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Is It Really About Good vs. Evil?

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One of the most successful tactics that both sides have used in the "War on Terror" is the Manichean tactic: "Good vs. Evil." Our side is good, their side is evil. But what am I saying? This isn't unique to the "War on Terror." It's been a keystone in the way every country, every faction, every foot soldier has ever fought a war in the history of the world. I represent the side of good, and that's why I must defeat the opponent, who represents the side of evil…and if he wins, evil wins. That kind of framing is really a propaganda necessity: it turns war into a moral issue, and morals are damn hard to argue with.

There are also extremists on each side who take those things too far. The far-right wackos in America, for example, insists that not only are al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and Hamas and the Iranian Ayatollahs evil, but in fact, Islam is an inherently evil religion whose very existence is a threat to human goodness. Meantime, I had some far-left wackos telling me, less than a week after 9/11, that while the attack on the Pentagon was regrettable, "it did get rid of some truly evil people." Both of those extremes are scary — equally scary.

But damn it, the whole argument is a little scary in my book. I don't buy for a second that this thing is about Good vs. Evil, because I don't believe that dichotomy is real. We, the human race, love to pare things down to the lowest common denominator, the simplest possible terms, in order to understand them and our place in them. Some of us even like to attribute it to Satan, the supernatural force of pure evil who is having his way with the evil person and this with the person's victims. But all of that's TOO simple. It doesn't account for what the conflict really is, which is simply one compound of people and circumstances against an opposing compound of people and circumstances.

That's it. It's that vague, general, and complicated. There's no way to simplify it without lying to ourselves and each other.

Let's consider, for example, the person we like to consider the epitome of evil. Let's consider Hitler. Here's a man who seemingly came out of nowhere, took control of a tiny nativist faction and made it the most powerful political party in Germany. Svengali-like, he enchanted the whole of the country with his condemnation of Jews, Marxists, and the Western powers (the latter two, of course, being controlled by a sinister conspiracy of the former) and rose up to conquer Europe and engage in horrible, massive ethnic cleansing. A seemingly invincible monster, he survived a number of accidental and planned threats to his life, only succumbing to his own hand at the end.

The above mixes fact with myth, and is pretty close to the official version of events that we like to tell ourselves in the post-World War II world. But it's simply not right — not factually correct, and not morally correct — to tell the story that way. Hitler, for starters, didn't come out of nowhere. He was a product of his time and place (provincial Austria of the late 19th and early 20th centuries), of his upbringing (the son of a lazy, lower-middle-class civil servant who drank too much and beat his children daily), of his inherent and subsequent mental instability (some say there was syphilis involved in there somewhere), and of the current political situation (the destruction and brutal subjugation of both the Austrian and German empires after World War I).

We like to pretend, for example, that it was Hitler who brought virulent anti-Semitism to Europe. In fact, it was the other way around. Europe, and Germany and Austria in particular, had been foaming at the mouth for centuries in their distrust of the Jews, and outright hatred of them was by no means uncommon, if not quite mainstream. But with the too-harsh Treaty of Versailles and Germany's humiliation, the people were desperate for a scapegoat, and the Jews became a favorite with the silly "world banking conspiracy" charge. Two, the Nazi Party was an explicitly anti-Semitic faction ("a German community free of Jews" was a plank in their founding platform) before Hitler had ever even heard of it. What Hitler had that solidified their power was zeal, ambition, and above all charisma. Read my lips, folks: Germany didn't hate the Jews because Hitler was in power. Hitler was in power because Germany hated the Jews.

History, and the rest of us have good reason for teaching that Hitler was an inhuman monster. It's how we communicate that his actions were unspeakable and can't be allowed to happen again. But there's an unfortunate side effect of NOT teaching that Hitler was an ordinary (if complex) human being whose personality was nurtured by his circumstances: because we've learned that Hitler was a monster, we'll all be vigilantly looking out for a monster to stop while another ordinary (if complex) human being sneaks in under our noses and becomes the next Hitler.

Think you and I and everybody else DON'T have the potential to be the next Hitler? Think that you never, at some point in your life, were presented with a set of choices or possibilities that, had you done differently, might have taken you down a similar path? Kid yourself all you want.

The same is true of the other monsters in recent history. Stalin, Amin, Pol Pot, Hussein, bin Laden — they're all human beings whose perspective on the world has been cultivated by a set of circumstances that the rest of us only escaped by sheer luck. And none of our responses to them are simple, either: we congratulate ourselves over the perceived positives, and are so happy and confident about them that we overlook the negatives, which shape the personalities of our next opponent. Then that opponent comes along, and we still can't see the negatives or connect ourselves to them so we simply characterize that opponent as evil.

The "we" in the above paragraph is a very large "we," by the way. I'm talking about the human race and human civilizations. It's not a U.S.-centric thing. Although, because I'm from the U.S., I'm concerned about what we do without realizing it, too. It's the reason so many of us warn that the war in Iraq is simply breeding more terrorists: because our actions and their consequences are far more nuanced than we tend to appreciate–and the other side doesn't appreciate the nuances either, they just see death and destruction in our wake. Nobody in the world sees their own relativism: if we see ourselves as good and the other guy as evil, it's unfathomable that anybody else could see things differently.

I recently visited with an acquaintance of mine who's an independent filmmaker. He was talking about directors he admired, and mentioned that he had ONCE loved Clint Eastwood — until he saw Letters from Iwo Jima. The very idea that the film, which told the story of the Battle of Iwo Jima from the Japanese side, had made them seem like the good guys and America like the baddies? It made him sick. I pointed out to him that Eastwood's companion movie, The Flags of Our Fathers, had taken the opposite perspective (America good, Japanese bad), and that Eastwood's overarching point was that in war we always see ourselves as the ones fighting for the good moral cause and the other guy as fighting for the sake of evil — because that's how wars go.

My friend said allowed that that might indeed be the point — but that he didn't know. He hadn't seen The Flags of Our Fathers, nor did he intend to, because he'd been so offended by Letters from Iwo Jima. On the other hand, he did love the films of Mel Gibson, because Mel had such a steadfast vision of good and evil.

It's awfully convenient to be able to do that–to tune out the notion that "The Good Guys" is a relativity, and focus only on the simple absolutes. I wish I could. But alas, the simple absolutes don't exist. There is no such thing as a purely black and white issue. None. Nothing is simple. Nothing is good-or-evil, nothing is with-us-or-against-us, nothing is 100% anything. The world exists in fifty trillion shades of gray.

When we turn on our black-and-white filters and look at the world through them, Doom will walk in wearing gray from head to toe. As it always does.

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About Michael J. West

  • http://www.xanga.com/rohanv Rohan Venkat

    The sad thing is, even most of those who agree that it’s not about good vs. evil, are willing to believe in what they think are the true reasons, but are equally simple i.e “It’s all about oil”

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Michael, you cannot excuse evil because of circumstances. Hitler being beaten daily is a tragedy for him and for the world, but it does not justify anything that he did, it merely helps to explain his motivations. There are other people who came out of the same or similar environments who did not turn into monsters.

    Your mistake here is in trying to come to terms with the reasons for evil, a common error which the well-intentioned make because they find evil so inconceivable that they have to look beneath the surface and try to understand it and explain it and make it approachable.

    That’s a terrible fallacy. The reasons for things matter only on an intellectual level, and perhaps in trying to prevent future evil. In reality and in the present time all that really matters is the end result. The justifications and explanations are irrelevant. It is what is DONE which matters and nothing else.

    If you murder people, engage in genocide and wars of extermination, decorate your home with the stuffed bodies of motel guests, or in other ways deliberately and maliciously try to harm others, you’re evil. It doesn’t matter why to the victim or to the people who have to stop you. The whys only matter afterward when historians try to figure out how to stop the next monster from doing the same thing.

    Dave

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    I’m not trying to come to terms with the reasons for evil, Dave. That implies that I believe “evil” exists in any real form.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Hitler being beaten daily is a tragedy for him and for the world, but it does not justify anything that he did, it merely helps to explain his motivations. There are other people who came out of the same or similar environments who did not turn into monsters.

    You miss my point. I did not attempt to justify what Hitler did. I attempted to explain it. (Of which explanation Hitler’s daily beatings were but one of many, many facets.) And no, the people who came out of the same or similar environments did NOT all turn into monsters. But they could very easily have, and I that a change to only a minute detail of their lives could have made all the difference.

    There, but for the grace of God, go we.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Yes, Michael, I understand that you were trying to explain the reasons why things happen. But does the victim ask the reasons why he’s being victimized? Does it lessen his pain in any way?

    The fact remains that actions are what matters, and actions CAN be accurately characterized as evil.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    Michael,

    “I’m not trying to come to terms with the reasons for evil, Dave. That implies that I believe “evil” exists in any real form.”

    Even if one accepts your premises about the causation of the Hitler phenomenon (and I do see your point), what it was, regardless of why can only be described as “evil.”

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    No, of course it doesn’t lessen the victim’s pain in any way. Nor was I attempting to do so.

    Maybe we’re talking past each other with different definitions of evil here. Some people define it loosely as “wrong or causing wrong,” but that’s too broad for me. I think “evil” is “wrong for the sake of wrongness.”

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    what it was, regardless of why can only be described as “evil.”

    I’m sorry, Clavos, but I don’t agree. I think the “why” is an inherent part of whether something is evil.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    A point made on the Wikipedia page for “Evil”:

    “In the philosophical concept of evil, the intent to cause harm is crucial, so that acts that would otherwise be considered evil are not called evil when performed by very young children, by animals, or by the insane.”

    Hitler was insane, was he not?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Hitler was insane, was he not?

    That rather depends on how you define insane, and greater minds than ours* have debated the semantics of that and the word evil for a long time without getting anywhere.

    *Well, possibly…

  • Clavos

    “I’m sorry, Clavos, but I don’t agree. I think the “why” is an inherent part of whether something is evil.”

    Whew. I couldn’t disagree more.

    Murder is evil.

    An argument can be made for killing in a rage not being murder, e.g. Also, other, immediate, circumstances can change murder to a lesser offense, at least in a legal sense. But cold-blooded killing of another human being, whether premeditated or simply random (as in teens beating a homeless man) is, in my opinion, evil.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree, then.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    But cold-blooded killing of another human being, whether premeditated or simply random (as in teens beating a homeless man) is, in my opinion, evil.

    We’ll just have to agree to disagree, then.

    Well, I’m not all that convinced that we DO, Clavvy. You specifically mention cold-blooded killing. That, of course, is what murder is. But “cold-blooded” goes to intent.

    If we’re not exactly on the same page, you and I, we’re pretty close.

  • zingzing

    i think dave and clavos are missing the point to a degree. in the middle of it all, when there is an act of “evil” or someone is made into a victim, humans see things as good versus evil. we always have and, probably, always will. but that’s not really how it is.

    i think mike is trying to suggest that things are far more complex. the hitler example was, maybe, a difficult point to back up. still, what he was really trying to point out is that in times of war, “we” always like to think we are on the side of what is good and right. and so do “they.” so who is right? us? sure we are.

    don’t get so wrapped up in the hitler example that you lose sight of what mike’s really trying to say. there’s nothing inherently evil in islam. there’s nothing inherently evil in those that we have been fighting. a lot of them strap bombs to themselves and walk into markets because they are under the sway of an ideology strong enough to make them do that. they aren’t getting some sick thrill out of it. they aren’t any more “evil” than any other deluded follower, whether they be “god hates fags” shirt-wearers, l.a. gang members or u.s. torture artists.

    mike’s saying we all have a potential hitler in us, and it’s dangerous to assume we are too good not to. i think. anyway. that last line (in the original essay) was nasty dark, mike. nasty.

  • zingzing

    “Murder is evil.”

    ok, say i murder someone in an alleyway. i don’t know the guy. what you don’t know is that i’ve got a gun pointed at my head, or at the head of my family or something. someone forced me into that murder. (why? how should i know?)

    is that murder evil? i intended to do it, and i did it, fully knowing what would happen to the other guy.

    you can’t remove circumstance from the action.

  • Clavos

    “is that murder evil?”

    It’s not even murder. There’s a difference between murder and killing. One such difference is killing in combat. Another is self defense (what you described). Neither is murder.

    And of course your killing the guy in the alley under the circumstances you describe is not evil; it’s not even murder.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    they aren’t any more “evil” than any other deluded follower, whether they be “god hates fags” shirt-wearers, l.a. gang members or u.s. torture artists.

    mike’s saying we all have a potential hitler in us, and it’s dangerous to assume we are too good not to.

    Quoted for truth.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    The Hitler thing, by the way, was inevitable. (Ask Dave about Godwin’s Law.) I just brought it into the column as a preemption.

  • zingzing

    “It’s not even murder. There’s a difference between murder and killing. One such difference is killing in combat. Another is self defense (what you described). Neither is murder.”

    ahh, but it is. i made the choice to kill another man. he was totally innocent (at least as far as i was concerned), and i decided that his death was preferable to whatever consequences my not killing him might have had. to him, and to his family, and probably to the law, the man was murdered.

    a murder occurred. whether or not i am “guilty of murder” is another thing. presumably, the person who forced me into the murder isn’t going to stand up in my defense, and it would be assumed that i murdered the man out of my own personal evil, which is not the case.

    so… whether or not it truly was murder (on my part) is beside the point. or, that is the point…

    like mike says, it’s the “why” behind the act that determines “evil,” not the “what.”

  • Clavos

    “i made the choice to kill another man. he was totally innocent (at least as far as i was concerned)”

    How so? Did you not say he was holding a gun against your head?

    “…and probably to the law, the man was murdered.”

    Not in any US jurisdiction I know of.

    It sounds like you’re defining as “murder,” any killing of any human being under any circumstances.

    Under that definition, you’re correct, but that’s a rather limited definition of murder, with which, I suspect, few people would agree – including me.

