, and traitors at worst," you have just made a personal attack, a completely false charge and a posting rules violation. A trifecta of bad form and bad faith. It wasn't just indefensible, it was factually and actually wrong. You haven't expressed an opinion or an "indefensible statement", you trotted out a lie. And you are still perpetuating this lie by your defending it. You can't back up the lie and now so you're blocked up with stubbornness, you refuse to make even the slightest concession. Whatever, pal. Until you fully retract, I'm done with you.

Given the context -- in which McDuff asks "All on the same side here, aren't we?" to which Charles responded "You tell me" -- I think your position of neutrality is somewhat misplaced.

You must have missed this response downthread, Anarch.

I concurred with McDuff, though.

I take it you mean DQ.

I'm not sure that you've made a fair characterization of his views -- there being a difference between understandable and morally justifiable -- so I'll be interested to see the comment where he says we shouldn't oppose terrorism.

This is fascinating. I thought that slart must have someone else in mind. I mean, DQ (assuming this was the truth) was a marine and served in Lebanon. I always felt that his way of stating things was linked to his marine training. (and just to avoid any misconceptions, I, along with several other people on the left, asked him to chill a bit because we felt his comments were over the top, for which he was eventually banned.) If Slarti was thinking that DQ was fundamentally an apologist for terrorism, it really seems to underline that one set of facts can lead to completely opposite conclusions.

If Slarti was thinking that DQ was fundamentally an apologist for terrorism, it really seems to underline that one set of facts can lead to completely opposite conclusions.

Um, he was certainly an apologist for retributive rape. I don't give a rat's ass which uniform he wore or where he served, that kind of stuff is indefensible. Timothy McVeigh wore the uniform and fought in Gulf War I, but that doesn't mean we give leeway to his opinions about blowing up day care centers.

Whoops, post instead of preview.

I had to actually say it? Well, OK, LJ. Just so you know, if I didn't believe my fellow editors and most commenters were not serious, I wouldn't be here.

Actually, you don't have to say anything. We obviously can't compel you to write something. But given the fact that a number of people have pointed out the problems in your 'rhetoric' (I put that in quotation marks because you did, which I assume means that you feel the word is a bit high faluting, though I don't know why) and suggested that we might have more informative debates if you would consider modifying your presentation, it is logical to assume that you are not changing because you don't accept the assumptions behind that suggestion. Unfortunately, I get the impression that you imagine yourself in a Reggie Jackson role of being the straw that stirs the drink, so when we do discuss the problems we have with your 'rhetoric', you take this as validation of your approach. Of course, if that is true, there is really nothing we can tell you about your 'rhetoric' and we can only wait for you to make some factual mistake, at which point we pile on. (as I noted earlier, I believe the citation of Carville and Armando, among others is also a defense mechanism) IMO, this is not a very healthy dynamic, and doesn't really add a lot, but that seems to be where we are.

Um, he was certainly an apologist for retributive rape.

I'm not defending his position, but if that position (which grew out of a discussion of 'who won WWII' IIRC) is going to be taken as a apologia for terrorism, we are basically putting everything in the blender and turning it up to puree. And everything will definitely taste the same.

I didn't mean to inply that one led to the other, lj, just noting that, given that, it's not outside the realm of possibility that he was, in fact, a terror apologist as well. I honestly don't recall.

Unfortunately, I get the impression that you imagine yourself in a Reggie Jackson role of being the straw that stirs the drink, so when we do discuss the problems we have with your 'rhetoric', you take this as validation of your approach.

Ugh, LJ. More "impressions". I don't consider myself Reggie Jackson or any other sports figure. I don't purposely intend to write inflammatory rhetoric or "rhetoric" or what have you. I do not write with the express intent of evoking some form of reaction from liberal readers here. More often than not, the responses from liberal commenters from my writings are not what I expect. I do intend to write directly and straightforwardly because that's the sort of guy that I am.

I brought up Carville and others in comments because I really wonder if you might react differently if a liberal wrote something with the same content as something that I would. Your mistaken reaction to von in this very post gives me the impression that the answer might very well be "yes", that you are looking past the content of the post but at the political color of the poster.

