NRK fakes pro-Israel conspiracy
How far is NRK willing to go to smear Israel and assasinate the character of a critic? All the way.
I wrote earlier that I'm involved with the planning of a public meeting against terrorism in June. The meeting is part of a larger event which includes a gathering against antisemitism, and a concert to fund research on and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by terrorism. This was all originally one meeting, but to make it easier to participate for those who fear that to rally against antisemitism is to support Sharon, the event was split into separate parts with different themes.
One of the central people behind this event is Ester Kristoffer, a psychologist who has written about the suffering of Israeli bus drivers. Over the last two months she has gotten a name for herself in several TV debates where she has criticized the Norwegian media for an anti-Israeli bias. She's done a good job of it too.
On the Saturday evening news, NRK took revenge.
I was there during part of the filming. The journalist was quite clear on the angle. He had begun to notice a strong anti-Israeli mood in Norway, bordering on hatred, had heard about Ester's criticism of NRK and other media, and wanted to give her a chance to present her case. Because of her involvement with the antisemitism meeting, they did some filming with other people in the project present. I didn't quite believe his story, but I have no reputation I care about losing, and didn't object to being filmed.
I didn't catch the interview, and NRK hasn't put it online, but it appears that when it aired on Saturday, the friendly angle had been replaced by a conspiracy theory in which the Israeli embassy supports a secret network of Christians, through which it hopes to manipulate Norwegian opinion. This is utterly false, pure invention. It's the kind of lie that demonstrates the inspiration of antisemitic ideas on modern anti-Israelism. People don't just spontaneously come together to contradict what everyone agrees to be common sense. No, they form secret networks, with nameless and influential members. And at the center of it all, pulling the strings, there's always a Jew.
Don't get my mood wrong. I'm not bitter. I'm a little surprised at the conspiratorial angle, but I did not "expect more" from NRK. I didn't expect anything. I knew this sort of thing happens all the time. Journalists show up for a "favorable" interview where a controversial person get to present "their side" of the story, trick the subject into saying what they want, then present them as Satan himself. Old news.
But this time it happened to someone I know, and I was there to see it happen. And it was not done in a good cause, to expose a scumbag, but to manufacture a conspiracy. So I'm not bitter, but I am angry.
What can I do about this? Not much. Where does a 800 pound gorilla sleep? Wherever it damn pleases. But I can do two things. I can point out for the record that NRK's reporter Eirik Veum is a liar. I don't use that word lightly. I was there, remember. I thought his tale of a lone NRK journalist suddenly coming around to a less anti-Israeli point of view sounded fishy, but others didn't, and he took advantage of them. He used deception and pure invention to smear Israel and assassinate the character of an NRK critic. This was not an honest mistake.
Second, I can publish a translation of a letter written by Ester Kristoffer, sent to NRK and others. It's long, but nobody else is likely to care, and all truths deserve to be published at least once, if necessary in an obscure weblog.
NRK report: The Norwegian version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion ???
I don't know what effect this will have on the meetings. I couldn't care less about fools associating me with a secret Israeli conspiracy, but there are some confirmed or half-confirmed guests I believe may, and who will be chased off if other media follow up this angle. NRK is acting like a playground bully here, picking on kids who step out of line. And like the power of a bully, NRK's power depends on the illusion that their little playground is the real world. It's not, and the moment people stop believing in it they'll be welcome to join us out here.
Thomas Nephew, USA | 2004-04-28 19:12 | Link
Thanks for writing about this case study in the new anti-Semitism.
Herbie NY | 2004-04-28 20:09 | Link
In at least one book I read -- the ttile now escapes me -- the author mainained that the Norweigan press waws quite Anti-Semtic. Does anyone have a view as to whether this is true and if so why
Gard L. Aabakken, Bergen(OSLO IN MY HEART) | 2004-04-28 20:24 | Link
It`s very comforting to now that our N(P)RK-fee is going to something useful.
Seriously, this is not unexpected, but Frightening nonetheless.
OG Norway | 2004-04-29 01:14 | Link
Don't think Norwegian press is anti semitic,they are one-sided but not anti Semites. Nrk have experienced journalists and they *all* belong to the left side of Norwegian politics.There are a lot of angels to take if you want to find racism, like this: a lot of Norwegians consider it "blue eyed" (naive) to vote for the progress party. Frankly, my opinion is that the words anti Semite and racist are being used to randomly. In this case Bjørn, I think it's anti Semitic.
Well -- love your critics -- especially if they are wrong!
OG Norway | 2004-04-29 01:35 | Link
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-04-29 03:39 | Link
I saw this last weekend and I was chilled to the core as I watched it. The last time I commented here Bjørn was after your post regarding another one of the televised "discussions" on NRK. That was the one which seemed predetermined and framed in such a way so that the outcome would be, that any rise in anti-Semitism in Europe can be comfortably blamed on the nature of Jews themselves (er.. I meant the bad Israeli policies of course)... Whew! Fortunately, the herd responded at the time and the online poll they ran showed that something like two-thirds of those who called in agreed with that comforting and hate enabling thought.
Here we have something that seems to represent the natural progression for that kind of image projection that is the handiwork of the intellectually elitist mindset. Another case of the non-conspiratorial yet conspiracy like public Euro discourse that is so clearly distilled here in Norway.
It seems that if one engages the idea of (AHEM) "bias" in the discourse effectively, one becomes subject to surreal levels of character destruction and propagandistic fear mongering. I found it particularly disturbing to observe the use of scowling images of what I assumed were Jews and "other shadowy figures", dread filled music and other dramatic touches, that would make Brecht seem subtle. But even this caricaturesque context was actually exceeded by the content itself. The spin that recent efforts in Norway to put to rest some of the Myths that persist about the Israeli and Palestinian roles in the conflict, is actually part of an Israeli conspiracy with a "shadowy cabal of Norwegian Christians", casts even my worst fears on the decline of any meaningful Freedom beneath a relentless Public Discourse as underestimated. I was flabbergasted (and as you know... at this point... that takes quite a bit).
Of course... I was hoping that last time as well... and it was in vain.
Things... are bad.
Random Penseur | 2004-04-29 13:42 | Link
What do you do when the media is State controlled or funded by tax payer money? And when they stop reporting news but start making news? This is so scary to me. When do you say enough is enough? When do you take back the media? It seems that without the web, and people like Bjorn, this would go unchallanged. Kudos to you, Bjorn. It may be lonely work, but its worth doing!
