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Of Rats and Lemmings (and Moths)

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As war looms – I feel like we’re in a state of suspended animation at the moment – there is some very interesing action being taken by metaphorical rodents in the region.

In typical survivalist manner – say what you want about their hygiene and eating habits but rats WANT TO LIVE – the rats are getting the hell out of Dodge:

    A prominent Iraqi tribal leader, previously loyal to Hussein, said on Monday he had joined forces with a Kurdish faction and predicted the United States would rapidly triumph in a war on Iraq.

    ”No one is going to fight for Saddam,” Jowhad Herki said. ”The war will finish very quickly because the people are very tired. They have seen nothing but destruction.”

    Herki told Reuters that he had shifted his support to the Kurdistan Democratic Party. He said Iraqis are tired of years of conflict and want Saddam gone.

    ”Even people very close to Saddam want him to leave,” he said. ”When Saddam leaves, Iraqi people will live a better life. Even military commanders think the same way.” [USA Today]

But the lemmings – the stupid, ideological, blind lemmings – are headed in the other direction because life is just too long:

    A Palestinian in Amman who was getting into a taxi for Baghdad smiled when asked whether he was going to join with Saddam Hussein’s troops.

    ”Look, I don’t have anything against the British and American people, but I do want to kill British and American soldiers,” said the man, who gave an assumed name of Abu Hassan. ”This is the only way to get the message across that the Arab world is against this war. The American government says the people in Iraq will not fight, but they are wrong, very wrong.”

    ….”People forget that Saddam supported us when no one else would and, well, the British and Americans are like brothers to the Israelis, right?” he said. ”When you kick a snake, the tail and head are the same.”

    As he speaks, another taxi pulls up. Arabiyaa, an Iraqi woman who says she lives in Amman, is in the front seat, her face covered by a veil. She says she is leaving her husband and family to fight in Baghdad.

    ”I want to stomp on the heads of American and British soldiers,” she says, her dark eyes peering through the gap in her veil.

Um, yes, that’s a bit more aggressive than the human shields – who says Islamic women are passive?

And then there are those with an even more pointless death wish, the human lemmings, I mean “shields” themselves:

    The ultimatum issued by President Bush on Monday dramatically increases the chance that Faith Fippinger may die in the next few days.

    Fippinger, a 52-year-old retired schoolteacher is one of about 90 “human shields” who are putting their bodies on the line in front of potential U.S. bombing targets in Iraq.

    Since early February, the Sarasota, Fla., native has slept every night at the Daura oil refinery, a huge complex at the southern edge of Baghdad that supplies the entire metropolitan region with gasoline and other fuels. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the refinery was destroyed by U.S. missiles, and it burned for a month and a half.

    Fippinger expects another attack.

    “I may die here,” she said calmly. “But my death is no more or less important than the Iraqi lives that will be lost — for example, my neighbors, who live next to the refineries, a woman who brings in tea every morning.”

    Then Fippinger broke into tears. [SF Chronicle]

Faith is human shielding an oil refinery – do you think she talks to it? How does a person – an American – become so twisted around that she thinks risking her life defending an oil refinery run by a mass murdering baby raper is a fucking great idea?

It’s like musical chairs: when the music stopped Faith was left with the incredibly stupid, pointless, misguided suicidal chair, which she seems to have embraced with maniacal zeal. The Jonestown and Hale-Bopp lemming runs made more sense than this:

    “Yes, there are some fruitcakes among us,” said Marc Eubanks, a Wyoming native and Air Force veteran who now lives in Athens, Greece. He was referring to some anarchists, who he said could provoke major culture clashes with Iraqi officials at joint meetings.

    ….The Bush administration has said little about the human shields. In February, a State Department spokeswoman responded to a reporter’s question about why they were in Iraq by saying, “You might as well ask me why moths fly into porch lights.”

Damn, I thought we were using the rodent metaphor – I didn’t get the memo.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    I assume you believe that U.S. soldiers should be brave and committed.

    If so, I think it’s hypocritical to hold that U.S. soldiers should be brave and committed, but soldiers on the other side are “stupid, ideological, blind lemmings” for having precisely the same qualities.

