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Friday, May 20, 2005

Them vs Us

Update: Read more on Foley's comments at Tran Sient's Watch.

About 70 percent of the US does not subscribe to the driving ideology of the academic elite, which is the same ideology that dominates the journalism schools. La Shawn Barber covers Linda Foley's recent statements which will serve as an excellent demonstration. La Shawn has links to other bloggers and to a Real Audio of Linda Foley's remarks:
“Journalists, by the way, are not just being targeted verbally or … ah, or … ah, politically. They are also being targeted for real, um … in places like Iraq. What outrages me as a representative of journalists is that there’s not more outrage about the number, and the brutality, and the cavalier nature of the U.S. military toward the killing of journalists in Iraq.”....
“They target and kill journalists … uh, from other countries, particularly Arab countries like Al -, like Arab news services like al-Jazeera, for example. They actually target them and blow up their studios with impunity. …”
There are times when normal people hardly know what to say in response to something like this. What most of us in flyover country don't know is that there is an entire elite justification for this mindset within this small academic/journalistic world. They all keep telling each other the same things, to the point that they believe this is the mainstream viewpoint. They can't comprehend why the average American finds this viewpoint strange beyond belief.

Earlier I reacted against Richard Cohen's column regarding the case of Lynndie England. Tom Carter had also written about that column, beginning with the sentence "Richard Cohen has finally lost his mind", and he singled out the following phrase as being particularly confusing:
The discipline of the Army apparently meant she no longer had to have any herself. This is why fascism can be so (sexually) exciting.
Tom commented:
I guess my favorite curiosity in this column is his observation that being in a disciplined organization means you don't have to have any self-discipline, which illustrates why fascism can be so sexually exciting.

Again--say what?
Richard Cohen was using a code phrase to refer to an entire sociological argument the left has constructed for itself. To other leftists his meaning was perfectly clear. The best explanation of it I could find was this BuzzFlash interview with James Carroll, who writes columns for the Boston Globe and has written a book explaining the theory. Here is a sample of this thinking:
Exactly. It's the same mentality, the holy war mentality, which is that the killing of the other is sanctioned by God, and you're blessed if you die in the act of it – as we see expressly articulated among extremist Muslims today.

But it's actually just an inch below the surface of the culture of patriotic valor, the way in which we valorize our own war dead. There is a kind of salvation and redemption offered by the act of dying in a nation's wars. It's one of the corruptions of a nationalist ideology, if you ask me. And there's a way in which it does really take firm root in the European imagination with the Crusades – dying for the cause. In those days, it was religiously defined as an act of salvation.
The mainstream press will not report about heroic acts by military men and women because they believe that they are reinforcing this sick "culture of patriotic valor" which is also nauseatingly tied up with our sick Christian crusading heritage. They would not want to reinforce the idea that there is a "kind of salvation and redemption offered by the act of dying in a nation's wars." So to depict the sacrifices of our military fallen in any admiring way - to concede their achievements or to express gratitude for their sacrifices would be irrational and perverse from their perspective.

This ideology is meaningful to a small percentage of the American population but a large percentage of the American press. In this ideology, requiring any sexual restraint is sick and requiring any sacrifice of one's ego is sick. The sickest thing of all is to sacrifice your life for your fellow men. Violence - all violence - is sick. It's all a psychological illness, and it is a psychological illness infecting the entire American military culture, which is sick. If you think I am exaggerating, try this exchange:
BuzzFlash: Perhaps you know the Lancet study in Britain last year estimated that as many as 100,000 civilians had been killed. And now sixteen hundred American soldiers. But in Christian theology there is, in a way, redemption through violence.

James Carroll: Absolutely. And there's also a prurience an inch below the surface of all of this. Gibson's film is revealing. It was pornographic. The celebration of violence in that film was pornographic. It was appealing to the prurient. Likewise, an inch below the news coming from Iraq, there is a very prurient obsession with violence and sex.
The implication being that the self-restraint involved in the sick, sick military and Christian moral codes causes this "obsession with violence and sex." And Carroll continues:
The Abu Ghraib scandal was the most clear manifestation of this. The way in which Americans are invited to imagine the sexual license that those guards took upon themselves is really quite disturbing. There's a way in which all of this is of a piece -– the sexual harassment in the military is an issue that's tied to this. There's a way in which the war of men against women is being waged in some awful way here. Can we ask, why is it that the two people most gravely faulted for the Abu Ghraib scandal are both women?
All through this interview there are extreme misrepresentations of fact. Note his statement above that the two people who really got in trouble are women. Wrong. So far the worst sentence has been given to Charles Graner, as it should have been. The worst error of all is trying to depict the Bush administration as conducting a Holy War against Islam, when in fact the US has just invaded two Islamic countries, removed despotic regimes, and is attempting to set up self-ruling states that will assure freedom and rights to Islamic regimes. Carroll blithely ignores the fact that 9/11 occurred before the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying:
The war in Iraq is making America the enemy of Muslims. And radical Muslim movements are on the upswing because of us.
What was 9/11? A love letter? What about all that footage of people dancing in the streets all over the ME? How do you explain that people are now demonstrating for democracy and the vote all over the ME? What's on the upswing in the ME are progressive, democratic movements. This is a very peculiar view of recent events, and the interview is dated May 19th of 2005, and must have been recent, because Carroll refers to the Schiavo case. (Deranged theocrats again).