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-04-29 13:43 | Link
It's more and more difficult to keep up the illusion that they "only oppose Israel's policies". As they see little or no opposition, they make less and less of an effort to hide outright anti-semtitism. How many years before Europeans give up all pretense of a show altogether?
If I were Jewish, living in Europe, I would move to Israel or the United States, and do it fast.
Oh, a week or so ago I got lost at (Norwegian) blink (feel free to drop in!) and started discussing on the forums "boikott israel" and "fritt palestina". I can assure you that the rabid anti-Israel left only makes the vaguest rhetorical attempt at hiding outright hatred of Jews, and only when called on it. In free exercise, these people have no shame.
Herbie, NY | 2004-04-29 14:43 | Link
I am curious, but do not read Norwegian. Were there any editorials or Op Ed pieces in the Norwegian press or on TV questioning or criticizing this program? Even in Austria or Poland there would have been some sort of outcry or critique. Was there any responsible public dialogue about this except for blogs?
fred lapides,USA | 2004-04-29 15:53 | Link
I never miss reading this site! I find wonderful and sensitive materials, some of which I post at our pro-Israeli site, www.Israpundit.com As an American Jew in his middle 70s, I vividly recall the anti-semitism all around me growing up in America...over the years, thankfully, much of this has vanished, at least institutionally, and I have a strong conviction that making Jews responsible for one's shortcomings (Sartre noted this in his fine book on the subject) is much easier than glancing thoughtfully in a morror to explore one's own shortcomings.
Torkill Bruland | 2004-04-29 16:05 | Link
Thank God for Bjørn Stærk. I witnessed part of the scam myself. The government sponsored Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK) reported as if the network against antisemitism was a secret and criminal network. The reporters obviously know that this was a scam. But who cares. In a contry where every newspaper is sponsored by and is economically dependent of the government, and the dominating broadcasting company has only one sponsor, the social democrat government, what matters is not the truth anymore, but what impressions the leftist media is able to convey and make the public belive.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-04-29 16:49 | Link
If we've learned one thing over the years, it's that antisemitism grows when society is becoming dysfunctional. The causes of this dysfunction vary widely, depending on the era and the society. However, it's clear that the rising antisemitism is caused by something that's happening in Norwegian (and other Euro) societies. But what?
I've been blaming the massive amounts of money the Saudis have poured into hate societies for the past two decades (est. $70 billion). Are there other forces at work too?
Events are moving swiftly and strangely.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-04-29 16:52 | Link
Interesting post- It seems venerable to publish the letter. I read it with great interest.
Journalists don't normally tell you: "I am going to make a report and I'm not really sure how you'll come out." They have their tricks to get cooperation. And if they feel that the issue is urgent enough...they'll reconsider obligations. I have to say that a promise of "a favorable report" should never be taken too seriously.
I saw the report and was quite puzzled. Ester Kristoffer looked very uncomfortable in the report. She seemed to be on the defensive. As I am a big fan of candid stuff, I reacted negatively to the info regarding people who would choose to be out of the limelight. I dislike unidentifiable shadow players. (Such as ESAG has) According to you this is incorrect.
Considering her previous statements Kristoffer will never pass as neutral on Israel/Palestinian issues in the Norwegian media environment. From what I know some of her research has been done by living with an Israeli family who were constantly living in fear from terrorism. This is the scientific equivalent of embedded journalism. It may have an impact on what you choose to report.
I am not suggesting that her research is bad (I haven't read it). I am suggesting that she is biased on this particular issue. Just like you all consider NRK to be biased in the opposite direction on this explosive issue. I am no fan of dishonest reporting. I am also no fan of states that kill handicapped terrorists in their wheelchairs with attack choppers. ... I am biased on that issue...
Sandy P | 2004-04-29 19:10 | Link
Anders, just because one's sitting in a wheel chair doesn't make his/her brain incapacitated.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-04-29 20:45 | Link
Herbie: "I am curious, but do not read Norwegian. Were there any editorials or Op Ed pieces in the Norwegian press or on TV questioning or criticizing this program?"
No, not yet. Who would be interested? The only press this has received is a local paper in the town Ester lives in - http://www.jarlsbergavis.no/lokale_nyheter/article1098921.ece - and two articles in the Christian newspape Dagen: http://www.dagen.no/show_art.cgi?art=5785 http://www.dagen.no/show_art.cgi?art=5789
Neither are in any way influential or mainstream. NRK looks likely to get away with this.
Anders: "As I am a big fan of candid stuff, I reacted negatively to the info regarding people who would choose to be out of the limelight. I dislike unidentifiable shadow players. (Such as ESAG has) According to you this is incorrect."
Yes. There's no established organization behind this, (as I explained to you earlier.) There are no secret members. There were a few people who felt uncomfortable being filmed, because they were afraid of how NRK would present this, or simply because they didn't want to be on TV. And can you blame them? NRK can say whatever they want. The only power the rest of us have in their world is to deny them the use of our faces while they say it. I don't care about those things, but if I had a face to lose I would have done the same thing.
"I am not suggesting that her research is bad (I haven't read it). I am suggesting that she is biased on this particular issue."
You may believe Ester Kristoffer is biased, but that's not relevant here. NRK made up a story, it's as simple as that. There's no excuse for that, ever. I disagree with what you told the papers about ESAG last year, but at least you stuck to the facts - they _are_ a secretive group set up to influence European opinion. NRK just made it up. Very, very big difference.
