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All things are NOT equal

Every now and then, I find myself stuck for a topic to post about. And more often then not, some commenter will come through in the clinch and give me just the inspiration I need.

This time it's clrjk, who during the course of the recent discussion on Hamas opined thusly:

I do not support the suicide bombers and their tactics, but I see little difference in a suicide bomber and a helicopter gunship, both have the same aim, death and destruction, the difference being that one side are prepared to lay down their own lives. Sad is it not, but then maybe in Cow, New Hampshire, things are perceived in a diffrent light.

I've never given much respect to the right wing's denouncement of "moral relativism," but now that I see it up close and personal, I fully understand just why it's so repugnant. Because that's just what is being espoused here, and it's horrifying in its evil simplicity.

An IDF helicopter gunship is being equated with a suicide bomber. That's lovely. In the grossest sense, clkjr has a point: both are intended to kill. But for a liberal, he/she/it is lacking in nuance.

The helicopter targets only known terrorists, while the suicide bomber targets civilians. The more innocent, the better.

The helicopter's missiles have a small warhead, reduced to minimize civilian casualties. The suicide bomber tries to maximize them.

Israel fully accepts the responsibility for the actions of its helicopters. The Palestinians -- even the ones that supply the bombs and sing the praises of the bombers -- all say that the act is terrible, and ultimately harmful to the Palestinian people. I don't recall a single expression of sorrow for the dead Israelis.

By clrjk's logic, all things that have a similar function are of equal value or threat. The knife in the robber's hand is just as frightening as a scalpel wielded by a surgeon. A police officer is just as frightening as a nutcase with a gun.

To carry it over into the realm of pure silliness, all men are rapists and all women are prostitutes. After all, they have the proper equipment, and some use them that way.

Sorry, clrjk, they are NOT equal. And you are either a fool or a fraud to say such things.

I'll be generous and call you a fool.

Comments (44)

Amen!... (Below threshold)


This part is just contempti... (Below threshold)

This part is just contemptible:
"the difference being that one side are prepared to lay down their own lives."

Yeah, that's right, pilots don't lay their lives on the line. No helo or plane has ever been shot down, no pilots ever shot, nope never.

Dumb ass.

What's up with taking a che... (Below threshold)

What's up with taking a cheap shot at your home state?

Personal attacks: The last refuge of someone who really has no valid arguments.

bcb, I call my state "Cow H... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

bcb, I call my state "Cow Hampshire" all the time. It's no biggie. We can take it. Hell, if he's a long-time reader, he's probably seen me use the term.

Besides, in some ways, it's embarassingly true...


Jay Tea,It would s... (Below threshold)
Bat One:

Jay Tea,

It would seem that today is becooming something of a minor epiphany for you.

I wonder how your commenter, "clrjk" would view not the surgeon's scalpel, but the similar tools of the abortionist instead.

And if it is equality of results alone by which we may make moral judgments, I wonder how "clrjk" would respond to a universal military draft and the prospect of being sent into harm's way himself. Not that any professional warrior (on either side of the battle) would want someone like him anywhere near. People like "clrjk" tend to get other folks killed.

Of course, your commenter is merely another leftwing hypocrite, decrying others for their moral judgments, while blithely, ignorantly, substituting his own fatuous morality and calling it non-judgmental. Phooey!

To label him a fool is an act of undeserved kindness. I was thinking more along the lines of intellectual coward.

You forgot the most importa... (Below threshold)

You forgot the most important point, Jay Tea. The helicopter gunship is usually large and conspicuously labeled as a military asset. The suicide bomber relies on civilian camouflage.


Reminds me of a discussion ... (Below threshold)

Reminds me of a discussion I had with another commenter on another blog. He basically said that if you are pro-life but support the death penalty, you are a hypocrite.

Which basically means...

An innocent, pure, unborn child's life is equivalent to the life of somebody who couldn't respect the life of another, took that life, and has been subsequently convicted of the crime of murder.

I seriously wonder how the left comes up with such repugnant comparisons.

Brandon,A quicker ... (Below threshold)


A quicker way of saying their position: spare the guilty, condemn the innocent.

I seriously wonder how t... (Below threshold)

I seriously wonder how the left comes up with such repugnant comparisons.

A moral compass made of cotton candy and tinfoil.