  • SFC SKI

    To hit the subject of this column, the War on Terror is about more than just the simple terms good and evil, but it make me consider this: Do those I fight against, in this case, and for lack of a better term, Islamists, seek to institute a way of life so reprehensible and threatening to me, my family, and my country that I should fight back? Yes.

    What should one call a person who chooses to place explosives in a school, or detonate a suicide vest in a marketplace? Good, evil, morally equivalent to the Iraqi cop who sacrifices himself wrestling the bomber to the ground, shielding others with his own body?

    Comment #13:”there’s nothing inherently evil in those that we have been fighting. a lot of them strap bombs to themselves and walk into markets because they are under the sway of an ideology strong enough to make them do that. they aren’t getting some sick thrill out of it.” I disagree, and there are more than enough “last will and testament” style vidoes and notes left by those killers to show that they do get a thrill; Paradise Awaits!

    One can parse the meanings of good, evil, killing, and murder from the comforts of a computer chair, anyone who fails to recognize a threat, and take action against it, is just a sheep awaiting slaughter.

    Something noteworthy, those who seek to destroy us or subjugate us don’t really debate good or evil, for them it is simply that we are not followers of their belief, and that is sufficient to their cause.

  • zingzing

    “How so? Did you not say he was holding a gun against your head?”

    ok… hrm. now i see where you are confused. i wasn’t too clear. pre-coffee, all i can say. anyway, the man in the alleyway isn’t pointing the gun at my head. someone else is. it’s more as if someone said, “you go murder that guy, or else i will shoot you (or your family) from over here.” it’s a sniper-type situation… sorry for the confusion.

    “It sounds like you’re defining as “murder,” any killing of any human being under any circumstances.”

    no, no no. sorry. there’s at least three people involved here: the victim, me and whomever is telling me to kill the victim.

    does that make it more clear? ugh… my fault.

  • zingzing

    the point is that there are circumstances behind this guy’s murder that he will never know. in fact, it seems unlikely that anyone will know the full circumstances, and even if i try to defend myself by explaining those circumstances, no one is going to believe me.

    someone got murdered (good guy) by someone else (bad guy). that’s all that anyone will see. but, of course, that’s not the case.

  • zingzing

    “I disagree, and there are more than enough “last will and testament” style vidoes and notes left by those killers to show that they do get a thrill; Paradise Awaits!”

    yeah, but that’s a false thrill. they truly believe that this will get them into heaven and that they are doing the work of god. no matter that killing innocents is strictly forbidden. meh. they aren’t evil, they are fools, brainwashed by promises that will never be fulfilled.

    “anyone who fails to recognize a threat, and take action against it, is just a sheep awaiting slaughter.”

    and anyone who takes a perceived threat and blows it up into a stupid religious conflict with nuclear implications is just building the slaughterhouse.

    “those who seek to destroy us or subjugate us don’t really debate good or evil, for them it is simply that we are not followers of their belief, and that is sufficient to their cause.”

    they discuss good and evil in the same exact terms that we do. what part of “the great satan” doesn’t clue you in? you really think this all comes down to religious beliefs? i doubt it. there’s a bunch of history, politics, power struggles and general delusion (from all sides) that goes into creating this mess.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    those who seek to destroy us or subjugate us don’t really debate good or evil, for them it is simply that we are not followers of their belief, and that is sufficient to their cause.

    Are you sure about that?

  • Dr Dreadful

    The thing to remember in all this is that the terrorist with the explosive vest believes that he is on the side of Good, and that those he intends to blow up represent Evil.

    There’s no impartial referee here: even appealing to God doesn’t help, because the beliefs your particular God condones are what drove you to this pass in the first place.

    All you can do is throw yourself into the melee and trust that Good, as you perceive it, will prevail.

  • SFC SKI

    Yes, I am sure. If you look at most of the statements made by Islamists, they do not really characterize non-Muslims as “evil” and therefore something to be destroyed, they merely portray their targets as being non-Muslim, or at least not as Muslim as they are, evil has nothing to do with it.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    If you look at most of the statements made by Islamists

    Such as?

  • SFC SKI

    Not to get snarky, but if you are going to write about the war and those involved in it, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and trust that you actually did some research. I have to get ready for work, so I am not going to spend the next 2 hours googling up the collected works of Zarqawi, Zawhiri, and Bin Laden. Basically, there is a school of Islamic thought that feels that Muslims are right to subjugate or kill non-Muslims, and that is what many of today’s top names in Islamic terrorism draw upon to justify their actions.

  • zingzing

    “Basically, there is a school of Islamic thought that feels that Muslims are right to subjugate or kill non-Muslims…”

    so… is it a “school of islamic thought,” [#28] or “islamists” [#30] in general who say that non-muslims should be killed for just being non-muslim.

    and i could have sworn that bin laden said something to the effect of “get your soldiers out of islamic lands” and that 9/11 was pretty much about the american military presence in the middle east.

    sure, there are those who preach murdering non-muslims. but why? it’s because their non-muslim beliefs make them evil. funny how muslims only seem to target those that believe in the same judeo-christian-muslim god. you really don’t see them going after buddhists. why? because there more to it than your simple little fantasy.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Indeed, SFC SKI, I did do my homework before I wrote this post. What I’m suggesting is that you did not do your homework before you wrote your comments. Otherwise, you would find that Zarqawi, Zawhiri, and bin Laden have repeatedly cited a list of American political and military ACTIONS that have gotten their goats (no pun intended).

    Or do you somehow imagine that the World Trade Towers and Pentagon would still be intact if they had known that there were Muslims inside them on 9/11?

  • http://www.friendlymisanthropist.blogspot.com alessandro Nicolo

    Though the piece flirts with moral relativism, it is well-written and presents a valid thought.

    However, I take the position that evil does exist. It just does.

  • Zedd

    Mike

    This is one of the best articles that I have read on BC. Very thoughtful and simply stated. Thank you!!

    I suspect that more than any other generation, the Boomers were raised to believe in the idea of good vs evil than any other. I think previously, what you state would be easily received as people understood the humanity and culpability of their own leaders. However, during and post WWII the barrage of propaganda especially in the US about who we were and what we represent was intensified more than ever in history. Hollywood was at its best and the mass media was new. They believed!

    They grew up on westerns (good guys vs bad guys) and happy endings. There was no gray area. While they revolted against that glossy world view by “dropping out” as hippies, the job was done, hence they reverted in the eighties when they became adults.

    What you speak of is not relativism but objectivity. It is the lack of it that has landed us with a red vs blue country.

  • Baronius

    Michael, the US is a strong nation, and historically, strong nations become bullies. We’re accused of imperialism all the time. So we’ve got to always consider and reconsider our actions. But if we’re not being the bully, we need to keep doing what we’re doing.

    The other side is hiding weapons in mosques, beheading innocents, and shooting people on their way to the polls. Iran is training and equipping Shiite soldiers for attacks against US troops. In Palestine, islamists are killing each other over which group is more extreme. Syria is strangling Lebanon; Egypt is strangling itself; and Somalia continues its centuries-old slide.

    Islamists may have a reason, a tough national childhood to blame their behaviour on. I’m not judging them. But we’ve got to stop them.

  • Zedd

    Michael,

    The political puppeteers understand our need to be on the “good” side so they invent “evil” for us to fear and stand up against (vote against).

    The Republicans have abused that phenomenon in the past 25 years and may not know how to stop themselves.

    What has actually happened is that we now have politicians who believe the myths that were created in order to attain our votes and are occupied with fighting nonexistent boogie men. These same men chastise those who don’t fight against these phantoms for not being American (or on the good side). This party is full of Don Quixote de la Manchas with great valor but no real accomplishment because their enemies don’t exist.

    I look to John Bambenek’s, and Mike Green’s articles for near by evidence of phantom horror politics.

  • Zedd

    Just as good exists, so does its opposite.

    I am not sure if good or evil people exist. I would say that sociopaths DO exist. Without getting too nerdy, there are people with severe attachment issues who never developed what we call a conscious. They are propelled by immediate desire as opposed to love, approval and all the things that keep us in line. When you encounter them, they DO appear evil.

    I would say that evil actions most certainly exist. Child abuse is evil. While the abuser may be ill, he is performing an evil act.

  • zingzing

    baronius, i think mike is trying to say that we should find the REAL REASONS why all of this is happening, so that we can find REAL SOLUTIONS to the problem. right now, all we’ve got is “they’re evil.” which, no matter what you think, is not the whole story, or even a very big part of it.

    the way we’re going about it now is not working, pretty much because, while we can knock over their governments and kick their armies all over the place, we DON’T UNDERSTAND who these people are and don’t know how to put right what has gone so wrong.

    it was foolish to go in there, take out their government, and expect to put one to our liking in its place. why did we do it? well, bush likes to say that iraq was harboring terrorists. it certainly is now. more than ever. if it wasn’t a breeding ground before… well.

    our enemies have serious motivations for doing what they are doing. it’s not so simple as pure evilness or even religious domination. it, like mike says, has to do with 100 things (such as history, politics, culture, etc.) that have all come together to create this mess.

    look at israel. they’ve been fighting this same damn war we are for the past 40 years. why? because they fail to even try to understand the perspective of the other side. what does islam want? more importantly, what do we want? we know the answer to that question: we want peace and safety. so why don’t we answer their grievences and see if we can’t repair western and islamic relations?

    we aren’t going to win this war with the army. it’s failed already and it’s failing worse every day. i’m not a defeatist. i’m saying we need to go about it a different way. all i know is that we can’t win the way we have been, and the next military option is one that we don’t have the balls for. (and for good reason.)

    yes, this war must end. terrorism should be stopped. how does that happen? NOT BY BLOWING SHIT UP AND KILLING PEOPLE AND INVADING COUNTRIES AND TOPPLING NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURES AND STARTING CIVIL/SECTARIAN WARS AND GENERALLY GOING ABOUT LIKE “THE GOOD GUY” IN THE WESTERNS ON A WORLD STAGE.

    sigh.

  • Zedd

    Zing

    I don’t believe that the architects of most wars believe that the other side is evil. I believe that they understand the scene much better but must simplify things to the public in terms of good vs. evil in order for their pursuits to be rubber stamped.

    I believe that most wars are designed to maintain or attain wealth for the wealthy. The masses are fed the theatrics and we believe because we want to feel a part of something.

  • Zena

    If what you mean by good v. evil; right v. wrong, yes. What happened to people’s morals? Or have they never had any to begin with? They had too…or we would have never had ‘LAW’ to begin with. Although, I guess it just all about ‘r*venge’ for some. Have a great day, Zena

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Islamists may have a reason, a tough national childhood to blame their behaviour on. I’m not judging them. But we’ve got to stop them.

    Baronius, while I understand what you’re getting at, there’s one question I fear you’re sidestepping.

    If we simply “stop them” without examining what those reasons are and how to fox them, how on Earth can you imagine it won’t happen over and over and over and over again?

    You’re right. We do have to stop them. But we’ve also got to figure out to keep from starting them again.

  • MCH

    “But we’ve got to stop them.”

    But…but…isn’t the best way to “stop them” by actually taking action and serving, rather than just spouting empty rhetoric on a blog-roll?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Does Christopher Rose have a monopoly on the power to evoke the MCH Exception?

  • STM

    Just a point on Hitler, Michael, if only because it has the utmost importance when viewing America’s current situation.

    First, plenty of people have come from the kinds of abusive/dysfunctional middle-class backgrounds Hitler came from and didn’t go on to do the things he did.

    While the other factors likely contributed, he was more the product of his own direct experiences in WWI, during which he was a genuine war hero in the German Army, not the Austrian. More on that later, as it’s important in the context of what you’ve written, particularly in regard to the propagandist position of Nazi Germany in regards to the spin fed their own people by the regime prior to and during WWII.

    As Michael points out, Hitler, like many in the German military, felt they’d never really been defeated (and indeed they were allowed to march back to their homes with their rifles shouldered), and felt aggrieved that after so much sacrifice, his nation had been let down and then humiliated by the victorious powers.

    That war experience also may have led, ultimately, to his defeat. Because of his WWI experience, Hitler had an overwhelming admiration for the British (based largely on race, one would suspect) and held out hope, especially during the early years of WWII prior to America’s entry, that somehow he and the British (and later the Americans) would join forces (and later defeat the Russians) to rule the world. His failure to defeat them in that early period, having enabled them as the only country willing to stand up and engage them in all theatres of the war, may have been his first major tactical blunder, one that was certainly on a par with his decision to invade the Soviet Union. It certainly opened a can of worms in terms of America’s subsequent rise as the true world superpower, and its Cold-War stand-off with the Soviets.

    On propaganda: in Mein Kampf, he has a little story about the kind of propaganda Michael discusses here, and how he came to understand its usefulness, contained in Volume 1, Chapter 1V, which is worth reading, because although it’s about Britain, the parallel with the new Empire, that of the United States, is obvious if applied to today’s climate.

    And I say in the wash-up of all this, it actually IS about good and evil, even if your ideas on what that might represent are slightly skewed one way or the other.

    There is no way that the US is an evil empire, any more than it’s predecessor was. Nazi Germany, however, possessed of an evil ideology, much like that of the islamic fundamentalist terror groups we are engaged with today, truly was.

    It’s also worth thinking about something a friend mentioned the other day. While I don’t share his right-wing political views, I’m inclined to agree with him on this. A favourite left bumper sticker in Australia (and probably therefore in the US) is “Free Tibet”.

    As he quite rightly points out, why not “Free Iraq”.

  • Clavos

    I didn’t even know Tibet was on the market; much less that it’s free! Is the Dalai Lama included? To whom do I write?

  • Doug Hunter

    “you really don’t see them going after buddhists. why?”