Re: All the comments about antisemitism. I'd just like to point out that this goes further in that direction than anything else I've come across in mainstream Norwegian media. I'm still uneasy about labelling European anti-Israelism in general antisemitic. Perhaps too uneasy, and cases like this certainly support the arguments of you pessimists, but there _is_ a difference between the two.
| 2004-04-29 21:21 | Link
You seem to be taking the rather disturbing(and wonderfully "nuanced" by todays standard among the smart people) position that Kristoffer's message is significantly undermined by her own subjective focus, and can thus be basically discounted. I find this intellectually convoluted reasoning to be deeply frustrating and tiresome for the simple reason that it permits one to simply discount virtually anything... conveniently. It is typical of the canned messages so ubiquitous across the Academia-Media highway here, and is a powerful enabler for the kind of moral equivalence and relatvism that allows any agenda that is dominant on the part of those who project the imagery of what we see in the public discourse, to completely dominate it. It continuously amazes me how the so called equivalence which we are told assists in maintaining journalistic objectivity, is in practice, far more odious that what one would expect even from a world-view lacking any objective values. In the end, it really means that whatever pieces or perspectives in a story fit the agenda, will be the whole story...the rest is "tainted". For example, would you imagine that the fact that one has had significant experiences living with a Palestinian community would result in any sort of "qualifiers" from the Norwegian media when quoting statements from such a person. On the contrary, it would be pitched as though this heaps mountains of instant credibility as someone who can tell the "truth" about what IS. So much for "equivalence". (Actually... if this experience resulted in a perspective similar to Kristoffers... it WOULD be thus qualified... if it were even given air time.... but then, that furthers my point.)
In the end, whether she has great empathy with Israelis because of her experiences there or not, has no impact on the objective merit of her positions. Indeed, one of Bjørns points here was that her efficacy as an advocate for shedding light on many of the distortions and outright fallcies that are HIGHLY relevant to the present formation of "public" opinion on these matters, was what absolutely necessitated this manipulative ad-hominem attack on her. It casts fog and shadowy doubt on her message... which runs counter to the imagery we are relentlessly force fed every day here. It had to be done one assumes. It seems she became an enemy of the... what? Whatever it was, she needed to be undermined and demonized... do you have a problem with that?
Your position is an enabler for that very odious abuse of power which by allowing a stranglehold in framing the public discourse, is (in my opinion) nullifying any meaningful definition of Freedom in this country. (And quite a few others in the "Free" World) We can only judge what is happening by seeing what is, and if we see instead only parts of it deemed suitable by someone else, our freedom has been surrendered to those who weave the imagery that we do see. Full Stop.
The discourse in Norway and much of Europe is virtually monochrome. I call that an objective and empirical fact... care to argue the point?
btw Regarding the man in the wheelchair... have you looked into the public record to see what he was? Whether in a wheelchair, an iron lung or on stilts, he was a mass murderer, a vortex of nihilistic ideology and a mortal enemy of both Israel, and the "Peace Process". The emotive flavor of your last sentence is so aligned with the "frethinking"(yet oddly conformist)canned caricatures of the (Ahem) mainstream... that it seems to reflect some of that lost freedom to see, and thus to think, that I was referring to. But heck... I could be wrong.
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-04-29 21:27 | Link
I wasn't being stealthy... just forgot to fill in the blanks.
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-04-29 21:52 | Link
Sung Kim, San Francisco | 2004-04-29 23:40 | Link
What are the defamation (libel/slander) laws like in Norway? It appears that not only were falsehoods broadcast, but the NRK reporters did so intentionally and knowingly. I would think that a great many individuals who were defamed in that report have a civil suit against NRK.
Isaac, CA | 2004-04-29 23:58 | Link
As a liberal Democrat from the states, I think Israel deserves criticism, esp. Sharon for engineering the crisis we are in, by putting settlers outside of 1967 borders. It's disgusting to me.
But the rising tide of apparent antisemitism in Europe is inexcusable.
All of the yelling confounds any rational discourse that could promote a peace settlement. Further, that may be the goal of some of these players on either side.
The radicals and partisans of both sides seek to radicalize, what else?
One side screams that anyone who criticizes Israel must be an antisemite. They are proven correct so often, that this simple truth is obscured: criticizing Israel is not ipso facto antisemitism.
The other side asserts that Israel is bringing about a morally reprehensible apartheid state. This legitimate stance is nevertheless used by many to clothe antisemitism -- I've seen it with my own eyes.
What to do?
So, would we throw out the entire voice of those critical of Isreal, even if only 10 were without antisemitism?
Clearly, more than 10 are without antisemitism in their motivation.
In fact, the belief in democracy and the rule of law dictates that we take a stance which is critical of Isreal. The Palestinians are denied the right to vote. They should be either given a vote, or given land so they can have a state. This is the only moral thing to do, as I see it.
One has to repeat again and again that criticism of Israel is valid, while pointing out that antisemitism is unacceptable.
How encouraging that Bjørn manages to retain his impeccable integrity, remaining critical of Israel while staunchly renouncing antisemitism.
The point is not whether you are critical or sympathetic (or both) towards Israel per se. It's that rational discourse is muddied by racism and antisemitism. This muddying fosters further antagonism, and ultimately, as we've seen, violence. The NRK report detailed here is morally reprehensible in that it propounds a classically antisemitic worldview.
It should be mentioned that there are racists who label all Palestinians "dogs" and "dirty murderers" as well. They are the equivalent of the crypto-antisemites who use criticism of Israel to mask their racist agenda.
With a knot as terrible as this, who can blame the ignorant for being befuddled and confused by the cacaphony?
I'm sure that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Norwegians sympathize with Palestinians. This sympathy is not in itself antisemitic. In fact, it is laudable. One wishes to side with the underdog. This is even a frequent Jewish stance in politics -- that is why many Jews are so critical of Israel.
Yet being fed a steady diet of biased and inflammatory NRK dispatches, it is conceivable that the society of Norway could become generally antisemitic. Such an outcome should be strenuously avoided.
Dave Lemieux Santa Barbara, CA | 2004-04-30 00:47 | Link
I'm of half-Norwegian heritage, my Mother's side of the family having come here from Trondheim in the 1870's.
One thing I distinctly remember is the incredible anti-semitism of that side of the family in my Grandparents' generation. My parents actually got grief for giving me a "Jewish" name. (My natural charm eventually won over my Great-Aunt but I first heard the work "kike" out of her mouth).
Growing up I could never figure out why they hated Jews so much. I imagine it could have been something from where they settled (South Dakota -- probably not a Jew within a hundred miles of the homestead). Although I do realize that ant-Semitism doesn't necessarily require actual contact with Jews.
It was so ingrained that I'm inclined to think that it's something they brought with them. Is there a history of Jew-hatred in Norway going back into the nineteenth century? I never knew there was even a Norwegian-Jewish community to hate. Puzzling.