Moral relativism is the pla... (Below threshold)

Moral relativism is the plaything of children who don't have to face the consequences of their words.

You won't find many of these types in the pizza parlors in Israel.

Another way to state the di... (Below threshold)

Another way to state the difference: If it were up to the suicide bomber, the world would be rid of all Jews. If it were up to the IDF pilot, the world would be rid of all suicide bombers. Whose world would you rather live in?

It's their objectives *and* their methods that distinguish them from each other.

Sadly, idiots like this are... (Below threshold)

Sadly, idiots like this are everywhere. Many of them grow up to be journalists. I fear for our culture in 10 to 20 years--I think the school system's part of the problem.

"part of the problem... (Below threshold)

"part of the problem", Brad? How about a great big huge bloated money-devouring social-promotioning illiterate-graduating rainbow flag draped "you're all special but some are more special" "how can you expect us to teach children now that you make us test for basic skills!" chunk of the problem?

A society that preys on wea... (Below threshold)

A society that preys on weak-minded youth or coerces them in to becoming suicide bombers is a society worthy only of annihilation. there never is a moral or military justification. and those who justify or equivocate on their behalf are just as guilty and worthy of death as those who brainwash weak minded youth in to mass murderers.

Suicide bombers deliberatel... (Below threshold)

Suicide bombers deliberately target civilians, targeting places where civilians are wont to gather. When civilians are killed, the attacker's purposes have been met.

A helicopter gunship targets militants, armed militants, and others facilitating militancy and suicide bombers. They target only these targets. When civilians are killed, they are unfortunate collateral damage. Only if the target is killed are the attacker's purposes met.

Killing civilians indiscriminately =/= targeting militants. Anyone who tries to equate the two are utterly ridiculous.

No one has clean hands in w... (Below threshold)

No one has clean hands in war.

Let us not forget WWII's deliberate American bombing of civilians in Dresden, Germany. 35,000 + killed. First the RAF, then 500+ bombers. Bodies stacked 10 feet high to be carted away.

Jay, it's all right to take a day off, isn't it?

Perhaps no one has clean ha... (Below threshold)

Perhaps no one has clean hands in war, but we try the best we can while others... don't.

I will suggest, also, that it's quite possible, *hugely* probable, to have bloody hands in PEACE. At least people in war aren't lying to themselves when civilians are hurt in collateral damage.

Does a person *not* have blood on their hands if they could have acted but didn't? No choice, war or peace, results in clean hands. Inaction can cause as many deaths as action does. Inaction can empower or permit as many tragedies and horrors as war itself.

So we weigh and we chose. But no choice results in the lack of sin, only a shift from sins of ommission to sins of commission.

This sort of moral relativism refuses to see that even while saying that everyone is equally vile, the suicide bomber or the uniformed soldier, they've excused themselves from blame and excused themselves from any responsibility to act to protect the innocent.

They refuse to see the blood on their own hands by refusing to chose who's blood will be there.

"If it were up to the suici... (Below threshold)

"If it were up to the suicide bomber, the world would be rid of all Jews. If it were up to the IDF pilot, the world would be rid of all suicide bombers."

We need to paint these words on the side of a very tall building.

"No one has clean hands in war"
And no one has clean hands in peace. There are thousands of people who helped cause our most current war by ruining the peace. Most of these people are hate filled muslims, but more than a few are greedy "oil for food" UN types. Remember, that for a war to start, a peace must fail. I judge those who err in peace much harsher than those who err in war. The Allied command was trying to end a war at Dresden. They failed and failed miserably, but they failed trying to end the killing. Osama, Kofi, Chirac and Saddam erred in a much more horrible and terrible way. They took peace and turned it into a war.
"It is better to have the right enemies than the wrong friends" Tyree (although I probably heard it from my father, the sage of the lunchroom and a fountain of wisdom)

Jay Tea: Thanks for all your hard work. Love your Blog. I am sure God will reward a good agnostic before he gives out 72 virgins to a child killer. Somewhere, there is a cool t-shirt message in there.

Minutes apart, probably tho... (Below threshold)

Minutes apart, probably thousands of miles away from each other, Synova and Tyree have very similar thoughts. Cool. I love the internet.

"This sort of moral relativ... (Below threshold)

"This sort of moral relativism refuses to see that even while saying that everyone is equally vile, the suicide bomber or the uniformed soldier, they've excused themselves from blame and excused themselves from any responsibility to act to protect the innocent."