Charles,

"I expressed my opinion about Durbin and Kennedy, and you expressed yours that my opinions were "indefensible"."

No, that's not what numerous people found indefensible. It was that, after describing them with such lines as "too eager to proclaim that we're in a quagmire and that we're losing" and "because they were never on board and wanted Bush to go down in flames", you then said you weren't impugning their motives.

If Slarti was thinking that DQ was fundamentally an apologist for terrorism

I'm not sure what you mean by "apologist" in this context, but he did say outright that (in a nutshell) an Islamic terrorist would be justified in attacking his family.

Justified. Now, the finer points of this position probably escape me, but in my book if you regard an opponent as justified, your opposition to said opponent is automatically unjust.

This could be an error in my thinking, I admit. And I don't want to make this about DQ, because he's obviously got issues that I honestly wish that he'd get sorted out.

I mean, DQ (assuming this was the truth) was a marine and served in Lebanon.

Yes, I know about his military history, but it doesn't automatically entitle him to unopposed positions that I consider loathesome.

On reflecting, the apologist label seemed inappropriate because DQ didn't seem to be making excuses for terrorists, he seemed to be saying that a terrorist attacking his (or, by extension, any other American's) family would be justified in doing so.

Ugh, LJ. More "impressions".

jftr I use the word impressions rather than opinions because impressions can be corrected whereas opinions cannot. I use 'impressions' because I want to give you an opportunity to present something like a link that would stand as a counterexample. Unfortunately, you seem to be unable to do that.

Also, looking back at your first reply, where you said
Before getting the urge to place certain impressions as mine, try asking first instead of going off with meritless assumptions.

'placing certain impressions as mine' is rather incoherent, in that the impression is what remains after you have stated your point. Perhaps you believe when I use impression, I am adducing some property or characteristic to what you believe, but that is not what the word means.

I don't consider myself Reggie Jackson or any other sports figure.
I'm sorry I wasn't clear, I wasn't musing about your athletic ability, I was referring to the notion that someone is needed to stir things up. This is why I often term your posts as 'tarbaby' posts. If you honestly don't consider what the potential reaction by the regulars here will be when you are composing your posts, now would be a good time to start.

I brought up Carville and others in comments because I really wonder if you might react differently if a liberal wrote something with the same content as something that I would.
One factual correction, you cited Carville in a post, not a comment. Also, if you are using 'you' to refer to me in particular, you are again factually mistaken because I didn't take up any of your points in that post. If you are using 'you' to refer to liberals in general, then your assertion that you are just saying things without regards to how people react is at best, rather misleading.

Of course, the citation of someone who is nominally an ally of the other side who holds a contrary opinion in order to suggest hypocrisy is a time honored one (cf. the glee at noting of your invocation of Brad DeLong as far more moderate than Krugman), but is often done in the absence of thoughtful statements of one's own opinion.

Your mistaken reaction to von in this very post gives me the impression that the answer might very well be "yes", that you are looking past the content of the post but at the political color of the poster.
Apparently you missed the last paragraph of this comment, where I note the need for self reflection on my part. Unfortunately, you obviously don't see the need for any on your part. Opinions for me, but not for thee, I guess.

On reflecting, the apologist label seemed inappropriate

Good point Slarti, apologies for introducing that term. I agree with what you bring up, I just don't think it is fair to use him as a reason to question whether we are on the same side or not.

I think it all depends on who you include in the group "we", and what you mean by "side". Clearly there's a wide range of opinions on the matter, from folks who profess to want us to just nuke the entire Middle East, to those who are cheering on the import-insurgency "minutemen". This is why I don't subscribe to or engage in the "with us or against us", because for me, there is no "us", there's simply people whose priorities parallel mine to a varying degree.

You must have missed this response downthread, Anarch.

I didn't, as it happens; nor did I miss the fact that it took you three posts to get to a mealy-mouthed non-apology for your failure to answer a simple yes-or-no question with anything like a decent response. Again, if you don't mean to sound both hostile and insulting -- seriously, in what possible way is "You tell me" supposed to jibe with "I assume that commenters here are on my side"? -- I strongly suggest you reconsider the way you write... or perhaps, more pointedly, actually consider what you're going to write before you set metaphorical pen to paper.