    I’m certain our soldiers on the front lines would say something along the lines of “I want to stomp on the heads” of the Republican Guard. Zeal for battle is not evidence of stupidity. I hope that the Iraqi Army does surrender without a fight, but if they do not, it won’t be because they are stupid. They will be acting exactly as we expect our own soldiers to act in battle.

    Similarly, if U.S. and British soldiers were to lay down their arms right now and demand that the dispute be handled by the U.N., they wouldn’t be cowards.

    Re: human shield. I doubt that if you asked the human shield at the oil refinery if she were a strong supporter of mass murder and baby rape, she’d answer in the positive. It is possible to be against an unnecessary war of choice and at the same time not defend Saddam Hussein.

    If I didn’t support a war against Cuba, would that mean I endorse the atrocities that have been committed by Castro? This is not an idle question. If this war proceeds, and if it “succeeds,” there almost certainly will be other countries that will be attacked.

    Have you prepared your list of approved countries? What are you going to do if the U.S. government decides to attack a country that isn’t on your approved list?

    The human shields are trying to stop the very real risk that this war will open the door to a series of wars perpetrated under the same vague (and therefore constantly malleable) rationales. They aren’t defending Saddam Hussein. They are defending us.

  • Buck Smith

    What’s funny about the human shield is that she probably would protest to have refineries in the US shut down as environmental disasters, despite the US refineries being much cleaner that an Iraqui one.

  • Parabellum

    Some people know the difference between right and wrong, Mr. Lemming. You obviously don’t. Keep on equivocatin’, ya Trazi!

  • Jerry C

    Brian Flemming appears to be the kind of dope who gives the left such a bad name. “List of approved countries”? Let’s start with the ones who threaten us. North Korea would appear to be next, then Iran unless the young people overthrow the sclerotic theocratic despots first. Brian is willing to stand on the sidelines and say tut-tut to the barbaric regimes that silence dissent by ripping out tongues, but that’s pretty much it. You would find his sort nailed to barn doors after the Nazis marched through a neighborhood.

  • Ron Stoppable

    Wow… I went to Brian Fleming’s (the first commenter above) blog and found this gem about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping:

    “the Lord inspired the abductor to take her away in the first place. Should God really get any credit for this happy ending? And, if so, shouldn’t He shoulder most of the blame for the original crime? After all, “Emmanuel” is apparently more religious than anyone else involved in this story. He even says “thou.” He was instructed by God to seek a new wife, so he went and grabbed Elizabeth. The Lord works in mysterious ways.

    “It’s strange to hear Elizabeth’s father praising God for her return. Dude, if neither you nor the drifter had been all screwed up with religion, none of this would have happened at all. Do you also praise God for filling Emmanuel the Kidnapper with that ol’ abductin’ spirit? You can’t deny that the guy’s devout–he was witnessing to the cops who arrested him! He’s a model Christian!”

    People with this kind of lack of moral compass scare me. I have no problem with those who don’t believe in God, but when they are so emotionally stunted and put Elizabeth’s father on a LOWER plane than his daughter’s kidnapper, he shows just how twisted he really is.

    This is the kind of guy we’ll see on the five o’clock news some day–and not in a good way.

    Ron S.

  • Jude

    One must remember that the majority of the Iraqi military are not volunteers. They don’t care to fight for Saddam and his brutal regime. This in turn makes it perfectly understandable why these poor souls would rather surrender NOW, before the war starts, than later. That’s the difference between “their” military and ours. They’re not fighting for a just cause in their eyes and obviously their eyes are seeing things alot clearer than yours, Mr. Flemming.

    If I had the chance, I would personally tell all these human shields “Please don’t defend me in your chosen manner. It’s insulting to me.”

    Their sense of nobility is misplaced. Just like poor little misguided Rachel Corrie. Quashed like a bug and for what?

    Vague rationales? You nor I are privvy to all the information that has been gathered. It was probably the mistakes of adopting vague rational that led to 9/11.

  • beatrixkate

    Brian wrote, “It is possible to be against an unnecessary war of choice and at the same time not defend Saddam Hussein.”

    Of course it is, Brian. That’s the responsible position of dissent. But it is not possible to put your life on the line to defend a military asset of Saddam Hussein’s while simultaneously insisting that you aren’t defending him. This lady is not, in fact “against an unnecessary war of choice.” She has made herself into a soldier in that war, and boy, did she ever enlist on the wrong side. Her purpose is to help the “mass-murdering baby raper” prevail in the name of peace, and she’s dedicated enough to her goal to die in the attempt. She is, in fact, a strong supporter of mass murder and baby rape. She’s just too dumb to know it.