"There are thousands of people who helped cause our most current war by ruining the peace."

Excellent statements indeed!

Moral equivalence is the la... (Below threshold)

Moral equivalence is the last argument of those sufferring cognitive disonance that "their side" is simply wrong. Unwilling to accept the fact they are wrong they attempt to come twisted world views in order to desperatly hang on to the fantasy they are right.

I used to think that way too. And then I turned 12.

After WWII, officers of the... (Below threshold)

After WWII, officers of the German High Command mentioned that they though the re-occupation of the Rhineland was (to use Gore's phrase) "a risky scheme", and likely to fail. Had they run into any resistance at all, they were prepared to topple the little corporal then and there. Had that happened, then there would have been no Anschluss, no annexation of Czechoslovakia, no partition of Poland, no Blitz, no firebombing of Dresden, and no Holocaust. A token move by England or France could have prevented the entire European half of WWII. (In theory, anyhow... perhaps it then would have happened as a result of Soviet adventurism instead of the Nazis) The blood spilled in the ETO was on Hitler, Stalin, & Mussolini's hands as well as those of Daladier & Chamberlin.

Discussions have a c... (Below threshold)

Discussions have a chance of becoming more civil if focused on behavior and all its complexities and omitting condemnations of the person (unless you've walked a mile in their moccasins ... judge not, less you be judged ... love one another").

And a step further, when examining the offensive behavior examine wherein we, too, have acted similarily, even in the minutest way. This in no way excuses the behavior or fails to hold the perpetrator accountable. It brings self-examination and compassion to the table. It invites the virtues of compassion, understanding, honesty, openess, peace.

These few lines come from a Vietnamese poet:

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda
And I am the arms merchant.

So when we talk of "suicide bombers," let's leave out the individuals (of whose lives we are ignorant) and let's place at the same table those times when we too deliberately killed innocent civilians.

Then how would the discussion go?

The discussion might be som... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

The discussion might be something like this, Kate.

"So, Joe, how was your day?"

"Not bad, Bob. Our boys blew up three terrorists. I waited until they were away from civilians, but two still ended up dying when we took out the terrorists -- turns out the bomb they were hauling was bigger than we thought."

"That's too bad."

"Yeah, we feel pretty rotten about it, but that's what happens when the enemy dresses like civilians and hides behind them. How was your day, Bob?"

"We sent a bomber on to a bus. He killed seventeen, but three were only wounded. With luck, though, the rat poison we mixed in with the explosives will keep them bleeding, and they might die, too."

Yup. No difference there whatsoever.


Some people really don't ha... (Below threshold)

Some people really don't have a problem with the concept of original sin, Kate.

Some people don't spend lots of time examining the darkness in their own soul because they long ago came to terms with it. Take as an example the reaction to your statement that we all have blood on our hands. Did you see protestations of innocence?

So, let us talk suicide bombers... does anyone really *not* recognize an element of conviction and even bravery there (if we're talking about the actual "volunteer" sort)? How does this change that they deliberately target civilians? How does some other indiscriminate bombings of civilians in the past negate the right... the moral responsibility, even... to condemn killing the innocent? More than that, the responsibility to *do* something?

And this is another place where being unafraid to look at that interior darkness is necessary to any sort of good policy... the decision *not* to intervene. Consider the Sudan. By *not* stopping the killing there we *do* become responsible for it. Yet it may not be the right decision to go. It might be better not to go. We have to have the moral strength to make either decision with the full knowledge that our action or inaction, either one, will result in blood on our hands. Will result in our inescapable guilt.

The delusion that it's even possible to be free of guilt is moral cowardice... the refusal to look at the dark state of your own soul and do the right thing *anyway*.

And that part is the part that makes it pointless to refuse to look at "suicide bombers" without also examining our own sin. The most evil person in the entire world has the same moral responsibility as a saint. His past behavior does not excuse him. His childhood does not excuse him. The sin, secret or public, of the saint, does not remove the moral responsibility to oppose evil or protect the innocent.

How can it?

Yo, Jay,Your scena... (Below threshold)

Yo, Jay,

Your scenario is a bit skewed, isn't it? Try it the other way around, and see how you feel, and what responses it gets.