This is why I don't subscribe to or engage in the "with us or against us", because for me, there is no "us", there's simply people whose priorities parallel mine to a varying degree.

I'm suddenly rather glad that I had some enforced down-time because I had been planning to make this very point, only with a lot more sound and fury signifying nothing. Ta.

An interview in American Conservative magazine with Robert Pape about his study of suicide bombings throughout history. It is worth reading.

It was that, after describing them with such lines as "too eager to proclaim that we're in a quagmire and that we're losing" and "because they were never on board and wanted Bush to go down in flames", you then said you weren't impugning their motives.

I stand by my opinion of Hagel and Kennedy appearing too eager to proclaim quagmire and that we're losing, Dan. What is being impugned is their judgment, not their motives. I don't know their motives for saying what they did, nor do I really care. I don't get into analysis of intentions and motives because mindreading is not my bag. Words and actions should suffice. Whether you believe that or not is your problem, not mine.

When I wrote "many of whom were never on board with the Iraq War, many of whom have unrelentingly cherry-picked every piece of bad news because they were never on board and wanted Bush to go down in flames," I specifically did not mention Hagel or Kennedy because I don't believe they're in that group, nor did I name names of anyone else. If I did, it would be folks like Kos, Gilliard, Gloom Cole and the like.

I use 'impressions' because I want to give you an opportunity to present something like a link that would stand as a counterexample. Unfortunately, you seem to be unable to do that.

When you write something like this, there should be no need for a link or a cite to tell you that your impression is wrong. You should at least give me enough credit to accept "no, that's not how I think" without three supporting backup sources. Sheesh.

Sebastian aptly answered your "impressions" schtick. I object to this tactic because it can be easily abused, utilized as an underhanded cheap shot while retaining the thinnest veneer of civil discourse. Basically, this method gives you the ability to say just about anything--no matter how outrageous or untrue--and then you have a neat little fallback position, saying "well, it was just an impression anyway". Personally, I find this little technique sneaky and not a little disturbing. Again, asking questions about my thinking is so much better than guessing or conjuring up "impressions".

you cited Carville in a post, not a comment

Actually, I've done both, in the post you referred to and here and here.

I realize that we didn't converse about Carville previously. I see nothing wrong with using prominent Democrats to make a case, just as I see nothing wrong with liberals using John McCain, for example, to make theirs. I don't do it to "suggest hypocrisy" (another misimpression of yours), but to point out that it's not just a moderate conservative who sees it this way. Many respected liberals do as well.

If you honestly don't consider what the potential reaction by the regulars here will be when you are composing your posts, now would be a good time to start.

I never said that I don't consider the potential reaction. I wrote that, more often than not, the reaction is not what I expect. If you were writing to an audience that is 95% right of center, I would venture to guess that the responses from the commenters would be similarly unexpected.

Apparently you missed the last paragraph of this comment, where I note the need for self reflection on my part.

No, I didn't miss it.

Unfortunately, you obviously don't see the need for any on your part.

Another misimpression on your part, LJ.

I didn't, as it happens; nor did I miss the fact that it took you three posts to get to a mealy-mouthed non-apology for your failure to answer a simple yes-or-no question with anything like a decent response.

This is really amusing, Anarch. Many, if not most, liberals have objected to the "with me or against me" rhetoric. I've read that very thing on these threads too many times to count. Yet, when a liberal does it to me, I'm mealy-mouthed and non-apologetic. You're applying a double standard. Do you realize how unfair your criticism is?

your "impressions" schtick.

Charles, I hope you just missed this. I would appreciate it if you would at least respect what I am trying to do in that regard. Please.

Basically, this method gives you the ability to say just about anything--no matter how outrageous or untrue--and then you have a neat little fallback position, saying "well, it was just an impression anyway". Personally, I find this little technique sneaky and not a little disturbing.

However, you argue

I still maintain that if my facts are wrong, my policy is to fix them and have done so. If my opinions are "wrong", then that remains a matter of opinion.