    Because you don’t bother to read the world section of the news perhaps. Muslims have destroyed some of the Buddhists most ancient temples and artifacts over the past couple of decades. There’s also pretty heavy fighting between the two in Thailand right now. Google ‘beheaded ice cream man’ for a recent juicy bit of war coverage.

    In fact, Muslims have pissed off just about everyone from the Animists in Somalia and Nigeria to Christians in Chechnya, the Hindu in India and yes, even our ultra passive, burn yourself in effigy rather than express violence Buddhists (that’s quite a feat in itself).

    One thing I am sick and tired of is this ‘all religions were created equal BS’ I’m sorry, your cultural studies and moral relativism indoctrination course in college was a complete stinking pile of useless shit. A religion is a belief system packaged with a boogeyman as invisible enforcer.

    All belief systems, and hence all religions, are not created equal. In it’s current form Islam begets honor killings, stonings, beheadings, severe oppression of women, enforcement of sharia law including mutilations for petty crimes and corporal punishment for breaking ‘moral codes’, the ultimate merger of the political and religious leadership structure to enhance and legitimize all of the above, and that’s just for their own pious believers.

  • Doug Hunter

    If in the end you can’t make up your mind about the existance or relevance of evil let the propaganda be your guide. In Islam’s case they have the promise of 70 virgins, we have actual videos of thousands of ‘virgins’ and whores, and asian trannies, horny nurses, hot housewives, and bears on twinks available for free download 24/7. I know who’ll ultimately win this culture war!

  • STM

    Muslim extremists do go after Buddhists.

    There is an ongoing campaign right now in the three southern provinces of Thailand (a travesty, really as the Thais would have to be the most peaceful people in the world). There is trouble there as we speak, once again fomented by muslim extremists.

    And what about Bali … the Balinese, although mainly Hindu, have a fair smattering of buddhists. Jemaah Islamiyah, the murderous Asian offshoot of al-Qaeda, has been engaged in a campaign of mass murder there for some years.

    Then there’s India … where Kashmir has become a killing ground. So yes, unfortunately, they do go after buddhists.

    They go after anyone who is isn’t a fundamentalist muslim. That includes muslims who don’t come up to scratch (ie, not willing to remain in the 9th century) according to their misguided standards.

    It IS about good and evil, and we aren’t the evil ones. The sooner American “liberals” and those on the loony left understand the true nature of this problem, the better we’ll all be.

  • STM

    Clav: “I didn’t even know Tibet was on the market; much less that it’s free! Is the Dalai Lama included? To whom do I write?”

    Lol … oldie but a goodie, eh Clav?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Zing, what you and Michael seem to be missing is that the motivations of evildoers don’t matter in making the decision to stand against evil and stop it. Yes, motivations may make a difference in determining how to prevent the recurrence of that same evil, but that’s secondary to accepting reality and making the hard decision to actually DO something in the face of evil.

    In the case of radical Islam the basic motivation is a cultural rivalry which goes back at least 1500 years and probably predates islam by another thousand years. And in that rivaly they have been repeatedly bested by their rivals both to the east and west, and they have a resentment so ingrained that it’s more than just part of their religion. They’re tired of coming in third, and thousands of years of doing it have literally driven their culture insane. And frankly I don’t see how you can go back and ‘fix’ their defeats at the hands of the Greeks and the Romans and the Byzantines and the Crusaders and the British and the Russians and the Moguls and the Portuguese and and and

    It’s hopeless to even try to address the root causes of the problem in this particular case. Sometimes the only way to deal with a disease is to treat the symptoms.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    …or to excise the tumor…

  • STM

    Here’s a classic example, Dave. A few years back, I was the foreign editor of a metropolitan newspaper (which actually runs up to five full pages of foreign news, and more up front if it warrants it). Our wire service photos come in en masse from all over the world.

    What you see most from the middle east and many muslim countries is misery: women crying, children crying, men marching for “peace” in the streets while carrying AK-47s, RPGs, and suicide bomb belts, car bombs, damaged buildings, craters full of blood and body parts, funerals, faces full of anger and hatred, the heads of suicide bombers lying in gutters, terrorists hacking off people’s heads while they’re still alive. This is the “civilisation” islamic fundamentalists want us to believe is the right one. Most of these horrific scenes are caused by Islamic fundamentalists attacking their own people. Yeah, good, eh? …

    We don’t get off Scot-free, though, do we? Then there was 9/11 (mass murder and skscrapers falling in New York. Remember that?), the Bali bombings (80 Australians slaughtered, and 100 plus of other nationalities, including muslim Indonesians) the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, airliners blown up over Russia. I could go on, but I won’t. I’m sure you get the picture.

    Contrast that to the scenes from other parts of the world. The unveiling of new cars and aircraft, buildings being opened, fashion parades, sporting events, rescue workers helping others, and most importantly, the happy faces. Yes, people more often than not are smiling.

    The other pictures, dare I say it here, are of people fighting for a JUST cause: their own self-preservation and the protection of political systems that allow for personal freedoms and liberties.

    I would go so far as to say that the violence and bloodshed besetting many muslim nations is of their own making, not ours.

    Wake up America and smell the gunpowder. These people are never going to go away. In their frustration (the answer to their problems is staring back at them from the mirror), all they can do is kill. One can only beat them at their own game, despite the fact that we have no real desire to so, and the price of freedom in this case really is eternal vigilance.

    As much as I dislike Bush and his cabinet, at least some of what he’s done is right.

  • troll

    besides and what’s more…’Osama don’t surf!’

    Stan – do you ever wonder if working for a major metropolitan ‘western’ propaganda organ has tainted your perceptions – ?

    if you want to see smiling middle easterners I suggest going through Al Jazeera’s photo feed

    and note that there are plenty of visuals of ‘western’ acts of organized evil out there…cf ‘shock and awe’ coverage and those swell images out of the detention centers in Iraq

    as you beat the drum just keep in mind that your middle eastern/muslim doppleganger is hard at work too

  • Silver Surfer

    Ah troll, still not seeing reality, eh? Here’s the facts. No islamic fundamentalist engaged in this stuff wants to talk or mediate with the US … they just want to destroy it. Just try talking with them and see what happens. History’s against you way of thinking … they’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.

    They want to destroy you, me and every other non-muslim who doesn’t agree with their way of thinking.

    Al-Jazeera? One of the great Arab propagandist organisations that can’t see the wood for the trees.

    Yes, I’ll keep beating my drum all the time these arseholes keep doing what they’re doing.

    And if the US won’t stand up to them, we’re all well and truly fucked. If they won’t, who will? Right now, as I look around the world, I see the US (and its allies) as the only ones with enough balls to tell them that if they want to carry on with this shit, there’s a price to pay.

    Like I say, the middle east will find all the answers to its problems by looking in the mirror. The US won’t find any answers to its problems by indulging in navel-gazing.

    And you’re right … Osama don’t surf. If he did, he probably wouldn’t be getting idiots to fly jets into Manhattan skyscrapers or be ordering people to cut off people’s heads with blunt knives (slowly, and while they’re still alive).

  • Clavos

    @#52:

    Is that you, Stan?

  • Silver Surfer

    Yes mate … I’m on my computer at home, and it’s doing bizarre things. Like asking for a name. The hide of it!

    Geez, I do get annoyed with all this namby-pamby “let’s just talk to the terrorists and find out why they’re angry with us” bollocks.

    Fuck me, they keep blowing everything up. After 9/11 and the other attacks around the world, how can any American question the rightness of standing up to these people, even if Bush’s execution of it hasn’t been great.

    Has everyone already forgotten what happened?? And why is America looking inward on this? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

    What are we all supposed to do … just stand there and wave flowers at them and hope they’ll go away?

    Clearly, they won’t.

  • troll

    Stan – you mistake me for someone else…I don’t expect reason from Muslims anymore than from Christians – Jews – or Capitalists

  • troll

    *Fuck me, they keep blowing everything up.*

    precisely what is said about the US by ‘their’ propogandists

  • Silver Surfer

    Nothing wrong with capitalists Troll … as long as they’re sharing their wealth with the people who help them create it :)

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Now troll, Capitalism is entirely based on reason. There’s nothing else to it but a juggernaut of inevitable logic.

    And Stan, as usual you make perfect sense. Troll’s claim that western civilization is just as violent as Islam overlooks the fact that we’re not committing violent acts against ourselves or against random people. The fact that we’re responding to violence with violence does not mean that we are inherently as violent as those we respond to.

    As for the cluelessness of so many in America, it’s somewhat inexplicable. I think that they just follow their leaders, and those leaders are so filled with hatred for America that anything which serves to lessen us in the eyes of the world is okay with them.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    Dave: “Capitalism is entirely based on reason. There’s nothing else to it but a juggernaut of inevitable logic”.

    Almost … as long as the juggernaut extends to a temporary minor reduction in profit so that the people who struggle to make business profitable get a fair share of the profit. A real living wage for ALL workers ain’t that much to ask. And people who like their work and their employer are far more profitable in the long run, if only businesses could see beyond their short-sighted focus on the June 30 bottom line.

  • troll

    Dave – logic and reason are two distinct objects

    the principle of maximized profit has a series of logical and utterly unreasonable consequences

    and when you say – *…[western civilization is] not committing violent acts against ourselves or against random people.* you’re kidding…right?

    as for America hating – as Lehrer sang: ‘…I don’t like anybody very much’

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Stan, plenty of businesses understand that workers need to be paid a decent wage. You can’t have workers dropping unconscious at work because they were selling their blood to make ends meet. Nonetheless, most businesses go with setting wages based on the dictates of the market, and in a capitalist society the wages set by the market are generally sufficient to live on.

    We have some loony ‘living wage’ advocates who think that the minimum wage should be governmentally set at an extremely high level, based on the assumption that any wage should be able to support a person without even a minimal level of sacrifice – in other words they ought to be able to live in a one-bedroom apartment with no roommate, own a new car and have cable TV and other luxuries on what is a starting or part-time wage.

    Dave

  • Silver Surfer

    Dave wrote: “in other words they ought to be able to live in a one-bedroom apartment with no roommate, own a new car and have cable TV and other luxuries on what is a starting or part-time wage”.

    Sounds good to me … throw in a free surfboard and a block of wax and I’m there.

  • Clavos

    OK on the surfboard, the National Board Board will provide you one after you fill out this 25 page form (notarized) and give us copies of your tax returns back to 1950, as well as those of your parents back to 1930.

    Oh, and copies of your dog’s pedigree papers and shot records. If you’re not a dog lover, or if you have a cat, you don’t qualify; please re-submit your request (in quadruplicate) to the Federal Surfboard Agency.

    You’re on your own for the wax.

  • Silver Surfer

    We did used to have federal surf funding in Australia …

    It was known as the dole.

    Five people on the dole could rent a farm house on the far north coast and live like kings. And they never took it off you. Can you believe that?

    Then John Howard came along and ruined it for everyone.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Stan,

    I’ve been reading your comments, and I agree with almost all of what you say (total agreement is found only in the grave; J. Stalin). But damn it, you’re a journalist! Can’t you at least call things by their right name?

    There is no such thing as a Moslem fundamentalist or an Islamist. There are Wahhabi – who call themselves Salafi – and every damned one of the Arabs you’ve been talking about is a follower of El-Wahhab; a heretical Arabian writer kicked out of Islam over two centuries ago.

    The followers of El-Wahhab took over the Moslem Brotherhood in the early 1900’s (don’t have an exact date on that – sorry). The followers of El-Wahhab were also financed by the Union Bank (Prescott Bush) and encouraged by that Bank and the Brits to kick out the Hashemi family from Medina and Mecca (sorry, Stan, the documents released after so many years back this up). Oil and money were at the bottom of that deal. In the 19th Century, followers of El-Wahhab made their way to Deoband, India, and the converts they made there became what we now know as the Taliban.

    Both the El Fatah and Hamas are permutations of the Moslem Brotherhood. They pretty much control CAIR. They have hijacked Islam and turned it into a nightmare of what it had been.

    The reason I keep stressing this is that the Wahhabi have an address – Riyadh. Nuke it, or even get rid of it with a baby bomb of a few kilotons, and you have cut the head of the terror snake off.

    Now, where we disagree. Bush is a business partner of the Saudis, the Wahhabi. For this reason, he will not nuke Riyadh and solve most of the major problems of international terror. It’s worse than peeing on the boss’s shoes – it’s lopping off his head and cutting off a major source of the Bush family income. The patriotic sentiments of George Bush – both daddy and little boy – do not extend as far south as the wallet. And when you’re as bad a businessman as George W. Bush, you NEED a sugar daddy.

    Shit – if I had $10 for every time I’ve written this at Blogcritics, I’d have enough money to buy a TREO (sp?) with all the bells and whistles! Imagine! Sitting on the bus from J’-lem and being able to type up and submit an article to Blogcritics while the driver hollers out “Ofrá” or “P’sagót!” – getting off at Ma’aleh Levona having written an article, and then laid out a book for publication…

    Wet dreams – wet dreams…

    Mike,

    Let me suggest a paradigm for all of this that may work for you. This whole balagan that you have gotten yourselves into in Mesopotamia has three levels.

    The first level is the supposed democratization of an Arab nation, an exercise in “nation building.”

    The level beneath, the one most people sense, is the global war for resources; oil is not the only one being fought over.

    But the reality underneath IS a battle for good and evil. There are forces of darkness fighting forces of light. And the differences are subtle – which is why it’s easier to attempt to see the world in “shades of gray” – the moral choices are much easier by comparison.

  • troll

    Ruvy says – *…the Wahhabi have an address – Riyadh. Nuke it, or even get rid of it with a baby bomb of a few kilotons, and you have cut the head of the terror snake off.*

    your willingness to throw off both international law and that of your own religion leads me to the conclusion that this is not a struggle between good and evils as you claim but rather one between two piles of stinking evil

    the slaughter of innocents is not acceptable

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    And the differences are subtle – which is why it’s easier to attempt to see the world in “shades of gray” – the moral choices are much easier by comparison.