Sandy P | 2004-04-30 05:13 | Link
--As a liberal Democrat from the states, I think Israel deserves criticism, esp. Sharon for engineering the crisis we are in, by putting settlers outside of 1967 borders. It's disgusting to me.--
Oh, puleeze, they won that land fair and square.
That's what happens in war. You don't win by staying in the borders. Our own history taught us that.
You want to give your state back????
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-04-30 07:09 | Link
Dave: "Is there a history of Jew-hatred in Norway going back into the nineteenth century? I never knew there was even a Norwegian-Jewish community to hate."
Jews were not allowed to live in Norway until 1851. We never did get a large Jewish community after that. I don't know much about the history of Norwegian anti-semitism, but it's quite possible that it survived the 1850's and stayed in your family.
Suzanne, California | 2004-04-30 08:23 | Link
I too read this blog often for insight into the Scandanavian perspective.
Since it appears that there is no resource within Norway to bring this dishonest reporting to public attention, can I suggest that you (Bjorn)send your story to honestreporting.com. This organization is dedicated to (I believe)tracking falsehoods in media reporting concerning Israel, jews, etc. Check it out.
It is pretty sad to see these things happen, but it is not surprising...
Isaac | 2004-04-30 11:15 | Link
Israel took over the land in a war where they were attacked, or about to be attacked -- true enough. There is therefore justification for Israel to keep the territory thus won -- spoils of war, all of that.
Yet none of that excuses Israel from her responsibility to the people tied to that territory. According to norms of the civilized world, those people should become full citizens of the state of Israel.
Israel is a "Democracy," -- we are often told that this is the reason why we support it. There are many things to admire about Israel. Yet it troubles me deeply that Israel does not grant the vote to millions of people living inside the borders to which it lays claim.
There's something seriously, morally corrupting about such an arrangement.
Israel may have won that territory from Jordan "fair and square" -- no one is weeping for Jordan here. But there are *people* living in those territories. At present, those people are not granted basic human rights. No matter what your sympathies towards Israel, that situation has to be rectified.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-04-30 11:16 | Link
Isaac, CA: very interesting post. I would argue for the same position. It also succeeded in getting Sandy to reveal another one of his inconsitencies:
"Oh, puleeze, they won that land fair and square."
Is it fair to break the UN's claim for closing down illegal settlements? Was Saddam fair when he broke the UN resolutions for a decade?
Now there's this country called Iraq that was recently taken by force. Is it fair that the occupants of Iraq seize those lands? (I know...they didn't win it fair and square, since the war had nothing to do with self-defense... but still..)
DSD | 2004-04-30 13:53 | Link
Yet none of that excuses Israel from her responsibility to the people tied to that territory. According to norms of the civilized world, those people should become full citizens of the state of Israel.
Isaac, you make an interesting point. Though what I don't understand is how you expect those Palestinians who believe in the destruction of the state of Israel in its entirety to become functioning citizens.
This seems to be what complicates the issue, making actual integration impractical.
Herbie NY | 2004-04-30 14:43 | Link
I have trouble seeing Israeli responsibility as Issac does. The avowed claim by the PLO and Hamas is that Israel should cease to exist. Israel's avowed position, from which it has never wavered, is stop attacking and killing us and we will trade land for peace. That is apparently unacceptable to most of the Palestinians. Whatever humanitarian burden the Israelis bear, under the current multi-cultural cant that is so popular today, it surely does not include a suicide pact to satisfy some strained concept of democracy. the latest prounoucement from Islamic clerics that I have read is that Israelis are welcome to live in "Palestine" as long as they accept being Dehimmis. I find it illogicial -- if not verging on the absurd -- to suggest that Israel should be held to a standard of treatment that the opposition has no remote responsiblity for assuming and in fact has denied any responsibility for
Jan Haugland, Bergen | 2004-04-30 14:55 | Link
Israel have not annexed the West Bank and Gaza, so it is simply not correct they are entitled to give the Arab inhabitants there citizenship.
It is also a myth, commonly repeated, that Israel is violating "UN resolutions" by keeping the occupied teritories. Security Council 242 both requests Israel to withdraw from occuipied territories, but does not demand it, at the same time as requesting all states in the region to recognize each others borders and integrity; as we know most countries in the region has refused to recognized Israel. The Palestinian organisations still insist that Israel should be destroyed. S/RES 338 in the same way calls for negotiations about the borders.
There is also the matter of certain UN general assembly resolutions, especially from the time the Soviet Union, its communist allies and the Islamic states could make such resolutions as they saw fit. These have about the same legal power as whatever we write in the comments section of this blog.
It is disingenious to argue that the 1967 armstice lines are "Israel's borders". There is nothing that demands that this rather random green line should become the permanent borders of Israel, and everything beyond it is to become Palestinian. That is precisely why there has been negotiations (alas, in bad faith from the Palestinian leadership).
The territories are "occuppied" by Israel only in the sense they are not recognized to belong to it, there are no other sovereign state having a claim to the land. It has been the desire to give this land to a Palestinian Arab state for decades, but Palestinian leaders like Arafat has resisted this, knowing it would put an end to the perceived "legitimacy" of their struggle. After all, they are fighting to take back the entire land and destroy Israel. A vialble two-state solution would put an end to this.
This is why Sharon wants to cram the Palestinian state down the Palestinian's throats. We'll see how this works out.
Herbie NY | 2004-04-30 14:59 | Link
Jan: well said
Jack, OK | 2004-04-30 15:56 | Link
What most curent critics of Israel ignore is that the Palestinians, and Arafat and the PLO specifically, have had many chances to set up a functioning state. In 1948 the Arab states attached Isreal rather than accept it. Later, in 1970 (Black September), the PLO attempted to seize power in Jordan and were expelled. And on to Lebanon, until Arafat was rescued from exile in Tunisia by Bill Clinton and installed in Gaza. Contrast the Palestinians with the Kurds in northern Iraq. In the ten years before Saddam's removal they set up a prosperous, rough but functional democracy. With all the money and support from Europe they have received, could not the Palestinians have done likewise? Perhaps, if most did not seem more ready to be cynically manipulated by the Arab dictatorships and condescendingly excused by their European apologists.
Most of those wringing their hands over the Palestinians appear ignorant of the events that led up to the current situation. Had the Palestinians and Arab states accepted the 1948 UN resolution creating both an Arab state and a Jewish state, and / or had the Palestinians later cooperated with King Hussein rather than trying to topple him, their circumstances today would be vastly different. They could have had most of what they wanted (or rather, said they wanted) from Barak. Remember, it takes two to tango.
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-04-30 16:07 | Link
Anders and Isaac,
I would add to Jan's excellent comments that the idea of "giving the vote" to the millions of "Palestinians" is not only farcical, but inherently skewed against the State of Israel. It may feel good (and satisfyingly superior) to think in terms of "Social Justice" when looking at the region, but that position is fraught with lies. In the first place, Israel has NEVER claimed the so called "occupied territories" as within its own borders, for the simple reason that it does not want, nor feel entitled to the vast majority of it. (Spare me anecdotals regarding any militantly Orthodox sects who claim the Biblical borders... they are loud but inconsequential, even within Likud.) The very simple reason that the "occupied territories" stay occupied is that the Israeli state is under constant threat of attack.
Why is this so? Has Israel made a policy of repressing the rights of the "Palestinians" in order to ethnically cleanse or exploit the labor of the Arabs there? Has she attempted in any way to control their religious lives?
I don't make "Nazi" statements lightly. Unlike the Hitler icons being bandied about for emotive appeal presently, these comparisons are empirically verifiable based on Palestinian Society beneath the PA. I am deeply distressed by the smug blindness of the elitist intellectual discourse which thinks that this doesn't matter in their relativistic world, and expects rational players from among those who have been drowning in relentless hatred for a generation. I have questions for you both and that "ideology" you both seem to adhere that encourages you to think of yourself as "freethinkers"... as long as you think the right way.
Give them the Vote? Have you read any polls from the territories? Do you think that this would be the "right thing" and that the reason they hate so much... must be the fault of the Jews, and not the ruthless "leadership" who has sought to turn an entire population of men, women and children into a human spearhead?
Is it possible that you are so enamored by the subjectively malleable imagery of foggy nuance that you think democracy, when it is metaphysically disconnected from any tenets of freedom, Liberty, Universal Human Rights or the dignity on individual life... can be a good thing?
PS It is unsurprising that you both give such weight to UN resolutions on the matter. This is a separate thread so I won't comment much... but based on what is in plain sight, that is a sorry state of affairs. It serves mainly those who seek to maintain a tight forum for detemining "International Opinion". As Hayek might have said... this is an invitation for the worst to be on top. Also, I regret my sarcasm at one level, but from experience bleieve it is best to frame it that way and appeal to you to consider it nevertheless.
A.R. Yngve | 2004-04-30 16:38 | Link
Last year (or was it 2002?) I happened to see a news program on the Norwegian channel TV2 (not a state-owned channel)... where they aired a segment about a small group of Norwegian Christians who supported Israel on purely religious grounds.
Now, the people interviewed and shown in this segment were old folks, and were clearly shown in a light of ridicule. As if to say between the lines, "look at these silly old religious nuts who support Israel."
And then the news bimbo ended the segment, uttering the term "Jew friends"... not "Israel supporters", but "Jew friends" ("jødevenner" in Norwegian).
It's the LITTLE things you notice... the little revealing details... that makes you wonder about anti-Semitic bias in Norwegian media. I don't think "conspiracy", but there are reporters with tendencies.
Robert Crawford | 2004-04-30 16:40 | Link
Hindsight is 20/20, but as a rule of thumb, never agree to an interview unless you can have your own cameras/tape recorders running at the same time.
Bill, US | 2004-04-30 17:31 | Link
"Don't think Norwegian press is anti semitic,they are one-sided but not anti Semites."
An interesting point. One may also argue (and many do within the US continuing civil rights movements) that people who oppose affirmative action have "internalized" their racism. Given the high correlation between those who hold this view and sympathizers of PLO/Hamas/Hizbollah terrorism, it is ironic that many who expect the Jews in Israel to rise above every terrorist attack against it (while expecting the PLO "to rise above nothing") are as guilty of “internalizing” their issues with Jews as their opponents on Affirmative Action. Indeed, they might as well be asking American Blacks to pass literacy tests (in Chinese) to register to vote while any semi-literate Klansman can vote as often as he likes.
The Principle is the Same.
In this case, however, it’s clear that something stinks to high heaven not matter where you stand. Once again, imagine if this was a conspiracy by "them coloreds" to influence opinion on civil rights through, of all places, churches. Nope. No racism to be seen here. After all, we’re talking about the Jews.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-04-30 17:59 | Link
Kevin McDonnell: I've nothing to add, just a comment.
You are the first person I've ever seen, that in a debate manages to mention Nazi and Hitler in a post - where I've not invoked Godwin's Law afterwards. You sidestepped the _comparison_ to Nazi Germany by saying 'since', but you still get your point across.
Sandy P | 2004-04-30 18:12 | Link
Anders, I'm not male.
--What about Kuwait, the land was won in war by Saddam. Was he entitled to keep it?--
Only if he could hold onto it. Under you're reasoning, Germany's land would stop at the Channel.
Or, any of the countries in Europe if they went back to old borders?
You know, When we fought the Mexican-American war, we surrounded Mexico City.
We all want "peace" Anders, we're just "discussing" which definition will reign supreme, Western or Islamic. I'm sure Ali and Susan would be delighted to explain the differences to you, in a little less B/W terms than I would, since you seem to need flowery language.
So, Anders, which definition of "peace" do you want to live under?
And until you understand that, your world will be hazy. How many sites that Ali posted have you visited? Do you surf there regularly? what have you learned?
Kumbaya phase was the 1990s, and they're so over.
--(I know...they didn't win it fair and square, since the war had nothing to do with self-defense... but still..) --
And again, you're in your haze, you don't see the bigger picture.
Japan attacked US on 12/7/41 - yet, our first stop was Morocco. Does that make you go hmmmm?????
Democracy is another word for "mob rule." Yes, by all means, let them vote. That would also solve the JOOOISH issue once and for all, wouldn't it?
And as I said before, if we were into
Gee, color me surprised, I'm for US policy.
And since you're so generous with everyone else's land, maybe you could talk Spain into giving up the rock instead of having to call on Colin to solve the dispute and give back al-Andalus, the "right of return - not cash" to all JOOOOSSS whose property was taken during WWII AND the muslims all territory they had up to the gates of Vienna when they were stopped on 9/11/1683(?). Then just maybe there'll be the "peace" you so desperately desire, you're willing to sell Western Civ down the river for. You see, Anders, you don't get it. It's a core American belief, buried under the last 50 years of prosperity and "peace." Live Free or Die! That's one US message of 9/11. Enough of US are going to die so the rest of US will have that choice. We're going back to basics, in a sense.
Our divergent (?) histories of the Barbary Pirates helped define the peoples we are. Maybe you should do some reading. 200 years later and still relevant.
You know the funny thing is, Arafat's been running the show for 10++ years now, and he actually could have given the Palis their "basic human rights." But he's a mobster writ large (?)
NO votes in 10++ years, no courts, no basic services unless provided by you and me thru the UN and other NGOs.
But you Euros must focus on Israel. More land will not turn the Palis into a healthy, functioning society. The problem won't go away by giving them land. And your thinking is B/W if you think it will. They'll just be a bigger cesspool.
Also, Anders, just to let you know, I am for the Palis, they're a culture of death, they want it, revel in it, and I'm perfectly willing to let them have it. But at some point, they will get the message and then the "discussions" you so desire will take place.
halldor | 2004-04-30 18:31 | Link
There is a (somewhat bland) history of antisemitism in Norway at the following URL:
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-04-30 20:58 | Link
From An Opinion piece by Charles Krauthammer in the Washington Post
“Israel offers unilateral withdrawal from Gaza -- uprooting 7,000 Jews, turning over to the Palestinians 21 settlements with their extensive infrastructure intact and creating the first independent Palestinian territory in history -- and is almost universally attacked. * * * The Arabs have variously denounced this as Israeli unilateralism, a departure from the ``road map'' and a ruse and a plot. The craven Europeans have duly followed suit. And when Tony Blair defied the mob by expressing support for the plan, he was rewarded with a letter from 52 Arabist ex-diplomats denouncing him. * * * To argue that neither Israel nor the U.S. can act in the absence of negotiations is to give the Palestinians, by continuing the terror, a veto over any constructive actions by the U.S. or Israel -- whether disengaging from Gaza, uprooting settlements, or establishing conditions for a final peace settlement that would ensure the survival of a Jewish state. This is an argument of singular absurdity. And a prescription for perpetual violence and perpetual stalemate.”
Jack D., US | 2004-04-30 23:02 | Link
Anders writes : "I am also no fan of states that kill handicapped terrorists in their wheelchairs with attack choppers."
Sandy P. | 2004-04-30 23:17 | Link
Shall we turn our eyes to the bastion of liberty, France?
Via LGF, and the TV show's got nuthin' on this:
Graffiti reading ‘Jews out’ and depicting a swastika are painted at the entrance of a Jewish cemetery in Herrlisheim, eastern France, Friday, April 30, 2004. About 100 headstones have been desecrated in the cemetery and the French government quickly condemned the attack. In the past few years, France has suffered a wave of violence against Jewish schools, synagogues and cemeteries that coincided with new fighting in the Middle (AP Photo/Gil Michel)
Isaac | 2004-05-01 10:08 | Link
'Democracy is another word for "mob rule."'
I'm not saying that as hyperbole, I firmly believe that, based on the past three years of demagoguery here in the US. But whatever you think of that, read on...
I find I keep having to say this over and over, slowly: Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida. Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida. Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida...
'So, a basic human right is to vote, eh?'
Is there more to Democracy than just the vote? Sure. But neither can a country indefinitely occupy land, denying its residents a vote, and still call itself a Democracy.
'That would also solve the JOOOISH issue once and for all, wouldn't it?'
You figured it out -- I only support Democracy because I'm actually a nazi.
"Arafat's ... a mobster writ large (?)"
"More land will not turn the Palis into a healthy, functioning society. The problem won't go away by giving them land."
We'll never know, will we, unless we give them a shot. What do you have against giving that a chance? Are you afraid it might work?
I know it's hard for you to grasp this, but we really, firmly believe that it is Bush who is threatening to wipe out those freedoms which we hold dear, and we are every bit as willing to fight for our democratic freedoms as any conservative is. We supported the war in Afghanistan, as that seemed clear cut: the Taliban was aiding and harboring Al Qaeda.
Bush NEVER made the case for war in Iraq, and he has failed to carry out the war with any sign of winning the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, of *isolating* groups of Al Qaeda. In fact, he has shown every sign of playing right into their hands.
"They'll just be a bigger cesspool..."
Here's my litmus test. Every Palestinian American I've met has been a good person. Not too scientific, but I'd suggest this: given the right environment, Palestinians are just like you and me. They strive, they learn, they work, they love, all the rest.
Crazy kumbaya talk, right? Yeah, I guess they are actually cesspool dwellers. They must have sent their spies to America to pretend to be normal, just to trick us "lefties" into supporting Palestinians. Pretty diabolical.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-01 13:15 | Link
Good going Isaac... Maybe there's hope for us all after all!? I am impressed with your post.
Kevin: "Democracy which has become a mechanistic and almost meaningless concept in our transnationalist-postmodern "International Law" paradigm)".
Sadly, an encouraging start of your post was followed by a very poor section:
"to think of yourself as "freethinkers"... as long as you think the right way. "Give them the Vote? Have you read any polls from the territories? Do you think that this would be the "right thing"
This is called chopping off the branch you are sitting on. Because your argument is that Palestinians shouldn't vote because they would vote "the wrong way". How is that possible? The people voted wrongly?? You base this great insight on polls done in the Palestinian territories. This is the worst hypocrisy I have seen in here for a while! Kevin's argument: We checked out how they would have voted and decided we wouldn't approve of it...let's not give them the vote! Are you familiar with the concept of Gerrymandering? If not...check it out... it offers great opportunities to those wishing to manipulate elections.
Jack: "he deserves to get blown up under basic principles of justice."
| 2004-05-01 16:56 | Link
Does that mean that you think the comparison is unfounded? Have I engaged in a caricature? It appears that you wish to take comfort in invoking Godwins law in a way that would permit you to readily toss aside any points in the post. Its a free country... feel free. But my qualifier in bringing it up was that the words Nazi and Fascist and Hitler have become almost completely emotive icons now. Thus we see Bush is Hitler just about anywhere. My position is that the historical comparisons with the social controls and mass indoctrination in naked hatred and death cultism that resulted in Nazi Germany, and with the regime that constituttes the PA... are valid. There is no sleight of hand here and if you would care to argue the point, I would oblige.
Interesting spin on what I meant in my post... but since I always attempt to write in as unspinnable way as possible... I have obviously erred. Allow me to unspin your interpretation. The polls I refer to are the ones that show for instance that over the last ten years Palestinian Arabs who are polled have gone from a about a third to over two thirds who believe that Israel should be destroyed outright. More than half of Palestinians think that Jews deserve to be killed. Well over half beleieve that the "Protocols...Zion" are true. There is mountain upon mountain of these types of "mainstream" opinions there.
Ironic then when you take sarcastic reference to the inherent fallacy of "freethinking" conformity, and consider that is a wedge against the idea of enforced conformity under the PA. This kind of "reasoning" is what relativism has wrought Anders.
Who is sawing off whos branch then? You said you totally agreed with the first statement, but then you think (apparrently) that it in no way relates to the Palestinian situtation. Thats a pretty convenient chain of reasoning Anders. I liked your summary statement of my "point"... the one that allowed you to discount it all. Quite interestingly... you got it exactly backwards. Was that on purpose then?
Herbie, NYC | 2004-05-01 17:54 | Link
Issac "Here's my litmus test. Every Palestinian American I've met has been a good person" Well there is a test. However "good" to me does not remotely imply using children as suicide bombers or teaching them that death is good. As for"Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida", the facts are far less supportive of your position; indeed it was in Iraq that members of Al Qaida trained on a mock plane as to how to take it over. Of that fact most people agree. The most prominent argument against any connection is that Al Qaida is a religious fundamentalist and Iraq was a secular Bathist state. However most Arabist scholars would agree that temporary alliances are formed. basically on the view that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. As for "Bush NEVER made the case for war in Iraq", I think it might be helpful to your argument if you stated the premise upon which you rely. If the premise is WMD then he did. At te time all -- absolutely all western security services believed that he had them and the French and The Germans felt he was further along then the US. That they were not found is either a massive and uniform intelligence failure or ans some evidence suggests they were shipped to Syria. Independently of WMD the fact remains that in terms of Real politic that the effort to turn Iraq into a secular democracy would be a stupendous achievement and would go far to changing the face of the middle east. Will it be successful – who knows, but one thing is sure which is that prior policy has only breed misery internally and increasing danger for the West. I for one believe that it was and is worth the risk. Islam is not a peaceful religion and is extremely aggressive.
A dream of a PLO state is nice, but unless and until Israel can have secure borders and the base for attacks on Israel shifts from total destruction to some form of acceptance of their right to live, it is, in my view, absurdly unrealistic to ask that the Israelis bend to the will of the street and make any accommodation. Indeed to ask them to do so in current circumstances seems like asking them to become agents in their own destruction. At a minimum if any group wishes to seek the support of the international community they must accept international standards of common to all civilized society. If they do no,t they forfeit their rights to make any claims and that is what the PLO has done.
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-05-01 21:35 | Link
Oops, for the record, the post above addressed to Rune, and then Anders is from me.
I want to quickly comment to Isaac. I notice you make gross assumptions on who and what the "reactionaries" are, as if this is quite obvious and not subject to review. Interesting... perhaps you should take a long hard look at that. You cite historical precedence fairly concisely, so I wonder what conclusion you would come to if you threw aside preconceived notions, and "truism"-labels that are pushed relentlessly in the public discourse, and consider...objectively... who and what fits the "mold" of reactionary today. Let me know.
Sandy P. | 2004-05-02 08:38 | Link
What you fail to realize Isaac, is that it might not be the 60s anymore, the election will decide that. Free speech is never free, Isaac, read Gregg Easterbrook's 11/5/01 column in the WSJ. Is it that you can't criticise, or is it that people are finally answering back?
--attacked US on 12/7/41 - yet, our first stop was Morocco.'
--Again, Germany had attacked us before Japan, but not in so spectacular a manner. Why Germany first?
--I find I keep having to say this over and over, slowly: Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida. Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida. Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida...--
Prove it. And of course the bolshies and nazis never would have joined up, it was unthinkable, inconceivable. Could you please remind me what Chamberlain's response was when he found out they did?
Just because one votes does not mean one lives in a democracy.
--Is there more to Democracy than just the vote? Sure. But neither can a country indefinitely occupy land, denying its residents a vote, and still call itself a Democracy.--
Do you mean the JOOOS? What's Arafat's excuse for not holding elections? And w/disengagement of certain parts of the occupied land, votes should be getting closer, but we'll see. Jordan doesn't give them voting rights, does it?
--"More land will not turn the Palis into a healthy, functioning society. The problem won't go away by giving them land."
It's been 10++ years, Kurds seem to get it in the same amount of time. Can't run what he's got. It won't work. Russia's held more elections and technically switched hands.
Kind of like socialism, won't work but how long has it been, 50+++ years, yet they still keep trying.
A Pali state is not a key to peace, because it would take away a brickbat and they'd actually have to pay attention to what's going on in their country. If it's not the Palis, it'll be something else, always an excuse. No one wants them, they've been kicked out of every other place. Assad Sr (?) slaughtered 30K of them w/o blinking an eye in the 70s.
--You see Sandy, in spite of your paranoid and condescending interpretation of "you Euros" and whatever else is in your head, what you fail to grasp is **the "euros" and other critics of the Bush approach actually do cherish "western" freedom and democracy.**--
Could have fooled me. France is not a "democracy." IF the rest of Europe chooses their pols the way frogistan does, Europe is not a "democracy." I call it mutated monarchy. America is from the ground up, frogistan's from the top down. And I think Britain is, too. Elites chosen from 3 certain schools, signatures to get on the ballot gathered from other politicians, not the people. Le Pen complained about it in 2000, IIRC.
Perhaps you can refresh my memory as to how the Brusselsprouts will obtain their positions after the EU solidifies?