James Carroll goes on to imply that anti-semitism is now being demonstrated by the right in the West, when actually it is coming from the leftist centers of the press elite in Europe and the academic elite in Europe and in the US:
The other large thing to have in mind, of course, is the way in which the war between Israel and Palestine is at the center of all this, and the reemergence of Jerusalem as a point of world conflict. All of this is a reenactment of what happened during the Crusades. The anti-Jewish pogroms in Europe began in 1096, carried out by Crusaders who were on their way to attack Muslims. So when Western Christians mobilized against one enemy, they mobilized against both enemies. That's happening now as well.
Later on in this interview James Carroll announces that the American left managed to make peace with the Soviet Union by instituting a nuclear freeze, whereas what actually happened is that Ronald Reagan announced we would outgun them, and pushed the Soviet system over the brink:
We have a tremendous precedent -- and this should give us enormous hope and empower us -– which is the story of what happened during the Cold War, when there was also a theological demonizing of the other, and when military budgets were out of control, and when we brought the world to the brink of disaster, all based on theological claims made for America, the innocent, against the Soviet Union, the evil empire. And that Manichaean nuclear standoff, portrayed as a battle of good against evil, was dispatched peacefully because of the will of popular forces on both sides of the Iron Curtain, beginning in 1980 with the Nuclear Freeze movement.

You can't underestimate the importance of the Freeze movement in the United States, and broadly across the world, the anti-bomb movements. That did have a tremendous effect. It prepared Ronald Reagan to be responsive when Gorbachev came along. And Gorbachev was able to turn against the bomb himself because, on his own side of the Iron Curtain, the ground had been prepared by the so-called democracy movement, beginning with Solidarity in 1979.
And this is your reality-based community. These people are insanely divorced from reality, but they have a coherent viewpoint, and no facts will be allowed to disrupt it. Abandon hope, all ye who enter this realm.

As for the other side of the coin, Bill Whittle has just published his essay in two parts, Sanctuary Part 1, Sanctuary Part 2. That pretty much sums up the viewpoint of the rest of America. We are living in alternate universes, with alternate histories. As we all know from Star Trek, only one can survive. Take your pick.

Everyone is talking about Bill Whittle's essay. I saw posts at SC&A and The Anchoress first, I believe. My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy posted on it.

I do want to close with one distinction. The world view I am addressing here is not the Democrat party. While some who are Democrats subscribe to it, most who vote Democrat do not. I would bet that the vast majority of progressives do find a home in this alternate universe.

You hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the rewrite of history- not just the ideas and lessons learned, but the actual events themselves.

It is truly amazing for example, to find out how many people are absolutely clueless as to how the 'occupation' of the West Bank and Gaza came to be.
Yes, but in the defense of the clueless, most of them don't write books predicated on what has not happened - books, of course, will be read and believed by the clueless.
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I read the BuzzFlash article. There are numerous strands which I would need to separate for discussion. One note: the theology is atrocious. What amounts to a mythical secular view of Christian theology is presented in it.

But some of the other points are not as easily dismissed- even though they are exaggerated. i.e. If jihadists attack us in 'holy war' from their view, aren't we in a holy war if we defend our own beliefs and right to exist? See, I think that part is right, but the idea that it originates with us is wrong.

An aside: when you were younger did you ever have Liberal/Left politics? Or were you always moderate to conservative? I'm just curious- you don't have to answer on your blog or answer at all.

I was a Left protester in my youth, and spent time in many meetings,marched, etc. So that perspective of the Left's motivations enters my thinking.
Ilona - but it is precisely that "mythical secular view of Christian theology" which is the one held by most of these people. Holy wars are generally considered to be wars between religion. What is really going on is in no way a religious war; what's happening is a clash between socio-political philosophies.

Now that Iraq has formed a government the attacks on it are becoming increasingly desperate. The footsoldiers might buy into the Islamic pretext for this, but those orchestrating those attacks know very well that a true Islamic government of and by the people is their mortal enemy.

As to my politics, I don't know that they have changed very much. I'm uncomfortable with left/right labels because I think nowdays they are very distorted. I always cared a lot about social justice and rejected bigotry in any form.