Nothin' to lose. Just an experiment.

cubanbob wrote:... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

cubanbob wrote:

A society that preys on weak-minded youth or coerces them in to becoming suicide bombers is a society worthy only of annihilation.

So, what you're saying is that the ENTIRE society is responsible for that acts of select individuals and organizations, right?

Or should we maybe stick to assigning blame to the actual people who committed the crimes? Maybe?

By your line of reasoning, our American society should be held responsible for producing the likes of Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, and Timothy McVeigh. Are we then "worthy only of annihilation" as well? I mean, did American society "coerce" those people into doing what they did?

The answer is this: you cant go around assigning blame in this way, because it's illogical, and it also doesnt jive with our legal system. American society did not create Ted Bundy; he had choices, made them, and is responsible for his actions. We prosecute him, not the society that he comes from. The same goes for suicide bombers in Iraq. Blaming an entire society for the actions of individual criminals isn't going to get us anywhere. Go after the criminals, and steer clear of blaming the whole of the Middle East for what specific terrorist organizations are doing.

I've done my bit, Kate. Why... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

I've done my bit, Kate. Why don't YOU try it? Why don't YOU put forth the argument that the two sides are morally equivalent, instead of challenging me to put up my side and poking holes in it?

I'm willing to bet you can't, Kate. Because it's easier to destroy than create, to tear down instead of build up, and I'm betting that my initial impressions of your intellectual laziness are correct. You can't construct a solid argument on your own, so you just get the other side to do so just so you can kick them over. Kind of the national Democratic strategy, writ small.

You must be REAL fun at sand-castle contests at the beach, Kate.


OK, Jay,For starte... (Below threshold)

OK, Jay,

For starters, please define your terms.

"Morally equivalent": I've never used this expression in my life. Exactly what does it mean? Esp. in the context of this thread.

"Two sides": What are the sides? And you only see 2?

"Argument": Maybe it's time for a restatement of the argument.

Exactly what am I tearing down, destroying?

PS Reread my post and point out where I attacked you personally, which is a sure way to obfuscate the point.


ryan, One of the people new... (Below threshold)

ryan, One of the people newly elected in the Palestinian elections is a women who is famous for raising several of her children to become martyrs... to kill themselves in the process of attacks on civilians. The *society* gives *her* credit for her son's actions because *she* raised them from birth to do what they did. They reward her by electing her. They know who is responsible and they *reward* her.

Who elected Ted Bundy or McVeigh to anything? Who praised their parents for raising them and elected their *parents* to anything?

Now... the suicide bombers in Iraq, as anyone who has been paying attention knows very well, are a combination of "patriots", foreign nationals, and *non* volunteers. They are a combination of those who try to drive firetrucks into arguably *military* targets and those who blow up schools and kill teachers.

Hey Kate... can you at least say that it's despicable to kill teachers in a school?

Also, I'd like to second Jay Tea's request that you please turn his little vignette around, the one that starts "So, Joe, how was your day?" Start with "So, Bob..." and make me see the light because frankly I can't even imagine how this could be turned around to show anything other than the exact same thing.

OK, Kate, I'll back the tra... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

OK, Kate, I'll back the train up back to the station, just so you can hop on board. I won't make a habit of this, so make the best of this opportunity.

1) A commenter said he saw no difference between a Israeli helicopter pilot who blows up terrorists and terrorists who blow up civilians.

2) I stated I found the comparison reprehensible, decried it as "moral relativism" (meaning, "both sides are bad, so we should just say they're bad and mean and icky, but not do anything to stop it"), and explained just why I thought it was wrong.

3) You chimed in with... well, apparently I misunderstood you, so why don't you start from scratch? Jump in again, and this time clearly explain what you find wrong with my stated position, and why. For bonus points, explain your position clearly, with examples and rationales.

Fair enough?


Synova:I personall... (Below threshold)
ryan a:


I personally stay away from trying to ascribe blame to second hand parties. In the case that you bring up, I would hold the people who committed the acts resonsible, and the mother for inciting the acts. Now, things get more complicated when you broaden that to condemn the whole society for the murders that are going on. You make a big leap to blaming the whole Palestinian society for what the children of this official has done. Do you really, honestly think thats a good way to go about this?