Behold the light absorption qualities of that kettle!

Of course, I appreciate the ringing defense of civility in discourse, which I am sure is responsible for your 'you tell me' response to McDuff. Keep up that work on maintaining a single standard, I'm sure it will pay off eventually.

I'm thinking that you and Charles are never going to reach any sort of agreement on this, LJ. In fact, I'd submit that you two stopped any sort of effective communication on this thread several posts (each) ago. I suggest that you both pack it in. Respectfully, of course.

Many, if not most, liberals have objected to the "with me or against me" rhetoric. I've read that very thing on these threads too many times to count. Yet, when a liberal does it to me, I'm mealy-mouthed and non-apologetic.

If a liberal were to do it to you, I'd agree and I'd take your back. No-one did that here, however, because the "with me or against me" rhetoric relies crucially on a) a restricted notion of "with me", usually in a controversial paradigm presented as uncontrovertible fact -- one which, I note, you continually employ and which I've yet to see McDuff do -- and b) a variation on the fallacy of the excluded middle, usually in the notion that there are precisely two sides with everyone belonging to the one or the other, followed by c) a demonstration that the person in question fails to meet the restricted definition of "with me" (see a)) and ergo must be "against me" (see b)). None of these apply here.

Asking whether we're on the same side in a generic sense, which what McDuff did*, is not the same construction as saying "If you're not on my side you're with the terrorists". They're at best superficially related; in fact, your "you tell me" is closer to the "unfair double standard" you incorrectly impute to me than anything I've actually written on the subject. And I wouldn't harp on this except that, yes, your subsequent responses have indeed been mealy-mouthed and non-apologetic. Just accept that this was graceless and poorly written, apologize for firing off the cuff, and let's all get on with our lives. The continual evasion is unflattering, destructive of your credibility and generally not productive.

* Except that he did it rhetorically, so the implicit presumption behind his question was that yes, we're all on the same side. Your response, needless to say, did not confirm to this paradigm.

As an addendum, definitely falling in the advice-unasked-for category: you may be worried that if you make such an admission that this will tarnish you so much that, from now on, people will dismiss you because you screwed up once before. There are certainly sites on which that's true, I'm sad to say -- and to my eternal shame this appears to apply equally irrespective of their political orientation -- but this isn't one of them.

Slarti, I hope your mom is reading this. (well, not actually, but I hope you get my drift)

I think Tom Tomorrow nails it:

link

I appreciate the ringing defense of civility in discourse, which I am sure is responsible for your 'you tell me' response to McDuff.

LJ, are you really suggesting that my response to McDuff, after he asked me which side I was on, was uncivil? It's not like I don't have a readily clickable body of work. Reading a representative sample of them should make it apparent to anyone how stupid and insulting that question was.

Anarch,
McDuff was asking me which side I was on, followed by a "Hmmm?" as if he really wasn't sure. Ergo, there is a side that is with him, so there must also be a side that is not with him. His preceding entry was an admonition to von and those to the right of him (therefore including me) on the perils of "striking indiscriminately" and to not forget that either. Which conservative supports that? None that I know. His comment displayed either an ignorance of conservative thought or an attempt to conjure up a conservative boogeyman or two. Does he really think I am on that side, a side that he opposes? I don't know. Hence my terse question back to him.

I did miss Charles' more full response, as it happened, but I've seen it now.

But let's be clear about this. I'm not the one demanding whether or not you're with me or against me. I'm not asking for some test of fealty. You are. Why? You ask: "And people wonder why there's antagonism between left and right." Perhaps the answer is that both sides are making the wrong assumptions about the other, trotting out straw men and making gross generalizations. I don't claim total innocence here, and neither should you.

I wasn't after "fealty", I was after reassurance of what should have been obvious but which was lacking from the thread, and is sadly lacking from much left-right dialogue on terrorism.

