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Monday, May 30, 2005

On Bitterness...

I repeat here a comment left by Andrew, who writes Holocaustic Vitriol, to one of my earlier posts, in case y'all missed it:

You sound bitter, but more importantly, you sound unwilling to listen to an opinion other than one in agreeance with yours.You also seem eager to use terms like "leftist" and "peace" in a derogatory manner.

I started to read the above, but then the part of my brain I've programmed to not read anything which doesn't agree with my preconceived opinion preemptively whited out from my vision everything between "more importantly" and "You also seem." so as to prevent me from having to view a dissenting opinion. Since I'm unable to read it, I can only guess at what it may say. Assuming, however, that it accuses me of being closed-minded, I'm curious to know how the writer could possibly have sufficient information to make that determination. If only I was an all-powerful dictator, I could silence such silly notions at will, and save people from wrong-headed silliness. Reeducation for everyone!! I'd even make it trendy and fun. Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie, starring in "The Gulag Life." Commies have given reeducation such a bad name.

As to Andrew's first comment, I suppose I do sound bitter. There's a reason for that--I AM BITTER, and you're damn right I am. I live in a country that spent the middle of the 20th century driving fascists from Western Europe and Asia and the last half of it keeping the Communists out of Western Europe and Korea, the country that, more than any other, drove the Soviet Union into a financial bankruptcy to match its ideological bankruptcy, and has been a beacon of hope to millions around the world for much of its 200+ year history.

Our fathers and brothers and sons have fought and bled and died on foreign soil around the world so that others, people of other races, creeds and religions, might live lives of freedom and prosperity. Thousands of Americans are in wheelchairs, on prosthetic limbs and on life support in order that the people of this place or that place might be free of fascism, Communism or some religious nutbag-ism that would tell those people who they are to be and what they are to say, and what they are to believe.

We spent the better part of the last century standing up against real fascism and the guys with the real gulags. If you don't know what a "real gulag" is, go read about the fun things that happened in Soviet Russia under Lenin and Stalin. If you want to understand real fascism, go study all those lovely projects they came up with in Nazi Germany. These were really bad places controlled by really bad people. In the fascist version of "suppression of speech," the speakers themselves disappeared, not just their ratings. The real fascists did real torture. Real torture is where they do really sweet things like pull out your fingernails with pliers and smash your toes with hammers. As a nation, we have given much to the effort to oppose these things, and for very good reasons.

Andrew commented that I use the terms "leftist" and "peace" in a negative way. I certainly hope so. I use these terms in the most negative way possible, consistent with the full measure of derision that they deserve. Leftists, and by this term I mean true leftists, are responsible for the deaths of over 100 million people in this century alone. Hundreds of millions more have been forced to live in a slave-like existence that the left has wrought on Earth. Whatever there may be to commend equality, I submit that this is a pretty heavy weight on the "negative" side of the scale. And yes, I know there are those that claim to be "warm fuzzy" leftists--all the equality, none of the firing squads. Problem is, they've had their chance to distance themselves from the hard-edged communists for most of the last century, and most chose not to do so. Tell me who your friends are, and I know who you are.

For at least the last 40 years, the principle of "peace" has been very selectively applied by the "peace" movement. With respect to the term "peace," it is now well beyond reasonable dispute that the easiest way to identify the KGB front organization in your town in the 1980s was to find the largest "grassroots community" group incorporating the word "peace" in its name. That was almost guaranteed to be a Soviet-backed group. We suspected it at the time, and now we have the proof. What kind of nonsense is it to say you're consistently "pro-peace" or "anti-war?" That's like being "anti-fire." In order to be 100% pro-peace above everything else, one would have to be willing to accept a lot of unpleasant things in one's perfectly "peaceful" world, including the continuation of black slavery in the American South, the complete extermination of European Jews, a unified Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong-Il and a Kuwait dominated by Saddam Hussein, as a few examples. We didn't go to war in Rwanda. That worked out well. Happy now? Point is, like it or not, war often does solve things. True, sometimes war is meaningless. But often, and particularly when the U.S. is involved, war has a purpose, and war, while ugly and terrible in its execution, has a positive outcome. Anyone who is unwilling, or unable, to accept this proposition is a moron.

So yes, I am BITTER. I am BITTER because so many people today claim to not be able to see the difference between Adolf Hitler and George Bush. I am BITTER because so many people claim to not be able to see the difference between a Soviet Gulag and an American military prison that does unspeakably brutal things like putting panties on a man's head. I am BITTER because so many people claim to see moral equivalence between Ayman Al-Zarqawi, who intentionally murders Iraqi police and civilians dozens at a time, and George Washington. I am BITTER because the people who claim to see the world this way are in any way taken seriously.

We should never be unwilling to place the actions of our own government in the spotlight and criticize those actions when necessary. At the same time, when people say ridiculous things, they should be greeted with merciless ridicule rather than a pensive nod.

8 Comments:

Blogger Andrew said...

Wow! You are bitter and angry. You must be thankful that I gave you the opportunity to vent like that.