    Ruvy, you’re as wrong as you could possibly be. The truth is exactly the reverse of what you’re saying.

    Having been in the place where I viewed the world in black & white, I found that infinitely easier than viewing the world in shades of gray. The moral choices in a gray world, in fact, are vastly more difficult than in a black and white one.

    In a black-and-white world, the morality is clear-cut. This side is right, that side is wrong. Stopping that side is right, letting them win is wrong. This has to be done, exactly in this way, with no room for discussion or compromise. Period.

    Every statement in the preceding paragraph is bullshit – and the most terrifying, narrowest, most outright stupid imaginable way to deal with the world.

  • zingzing

    silver surfer: “Geez, I do get annoyed with all this namby-pamby “let’s just talk to the terrorists and find out why they’re angry with us” bollocks.”

    what do you suggest then? just what we’ve been doing. working fine, yeah. ok, or take it to the next level… wanna nuke em? yippee! world war III! this time with insta-death!

    i say we do what they want us to: get the fuck out of the middle east. stop sucking on their gas-filled testicles. let israel (as ruvy says) handle its own problems. get down to the real reasons why they attacked us, figure those out, do what they want us to do. they just negotiate in a different way, i guess. i think it would be a victory all around for us.

    “Fuck me, they keep blowing everything up. After 9/11 and the other attacks around the world, how can any American question the rightness of standing up to these people…”

    dude. we blow everything up. we call them bombing raids and we do it all the time. they throw their 20-something year old men into nightclubs and markets covered in gunpowder and nails. we send in the army. they hijack planes. i mean, turn your sentence around, replace “9/11″ with “ww2″ and “American” with “Muslim” and there you have their point of view.

    “Has everyone already forgotten what happened?? And why is America looking inward on this? Doesn’t make any sense to me.”

    nope. haven’t forgotten. just haven’t let it blind us to the present. why is america looking inward? who is looking inward? stop just looking at iraq! look at the rest of the middle east! that’s where the answers are. it doesn’t make any sense to you because all you can see is terrorists. where do the terrorists come from?

    “What are we all supposed to do … just stand there and wave flowers at them and hope they’ll go away?”

    jesus. you sound like it’s 1968.

    ruvy: “But the reality underneath IS a battle for good and evil. There are forces of darkness fighting forces of light…”

    sigh. with god on our side, right ruvy?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    you write,
    “Ruvy says – *…the Wahhabi have an address – Riyadh. Nuke it, or even get rid of it with a baby bomb of a few kilotons, and you have cut the head of the terror snake off.*

    your willingness to throw off both international law and that of your own religion leads me to the conclusion that this is not a struggle between good and evils as you claim but rather one between two piles of stinking evil

    the slaughter of innocents is not acceptable”

    We are at war. You are at war. You do not lead your children into harm’s way if you are not determined to win that war. Often, all to often, the slaughter of innocents is the difference between victory and defeat, or victory with minimal casualties and victory with over a million casualties. Think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki – about the fire-bombing of German cities during WWII.

    I do not know if you have children, but I do. I do not want to see them led into war here if we are not at least going to try to win that war.

  • zingzing

    why let your children live in a warzone at all? that’s kind of irresponsible. sick, in a way.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mike,

    The irony of what I write is that it appears to be much more “realistic” to view the world as “shades of gray.” The moral choices are easier because in such a weltanschauung, the price of the tricky decisions is smaller. In a “black and white world” with very subtle distinctions, the price of each decision is much higher. Each decision is the entire p0ker game.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Are there subtle distinctions in a black and white world?

  • SFC SKI

    I agree, the black vs. white view is overly simplistic, but to allow so many shades of gray as to render one incapable of discernment, or to defend oneself, is absurdly fatal.

    It’s all well and good to examine the hositle actor opposing you, and his motivations, but to take no action to ensure your own survival is also fatal.

    One of the points I tried to make yesterday was that we can sit and discuss the abstract definitions of good and evil motivation and action, but that the Islamists do not in general do the same in examing us. Good nor evl does not usually fall into their rationalizations, it is strictly split between believer or unbeliever.

    Comment #30: If having US troops on “Islamic” lands is considered justification for Bin Laden, etc. to strike at teh US and the West, what about the Islamists who claim that lands once under Islamic rule, like Andalusian Spain, be returned to Islamic rule? Not only that, how does bombing a market full of Iraqis in Baghdad somehow fall under that same justification?

  • troll

    Ruvy you say – *You are at war.*

    not that it makes much difference to the folks killing and getting shot up and with due respect for Ski but actually the military is operating under two AUMFs

    ‘war’ will come when congress declares it (…and authorizes conscription)

    then you say – *Think about Hiroshima and Nagasaki – about the fire-bombing of German cities during WWII.
    *

    what am I to think about these unpunished war crimes…that they set the stage for and justify your view that total war against terrorized civilians is acceptable – ?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    not that it makes much difference to the folks killing and getting shot up and with due respect for Ski but actually the military is operating under two AUMFs

    ‘war’ will come when congress declares it

    Now, of course, comes the part where the following happens:

    (1) Dave (or somebody else stealing his material) reminds us all that “judges in three separate court cases have said that the AUMF is equivalent to a declaration of war.”

    (2) I ask for specific information: which judges, which cases, and where I can read the decisions.

    (3) Dave (or somebody else stealing his material) doesn’t respond.

  • Baronius

    “look at israel. they’ve been fighting this same damn war we are for the past 40 years. why? because they fail to even try to understand the perspective of the other side. what does islam want?”

    Zedd, Islam has been clear about what they want. Israel understands what Islam wants. Islam (or the zealots therein) wants every middle-eastern Jew dead. Not land, not a state: elimination of the unbelievers.

    And the war hasn’t been going on for 40 years. The current version of the war has been raging for about 1400 years, although it goes back further than that. Three sides want Jerusalem: Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The Christians have not minded when Jews live in Palestine, but they want the Muslims gone. The Muslims want the Jews and Christians gone. The Jews don’t mind anyone as long as no one’s shooting. (But most people are shooting.)

    The problem isn’t misunderstanding. It’s completely different objectives.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    The Jews don’t mind anyone as long as no one’s shooting. (But most people are shooting.)

    Um…there are certainly people who want Israel to be For Jews Only.

  • Baronius

    If we simply “stop them” without examining what those reasons are and how to fox them, how on Earth can you imagine it won’t happen over and over and over and over again?

    Michael, I think it will keep happening. Different players, different centuries, same game. The best we can do to prevent war is through freedom. It’s possible to co-exist in a free society. It’s impossible to co-exist under sharia.

  • zingzing

    zedd’s a nice person and all, but i’m sure she’s as sick as i am that we keep on getting mistaken. zedd didn’t write the above, i did. being zingzing. just another z-thing to you. why can’t you see individuals?

    as for your 1400 year war theory, shit was relatively peaceful before the allies plopped israel right in the middle of everything.

    the “zealots of islam” do want exactly what you say. unfortunately, for the majority of muslims, the zealots’ guns are louder than the rest of islams’ “just going about daily life.” the cycle of violence is producing the zealots. but still, the vast majority of muslims don’t give a fuck what happens outside of their neighborhood, much less their city, much less their country, much less in your country, or in europe or anywhere else. they truly don’t care. they don’t give a fuck about christians or jews or anyone. they are trying to get some food, make sure they have heat, watch a little t.v. they want a cell phone more than they want the head of the infidel.

    that’s just the facts. as soon as we get over the “islam means terrorism and death,” the less power the zealots will have. zealots unite the weak-minded and hatred-filled under a common enemy. take away their enemies.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Are there subtle distinctions in a black and white world?

    Of course!! Sometimes the difference between good and evil is thinner than a six stiver coin or a half-dime. The difference between what you suggest and what I suggest is that the “price” is much lower in a “shade of gray” situation than a black and white one. I suggest that viewing things in a shade of gray viewpoint hides the real price – which often seems like an unintended consequence because all the possible consequences have not been considered.

    If I remember, I’ll have to toss this kind of question to Robert (Yisrael) Aumann. He might have some interesting thoughts…

  • zingzing

    “The best we can do to prevent war is through freedom.”

    now who’s got the fucking flower-power?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Are you sure you’re on the right metaphor, Ruvy?

    The entire point of the “black and white” metaphor is that there are no subtle distinctions. A black-and-white world specifically means that things are binary -either 100% one way or 100% the other. Good or evil, with nothing in between.

    By contrast, the notion of “shades of gray” is all about subtle distinctions.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Mike,

    I’ll repeat what I wrote earlier.

    The irony of what I write is that it appears to be much more “realistic” to view the world as “shades of gray.” The moral choices are easier because in such a weltanschauung, the price of the tricky decisions seems smaller. In a “black and white world” with very subtle distinctions, the price of each decision is much higher. Each decision is the entire p0ker game.

    The reality is that the price of every decision is always the entire p0ker game, but looking at is as shades of gray, with a lower risk factor results in unexpected losses.

  • Baronius

    Michael, yeah, #77 contained some big generalizations. I was replying to a comment about “what Islam wants”, so I figured that generalizations were allowed.

    My point is that even if you don’t want to label people or actions good and bad, it’s tough to have neighbors who want you dead.

  • Baronius

    Zingzing and Zedd – sorry.

  • zingzing

    oh, baronious, i don’t really care. i like being called a south african woman. really, it’s fine. confusing… detrimental to my mental state… but fine. i get it all the time, which gives me an excuse to blather on about “all us z-people look alike to you” and shit like that. it’s fun. zedd doesn’t seem to take as much pleasure in it as i do. something wrong with being a southern (u.s.) male, zedd? hmmph.

    as for what islam wants, here’s my guess, and it’s specific!:

    1. for westerners to stop meddling in middle eastern affairs. (i know, they should work on stabalizing the place themselves if they don’t want us meddling. but it’s a valid complaint.)

    2. for western armies to remove their bases from middle eastern locations. (same as above.)

    3. for western countries to stop cheating middle eastern countries out of their oil profits. (i know, they have their own problems with their own governments cheating them out of their money. but that’s an in-house project for them to take care of.)

    4. stop giving israel military support. (i know, so they can just go destroy it, eh? well, according to some israelis, israel doesn’t need us anyway. and i say, let them have their war to themselves if they want it so bad.)

    5. return israeli territory to palestine. (here’s the sticker. we fucked up and put israel right in the middle of their shit. it’s hard to take land away from a group and give it to another. but we did it before in the interest of world peace. why not again? it IS a valid complaint, as we had no right whatsoever to create israel. but we did it. and so we are stuck with it.)

    if we could do these things, or at least the first four, i think radical islam would fall apart. they couldn’t recruit people to fight if they have no valid complaints. the hard truth is that it is western action that is causing this reaction.

  • Baronius

    Zing, if you give a bully your lunch money on Monday, what do you think will happen on Tuesday? Islamic groups call for worldwide sharia, the freeing of all Muslim prisoners, no support for any secular government. They call for the overthrow of governments in Indonesia and Turkey. (Those two governments are crazy, no doubt, but they’re walking an impossibly narrow path.) They have called for a discontinuation of Western aid to Somalia. They’re rioting against the secular government of France. If we give them what they’ve stated that they want, and they don’t ask for anything more, they’ll have an Islamic nation extending through Canada, Britain, down through half of Africa, across Russia, and out to the Phillipines.

    But that’s not human nature, to be satisfied with what you get. If the Western powers capitulate, Islamic fanaticism will only increase. Look at Israel: they’ve yielded to the Palestinians across the board, and now the even-harder-liner terrorists are taking over.

  • zingzing

    i think capitulating to their demands in the middle east (i.e.–their territory) would be fine. an experiment in peaceful negotiation if you will. we give a little and see if they do. they’re human beings not robots. if it doesn’t work, we can go have a war again. but war ain’t working.

    i don’t think that “an Islamic nation extending through Canada, Britain, down through half of Africa, across Russia, and out to the Phillipines” is going to happen. the world’s got too much money to spread about for any such thing to occur or last.

  • Silver Surfer

    Here’s how I see it. My mate took his 15-year-old daughter on a surf trip to Bali. After they’d had her birthday dinner in Kuta Beach, they were walking back to their hotel and ran in to a group of friends from the eastern suburbs of Sydney for whom she’d babysat on a number of occasions. The men in the group all went back to their hotel rooms and the women convinced my mate and his wife to let their daughter go dancing for an hour at a Kuta nightclub well known for its dance floor.

    They thought it would be safe as these women were responsible mums. No sooner had they arrived back at their rooms, than they heard the bomb blasts.

    Mt mate’s beutiful daughter was blown to bits. She was one of the 80 Aussies killed. More than 100 others died, including Indonesians. Through the subsequent court case, he had to sit there and listen while a pack of murderous idiots laughed, raised their fists, smirked, said they wished they’d killed more westerners and “infidels” and shouted “God is Great”.

    How does killing a 15-year-old Australian girl in a Bali nightclub, my mate’s only daughter BTW, advance any cause in the middle east?

    It’s got nothing to do with that. Jemaah Islamiyah is the Asian offshoot of al-Qaeada. All they care about is killing westerners (and any muslims who happen to be there at the time). They brag that they’ll win because “we love death, and you love life”.

    This is the kind of mentality we deal with.

    Fuck ‘em. I once had some sympathy with their cause. Now I don’t. Mass murderers aren’t freedom fighters.

    Americans would do well to have a really good understanding of what they’re dealing with. It ain’t black and white, that’s for sure.

    But it needs to be excised from the face of this Earth because it is, truly, a hideous evil.

    Anyone over there who’s in doubt should just keep replaying the tape of those jets being flown into the WTC.