  • http://www.corinna-hasofferett.com Corinna Hasofferett

    Oy Eric, I’m afraid you’ve gotten carried away a bit. When I hear human beings given names of non humans, except in literature such as The Animals Farm, I shudder. Too many associations, way back to the Nazi era and even farther on throughout history. Even when aflamed we should not ignore ours or others’ history memory.
    Prof. Yehuda Bauer, a most important Holocaust historian, now on the leadership of Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust Memorial, had said only recently:
    The Nazis were human beings. That’s the tragedy.

    While we dehumanize the Enemy or whoever does not share our faith or ethics, we are in danger of dehumanizing ourselves. So, all the people mentioned by you above are not rats or whatsoever. They are human beings, some of them capable of horrible deeds, others capable of things unthinkable or inconceivable, or just different from your ethics or whose deeds are in apposition to your expectations. Naming them rats is a too easy way out, and in the long range, not a helpful one.

    Yet Eric, I’m begining to suspect you’re grinning under your virtual mustache when you write all these provocations, like throwing pebbles into this blog blog lake.
    Nice way…

  • John The Mon

    When you willingly choose to die on behalf of a dictator who has absolutely no misgivings about the lack of value of your own life, then yes – you are a lemming. These are not acts of courage, but the result of blind faith in a doctrine that promises greatness through martyrdom – proof positive that a delusional mind is as destructive as anything we can concoct in a lab.

    What makes me shudder is that there are people who would rather perpetuate the murder of 100’s of thousands of Iraqi civilians at the hands of their own government for no reason, than see them suffer far less casualties as free men and women in a war of liberation with the help of the US Aremd Forces. When did we develop such a callous disregard for freedom – our own and that of other nations?

    Anyone who is really concerned about Iraqi civilians, would welcome the help they are going to get to rid themselves of Saddam Hussein. The alternative for this enslaved people is to fight a protracted civil war against a man who has no problem dropping chemical weapons on his own people.

    I’ve heard a lot of anti-war bobble-heads advocate that democracy in Iraq “must come from within Iraq, not through the US military”. To me, that is just a nice way of telling the Iraqi’s that – when it comes to their freedom – they are on their own. That is not compassion, it’s a death sentence.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Lots of name calling, and figurative nailing of my body to a barn door (nice one, Jerry C), and incorrect assumptions that I stand for inaction against human rights violations because I’m against this war of choice…lots of stuff like that. Not really worth responding to.

    But nobody has answered the two simple questions I asked (except Jerry C, who incompletely answered one of them).

    The questions were:

    1. Have you prepared your list of approved countries [to attack next]?

    2. What are you going to do if the U.S. government decides to attack a country that isn’t on your approved list?

    Is it really so much to ask supporters of this war to answer these questions simply and clearly? Do you really think calling me names is a more useful response for this dialogue?

    How about answering those two questions?

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Separately, my new friend Ron Stoppable quotes from the Elizabeth Smart entry in my blog in a way that strips a bit of the context away. The full post is here, but do check out the comments, from which I’ll provide a couple excerpts:

    Ron Stoppable:
    …You suffer from what we call “moral relativism.” You are incapable of differentiating between wrong and right…you don’t even see the gray shades in between. You get confused and think “He’s got a point. But so does he! What do I do? Oh, my!” You are, in two words, emotionally immature.

    Your comments preclude me from ever taking you seriously ever again, whether I agree with your stand on the war or not.

    Brian Flemming:
    …Thanks for the diagnosis. I do suffer from moral relativism. For example, I consider George W. Bush to be relatively moral compared to Saddam Hussein. Kind of like George H.W. Bush considered Saddam Hussein moral enough to be an ally (even after he gassed the Kurds) relative to the other choices he faced when he was President. There’s a lot of moral relativism out there, if you know where to look.

    But the Smart story is a symptom of another condition I suffer, called “sarcasm.” With me, symptoms of sarcasm can sometimes be detected by looking for exclamation points…”

  • Ron Stoppable

    Brian-

    What exclamation points? I see one…at the very end, where you imply that Mormons are a brainwashing cult with crazy ideas about religion. That one exclamation point does nothing to convince me that you don’t believe what you actually wrote. It wasn’t sarcasm, it was a heartfelt indictment of anyone who believes in God. And a nasty one at that. How dare you question someone’s faith, and state that his beliefs are the cause of a perverted madman’s disgusting obsession?

    Your agenda is quite clear: Religion, no matter who practices it, is evil. You do more harm to your cause than you realize: people hear you spew this crap, and they are immediately turned away from you, not religion.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    1. Have you prepared your list of approved countries [to attack next]?

    2. What are you going to do if the U.S. government decides to attack a country that isn’t on your approved list?

    The president needs authorization from congress as per our constitutional order, but I would be likely to endorse attacks or severe military bullying on the regimes in Iran, North Korea, Syria, or Saudi Arabia.

    If he picks a country not on the list, he might still have a good case. There are several other regimes just begging for obliteration. I doubt he picks any country that is not RICHLY deserving of what hell they catch.

    Hopefully we won’t have to do much of it. Besides the fact that Saddam Hussein is wicked and evil and a threat to US security, we are also going to make an example of him.

    With any luck this small injection of pure reality into the fantasy land of Arab radicals will communicate the message that we’re not having any of it. If you give us reason to think you’re playing footsie with terrorists, then you’re asking to get stomped. This has to be made clearly understood. It can be no other way.

  • http://www.slumdance.com/blogs/brian_flemming/ Brian Flemming

    Al,

    Thanks for answering. I don’t agree that a march through the nations on your list would be good for U.S. security or world peace, but I appreciate your being straightforward about it. I wish Bush would be as honest about the implications of the preventive war doctrine.

    Still, there is question #2. You appear to be dodging it by implying that no U.S. president would ever choose to attack a country that you wouldn’t also want to attack. While this is certainly possible (you’ve started quite a nice list, and you’re clearly open to expanding it), a dodge is still a dodge.

    To make it more specific: In the future, a president (not Bush, a different president, and one you didn’t vote for) decides, based on serious deliberations with his advisers, to attack Mexico. It doesn’t matter why for the purposes of this hypothetical. What matters is, in this hypothetical, you don’t agree that it is a good idea. In fact, you strongly believe it could lead to disaster.

    What do you do?

    Ron,

    You didn’t concentrate on the most outrageous (and utterly unrelated) statement in my blog in order to dodge those two questions did you? They are:

    1. Have you prepared your list of approved countries to attack next?

    2. What are you going to do if the U.S. government decides to attack a country that isn’t on your approved list?

    Score to date:
    Posters: 10
    Complete answers: 0

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Brian, there’s no good answer to your question #2. It very much depends on the circumstances. If our government attacked a country that I didn’t think was a good idea, I would say so. If it were something really egregious, then I’d be raising hell.

    I’m not going to say that no president can ever make an attack- even one that I would support on the grounds that some hypothetical future president might make an attack I wouldn’t.

    And Ms. Faith Flippinger is perfectly welcome to die defending the Hussein regime, and so to hell with her. She’s wrong and she deserves to die for her willful stupidity. She’s certainly not welcome in MY neighborhood if she should survive her current treacherous behavior.

  • John The Mon

    Brian, it was quite amusing to hear you accuse someone else of “moral relativism” and being unable to see “shades of grey” when you are clearly unable to think beyond the intellectual barrier you have drawn up for yourself. Sorry, that’s not name calling it’s just the truth.

    For example, you demand “simple and clear” answers to IF-ELSE-MAYBE-DEPENDS questions such as a list of “approved nations” for attack, and what we will do if the President attacks someone who is “not on the list”.

    The answer is – “IT DEPENDS”. That has always been the answer, and it always will be. There is no manual for human opinion. Some nations may require the threat of military intervention, some may actually require military intervention but we will only know that once we threaten military action. Some may be bribed. What we will do if a nation who is a threat is not dealt with forcefully will depend on how much of a threat that nation is.

    One question I have never seen answered to my satisfaction, is how leaving Saddam Hussein in power will benefit the Iraqi people, or make the world a safer place for Americans?

    By the way, I personally DO think you stand for inaction against human rights violations. Nothing I have seen from you so far has indicated to me that you are anything but a fascist dressed up in peace clothing. Simply insisting that you’re not is not good enough. Calling it a difference of opinion is not good enough either. The difference between fascism and freddom is NOT just a difference of opinion.

  • Eric Olsen

    Corinna my friend, your concerns about dehumanization is well taken. I tried to make it clear that this characterization was purely metaphorical, but perhaps I didn’t emphasize this enough. Of course there is an element of provocation to a piece like this, but I do think the similes hold. People are all people and I hold that sacrosanct.

  • Jon Zanon

    In response to Brian Flermmings 2 questions.

    1. I am still working on my list.

    2. It is likely I would simply modify my list to accomodate this newly proposed target.
    We live in a democracy unlike the citizens of Iraq. There is a far greater likelihood that a large population of the citizens of the US will have the same outlook on the world as our political leadership. How else does the political leadership remain the political leadership?

    If our leadership percieves a particular nation as a target then it is likely that a large segment of the US population will also hold this belief. Did the citizens of Iraq fear and mistrust the citizens of Kuwait? I don’t think so!

    We have made all sorts of mistakes in the past. Many in the name of opposition to the former Soviet Union and our ultimate goal of eliminating them as a threat. many as short term efforts to stabilize a rregion. The Rusian people were never the threat, but the Russian leadership was.

    Any country controlled by a dictatorial regime needs to be examined. Depending on how they conduct themselves they are a potential target.

    We have made many mistakes in the past. Does this mean that we should not take the advantage of our current position to better the lives of the oppressed and improve the stability of the world as a whole. The US needs to lead the way, to set the example. We need to take a longer view we need to be better world citizens. We need to act on what we believe..consistently without regard to which party is in office at the time. We need to forget the mistakes of the past and work to improve the future for the entire world.

    With strength comes responsibility. Would I (would you)walk past an alley in which someone was being assaulted and take no action? What action would you take? Would you walk casually to your destination and make a phone call at your convienience (similar to the inspect… inspect inspect… approach) or would you take direct action on the spot? With great strength comes a greater respomnsibility. When no other nation will stand for what is percieve as right by our standards we still need to take action. Each person must follow their own heart but I believe that action is necessary. The point is not that SH is the most deserving or threatening target. It is that taken as a whole all of these regimes are a threat to world peace and the safety of the citizens of many nations. SH is the next best target. The elimination of SH is just another stepping stone as was Afghanistan.

    As Al Barger stated in his posting, we are making an example of SH and the Iraqi leadership. One that I believe will be closely observed by the other potential targets and threats. They will be aware that they could be next. They will be less likely to foster a relationship with terrorist organizations…. these can easily be exposed. They certainly will be less likely to play host nation to known terorist groups. Any nation whos leadership is so missguided as to think they can continue to play games with terorists will be targeted and overthrown.

    This will take time.

    This is perhaps a war of generations to which we must all be fully commited.

    The intellegence community does now have a new target of focus (something they have been lacking since the fall of the USSR). Slowly over time all of these regimes will fall in line or be overthrown. This will leave the terrorist groups homeless, and baseless, and vulnerable. As time goes on more and more of the “fringe menmbers” (those people they purchase equipment from etc)of terrorist groups will be more and more likely to turn on their compatriots for cash or exemption from prosecution.

    In the end we will prevail and we will live in a better world for it.

  • Jay Feore

    Does anyone know what happened to Faith Fippinger and the rest of those goofy Human Shields who went to Iraq? I refer not to those who were deported by the Iraqis (before hostilities began) for insisting that they be allowed to select their own sites, but to the hard-core elements who consented to let Saddam place them where he would?

  • BONO

    FAITH IS A RAY OF LIGHT.

    “Non-violence is a more active and real fight against wickedness than retaliation whose very nature is to increase wickedness. It is not a weapon of the weak. It is a weapon of the strongest and bravest.”
    -MAHATMA GANDHI

  • migs

    Forget about Flippinger. Halliburton is raping us taxpayers, and you’re thinking about one woman? A little common sense please. If this shit keeps up, we might as well send out “tax” checks to Halliburton, Carlyle and Dyncorp instead of the fucking treasury. Talk about misplaced priorities!