Although, judging by your prolific posting, you don't need a reason to vent. Just a computer.

3 questions for you, out of curiosity:

My wife and I drove through upstate NY and New England last month, and we lost count of the american flags on fence-posts and dooframes.

1) What is it you like about your country?

2) What is it you dislike?

3) How many flags do you fly?

6:46 AM  
Blogger Eman said...

Other than to comment on the overall bitter angriousnessitude of my rant, you didn't find anything in there worth discussing? Disappointing.

I already have plenty of reasons to vent, as discussed in the post. You did give me a particular opportunity.

To your questions:

1. Read my post. Not an exclusive list, but a very good start.

2. Ditto.

3. I have one flag. On my house.

Why do you ask?

9:56 AM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I found plenty worth discussing, but I'm trying to better understand the source of your angriousnessitude.

Those were pretty poor answers to my questions. What you love about your country is that it goes to war for its ideals? You can do better than that.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Eman said...

My sincerest apologies for your disappointment at my answers, Andrew, but allow me submit to you that your disappointment may originate from your own oversimplification of the content of those answers rather than the answers themselves.

After reading all that I wrote, all you derived from it was that I like my country because it "goes to war for its ideals?" There's certainly much more in my post than that.

Obviously, every country which goes to war goes to war over its ideals, even if those ideals are essentially naked self-interest. The Nazis and the Khmer Rouge fought wars for their "ideals." Unfortunately, those ideals happened to be the psychotic dreams of madmen. If the United States was to become a British-style imperial power, or intentionally engaged in wars of genocide, those would be wars fought for a certain set of ideals. Those are not ideals which I, or most Americans, believe in. Consequently, I wouldn't be particularly happy with the U.S. government if it engaged in such wars, and neither, I submit, would most of the American populace.

Hence, a principally genocidal or imperialistic war fought by the U.S. wouldn't make be similarly proud of my country's action, despite the fact that it was going to war over a set of ideals.

There's a lot to like about the U.S., and certainly a lot to dislike, but the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died on the world's battlefields in order to save people from tyranny is one of the things Americans can, and should, be particularly proud of. The same goes for the citizens of any country which has shed its own blood for the freedom of others, who can be equally proud of that fact.

Certainly we are wealthy and powerful, and generally live together peacefully, in contrast to most of the world and most of mankind's history. America has provided a very successful model for the rest of the world to follow. At the same time, those things don't choke me up when I salute the flag and think of America and the principal reasons I'm proud to count myself among its citizens.

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On your section regarding 'Peace', I like what Orwell said in 1945. In particular, the first few sentences match my observation that most people who shout 'peace' are really shouting 'status-quo'. War can bring peace.

As for the remainder, interesting reading given when it was written.


Excerpted from http://www.slate.com/id/2102723

The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point. But there is a minority of intellectual pacifists, whose real though unacknowledged motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration for totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writing of the younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States …

From Orwell's Notes on Nationalism in May 1945.


-Korson

3:33 PM  
Blogger Eman said...

An interesting quote from a famous pacifist active in the 1930s:

‘Our gospel is as old, true, and solid as the hills. Violence and force have been tried again and again, and have always failed because such action is based on the foolish belief that evil may be overcome by evil.’ - George Lansbury, British politician

Unfortunately, Mr. Lansbury died in 1940, so he wasn't around to explain the glaring inconsistency between the above statement and the outcome of WWII.

6:23 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I found it interesting that on your second attempt to describe what you liked about the US, the only things I could pick out were war-ready, anti-tyranny, wealthy, and powerful.

I also found it interesting that Orwell was cited by the anonymous poster. The events of his classic work, 1984, bears a striking parallel to the tactics of the Bush administration. Have you read it? Please do so.

I also don't think it's fair to imply a comparison between WWII to Iraq, a war that was either unnecessary or else the reason for the war was poorly articulated by those who waged it. Disagree with that statement? Of course you would, but as these erstwhile and tenuous links to terorist threats start trickling out of your intelligence agencies, I can't help but remember that Cheney proclaimed that Iraq had the big guns and it was going to use them.

For the public of your country, this was the principal tenet of the war - and it was a lie.

Which is why I'm glad Canada didn't enter the war. Our people decided that this wasn't the best tactic. Should Hussein have been removed from his position? For the good of the Iraqi people, I think so. But is this the reason that the US went to war in the first place? Simply, no. Let us not forget this fact so quickly.

Canada didn't want to wage this war without knowing the true motives of those who wanted to initiate it. As it turns out, the motives remain elusive to this day. Oil? Freedom? Terrorist threats? Time to flex the muscles? All of the above? Take your pick - it doesn't matter at this point.

Finally, back to the Amnesty International report: I can appreciate that the Gulag comment was offensive and out of line. One thing, however, that was glossed over in this whole mess was this, from politicalaffairs.net:

"The human rights organization also chastised the US for pressuring governments to accept "unlawful immunity agreements" shielding US personnel from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The rules governing the jurisdiction of the ICC state explicitly that its jurisdiction extends to countries only when the appropriate authorities in those countries fail to investigate and prosecute adequately those accused of war crimes and other atrocities.

According to Amnesty, 12 countries refused to sign such immunity agreements and as a result "10 had some military aid suspended as a result. In November the US Congress threatened to cut off development aid to countries that refused to sign." "

Put away your thoughts of bias at the source of the article (all sources are biased, particularly your Fox News) and ask yourself - is this true? Did the US pressure other countries into signing some sort of agreement?

How does that clash with your country being anti-dictatorial and anti-tyranny? Kinda sounds like the strong-armed tactics of a bully, to me.

As sad as this is, and as wrong as it is for me to think it, it is the attitudes of people who never questioned the reasons behind this war - their attitudes - that make me glad to be from a country whose people did not to participate in the war.

I don't consider myself patriotic, and I don't identify with being Canadian, but I sure am glad that I don't live in Texas.

Love to stay and chat, but I must be going - away, that is. Respond if you want, but I won't be back for a while.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Eman said...

Andrew sez:

"I found it interesting that on your second attempt to describe what you liked about the US, the only things I could pick out were war-ready, anti-tyranny, wealthy, and powerful."

I find it interesting that you characterize my act of describing what I like about the U.S. as a mere "attempt to describe" what I like about the U.S. I didn't merely "attempt to describe." There was no necessity that you digest my response or "read between the lines" in order to determine something I was inferring or "getting at". I've described the subject matter about which you inquired clearly and unequivocally. Whether or not you were inclined to COMPREHEND what I described is another matter.

Andrew also sez:

"I also found it interesting that Orwell was cited by the anonymous poster. The events of his classic work, 1984, bears a striking parallel to the tactics of the Bush administration. Have you read it? Please do so."

Yes, the similarities are striking. Even after four years of martial law, I still haven't gotten used to the taste of Victory Coffee or those huge posters of George Bush on every street corner. I still have the bruises from the last time I was tardy to the Ten Minutes Hate. The Ministry of Information was actually just in here switching out a couple of my history books. (Turns out they had some outdated photographs in them.) Also it turns out the monitoring camera in my living room had gone on the blink sometime in the last week, so I'm probably on some list now. Joy...

Oh, wait, I must have been temporarily hit by a leftist fantasy beam, because NONE OF THAT STUFF REALLY HAPPENS. There are no huge posters of our commander-in-chief on every street corner, Victory Coffee, Ten Minutes Hate or monitoring cameras. There is nothing even remotely like any of that. So NO, there is no "striking parallel" between Orwell's 1984 and "the tactics of the Bush administration."

Andrew sez:

"I also don't think it's fair to imply a comparison between WWII to Iraq, a war that was either unnecessary or else the reason for the war was poorly articulated by those who waged it."

This is what the left continually asserts. In essence, the argument goes, democracy in Iraq was a by-product of the war and/or an afterthought. But, if you argue that position, I think you really have a burden to address the actual words of those leaders, for example:

"The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq. . . .

Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission. The regime will have new power to bully and dominate and conquer its neighbors, condemning the Middle East to more years of bloodshed and fear. The regime will remain unstable -- the region will remain unstable, with little hope of freedom, and isolated from the progress of our times. . . .

If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time."

- George W. Bush, speech to the U.N. General Assembly, September 2002, laying out the rationale for military action in Iraq

Andrew sez:

"Canada didn't want to wage this war without knowing the true motives of those who wanted to initiate it. As it turns out, the motives remain elusive to this day. Oil? Freedom? Terrorist threats? Time to flex the muscles? All of the above? Take your pick - it doesn't matter at this point."

I disagree. I think the motives underlying the war mattered, and the motives were "all of the above," but not in that order. The true order is something like: 1. reduce terrorist threats by 2. flexing the muscles, 4. establishing a permanent military presence and 3. expanding democracy. No doubt oil was a consideration, but not in the way that lefties would have it be. If the U.S. merely wanted access to Iraqi oil, it could've simply allowed the oil embargo to be lifted, thereby providing U.S. access to Iraqi oil at no cost. Instead, the U.S. invaded Iraq, at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. This wouldn't make any economic sense whatsoever if the only goal were to get access to Iraqi oil.

Andrew sez:

"Did the US pressure other countries into signing some sort of agreement?

How does that clash with your country being anti-dictatorial and anti-tyranny? Kinda sounds like the strong-armed tactics of a bully, to me."

As it stands, there have been allegations of American soldiers in Iraq acting improperly, and those cases have in many cases been dealt with by U.S. authorities and military juries. I have confidence that a jury of men and women in the U.S. military can hand down a fair verdict as to the actions of a fellow soldier, sailor or marine.

I have no such confidence that a jury of individuals selected by representatives of the likes of France, Spain, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Somalia would be likely to hand down a fair verdict against a U.S. serviceman or servicewomen. Accordingly, I certainly hope that the U.S. government does everything in its power to prevent such a thing from happening, including at least economic pressure brought to bear against other countries.

2:24 PM  

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