It is a fact that the political climate is antagonistic at the moment, and that "the right" in general is a source for charges against "the left" that range from every liberal being a traitorous fifth columnist who hates freedom and is actually working deliberately to dismantle everything Americans hold dear, to the more insidious accusations that we want to give the terrorists "therapy," or other variations on a theme that basically sums up quite nicely as us having neither the balls nor the brains to really understand that Bad Men want to kill us, and that all our "nuanced" discussion is really just us completely failing to get the truth: that we need to kill terrorists.

And so, on a day when London got bombed and a bunch of people got killed, Norm and Von decide that the most important thing to remind people of is the fact that those people who just blew bombs up and killed people are bad people, and you come in to endorse it. "Right on von, we should never forget!"

Who had threatened to forget? The fact that "the terrorists" have done their level best to remind us that they're bad, y'know, with the bombs and the killings and the dead people, means that this post was completely and utterly superfluous from any reasonable, human point of view. We already know. So why post it, why write it? And then we refer outwards to the political context (not a hard job, because that's where we live), and we think "oh, OK then, well, thanks for reminding us mate." Or rather, I thought "et tu, von?" because I wouldn't have thought von was the kind of guy to normally go into this kind of thing, but he obviously has. It made me angry, I'll admit, reading this list of nasty things that "they" have done just in case I were to, y'know, see a bunch of dead bodies lying around, killed by terrorists, [and] wonder "so, is this good or bad?".

And that's the situation that led me to call people on the absurdity of it all. We're all on the same side here. We all get that the terrorists are bad. We get it! That's, like, remedial dealing with terrorism! If you have to remind someone that killing people with bombs is not good, that person is stupid, so you've got a post here written for an audience of entirely stupid people, "Peter and Jane Get Bombed" level of political commentary. When someone talks down at you in as patronising a way as this, it's not unreasonable to say "OK, but we're not dumb mother hubbards, are we? So there was no point to this, was there?"

It's not about whether or not that you agree with me whether we should bomb things indiscriminately. That was the point! I wasn't accusing you of that. "Hey, look, I can post about stupidly obvious crap too!!1one" I was trying to draw out a single concession that, y'know, even liberals don't need to be reminded that bombs and dead bodies are bad things, so a big long post on the 7th July telling us that people who bomb things are bad is irrelevant at best and, if it's actually aimed at any of us here, is tantamount to an outright insult.

All I was after was a concession, not that we shouldn't bomb things indiscriminately, but that your fellow human beings on this blog comments section were human enough, despite our political disagreements, to not need reminding that bombs in London are bad. Especially the British ones. That we're all on the same side such that such things should be common to all of us, and should not have to be preached from the pulpit with all the subtlety of a halfbrick to the ear.

I was not implying that you were on a different side to me. The reason I asked for it was because, despite the fact that it is something I always hold to be true, posts and threads like this make me wonder whether those on the right actually buy into their own publicity and genuinely believe us to be stupid traitors who want to give terrorists therapy. All I hear is that I hate you. I just wanted to know that, on that day, you could for once admit that you don't really believe it to be true. I'm pretty good about acknowledging political gamesmanship when I know it's there, but I think that on some days we can drop the guns and play Christmas Day Football, and that the seventh should have been one of those days.

And, of course, we've since had this in thread:

And is the assumption that we're all on the same side really warranted? After all, there's substantial disagreement as to what the proper course of action re: terrorism is, and that sort of goes contrary to the idea of unified side-ness. Not so much of a with-us-or-against-us thing as...and here words fail me. I mean, can we even get concurrence here that terrorism ought to be opposed? I know we had at least one frequent poster that disagreed with that.

and this doesn't make me angry, it makes me sad. I'm not a hopeless person, but that someone could look at a disagreement over methods and actually question whether we're justified in being on the same side! As if the concept of "loyal opposition" in government and the whole point of party political representation were lost. The point is that we disagree but we are on the same side, that our common goals are the same and that our common strength is together. We don't have to constantly affirm our allegiance to the flag because sheer circumstance has thrown us in this boat together, and we disagree because we have different ideas about what direction to steer but not because half the people actually want the boat to sink out of spite. It's not the bloody liberals who've apparently forgotten that.

Fair enuf, McDuff. I really don't want to argue or fight about an issue where, when it gets down to brass tacks, we really are allies.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad