Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Political posturing and rants not grounded in truth

I am not surprised by the spectacle that we saw yesterday.

First, His Holiness the Dali Obama expects us to believe that he was unaware of the views of his pastor for twenty years -- the man who married him, baptized his children, and prayed with him when he announced his candidacy.

Second, His Holiness the Dali Obama expects us to believe that his distancing himself from this man is not political posturing on his part.

Third, His Holiness the Dali Obama thinks it is ridiculous to suggest that the U.S. government might be involved in creating the AIDS virus. Certainly this particular claim is not grounded in any truth, but it is not completely out of character for our government to do stuff like thisAnd having spouted some ridiculous propositions of his own, the outrage here is ironic to say the least.

Fourth, His Holiness the Dali Obama thinks it is ridiculous to equate the United States wartime efforts with terrorism. As I discussed in my last post, this is just special pleading.

There are no excuses for this political posturing and rants not grounded in truth.

("War" is "Terrorism") is "Evil"

To follow up on my last post regarding the empirical truism of roosting  and headless chickens, Jimmy Carter offers this moral truism:
I think anytime any powerhouse takes military action when it’s a high danger or almost an inevitability that women and children are going to be killed, I think that can be considered an act of terrorism.
Carter is talking about Israeli military actions against Palestinians, but it must also be applied to the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
-- in fact, any war -- if we are to take this moral principle seriously. Exemptions, without valid justification, are just cases of special pleading. Or, as Chomsky explains:
If we propose some principle that is to be applied to antagonists, then we must agree -- in fact, strenuously insist -- that the principle apply to us as well. Those who do not rise even to this minimal level of integrity plainly cannot be taken seriously when they speak of right and wrong, good and evil...It is fair enough to denounce international terrorism as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself." The commitment to "drive the evil from the world" can even be taken seriously, if it satisfies moral truisms -- not, it would seem, an entirely unreasonable thought.
Chomsky therefore offers one simple solution to reduce the level of terror in the world: "stop participating in it." Integrity and logic seem to require no less...we should at least test it!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Chickens...Often Roosting, Sometimes Headless

Jeremiah Wright spoke at the National Press Club today. He quoted Paul who, in his letter to the Galatians, noted what is so often a truism: "whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Equally true is the frenzied reaction some people have to being reminded of this fact (Ward Churchill also knows something about this).

Concerning the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States the "9/11 Commission" put it more subtlety. In their final report the commission simply noted that "America's policy choices have consequences." They viewed this problem primarily as a public relations issue however, recommending that "we need to defend our ideals abroad vigorously." These ideals ostensibly include a democratically elected government and personal freedoms, which others have claimed are precisely why the terrorists hate us (Bush, September 20, 2001). Catch 22?

Perhaps an anecdote will help to illustrate the problem with both of these claims, as well as the psychology that makes Paul's warning a frequent truism:

When the hijackers of the TWA airliner in 1985 reportedly shouted the words "New Jersey" in the aisles of the plane, most Americans, if they heard it at all, would scarcely have been aware that the reference was to the battleship New Jersey. After the bombing of the Marine Barracks, the battleship had turned its 16-inch guns upon Shiite Moslem villages in Lebanon, hurtling 1,000 pound shells into the homes of those who could not possibly have been responsible for the bombing. One of the hijackers, it was reported, lost his wife and daughter in that shelling.

- Robert Holmes, "Terrorism and Violence: A Moral Perspective" (in Issues in War and Peace: Philosophical Inquiries).

This is in no way meant to imply that all terrorists have suffered personally from U.S. policies or actions, or that terrorist acts are justified, or that the victims of terrorism deserve it. But our policies and our actions do have consequences. And satellite television and library programs are unlikely to mitigate them. But more importantly, as Paul warned, bombing and torture are very often paid back in kind. Frenzied denials notwithstanding.