I don't like constraints of responsible human freedom, and those can come about in many ways. Idealism is no guaranty of a good result in a coercive system, so I would prefer to have a non-coercive system. My quarrel with some modern political cultures on the leftish side of the spectrum is that they seem to be advocating mindsets and measures that are essentially more totalitarian than not and will end up being disastrous.

I'm not sure that my dominant political philosphy might not be best described as pragmatic social libertarianism.

Followed the link here from Ilona's blog. I'm not quite sure where to start.

What was your objection to Foley's remarks? The implication that the US military is targetting journalists, or that targetting journalists should be seen as particularly shocking?

"Richard Cohen was using a code phrase to refer to an entire sociological argument the left has constructed for itself. To other leftists his meaning was perfectly clear"

Maybe so, but you have two different arguments confused. I would guess that the argument Cohen was making is that discipline imposed externally in some way removes the obligation to impose one's own discipline on oneself. We can see this in all totalitarian regimes - when the restraints are temporarily removed and an enemy is in front of them, people behave barbarously.

If you were individually faced with someone and asked how to treat them, many things would factor into your decision. If you live in a very controlled society where you are constantly reminded to live in fear of enemies and many of your impulses are repressed, and then are presented with someone and told "That's the enemy, do as you like"...you are officially permitted to behave in terrible ways.

This has little to do with Carroll's linking of the concepts of sacrifice and redemption to dying in war. I thought he put that in rather simplistic terms and I don't think prurience has much to do with the concept, but the two arguments are not the same. I'm not sure how much this will let me type, so I'll continue...
To continue.

"The worst error of all is trying to depict the Bush administration as conducting a Holy War against Islam, when in fact the US has just invaded two Islamic countries, removed despotic regimes, and is attempting to set up self-ruling states that will assure freedom and rights to Islamic regimes."

If I removed the second half of this sentence, you would see the problem.

"The worst error of all is trying to depict the Bush administration as conducting a Holy War against Islam, when in fact the US has just invaded two Islamic countries"

Believe me, a lot of people only reasoned as far as that, and I don't think they are too far wrong.

In fact, the whole sentence is dodgy. The US took out two "Islamic regimes" in order to ensure freedom for Islamic regimes? Is that a modern day version of "destroying the village to save it"?

The word "regime" does not imply a democratically elected government, so the use of "despotic" is just a camouflage. If it is important to remove despots for being despots, in the eyes of those shaping US foreign policy, why are we all looking away from Uzbekistan and humming a little tune?

When it comes to the USSR, my posts will run into 1000s of words...so I'll leave it there ;)
I plead unfamiliarity with the situation in Uzbekistan.

Mama said
"it is precisely that "mythical secular view of Christian theology" which is the one held by most of these people."
That is probably true, from my experience anyway. North Western Winds posted on the fact that a large number of atheists/agnostic make up the ranks of liberals.

Thanks for giving the category for your "dominant political philosphy" . From my time on the Left, this idea of "advocating mindsets and measures that are essentially more totalitarian than not and will end up being disastrous" has been resident on that side of the political spectrum and is the main reason that the peace methodology changed over to the militant. There is a big brother elitest component to Left politics- esp. in the USA. I think you pointed that up in one of your latest post ( On Thomas Sowell). The trouble is that the Right isn't completely free from that. Which is why lots of people with your priorities go Libertarian, I think.

Many of us continue to believe that the war in Iraq has been important in the struggle with Islamofacism, which is symptomatic in the jihadists and terrorist activities. Even though we are divided on things such as "right", "timing", "length of stay" etc.
Vashnevskaya, I am in general uncomfortable with wars. But Afghanistan was harboring the individuals and group who did inflict 9/11 upon us. The US asked the regime there to give them up or expel them. They refused.

If you state that we had no right to invade Afghanistan, then you are taking the position that we had no right to defend ourselves at all. This I cannot accept as a rule by which nations must live.

As for Iraq, here is the question I find no one will answer. We were already controlling huge swathes of territory in Iraq through the north and south no-fly zones. Even during Clinton's term, the trade sanctions and the no-fly zones were bringing us under terrific international pressure.

But the people in the north and south no-fly zones were also under terrible pressure. In the south they had risen in rebellion during 1991. At least 200,000 people were killed when Saddam Hussein's generals and troops put down that uprising. In the north, the Kurds had been subjected to a series of attacks, including at least one chemical attack. I have read estimates of at least 150,000 being killed. Under the no-fly zone, the Kurds had established a representative democracy.

After 9/11, it was clear that we were going to have to get out all the way or go in all the way. If we had gotten out, the people in the south and the north would have been attacked again. Given two bad, bad options, I believe Bush picked the best.

It seems to me that you just created a straw man argument. I don't find it convincing because it ignores reality.

As for your argument about the military, that is exactly the opposite of the traditional military standard. The military enforces a very high standard of responsibility for anything in a person's control. I believe the Bush administration made a terrible error in ignoring Powells' warnings.
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