    And as I keep saying here, I have no desire to wage war on anyone but I’m fucked if I’m going to stand there and give out peace and love vibes while these idiots prefer bombs and guns.

    I am glad that my country is one of the few to join the US in its crackdown on this particular brand of terrorists wherever they are.

    But if you (the US) don’t have the balls to keep standing up to them, like Baronius says, they will do it again … and again … for no other reason than they consider us infidels who don’t believe in their warped world view.

  • Zedd

    Dave

    The fact that we’re responding to violence with violence does not mean that we are inherently as violent as those we respond to.

    When we attacked Iraq, what violence were we responding to?

  • Zedd

    Dave

    What you seem to be missing is that to many, the West is evil. You will think that its because they are jealous of the West but they REALLY see the wrong that the West does without the spin that we get and see them (us) as evil. What reinforces those beliefs is our tendency to preach at others while we continue with misdeeds all over the globe without ever acknowledgeing fault.

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were evil men in many people’s eyes. They raped women (children) and fathered children by them, while talking about equality, liberaty.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Stan,

    When we were last in Sydney we stayed with friends in Coogee and walked up to the Bali Memorial on the headland above the beach, which you could see from their apartment. Just wondering if your mate’s daughter is one of the names on there.

  • Zedd

    Baronious

    By blurring what is taking place in the middle east you in essence choose to perpetuate the situation at hand. Turning a 40yr conflict into a 1400yr old conflict is a way of confusing reality, distorting things so that nothing makes sense. Perhaps you have a personal reason for wanting the mayhem to continue. I suspect that the identity of Israel is now tied to war. The economy of Israel is tied to conflict. I suspect that the fear is that Israel will be a non entity internationally if peace ever comes to that region.

    Also by responding to the extremes of any group, you choose to veer from the real issues at hand. Extremes are just that, EXTREME. They don’t hold the opinions of the sane, thinking, normal people of any group. Again, responding to them shows a NEED, a desire to engage in a fight. Why? A shrink would have a field day….

  • Zedd

    SFC SKI

    I suspect that when we define things in their appropriate shades of gray, we cease to find reason to hate or retaliate so quickly.

    Parents tend to be more tolerant of their own children because they know them well. They see their shade of gray. The teacher however, may see one aspect of the child and label him with a black mark. In the same vein the parent will know that the angelic teachers pet is actually bossy and selfish at home. The parent knows that child’s shade of gray…

    The labeling of who is black and white is often done by people who want to manipulate us (the public) into allowing them to do harm to another. Grays give us pause and who wants that?

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    What you seem to be missing is that to many, the West is evil. You will think that its because they are jealous of the West but they REALLY see the wrong that the West does without the spin that we get and see them (us) as evil.

    I never said that they are jealous of us. Never even anything vaguely like that. And while they may think the west is evil, by an objective standard they are wrong.

    Let’s think about it for a second.

    Which is more evil…

    a: TV, bikinis and hollywood

    or

    b: Blowing innocent people up with a strap-on bomb

    If you answer ‘a’ then you’re ready to go join al Qaeda.

    George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were evil men in many people’s eyes.

    Again, many people have really dumb ideas.

    They raped women (children)

    They did? When?

    and fathered children by them,

    There has never been any suggestion that Washington fathered any children by any women who lived, so I assume you’re talking about Jefferson here. His relationship with Sally Hemmings was the moral equivalent of marriage and there was nothing ‘evil’ about it in any objective sense. Certainly not by his standards or modern standards.

    Dave

  • Zedd

    During the time of Hitler, there were STRANGE FRUIT hanging in the trees of the south. We were appalled by Hitlers EVIL when we were murdering and torturing people EVERYDAY for hundreds of years, much longer than Hitler ever did. We continued our evil for decades after Hitler was dead.

    Had we viewed things in true terms, we would have seen just how close we were to Hitler.

  • Zedd

    There has never been any suggestion that Washington fathered

    You should say that you are not aware of Washington fathering any children…..

    The suggestions would be the various writings by people of that time, one being of a mulatto slave boy who rode with Washington in his carriage everywhere, who looked exactly like him with the exception of some negroid characteristics.

    Despite that, they bought, sold, and “owned” kidnapped people and worked and held them against their will, many until their death. That was evil.

  • zingzing

    dave: “Which is more evil…
    a: TV, bikinis and hollywood
    or
    b: Blowing innocent people up with a strap-on bomb”

    the real question is which is more evil, a ten-year bombing/starvation sanctions campaign or blowing innocent people up with a strap-on bomb?

    both are evil. the way you frame the question (with the hollywood/bikinis bullshit) is what zedd refers to when she says “jealous.”

    as for the jefferson thing… there was a master/slave relationship before there was any husband/wife-like relationship. he kept slaves. and had sex with them. sex slaves, if you will. there is something wrong with that. it may not have been as all-out evil as one might think it was, but there certainly were issues. it’s hard not to judge the man.

  • Zedd

    Dave

    Historians and genealogists have long maintained that George Washington had no children. However, the descendants of West Ford maintain otherwise. West Ford was born in 1784 or 1785 on the Bushfield Plantation in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Venus, a mulatto slave woman owned by George Washington’s brother, John Augustine Washington and his wife, Hannah. According to Ford family oral history, Venus told her mistress Hannah that George Washington was her child’s father. Historians dispute this claim, suggesting that one of Washington’s nephews may have fathered the boy West.

    West Ford grew up on Bushfield Plantation in John Washington’s household. In the years 1785 to 1791, George Washington frequently visited the Bushfield Plantation. During these visits, West Ford served as Washington’s personal attendant. Washington took him riding and hunting, and Ford often accompanied him to Christ Church, where he was provided with a private pew. Washington became President of the United States in 1791 and did not visit Bushfield Plantation again.

    West Ford moved to the Mount Vernon plantation after the death of Martha Washington in 1802. He was freed on his twenty-first birthday in 1805 or 1806. In 1985, Donald Sweig wrote in the Fairfax Chronicles, “In his role as overseer at Mount Vernon, Ford had considerable independence and responsibility.” The Washington family treated him as a privileged servant. Ford’s children were educated in the estate schoolhouse along with the Washington children. West Ford became the first tomb guard for George Washington’s gravesite. Three generations of Fords would also hold the title of tomb guard at the Mount Vernon plantation.

    Bushrod Washington became the owner of Mount Vernon until his death in 1829. In his will he gave 160 acres of land adjacent to Mount Vernon to West Ford, who continued to live on the Mount Vernon estate. In 1833, Ford sold his land and purchased 214 acres adjacent to it. This area is known today as the Black community of Gum Springs, Virginia. In 1857, an entry in the Fairfax County Deed Books noted that Ford divided his land among his four children, giving each of them 52-3/4 acres.

    In June 1863, an ailing West Ford was brought back to the Mount Vernon estate by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. The association cared for him until his death on July 20, 1863. The following day, the Alexandria Gazette carried his obituary, stating: “West Ford, an aged colored man, who has lived on the Mount Vernon estate the greater portion of his life, died yesterday afternoon, at his home on the estate. He was, we hear, in the 79th year of his age. He was well known to most of our older citizens.”
    – Ancestry.com

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    His relationship with Sally Hemmings was the moral equivalent of marriage and there was nothing ‘evil’ about it in any objective sense. Certainly not by his standards or modern standards.

    Well, unless you consider the fact that he owned her, up until the day he died when his daughter took over ownership of her.

    …Exactly HOW is that the moral equivalent of marriage? And not rather contemptible by modern standards?

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    During the time of Hitler, there were STRANGE FRUIT hanging in the trees of the south. We were appalled by Hitlers EVIL when we were murdering and torturing people EVERYDAY for hundreds of years, much longer than Hitler ever did. We continued our evil for decades after Hitler was dead.

    WOW. Now THERE’S a point about evil being in the eye of the beholder.

    Thanks Zedd.

  • Clavos

    “And not rather contemptible by modern standards?”

    Of course it’s contemptible by modern standards, but he didn’t live in modern times.

    Is it legitimate or even fair to judge someone’s actions in another era by the standards of today? Wouldn’t it be fairer and more accurate to judge by the standards of their day?

  • STM

    DD: “When we were last in Sydney we stayed with friends in Coogee and walked up to the Bali Memorial on the headland above the beach, which you could see from their apartment. Just wondering if your mate’s daughter is one of the names on there.”

    Yes, she is, as she was a local girl and I think they’ve got all the people from the Eastern Suburbs killed in Bali on the memorial. At Dolphin Point, right, is where you went? Beautiful kid, too. A real Bondi Beach girl, who liked to wear a frangipani behind her ear. Her old man’s a great bloke, and it’s sad to see how it’s affected him. He’s a local legend, and a great surfer.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Zedd, the story of West Ford, while quite interesting as a slice of history, includes no indication whatever that he was Washington’s son. And if he was, the fact that Washington freed him at the same age that white kids would be ‘free’ of their minority and gave him a responsible job, kind of absolves Washington of any possible blame. Plus there’s no suggestion he was a child of rape. Sally Hemmings children were also clearly not the result of rape.

    And as for the legal status of minor slaves and ‘slave wives’ like hemmings, under the laws of the time, the legal status of slaves and minor children or wives was virtually indistinguishable. In fact, freed slaves had MORE rights in most states than single women.

    Dave

  • Zedd

    Clavos

    Were it the case that Jefferson’s 13yr old daughter was kidnapped, bought, then sold, raped and impregnated by an “old man”, would it not be contemptible to him?

    Let us not pretend that they did not know that doing what they did was not evil.

    Also, to the people that these acts were enacted against, it was EVIL.

    So regardless of the time, contemporary or not, evil is evil not because of intent but because of affect.

    Looking at our history, Micheal’s point becomes ever more clear.

  • Zedd

    Dave,

    You are delussional. You should read Founding Mothers The Women Who Raised Our Nation by Cokie Roberts. You will be more enlightened about White women of that era.

    Slaves were seen as property Dave. Bought and sold, raped and bread. As for your reference to the law, it was the law that perpetuated the EVIL. In other words our evil was legally mandated. That made America a really sick society.

    Saying that White women also had no rights doesn’t make things any more right. Still wrong.

    BTW slaves were male and female. Using the word women to refer to White women only is rather insulting.

  • Dr Dreadful

    STM: Yep, Dolphin Point. So many people, all from one part of Sydney, all in the wrong place at the wrong time. What shitty luck.

    Changing the tone a little bit, just north of Dolphin Point (can’t remember exactly how far) is what has to be the world’s most picturesquely located cemetery… right on the clifftop, with the most gorgeous ocean view. Now that’s where I want to be buried.

    How the heck did that piece of prime real estate end up with thousands of graves on it?

  • Clavos

    Zedd,

    it’s pretty obvious that if slave owning were considered to be as contemptible then as we consider it now, it would have been a lot less prevalent than it was.

    If all of the citizens of that time had REALLY despised slaveholding, there would have been far fewer slaveholders.

    Obviously, it was not regarded then as it is today.

    But that was not my principal point. My point was that we cannot and should not evaluate any aspect societies in history by the standards of today. To do so is to consider them out of context, which is not only not fair to the earlier peoples, it’s poor scholarship.

    Societies, like individual persons, grow, evolve, and mature. Those that don’t are doomed to failure. Thankfully, ours IS growing and maturing; what it is now isn’t what it was then, but that doesn’t make what it was then either inherently good nor inherently evil.

    As the revolutionary society grew and evolved, in less than a hundred years it rejected slavery as a legitimate part of the culture; to the point it became one of the principal reasons for the Civil War.

    Once the issue of slavery was settled, it took yet another hundred years before the issue of equality under the law was even looked at as a legitimate right of the freed salves and their descendants, and that issue’s resolution is still ongoing.

    We work and hope for its resolution soon, but I would expect historians (and people) of the future to look back at us and evaluate us as a culture of our times; neither all bad nor all good, but (and this is important), evolving.

  • Clavos

    Doc asks:

    “How the heck did that piece of prime real estate end up with thousands of graves on it?”

    Easy to answer, Doc.

    Graveyards, like funerals, aren’t for the dead, they’re for the living.

    The dead don’t care.

  • STM

    DD: Waverley cemetery, near Bronte Beach I think. Between Bondi/Tamarama and Coogee Beach?

    It’s quite a slice of history, that, and I think originally it was at South Head overlooking the entrance to the Harbour but may have been moved when the lighthouses etc went in.

    Yeah, pretty spectacular piece of Pacific Ocean real estate. And none of the residents can see the bloody multi-million dollar views! With Sydney’s waterfront properties now fetching into the millions, the cemetery’s land would have been absolutely worth a squillion on the open market.

    It’s an experience wandering through and looking at the old gravestones.

    It is still in operation as a functioning cemetery, and despite its historical significance, receives no government funding and is these days purely a commercial operation.

    When you stand somewhere like that, or at Dolphin Point, looking out to sea and along the coast, a pretty amazing slice of this wonderful country, and think about the idiots who think it’s OK to kill other people to achieve their ends, makes you wonder. I DO know how very lucky I am to live here, and I don’t take what we’ve got here for granted.

    What the scum who committed the Bali atrocity don’t realise (because they don’t understand us), just like Adolf Hitler didn’t since Michael is on that theme, is that waging a campaign of terror against us doesn’t cow us, it just makes us all the more determined not to be bullied.

    I hope America feels the same way and acts accordingly, although possibly in a slightly more thoughtful and sensible fashion …

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    “as for what islam wants, here’s my guess, and it’s specific!:

    1. for westerners to stop meddling in Middle Eastern affairs. (i know, they should work on stabilizing the place themselves if they don’t want us meddling. but it’s a valid complaint.)

    2. for western armies to remove their bases from Middle Eastern locations. (same as above.)

    3. for Western countries to stop cheating Middle Eastern countries out of their oil profits. I know, they have their own problems with their own governments cheating them out of their money. but that’s an in-house project for them to take care of.)

    4. stop giving Israel military support. (i know, so they can just go destroy it, eh? well, according to some Israelis, Israel doesn’t need us anyway. and i say, let them have their war to themselves if they want it so bad.)

    5. return Israeli territory to Palestine. (here’s the sticker. we fucked up and put Israel right in the middle of their shit. it’s hard to take land away from a group and give it to another. but we did it before in the interest of world peace. why not again? it IS a valid complaint, as we had no right whatsoever to create Israel. but we did it. and so we are stuck with it.)”

    zing, how many people have to die before you will pay attention to these murdering bastards and take them at their word? The dipshits keep telling you what they want. Now I’ll tell you, to make sure you understand.

    THE WAHHABI WANT YOU TO CONVERT TO THEIR VERSION OF ISLAM – OR THEY WILL KILL YOU.

    IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

    THE WAHHABI – not the Islamists, Islamo-fascists, Islamic zealots, Islamic fundamentalists, extreme Moslems, or any other bullshit. Call the assholes by the right name, so you do not confuse the peace loving Moslems with the murderers!

    One of these terrorists got on a video and outlined six things he wanted Bush to do – BUT THOSE SIX THINGS WOULD NOT BRING PEACE, BUT ONLY A TEMPORARY CEASE FIRE.

    Let’s repeat this, zing, so it reverberates through your head. ISRAEL IS NOT ON THE CHOPPING BLOCK – YOU ARE! PERSONALLY! YES, YOU! AND YOU, MIKE, AND YOU STAN, AND YOU DAVE NALLE, AND YOU ZEDD, AND YOU BARONIUS, AND YOU TROLL, ALL OF YOU – AND ALL OF US.

    Read my comment #65 to Stan above. And then read it again, and again, until it gets through your thick heads! I’m citing MOSLEM scholars in my definitions and in my history. And I have it right.

    The beginning to destroying this enemy is nuking Riyadh. If that makes you sick, take a barf bag and throw up. But at least you’ll be alive to do so, instead of begging for your life while some Moslem decides to slit you throat and cut your head off.

  • Zedd

    Clavos

    You are guilty of doing what the author is warning against. These men of our past were simply men, with all the feelings and emotions that we have today. If BEING a slave was contemptible FOR THEM, and it was, then slavery was contemptible in their eyes.

    Its just that society overlooked the contemptible act for their own profit.

    If you read the writings of those who owned slaves, they knew that what they were engaged in was not a good or normal practice. They struggled with their guilt and some developed racist ideologies in order to relieve their guilt. They made up the idea of racial hierarchy in order not to feel the sting of the contemptibly of their engagement.

    The Iraqi war is contemptible to most Americans, yet it exists. Unequal pay for equal work is contemptible in our society today yet it persists.

  • Clavos

    Sorry, Zedd.

    You can’t evaluate anything out of context.

    It’s unlikely that very many slaveholders felt any guilt whatever about owning slaves. It was part of their world, and they regarded their slaves as chattel, not humans.

    That’s why it took so long (about 3-4 generations, 100 years) to get it out of the culture.

    It’s a BIG mistake to evaluate any aspect of a historical culture through the prism of your own world.

  • Dr Dreadful

    When you stand somewhere like that, or at Dolphin Point, looking out to sea and along the coast, a pretty amazing slice of this wonderful country, and think about the idiots who think it’s OK to kill other people to achieve their ends, makes you wonder. I DO know how very lucky I am to live here, and I don’t take what we’ve got here for granted.

    When you think about how so many of the world’s great cities swallow up their landscape, you realize just how special Sydney is. You can be walking down a bustling suburban street, turn a corner and suddenly you’re on a clifftop looking down at the Pacific surf. I can’t think of another major metropolis that does something like that, except Rio. It’s almost as if Sydney’s builders shuffled up, caps in hand, and said, “You don’t mind if we put this city here, do you? We promise it won’t get in the way.”

  • STM

    Yea, thanks Doc, appreciate the sentiments.

    It IS an amazing place. I couldn’t live anywhere else for any length of time as I just get homesick.

    There are days – in winter even – when I sit on the park bench in the warm morning sun at North Steyne looking at the surf, shooting the breeze with my mates and watching the world go by while I have a coffee, and I realise that when you live here, you never need to go on holidays.

    I know it sounds hokey, but it’s true. You sound like you belong here too DD. A bit of wistful feeling there. Now you must convince your wife.

    Americans don’t lose their citizenship anymore BTW when they take citizenship here … you can now be both a US citizen AND an Australian citizen, and vice versa. You would get THREE citizenships Doc – US, UK and Australian. How good is that? A true citizen of the world. Plenty of your mob are here, as you’d know.

    Citizen Doc …

  • Dr Dreadful

    Plenty of your mob are here, as you’d know.

    Sure are, Stan. The boyfriend of the girl I alluded to earlier – who we stayed with in Coogee – is a Brit. They met while she was doing the obligatory young-Aussie-in-London thing, and when her visa ran out he persuaded his company to transfer him to Sydney permanently. Subsequently, his whole family and most of his friends have contrived to irreversibly move there too, so he never gets homesick.

    He talks about soaking up the view as he drives across the Harbour Bridge to work, and how he can’t believe how lucky he is to get to see one of the world’s great sights every day.

    We’ve certainly thought about it. My wife’s profession is in demand worldwide, and I like kebabs and beer, so that ought to be two “ins” for us right there. She wouldn’t need much persuading – I just need to keep reminding her about the mothership: the Westfields shopping centre at Bondi Junction…

  • STM

    Ah yes, Westfields Bondi Junction – just one of the hundreds of American-style shopping malls that have been in Australia for decades, and are virtually identical to those in the US, ie you need a map to navigate around them.

    I try to stay away, as they just send me into a panic. Which begs the question: why is that sheilas can’t follow directions whilst driving, or read a map, but can find their way around a shopping centre with its own postcode, with their eyes closed and the credit card locked and loaded?

    One of life’s little mysteries, that.

  • STM

    And in reality Doc, as you doubtless would have realised when you were here, this place is just an offshore version of America, but with decent sports, a proper flag, better beer, drivers who drive on the proper side of the road, and no weird accents … :)

    Our great leader is also just as much of a dickhead as George, so there are many commonalities.

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    Ahhh yes. You will now have to acknowledge the larger point.

    With your reasoning, what you have to conclude is that Hitler was a man of his time. The influences in HIS world made his position on Jews palatable. Just as you suggest that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves without remorse because it was a different time and therefore acceptable.

    It makes him no more evil than Thomas Jefferson.

  • Zedd

    Dave

    Which is more evil, blowing up entire neighborhoods and killing hundreds at once

    or

    killing 6 people with a strap on.

    That is the more appropriate question. Your question compared apples and gorillas.

    Another way of posing your question would be::

    TV, bikinis and Hollywood?

    OR

    Having melanin?

    That is a more telling assessment of our world.

    Again it is distortion that incorrectly attributes the tags of good or bad to various entities. Your frame work for measuring who was bad, was all wrong. It made us the good guys. But by changing what we looked at about our society, our goodness faded, we actually seemed more trivial, petty, perhaps even “evil”.

  • troll

    *The beginning to destroying this enemy is nuking Riyadh.*

    this is an extreme measure wouldn’t you say Ruvy – ?

    so if we’re into extremes I suggest as an alternative first step that we marginalize the Wahhabi by massive investment in alternatives to oil – even filthy coal

    while this will hurt our economy and environment in the short term it would avoid the absolute degradation of the human soul that your approach represents

    imo you lost your moral compass somewhere in Warsaw

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    You do not get the picture, do you. If you do not fight to win, you die. I like you. I do not want to see you die. Do you think you could stand living as a Wahhabi? If so, join now and get Uncle Mahmoud’s discount – you get to live longer blessed under the protection of Mohammed.

    Seriously, unless this enemy is destroyed, that is the choice you face. There is nothing complicated about this. The Wahhabi concept is terribly simple:

    Convert and join – or die. It’s like the Borg – only it’s real.

    It stinks, doesn’t it?

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    One last point for you to consider. In order to follow a moral compass, you have to be alive. It’s in the rules. Dead people rot – their souls get judged. But to follow a moral compass on THIS earth, you MUST be alive.

    I didn’t lose my moral compass. I intend to live to use it.

  • troll

    *I didn’t lose my moral compass. I intend to live to use it.*

    Ruvy – (though I’m not a relative or even a Jew) when nukes are used in your area I’ll get a Kaddishim for you…when Osama slits my throat you could do the same for me

    it’s you who avoid the big picture – nuking Riyadh would be a fatal defeat for humanity…it would justify a liberal use of such weapons around the world

    (…and I’m not convinced that you can get light and spirit trapped in the shards of material existence to return to the godhead by further shattering reality if that’s what you’re hoping for – such a tack seems far from fixing the world as is recommended in your tradition)

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    nuking Riyadh would be a fatal defeat for humanity…it would justify a liberal use of such weapons around the world

    Quoted for truth.

    A world in which we ever again need to use nukes, is a world that is already long past salvation.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Zedd, the difference here is that my comparison makes sense, while yours reads like gibberish.

    I present us as the good guys because that’s the only way to present us. We may not always do the right thing, and there may be unintended consequences, but our intentions are good.

    Can you seriously say that the jihadists have good inentions?

    Dave

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Can you seriously say that the jihadists have good inentions?

    Don’t the jihadists themselves seriously believe that they have good intentions?

  • SFC SKI

    Michael, I sense you are really just playing the role of smirking devil’s advocate, but here’s my input; I really don’t give a damn if the jihadists believe themselves to be acting with the best of intentions and fully in accordance with the will of Allah. When one of these fanatic SOB’s blows himself up in a crowd and kills someone you know, I doubt their belief in their good intentions won’t do much to comfort you.

    Good, evil, or just some abstract philosophical in-between? You can decide for yourself. Personally, I think that a terrorist who will kill not only an Iraqi policeman, but also kill his son who happnes to be in the car with him, and then mutilate both bodies, all to intimidate others from opposing the terrorists, is a good example of evil.

    Should the worst come to pass and you find yourself at their mercy, they really won’t care whether you wish them any ill will or personal animosity, either.

  • http://www.elitebloggers.com Dave Nalle

    Yes Michael, but as I’ve pointed out before, you can always look at what their intentions are, and see clearly that they’re not good for anyone, probably not even themselves, even if they believe otherwise.

    dave

  • Clavos

    Zedd says:

    “With your reasoning, what you have to conclude is that Hitler was a man of his time. The influences in HIS world made his position on Jews palatable. Just as you suggest that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves without remorse because it was a different time and therefore acceptable.”

    Nice try, Zedd, but no dice. The difference is in the numbers.

    The entire world except for Tojo and Mussolini were opposed to Hitler. Nobody opposed Jefferson’s ownership of slaves except the slaves themselves. As a slaveowner, Jefferson was no different than many (if not most) of his contemporaries, while Hitler was acting in opposition to most of his contemporaries.

    Apples and oranges, Zedd.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll,

    Thank you for the kind thoughts. G-d willing, it will never come to the day when I need to say El Maléh RaHamím for you (Kaddish is only said for family).

    Thank you also for the thoughts on uniting with the G-dhead. Interesting that you used a kabbalistic term, “shard”.

    We tend to view this material world as “ha’olám hashéker” (world of lies) and the spiritual world as the “ha’olám he’emét” (world of truth). So destroying parts of the material world to increase the holiness of the Land could well be considered a blessing. But that is a question for someone learned in the laws of war as set down by Maimonides – not me.

    Needing to use nuclear weapons to destroy one’s enemies is indeed tragic – but there is the issue of choice. Do you let the enemy kill you – note that if you do not convert, that is your fate according to the Wahhabi. You seem resigned to dying. In my eyes, you have been defeated already.

    I am unwilling to allow an enemy to murder off my children or wife without a fight, and if I can kill the enemy first (the point of the nukes), so much the better.

    Killing me will cost.

  • Dr Dreadful

    STM pondered: why is that sheilas can’t follow directions whilst driving, or read a map, but can find their way around a shopping centre with its own postcode, with their eyes closed and the credit card locked and loaded?

    Such dichotomy isn’t restricted to the fairer sex. I’ve always been bemused, for example, by the guy who has no idea how to cook, relies on his wife for all meals and wouldn’t even know where the kitchen was were it not that the fridge, and by extension the beer, is located there. Yet – plonk him down in front of a barbecue with a few slabs of assorted meat and suddenly he’s a master chef.

    You said it – it’s a mystery.

  • troll

    *You seem resigned to dying. In my eyes, you have been defeated already.*

    Ruvy – that’s the Christian in me recognizing that actually there are things worse than dying…or as ee put it: “there is some shit i will not eat”…preemptive mass murder falls in that category

    while I recognize a time and a place for violence I choose to keep it on a personal reactionary level and recommend to others not to let anyone tell them who to kill

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    Everyone? Where is the poll data. No Clav. The type of slavery that was practiced (based on race solely) was not normal or widely acceptable.

    Its your time to give me the data which supports your assertion.

  • Zedd

    Dave/Clavos

    You are both missing the point of the article. Perhaps one day at the most unexpected time, you will get a jolt and will all fall into place….. You’ll finally get it. As for now you seem to be swimming in the dark.

  • Clavos

    Zedd,

    “The type of slavery that was practiced (based on race solely) was not normal or widely acceptable.

    Its your time to give me the data which supports your assertion.”

    Read your history books, Zedd. Every colonial plantation was run on slave labor; the entire South was. Ask the NAACP how widespread it was.

    “You are both missing the point of the article.”

    I get the point. I just don’t agree with it.

    I far more agree with STM’s opinion (especially comments #s 42, 46, 50, 52 and 89) than Michael’s.

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    We are talking about George Washington’s era aren’t we?

    I’ll leave you alone. You’ll find your way……

    BTW the NAACP is an organization which fights for the legal rights of minorities. What do they have to do with our particular discussion on American history? You ARE silly.

  • Clavos

    “I’ll leave you alone. You’ll find your way……”

    Thank you. I’m not lost.

    “BTW the NAACP is an organization which fights for the legal rights of minorities. What do they have to do with our particular discussion on American history?”

    Exactly. And as such, they have better information on the oppression (read: slavery) of minorities (read: African-Americans) than anybody.

  • Zedd

    April 12, 1786, to Robert Morris:

    “I hope it will not be conceived, from these observations, that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people who are the subject of this letter in slavery. I can only say, that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it.”

    Sep. 9, 1786, to John F. Mercer:

    “I never mean unless some particular circumstance should compel me to it, to possess another slave by purchase, it being among my first wishes to see some plan adopted by which slavery in this country may be abolished by law.”

    To Sir John Sinclair, 11th December, 1796:

    “The present prices of lands in Pennsylvania are higher than they are in Maryland and Virginia, although they are not of superior quality; (among other reasons) because there are laws here for the gradual abolition of slavery, which neither of the two States above mentioned have at present, but which nothing is more certain than they must have, and at a period not remote.”

    The 5th of February, 1783, Lafayette writes:

    “Now, my dear General, that you are going to enjoy some ease and quiet, permit me to propose a plan to you, which might become greatly beneficial to the black part of mankind. Let us unite in purchasing a small estate, where we may try the experiment to free the negroes, and use them only as tenants. Such an example as yours might render it a general practice; and, if we succeed in America, I will cheerfully devote a part of my time to render the method fashionable in the West Indies. If it be a wild scheme, I had rather be mad in this way, than to be thought wise in the other task.”– Correspondence of the American Revolution, vol. iii, p. 547.

    To this letter Washington replies, April 5th, 1783:

    “The scheme, my dear Marquis, which you propose as a precedent to encourage the emancipation of the black people in this country from that state of bondage in which they are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your heart. I shall be happy to join you in so laudable a work, but will defer going into a detail of the business till I have the pleasure of seeing you.”– Sparks’ Washington , vol. viii., p. 441, 415.

    “Mount Vernon, 10th May, 1786.

    “The benevolence of your heart, my dear Marquis, is so conspicuous upon all occasions, that I never wonder at any fresh proofs of it; but your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit might diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country! but I despair of seeing it. Some petitions were presented to the Assembly, at its last session, for the abolition of slavery; but they could scarcely obtain a reading. To set the slaves afloat at once would, I really believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief, but by degrees it certainly might, and assuredly ought to be effected, and that, too, by legislative authority.”

    -George Washington

  • Zedd

    John Adams.– 2d President
    His sentiments on the subject of slavery are well known. They are well summed up in the language of a letter to Robert I. Evans, June, 1819:

    “Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total extirpation of slavery from the United States.

    “I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence, that I have never owned a negro or any other slave; though I have lived for many years in times when the practice was not disgraceful; when the best men in my vicinity thought it not inconsistent with their character; and when it has cost me thousands of dollars of the labor and subsistence of free men, which I might have saved by the purchase of negroes at times when they were very cheap.”– Works of John Adams , vol., p. 380.

  • Zedd

    Thomas Jefferson,– 3d President

    From Mr. Jefferson’s Original Draft of the Declaration of Independence.
    He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him; captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of Infidel Powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.

    From Mr. Jefferson’s Minutes of Debates in 1776, on the Declaration of Independence, published with the Madison Papers.

    The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving of the inhabitants of Africa was struck out, in compliance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren, also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for, though their people have very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.

    1781. From Notes on Virginia.

    There must, doubtless, be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people, produced by the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetnal exercise of the most boisterous passions-the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. From his cradle to his grave, he is learning to do what he sees others do. If a parent could find no motive, either in his philanthropy or his self-love, for restraining the intemperance of passion towards his slave, it should always be a sufficient one that his child is present. But generally it is not sufficient.

  • Clavos

    “…I have lived for many years in times when the practice was not disgraceful; when the best men in my vicinity thought it not inconsistent with their character…”

    Mr. Adams’ own words.

    QED

    Thank you for supporting my point.

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    Thanks for the generosity. However, I don’t need the NAACP to inform me about American history. Its not Black history. It is the history of this nation. Perhaps you should consult with Lulac for a better clarification.

  • Zedd

    Clavos,

    Washington’s views dispel Adams views. The fact that his writings predate Adam’s views says that those views existed in society.

    The LARGER point is that each of these men, and we could go on and on, knew that it was a vile practice. Society gave slavery a “good” stamp because it was engaged in it. Upon close and fair examination by individuals it really was an “evil” practice. So AGAIN to speak to the point that was being made by Michael, these labels are useless because they are designed for the purpose of manipulation. They don’t speak to the reality of the situation.

    Even you were swayed by the “us good” way of thinking. You couldn’t imagine that our founding population actually knew that what they were engaged in was wrong. They did Clavos. They were simple human beings. Slavery didn’t exist in that form for about 70yrs prior to this country’s conception. It was not an ingrained part of society.

  • MCH

    “Zedd, the difference here is that my comparison makes sense, while yours reads like gibberish.”
    – Vox Nalle

    I disagree, Nalle. In fact, to me, yours reads like gibberish, while Zedd’s makes perfect sense.

  • STM

    Zedd, I notice you have expended a bit of energy quoting correspondence between Washington and Lafayette – one a traitor, the other a duplicitous Frenchman intent on nothing more than fostering foul French influence at the expense of the free and honest subjects of the Crown.

    I wonder whether Washington ever tired of the fact that he’d got into bed with someone who doubtless smelled of vinegary plonk, cheap aftershave and strong tobacco.

    Possibly, as Ruvy points out, when the alternative was an elongated neck, pandering to the French was the lesser of two evils.

    But only just :)

  • Zedd

    James Madison.– 4th President.

    From Mr. Madison’s Report of Debates in the Federal Convention. Mr. Madison: We have seen the mere distinction of color made, in the most enlightened period of time, a ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man.

    Mr. Madison: And, in the third place, where slavery exists, the republican theory becomes still more fallacious.

    James Monroe– 5th President.

    Extract of a speech from Ex-President Monroe, delivered in the Virginia State Convention for altering the Constitution, Nov. 2d , 1829.

    “What has been the leading spirit of this State, ever since our independence was obtained? She has always declared herself in favor of the equal rights of man. The revolution was conducted on that principle. Yet there was at that time a slavish population in Virginia. We hold it in the condition in which the revolution found it, and what can be done with this population.

    “Sir, what brought us together in the revolutionary war? It was the doctrine of equal rights. Each part of the country encouraged and supported every other part of it. None took
    advantage of the others’ distresses. And if we find that this evil has preyed upon the vitals of the Union, and has been prejudicial to all the States where it has existed,

    I’ll stop the toture. I think you get the poing now………….

  • Clavos

    “So AGAIN to speak to the point that was being made by Michael, these labels are useless because they are designed for the purpose of manipulation. They don’t speak to the reality of the situation.”

    Once more, and for the last time:

    I understand the point.

    I don’t agree with it.

    And neither did Mr. Adams.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Comment 130 reprinted for further analysis and comments:

    Zedd says:

    “With your reasoning, what you have to conclude is that Hitler was a man of his time. The influences in HIS world made his position on Jews palatable. Just as you suggest that Thomas Jefferson owned slaves without remorse because it was a different time and therefore acceptable.”

    Clavos replies:

    Nice try, Zedd, but no dice. The difference is in the numbers.

    The entire world except for Tojo and Mussolini were opposed to Hitler. Nobody opposed Jefferson’s ownership of slaves except the slaves themselves. As a slaveowner, Jefferson was no different than many (if not most) of his contemporaries, while Hitler was acting in opposition to most of his contemporaries.

    Apples and oranges, Zedd.

    Actually Clavos, Zedd makes a better argument that you realize, and your attempt to slip out looks rather dodgy.

    Zedd’s measure for Hitler being a man of his time, his enmity to Jews, put him in a comfortable plurality at least, with the rest of mankind.

    While we can’t include most of the Hindu population India and the people of China as being Jew-haters in the world of the 1920-30’s, there were plenty who agreed with Mr. Hitler in his negative assessment and hatred of us. There was Joe Stalin, his neighbor to the east, who was persecuting Jews (while hiding under the cover of setting up an autonomous republic in Birobijan; there was the rest of Europe and the United States – both of which shut their doors to Jewish refugees; there was the Union of South Africa, whose Boers had no use at all for the Jews who had come in an attempt to make money off the gold strike in Witwatersrand; there was the Empire of Ethiopia, which persecuted its Jewish population of iron-mongers and cattlemen; there was a deep dislike, putting it mildly, for Jews in Latin America, not to mention the hatred for them in Egypt, the British Mandate of Palestine in Eretz Yisrael, Afghanistan and amongst the Moslems of India who did not have relations with Jews there (according to Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, an Indian student of Jewish history and the Israelite roots of the Pathans). In fact, looking at it, Zedd seems to have pulled out a rather large rabbit out of a small hat very nicely.

    The world had few problems with Hitler’s creation of a Third Reich in Germany; it was his attempt to include them in it that aroused the enmity of the world in the late 1930’s.

    By Zedd’s measure, she did a very creditable job of showing you where a man is a product of his times. Now take a pinch of snuff, and re-examine your arguments, my good man.

  • STM

    Ruvy wrote: “The world had few problems with Hitler’s creation of a Third Reich in Germany; it was his attempt to include them in it that aroused the enmity of the world in the late 1930’s.”

    Absolute bollocks (with respect).

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Absolute bollocks (with respect).

    Is it?

    I grant you that Ruvy tweaked and simplified things a bit, so they’d fit with his “worldwide conspiracy against the Jews” theory, but the part you quote, STM, is really spot on.

    Between the time that Hitler came to power in ’33 and the time that European powers actually noticed him in 1938, he had rearmed Germany (in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles) and brought it to the same strength as France’s; invaded and occupied the Rhineland and Saarland, both of which had been taken from Germany after World War I; annexed Austria, which hysterically cheered his arrival; forged a military alliance with Italy and Japan; and begun passing the Nuremberg Laws, which made Jewish persecution a matter of national policy.

    The response of the world to that was to hem and haw a bit.

    Even when he invaded Czechoslovakia, the world found a way to leave him be.

    The reasons are myriad. A lot of it was survivor’s guilt-that generation felt it had been overly harsh with the Treaty of Versailles. And it’s been pointed out that up until Czechoslovakia, Hitler’s foreign policies would surely have been practiced by ANYBODY who had assumed executive power in Germany. (In other words, he was very much a product with his time and place.)

    Nobody really gave a shit until it became clear that Hitler wasn’t going to stop with historical German lands.

    So Ruvy’s right: the world figured that what happened in Germany was none of their business until they realized Hitler planned to be their supreme leader, too.

  • Zedd

    The problem wasn’t that the world was willing to allow Jews to be persecuted.

    The problem was that it wasn’t imaginable that such “evil” could occur in a “civilized” nation and thus, it did. You see the notion that the Western nations possessed a superiority and a cultivation which placed them above all humanity (good) prevented the world from conceiving that things could get so bad with the Germans, so significant people in Western society actually aided in the development and expansion of Hitlers ideology without knowing where it was going.

    On the other hand, the tendency to label the “others” as savages, uncivilized, attributing strange unhuman like characteristics to them (evil), created a false sense of goodness for Westerners.

  • Zedd

    The problem that arises from this “good” vs “evil” phenomenon is that it blurs reality. Those labeled good are not good always and the evil are not always evil so true tendencies are not fairly evaluated. Society ends up not fixing real problems, we only patch up certain ones (the ones perpetuated by those that we consider evil) and leave others totally unresolved until they become too apparent to ignore.

    In some cases, when the problem that is created by “the good” has become so large and we have to resolve it, we never delve into its true cause because we still don’t want to attribute negativity to those who are good. The problem is only partially dealt with and the affects persist. That is what happened with African Americans in this country. That is what you see in the negative stats. That is why there is always a barrage of negative comments when the cause is highlighted. We cant come to terms with the original evil behavior by our liberty loving founding fathers.

    The same is true with the Islamic extremist groups. Chavez talked about OUR evil and the smell of sulphur in the halls (quite poetically) but he was a bad guy so we ignored. The same will be true for China in the future if we don’t walk a respectful diplomatic tight rope.

  • STM

    Taking the Saar, the Sudetenland and annexing Austria WERE causes of concern in Europe, especially for the French, who were determined not to have repeat of 1914 – and whose military in fact was much bigger and stronger than that of Germany even at the outbreak of the war (it was how they used it that was the problem).

    The British also were very wary, but the mood in Britain was very much anti-war, the armed forces apart from the vast naval fleet were small and that was largely because of their dreadful losses in WWI (which had finished less than barely 20 years before and the memory of which was strong in the nation’s psyche, with barely a single British family spared the pain of the loss of a loved one).

    The British knew exactly what was going on, which is why the well-intentioned but too naive Neville Chamberlain was made to look like such a tit with his “peace in our time” speech. However, the political process being what it is, no-one could simply boot Chamberlian out and replace him at that time.

    And contrary to Ruvy’s posturing on the dreadful British, they alone among the European nations did allow for the intake on a large scale of jewish refugees and organised for the transport of many thousands of jewish children from Nazi occupied Europe to Britain before the outbreak of the war proper (the kindertransports). Plans for the US to participate died a whimpersing death in a congressional committee.