Maybe that lady is "rewarded" by the society, and maybe not. Maybe the whole thing is rigged; I cant claim to know that. I do know that blaming people in this manner doesnt seem to be in line with our legal system. I would prefer to stick to prosecuting those who are responsible, as opposed to making vague claims and generalizations about an entire society.

Now... the suicide bombers in Iraq, as anyone who has been paying attention knows very well, are a combination of "patriots", foreign nationals, and *non* volunteers. They are a combination of those who try to drive firetrucks into arguably *military* targets and those who blow up schools and kill teachers.

Yes, and the people who committed the acts, along with the organizations/govts who planned those attacks, should be held accountable and punished to the fullest extent. People who happen to live in the same so-called society should not be held accountable for what murderers do, unless they are somehow complicit.

Who elected Ted Bundy or McVeigh to anything? Who praised their parents for raising them and elected their *parents* to anything?

You're basically basing your argument off the idea that this Palestinian woman was supposedly elected, and you're assuming that the election was representative, fair, and free from corruption. I cant claim to know that, and if you do, please fill me in. Just remember that Saddam Hussein was supposedly "elected" as well...would you blame the entire Iraqi society for what he did? Or do you blame him and those who helped him carry out his crimes?

I mean, hell, we is American society to be blamed when we elect some public official who then hauls off and commits some crime? Is that to reflect upon us as a whole, or do we hold the individual responsible?

damn fast typing!t... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

damn fast typing!

the last paragraph should start off "I mean, hell, IS American society to be blamed..."

Ryan, I'm gonna be generous... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ryan, I'm gonna be generous and presume you're just ignorant.

The woman cited above, the "Mother of Martyrs," RAN AS SUCH. She is thrilled that all three of her sons died in either terrorist attacks or in Israeli counterstrikes. That was the gist of her whole platform, and she was elected on that basis.

Your counterpoint is utterly empty. A fairer comparison would be Terry Nichols -- Timothy McVeigh's co-conspirator -- getting out of prison and running for Congress as one of the Oklahoma City bombers, and getting elected. To compare the Mother of Martyrs with a politician who commits crimes AFTER they are elected -- such as Bill Janklow, former South Dakota congressman convicted of vehicular homicide while serving in office -- is ingenuous at the least and fundamentally dishonest at its worst. "Flagrantly stupid" falls in the middle somewhere.


Jay:Arent we alway... (Below threshold)
ryan a:


Arent we always, as Americans, talking about the lack of democracy in the Middle East? Arent we always talking about rigged elections, and corruption?

So now, all of a sudden, Palestinians have a perfect democracy that serves its people, and is representative. Is that what you're arguing? When did that happen?

Like I wrote above, Saddam Hussein, the murderer of thousands, was also "elected." Somehow I have a feeling that similar election practices were at work. Once again, would you blame the entire Iraqi "society" for what Hussein and his cronies did?

Finally, this one example of a woman elected on some insane platform by no means proves the idea that all of "Muslim society" is somehow to be blamed for what terrorists do, or is to be held accountable for creating terrorists.

Democracy is by no means widespread in the Middle East. I would ascribe terrorism to autocrats, dictators, and extremists who are beating the hell out of the Middle East, not the people who are subjected to that environment.

OK, I need to respond to Sy... (Below threshold)

OK, I need to respond to Synova & Jay.

I live in northern New Mexico and I sure wish we could meet at a cantina tonight, order a round and a plate of nachos, relax and kick these ideas around.

I think we stand a fair chance of liking one another and finding the whole evening stimulating and enjoying, and setting up a meeting for next week.

I'll answer Jay first.

"The helicopter targets only known terrorists, while the suicide bomber targets civilians. The more innocent, the better."

All I'm saying is that in the same breath I would acknowledge that we too have targeted civilians deliberately. The record is there in all our wars, our miltary interventions, our assasinations. Whether the bomb is strapped to one's body or being carried in a plane, makes no difference. Whether the killing is carried out by the weak or the mighty makes no difference. Nor does it matter which "side" of the war perpetuates it.

It is murder. And yes the international community should condem this and bring the criminals to trial. I refer you to the international law on the bombing of civilians. http://www.dannen.com/decision/int-law.html

So, why did I bring this matter up? That's a good a question, Jay. I've reread the post to try to feel again what bothered me. But it wasn't so much your post as the others that followed. (My comment-it's all right to take a day off was meant to be supportive when you're "stuck" for something to say.) The tenor I picked up from what followed was a pounce on the "suicide bomber" as if the concept was completely unknown in our own military behavior. Does that mean I want to give the "suicide bomber" a pass? Of course not, I just didn't like the smell of hypocrisy. But maybe I'm way too sensitive.

Do I get the bonus points?

Sy-see ya tomorrow.

Kate, I think I can resolve... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Kate, I think I can resolve our conflict very simply. We're NOT talking about World War II, or Chile, or Viet Nam here. We're talking about suicide bombers who deliberately target civilians, and a culture that lionizes them and their deeds. One's hands need not be spotless to condemn a bad thing.

And yes, they are lionized. The Mother of Martyrs was rewarded for her deeds with a seat in the legislature. The first female suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, had a children's camp (sponsored by UNICEF!) named in her honor. They even have made trading cards for them.

When people attempt to "put it in context," or bring up other bad things, I and others tend to see that as attempting to rationalize the unjustifiable, attempting to change the subject, or engage in utterly-irrelevant US-bashing. In short, Kate, we see your side as doing everything and anything it can to avoid taking a clear, moral stance and saying "that is bad, those who support it and enable it are bad, and steps must be taken to keep it from continuing."

That's what it seems to boil down to me, Kate. One side wants to wring their hands, to make sure that all the bad issues are "brought out" and "addressed" and to make sure that all responsible parties have the cleanest hands before attempting any significant action.

My side simply wants the bad things to stop. Once the people blowing up innocents are stopped, THEN we can look at the bigger picture.

Kate, I hope you're not a firefighter. "OK, the alarm has come in. Bob, you make sure the fire engine is in full working order. Double-check the license plate is fully secured. Skip, you call and confirm that there really is a fire. Dave, you're in charge of making sure everyone's uniform and gear are in full working order. Tell them they have ten minutes to get ready for inspection. Bill, you check out the backup engine in case Bob finds something wrong with the main truck. And guys, this initial, unconfirmed report of a fire says it is a big one, so feel free to cut a few corners -- we might have to leave in as little as 45 minutes."


Oh, and Kate? You say "Whet... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Oh, and Kate? You say "Whether the bomb is strapped to one's body or being carried in a plane, makes no difference."

Yes, it does. It makes a HUGE difference. Go and look at the Geneva conventions. Combatants wearing uniforms (and, by extension, in clearly-marked military vehicles) are covered. Combatants in civilian garb are not. In fact, they are considered unlawful combatants (that term ring a bell?), and can be summarily executed for espionage.

The side that deliberately targets civilians, while dressed as civilians, is NOT morally equivalent ("no different") than the other. To say so is an obscenity, as well as an abdication of one's responsibilities as a member of a civil society.


Mornin' Jay,Thanks... (Below threshold)

Mornin' Jay,

Thanks for your continuing attempt to hang in there with me. It's like a secretary gettin' a rose every morning from da Boss.

First, rest assured that I'm not a firefighter!! Taos is safe! But I would assume that a top notch fire department with its daily drills, inspections, plus training, etc. etc. etc. would roll out in seconds when the alarm goes off.

Well, for a Gemini, I seem to be a pretty lousy communicator so I appreciate the opportunity to sharpen my skills.

"One's hands need not be spotless to condemn a bad thing." Agreed. I believe if, however, we do have spots on our hands, have made our amends, and committed ourselves not to repeat the action, we have more credibility when we condem the action elsewhere, and have the personal evidence for the absolute necessity for the condemnation. For example, recently we had an ex-gang member, drug addict who had done time in the big house come speak at a public meeting here. Families and teems came in droves to listen to him.

In no way were the promoters of the event or the speaker himself attempting to justify gangs, drug usage, or actions that bring on jail time.

In no way was the subject changed, the speaker and the Q&A that followed stayed on target ... the heat stayed on!

" ... engage in utterly-irrelevant US-bashing." Huh? Who's bashing the US? I'm trying to say that when we admit the truth, that we too have missed the marked but will not do so again, when we too struggle with greed or pressure or fear, that gives us STRENGTH, give us a REALISTIC, CREDIBLE LEADERSHIP. It's like going to an AA meeting and the damn mayor of the town gets up and says, "Good evening, I'm Jim and I'm an alcoholic." What? You're gonna spit on him?

"Kate, we see your side ... " Oh,please, don't put me in a box or a category or a group. Just deal with me one on one. And I'll do the same with you.

"... anything it can to avoid taking a clear, moral stance and saying "that is bad, those who support it and enable it are bad, and steps must be taken to keep it from continuing."

For the record: Deliberately killing innocent people, like in a robbery, like "going postal," like walking into a wedding party and blowing yourself up along with 87 people enjoying themselves is an offense against humanity, against our dearest principle of the right to life and liberty and happiness.

Why in the world do people do this? To the point, the current rash of suicide bombers. Why? Why? I think a more important discussion is not in condeming such action (for we all agree) put get to the why ... and getting to the why does not excuse the behavior, getting to the why may help formulate the solution.

We've had a terrible gang problem here. Cold blooded murders of one another and us if we got in the way. We were arresting and incacerating them like one swats the pesky summer flies. Finally, the town held a series of forums on WHY and WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO. It was damn tough to pull the finger away from the gang-bangers and point it at us. But we did. Ouch! Changes were made. We haven't had a gang-related murder in two years ... we're holding our breath.

(I can just hear the posts now -- WE ARE NOT CAUSING THESE SUICIDE MURDERS!!! It's like the saying when a butterfly flaps its wings in Argentina I sneeze up here in the north. Whatever slight connection we may have (or not have), let's look at ... what's to lose?)

Re "bashing," "bringing up bad things," etc. You want what's great about the old USA? Let me count the ways ... let's start a thread on that ... I would love to tell you everything that's great about my town -- which is writ large across the land. But I thought we were focused on the murder of civilians.

And to end, Jay, I don't think we should wait til "the bad thing stops" before we look at the big picture. I say we should have looked at the Big Picture --a politically divided country, possibility of insurgency and/or civil war, reconstruction challenges, corruption of all sorts, the uses of our military/their military, a "christian" nation invading a "muslin" nation, etc.-- BEFORE we took out the big guy. How did we not know? Was anyone awake over at the State Department? Did anyone do a risk analysis? Oh, boy, I better stop now before I'm accused of bashing the US again!!

Talk to you later! Go Steelers!

But, tell, me did I get any bonus points or do I still have to keep on tryin'.

Sy - don't know when I'll get to you. Jay has me comin' and goin'.

Kate, Maybe we should just ... (Below threshold)

Kate, Maybe we should just do the cantina thing... both of us being from northern New Mexico. ;-)

I'm not the least adverse to talking about root causes. It's very true that solutions can't be reached without that step being taken. It's perhaps unfortunate that the refrain of "it must be our fault" is heard often enough that anything that "sounds like" that is heard that way.

It seems to me that when it comes to "root causes" it almost always comes down to economics. No, people do not turn to crime or fanaticism because they are poor and don't know better. It's more a case of idle hands being the devil's tools. Where we see violence the unemployment rates... what 25% or more for young moslem men in Europe?.. I think I heard a similar number, 25% or so, for young Catholic men in Ireland when bombings were common there. It's not *poverty* it's idleness... all people need a purpose. (And you'll notice this theory of mine also accounts for wealthy sons such as Bin Laden.)

Speaking of the big picture and Iraq... I think that the big picture *was* looked at... the REALLY big picture, and that the decision to go into Iraq was made with that picture firmly in view... not the picture of Iraq as a whole but of the entire region. Iraq, being only a part of that can't be the big picture by itself.

People accuse our leadership of not paying attention to reconstruction or ideological divisions or the bad juju associated with "christians" invading a "moslem" nation. But that's looking at the small picture, the "remove Saddam" picture as though he's anything more than a pissant genocidal tyrant. I think they looked at the big picture, the root sources of violence feeding the emergence of islamist terrorism, and realized that Afghanistan matters only to Afghanistan and the people who live there. Fixing Afghanistan only fixes Afghanistan. The big picture requires the reformation of far more than that little backwater.

I think they'd have ignored Saddam's crimes (as we ignore so many other tyrants) except that what the big picture demands could be met in Iraq better than anywhere else. A tradition of having a secular government. A "leader" that no one is going to miss. A central geographical location. And more than one good excuse to do it.

Is there any place in the middle east that *isn't* typified by corrupt governments and sectarian strife? *That's* what has to change. That's a, if not the, root cause that needs to be addressed. It's not addressed by shying away from a tremendously difficult task because it's difficult. If the goal is to remake the mid-east into something we can *live* with (as opposed to bombing them into the stone age, which is pretty much the other available option) then Iraq was necessary to that larger picture and possibly the only place that planting a catalyst would actually *work*... Afghanistan, as I mentioned, won't do it. Iraq can.

Maybe, once upon a time, we could wait the decades it took for tyranny to be brought down from within, by the oppressed people who die by the thousands in the struggle to claw their way up out of hell... it's not that kind of world anymore.

Sy - you're from nothern Nu... (Below threshold)

Sy - you're from nothern Nuevo Mexico? You gotta be kiddin'. I've been in Taos some 30 yrs. now. Orginally, South Side Chicago Irish. Then Australia, California, a little of Texas and Mexico. Then I hit a little poor adobe village in the southern spur of the Rocky Mtns. and have never made enough money to get out of it. Makin' a livin's been hardscrabble at times - especially being an anglo minority amidst the pueblo Indian and the Hispanic community (and a woman to boot!) But the life is extraordinary!

Bueno, Sy. Nice talkin' with you. Adios.

So tell me your town!

Any advice you have to help me express myself in a way that does not come across as "bashing" the US would be mightly appreciated. My mind is a curious, questioning one. But in today's climate when I ask questions, refer to our history, muse, etc. I'm accused of being on the side of the terrorists, unpatriotic, blaming "everything" on the US, against our troops, etc. I keep lookin' over my shoulder to see who the heck they're talkin' to.

"It seems to me that when it comes to "root causes" it almost always comes down to economics."

I'm not smart enough, well read enough to say it's the chief cause, but it's certainly one of the top 3 causes. Right now I'm interested in another version of our brand of capitalism. One which the corporations do not focus solely on one element -- the bottom line for the sake of the shareholders, but a system that looks at many elements: shareholders, customers, employees, the enviroment, quality of goods. I'm going to stop here because I'm not sure that's where this thread is heading. In fact, I think this thread is pretty well finished.

I did hear a radio interview today with Patricia Aburdene, author of Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism. It may not be the answer, but it may be part of it.

"If the goal is to remake the mid-east into something we can *live* with ... then Iraq was necessary to that larger picture and possibly the only place that planting a catalyst would actually *work*... "

Whoa! Does the average American (if one exists) know that this is what we're doing? Do our troops know this is what they're about over there? Who gave us permission to put our footprint down on the middle east? Do you have exact words from the Bush administration laying this out in a national address to
We the People?

Those of us who have visited thenewamericancentury.org certainly knew what those folks were up to. It's breath taking.

Ooops. Second paragraph, o... (Below threshold)

Ooops. Second paragraph, of course, should be the last.

And one more thought: was Iraq consulted re our plan for its use in our mega plan?

Boggles the mind.

I'm down near Albuquerque. ... (Below threshold)

I'm down near Albuquerque. Haven't hardly been in the state long enough to figure out the answer to "red or green". ;-) I love it here. I've heard that Taos is breathtaking.

And yes... this thread is just about gone, scrolled off the bottom of the page so real quick answers...

As for "do the troops know" and when did "we the people" get informed... look at any speech by the pres concerning the decision to invade Iraq... take out all the parts about WMD and imminent threats... leave the rest. All that gooey, sentimental talk about freedom and the right of Iraqi people to rule their own lives... it's dead serious. If it weren't for term limits I'd be scared sh*tless, despite the fact that I agree.

The troops, from the get-go, have known that what we are *doing* there is giving the Iraqis an opportunity to leave the tyranny behind them, to form a democratic *liberal* government. They've known, from the get-go that a success in Iraq will transform the region.

As for who gave us permission? I suppose that was Bin Laden. Wasn't his to give, but there you go.

"take out all the parts abo... (Below threshold)

"take out all the parts about WMD and imminent threats... "

Ah so! Just like that drop out those fearful "facts." And with a wink and a nod the Holy American Empire goose steps over the Middle East spreading--exactly spreading what? our country's political unrest?--with permission from a Saudi Arab to use Iraq as our headquarters in the "region."

God help us all!

With this I take my leave.

You're right, this thread has run its course.






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