    What really put an end to the Munich agreement, designed to peacefully redress the wrongs of Versailles, was the shooting of Ernst von Rath in the German Embassy in Paris in 1938 by Herschel Grynszpan, which gave the Nazis the excuse they needed for a mini anti-jewish pogrom. The anti-jewish riots inflamed much public anger in Britain and the United States, and pretty much set the scene for the collapse of the Munich agreement and Churchill’s rise to power and his determination that Britain would stand up to Nazi tyranny no matter what.

    As you say, there is much more to it than an oversimplified version that suits Ruve’s world conspiracy against the jews theories. In fact, there were many influential jews high up in British political and business life prior to the war and during it who had great influence on the government and its policies.

    So, IMO, the part I described as bollocks in fact is bollocks.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    My sources’ facts don’t jibe with yours, STM (primarily I’m using Kershaw’s 2-volume Hitler bio), but I’m not sure it’s worth arguing about.

    The basics are hard to dispute: whether England and France were concerned about Hitler’s rearmament and “liebensraum,” they didn’t do shit about it.

    The place where we clearly do agree is that the lack of action wasn’t anti-Semitic: all of Europe’s leaders were veterans of the most tragic, catastrophic mistake of a war in the history of the world and were desperate to avoid doing it again. Bob Trout told of being in England at the time and seeing middle-aged, war-hardened men start to shake when the radio was once again mentioning German forces in Verdun, Ypres, and Alsace-Lorraine.

  • STM

    “The basics are hard to dispute: whether England and France were concerned about Hitler’s rearmament and “liebensraum,” they didn’t do shit about it.”

    Yes, they did. The failed Munich agreement (and then the signing of the alliance with Poland) … not so much in relation to rearmament, as France still possessed the world’s largest army up to the outbreak of the war, but certainly in relation to Hitler’s annexations. Like I say, it was why Chamberlain looked like such a tit in the end.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    The Munich Agreement and Polish Guarantee both happened in response to Czechoslovakia. Citing them actually supports the point that Europe didn’t care about Hitler until they realized he wasn’t going to stop with pre-WWI German territory.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Re comments #154 – 157:

    If I remember right, Stan Denham’s father had some rather detailed knowledge of British foreign and colonial policy in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Unless I’m wrong, we are hearing the words of the elder Mr. Denham through the mouth of his son. Don’t ever mistake Stan’s ribbing of the Poms as anything other than the affection and pride it really is.

    Also, to be fair, at least one person who writes on this list benefited from the policy of the British of allowing large numbers of Jewish refugees to enter Great Britain in the late 1930’s when the Nazi jaws of death started to close around the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe.

    It is more complicated than a simple black sheet of evil as opposed to a white sheet of purity. There is but one sheet with many small squares of unspeakable evil, and many small squares of saintly goodness. The lines are sharp – but terribly easy to cross.

    My drawing of the Brits as being beneath contempt has nothing to do with their policies of allowing Jewish refugees in to Great Britain at all. They have to do with the systematic renunciation of the promise of the policy of allowing for a Jewish homeland to develop in Eretz Yisrael, which was the stated purpose of the Palestine Mandate they controlled here. After the 1939 imposition of the “white paper” severely restricting the number of Jews allowed to enter here, the Brits themselves did not kill Jews, except for those they viewed as rebels here. But by locking the gates of this country to the one people who needed the refuge it could offer, they sealed the fate of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Jews in Europe between 1939 and 1945.

    IN addition, no bombers ever attacked the railway tracks to a concentration camp in Europe, nor did they attack concentration camps until the Russians began to in 1945, as they entered Poland. Even after D-Day, when it was clear to the Germans that their vaunted Code had been broken, when it would have not been a security risk at all for British and American bombers to attack and destroy Nazi death camps in Europe, no bombers ever interrupted th work of evil in those camps.

    The aristocracy in England (and America), if not necessarily the folks in the rank in file, were most happy that somebody was getting rid of the Sheenies for them. And let’s not let off the Reform Jews in America who did what they could to prevent the United States from allowing their brethren into America. There is where the evil – and I do mean evil – lies.

  • Zedd

    Michael,

    I think your point is well made. Every post and its rebuttal substantiates your assertions.

    I should hope that you will expand this notion in another article. Understanding this idea is what will allow us to elevate to another level of consciousness in as far as what we know about human potential and the pursuit of liberty. As we globalize, it will be necessary for us to change our hard and fast assumptions of humanity.

    I personally believe the spread of the good vs evil notion has done more to destroy marriages than anything else. Generations that were raised with this notion as an anchor for all human encounters, are less flexible to an extent and don’t tolerate a person who may have different ideas than them, too easily labeling the other as “the bad guy”. ……. Just a thought.

  • STM

    Ruvy, of course you are right in regards to how I feel about the Poms.

    I love to hate the British (well, just the English actually). But loving to hate them is a lot different to actually hating them.

    From my perspective, white paper or not (and a white paper is just that – although contained within it and its recommendations were warnings of exactly the kinds of issues we see in Israel/Palestine today), they have largely been a force for good on this planet, their obvious failings in regards to aspects of their colonial policy notwithstanding.

    Having seen first hand how their influence had a steadying impact on at least one current mid-east hotspot, where I lived as a child, and then to watch that steadying influence dissipate as their power dissipated post-war, I find it hard to reconcile that with some other ideas presented here.

    In fact, as an observer with no axe to grind either way, I would even go so far as to say that their influence has been far more benign and benevolent over the past 100 years than that of the US, although both have exercised a degree of magnanimity towards their former enemies almost unheard of throughout the course of history.

  • STM

    Special delivery for Doctor Dreadful: Waverley Cemetery at Bronte on a cold winter’s day … well, today, actually. Nice waves off the point, though.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Ah, splendid, Stan… thanks. Looked a bit different when I was there.

    I started looking closely at the top of the wave to see if I could spot a surfer with very light-coloured hair, but then I got distracted by the ‘Girl Surfers’ and ‘Joggercam Girls’ links on the left. Strange, that.

  • STM

    Doc, you can subscribe to aquabumps for free … there’s no catch, no spam … it’s very popular in the UK.

    Eugene, the guy who does it, sends via his own office as a simple daily email.

    When I was away from Sydney recently, it was nice to get a little glimpse of Bondi beach every day.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Stan,

    That was one hell of a photo you posted for DD’s benefit… Makes me wish I had a memory card for the digital camera we were given. I could post some great photos of the mountains and hills around here, and give you all a look at the Tel Aviv skyline to drive home the point about how close everything is here. But memory cards are expensive. NIS 400 ($110 Australian) can eat up quite a bit of a monthly salary here.

  • STM

    I still haven’t worked out how to do any of that stuff yet Ruve … I’m still negotiating my way around the digital camera my wife bought last year.

    I’m most definitely a luddite when it comes to modern media and high-tech farting about.

    However, I subscribe (for free, and no catches) to aquabumps, which is a great service and he occasionally does come up with some real gems.

    Quite often, actually ….

  • Clavos

    Ruvy,

    What kind of cards does your camera take?

    I have a couple of CF (Compact Flash) cards that I’m not using anymore, and would be glad to send you.

    Also, can you buy online from US sites? I can give you a couple of URLs that sell memory cards very inexpensively.

  • Shaun

    Dave Nalle – You continuously amaze me with your tunnel vision.

    The point of the article was to show that what one side deems good, the other deems evil.

    After WWI, Germany & Austria were being raped economically by the rest of the world (note that no one else gave two shits about it either) – yes it was a horrible flaw in judgement for Germany to “blame Jews,” but how often can we rationalize human judgement, honestly… It’s just what happened – people saw extremely rich Jewish bankers as stealing the wealth from their nation and they stereotyped… But to absolve everyone in the world except Hitler of any blame for the war (let’s not even get into the fact that there were very rich figures that funded both sides of the war just for profit), is plain ignorant.

    I assume the writer wants this article to relate the happenings of WWI to today’s Iraq and the war on terror…

    Capitol Hill haves you believe that we’re good and righteous and we don’t do anything wrong… Just a bunch of crazies attacked us… Let’s label the whole Islamic faith (some people do, which is frightening)

    But if that were the case, why are many Islamic AMERICANS sympathetic to the Mid East’s plight? Maybe because for the past century, we’ve been wreaking utter havoc in their lands, and their children have grown up knowing nothing but death and destruction…

    Get the analogy?

  • Zedd

    Dave

    Shaun: Dave Nalle – You continuously amaze me with your tunnel vision.

    Hope you are starting to see the pattern.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    In looking over the article and the appended comments to it, yes, Mr. West – it is really about Good and Evil.

    Most of you, when you talk about evil, talk about Jew-hatred, and then, interestingly try to excuse it in some way or another. You bring up Hitler and his death camps for example, ALWAYS forgetting that the prick who lobbied Hitler to kill Jews in Europe was Amin Husseini, a Gaza Arab whose mentor became known to the world as Yassir Arafat. That’s why I take every opportunity I can to rub your noses in it. To put it in your lingo, we have a damned “Palestinian” to thank for the dead Jews in Auschwitz.

    But that is just petty whining on the part of a Jew.

    Let’s catalogue some of the world’s evils – vicious things done with intent to survive, or with mere intent to kill, lie or steal.

    1. The abortion of millions of girls in China and India – because the parents only value sons;
    2. The sale into slavery or prostitution by their parents of millions of girls all over Asia;
    3. The murder of Africans in Darfur;
    4. The rape of dozens of African and Asian countries by their own leaders – Zimbabwe and Burma come to mind immediately, but a good portion of the Middle East can be added to this category;
    5. Exploitation by multinationals of resources of poor people world wide.
    6. Genocide – Let’s see: leaving out the Jews you supposedly feel sorry for, there are

    a) 1½ million Armenians almost a century ago – at the hands of the Turks;
    b) 5½ million homosexuals, Roma, socialists, clergy and dissident 65 years ago – at the hands of the Germans;
    c) 25 million people in the Soviet Union – at the hands of the Stalinist regime;
    d) 50 million residents within the borders of what is now China – at the hands of the Maoist regime;
    e) 3 or 4 million Cambodians in the 1970’s – Pol Pot regime 30 years ago.
    f) 900,000 Rwandans in the 1990’s

    I’ve missed a few, but the big point is this is not to point a finger, but to drive home the point that the “civilized” Cro-Magnon tribes in Europe – and nobody else – have learned NOT TO COMMIT GENOCIDE – let alone murder.

    I’ve missed a whole pack of other points – like raising chickens in such oppressive conditions that the poor creatures must feel that their entire lives are one long, drugged torture session, or destroying the environment. And I’ve not even gotten to war and terror. But the main point is that the various tribes of humanity have not learned to refrain from evil.

    Let’s add one other kind of evil – lying.
    Some putz is bound to bring up “the evils of the occupation of Palestine” for my list above. I don’t want to know. First of all the existence of “Palestinians” is a lie perpetrated by the likes of the mentor of the man who advocated the murder of my people. Secondly, it is for the Arabs to take care of their brethren – as we have attempted to take care of ours.

    Unfortunately, that is what all this is about – people who refuse to learn to refrain from evil.

  • troll

    Ruvy – you say: *But the main point is that the various tribes of humanity have not learned to refrain from evil.*

    and as a ‘response/solution’ you propose preemptive mass destruction

    here I imagine you humming along: ‘if I don’t do it somebody else will…’

    enrollment in Irony 101 is open

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    troll – I refer you back to comment #131 a ways back…

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    I’m sorry, Ruvy, but I still don’t agree. Doing evil and BEING evil are two different things.

    If you’re simply talking about mankind’s capacity for DOING evil, then the battle of good vs. evil is useless anyway. There is no human conflict we can set up where one side is any less capable of the other of DOING evil.

    The notion that I hear too often is about BEING evil. “We are good, they are evil.” Which is horse shit and I’m tired of it. There is no group of people on the face of the Earth that is more evil than your group and my group. And there is no reason to believe that singling out some group as “evil” and summarily eradicating them, will honestly prevent horrible atrocities from happening elsewhere, in the future, by some other group – and quite likely by your group and my group.

  • troll

    making yourself ‘expensive’ to kill by murdering innocents falls pretty clearly on the evil side

    and your rabbis over stepped when they declared that there are no innocents in the enemy camps…they presume an obligatory war despite a secular state

  • troll

    Michael – for clarity’s sake could you explain what you mean by ‘being’ evil…I mean what would a person have to do in order to ‘be’ evil

    can one be a little bit evil or is it more like pregnancy – ?

  • troll

    (M – I just snapped that being a serious type you might not read my last as lame humor…I actually did read what you wrote and got your thesis)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    This is quite a thread, sorry I missed it before now.

    It’s applying the term evil to too broad a group that causes a lot of problems. Certainly it’s evil to target civilians with car bombs in Iraq or to kidnap and behead journalists. But too many people on this web site and elsewhere want to blame and punish all or nearly all Muslims everywhere for the acts of a tiny sliver of extremists.

    I’d argue that some [not all] of the acts of the Bush administration in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo qualify as evil as well, with alleged “good intentions” an inadequate and unconvincing smokescreen.

    But these two extremist groups, the Islamists and America’s militarist governing party, each use the acts of the other as justification – and a very large number of innocent civilians suffer because of it. There’s plenty of evil on both sides to go around.

    And unfortunately there are large numbers of people outside the extremist groups who buy their reasoning – I’m referring both to some American voters and to the Muslim “street” in the Middle East. Not to mention lots of loud-mouthed bloggers.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    I should say that some silly righties are passing, through email, a diagram of the “socialist brain of the liberal Democrat.” Among the snarks, some of which (like the “guilty for history hypothalamus” and the “anti-bellum”) actually pretty funny, is a gray oval that says, “Moral Relativity Gray Area.”

    Apparently this is supposed to be something that I should deny or be ashamed of….

  • troll

    see here