--I know it's hard for you to grasp this, but we really, firmly believe that it is Bush who is threatening to wipe out those freedoms which we hold dear, and we are every bit as willing to fight for our democratic freedoms as any conservative is. We supported the war in Afghanistan, as that seemed clear cut: the Taliban was aiding and harboring Al Qaeda.--
Horsehockey. I've read that spin more than once lately and it doesn't fly. Let's see, NATO invokes Article V(?) and what do we get? Of course you can attack Afghanistan. But we'll decide when, and we'll be in charge. You're the cannon fodder and you spend your money. At best, the Euros kept their mouths shut thinking we'd hit Afghanistan, rid them of that problem, go back to sleep and the Euros can go their merry way trying to knife us in the back as they've been doing for quite a few years now.
I have no doubt you think W is a danger. It was in your grasp, Isaac, utopia. For 40 years the left has been working on this country. And then 9/11 came and it was gone. Of course, the internet and rising education also doesn't help the cause. When I read posts from lifelong dems, 50-60 y.o.s who're voting W, questioning their lifelong beliefs, it's over for a few decades. When a Students' Bill of Rights is forwarded for a full vote because of the arrogance of a Harvard-educated professor going up against a student in front of the pols right after testimony is closed, things are changing. Check out Colorado. When the spawn of the Berserkeleys, while being very socially liberal are anti-abortion and the city of SF will give out services instead of cash to the poor, a new wind is blowing.
As to cesspool:
My favs of babies dressed up as jihadis - just like dad posing next to AK-47s must be in the archives. For some odd reason, Arafat and his goons ordered no pics like those finding their way into the press anymore.
--Bush NEVER made the case for war in Iraq, and he has failed to carry out the war with any sign of winning the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, of *isolating* groups of Al Qaeda. In fact, he has shown every sign of playing right into their hands.--
You have the internet, why don't you find out for yourself? Besides, W didn't need to make the case, Iraq made the case. And while major combat operations are over, it's been 50++ years and other than the original generation, I really don't think we've won the hearts and minds of Europe. I've noticed that for at least 20 years. So, what's your point?
Do you really think we're caught in the Bermuda Triangle of Iraq/NK/Nam because of coincidence? They're all unfinished business. Nam is unfinished business in this country, hopefully the election will put Nam to bed. If not, until the last boomer dies we'll be living w/it.
Rune Kristian Viken, Oslo | 2004-05-02 08:39 | Link
Kevin: I was not being sarcastic. I can repeat what I said - so that you can re-read it:
"You are the first person I've ever seen, that in a debate manages to mention Nazi and Hitler in a post - where I've not invoked Godwin's Law afterwards."
The word "not" is the important part. ;-)
You actually managed to mention both Nazi and Hitler in an argument without looking stupid. That is an impressive feat these days.
Take the compliment.
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-02 09:56 | Link
I'm working on a response -- I work weekends, so it's kind of tough. I promise to respond by tomorrow night though. Thanks for responding to my posts as well.
OG Norway | 2004-05-02 11:15 | Link
Think it's nice that you (rune) have found a "law" that apply to *all* --- yupp, a true Norwegian!
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-05-02 12:19 | Link
Sandy: You reply to Isaac's "Hussein was never allied with Al Qaida" that he should "Prove it."
I'm sorry, he doesn't have to prove that. The burden of proof lies with those who believe that there was cooperation between al-Qaeda and Saddam. There are indications of some sort of contact or cooperation, but I don't believe we can honestly say that we know for certain what that relationship was like. Not yet, or at least not on the evidence I've heard of. But I could have missed something. So why don't _you_ prove (or make a convincing case) that there was close cooperation?
"France is not a "democracy." IF the rest of Europe chooses their pols the way frogistan does, Europe is not a "democracy." I call it mutated monarchy. America is from the ground up, frogistan's from the top down."
That's a narrow and jingoistic definition of democracy you're operating with. Democracy isn't an on-off switch. There are degrees of democracy, from _true_ top-down societies like North Korea to relatively decentralized free societies like the US. There is no clear line between democracies and non-democracies, but my definition includes rule of law, separation of powers and elections at most levels of government. France has all this. So does most of Europe.
What you're trying to say is perhaps that France is a flawed democracy. Fine. I probably agree with many of the specific flaws you're thinking of. But don't jump from that to "France is not a democracy". Don't fall in the same trap of hyperbole and negative nationalism (ie. anti-Francism) we Europeans are stuck in. You don't take Europeans seriously when they call the US a fascist state. Neither do you deserve to be taken seriously when you claim that we don't have democracies. Same mistake, same reasons, same nonsense.
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-05-02 18:34 | Link
Issac Is this what you had in mind by nice people:
A pregnant mother and her four daughters were shot dead Sunday after two terrorists opened fire at Israeli cars traveling near the Kissufim Crossing. . . . in the Gaza Strip. The dead were identified as Tali Hatuel, 34, eight months pregnant and her daughters Hila, 11, Hadar, 9, Roni, 7, Merav, 2 all from the settlement of Katif. The five will be laid to rest 6.30 PM on Sunday at an Ashkelon cemetery. * * * The IDF said that both of the gunmen, who arrived at the area by car, were killed in an ensuing firefight. * * * The two Palestinians who carried out the attack were identified as Ibrahim Hamad and Faisal Abu Naqirah both from Rafiah. Police said the white Citroen station wagon, carrying the family, spun off the road after the initial shooting, then the attackers approached the vehicle and shot the occupants at close range.
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-02 18:56 | Link
First installment ;):
I will try to address your valid points, this evening. For now, Sandy gets my attention, though I try to address some of your issues in my response to him.
Clearly Republicans are much more suspicious of "the people"; granted, there is ample reason for pessimism in this regard. HOWEVER, so is there reason to fear oligarchic trends in the United States (concentration of wealth, influence of wealthy interests on the political process, etc.).
I revile the France-bashing that went on in the US over the Iraq war. It was not to be taken seriously, yet it humiliated the US.
And yet, I still can't get over certain qualms I have about France. Maybe "qualms" is putting it too strongly, but I'll offer them as criticisms at least.
France is not really as inclusive and diverse as the USA. My case in point: a Colombian friend who immigrated to the United States, then went on to live in France for a number of years, announced to me: "though I might live and work there my whole life, the French would never accept me as 'French' the way the US would accept me as American." French-Americans I know tell me her statement is accurate. This does not constitute proof, but in general, people who are in a position to know seem to accept the truth of this generality.
God bless the USA. I'm fighting rightwingers every day to keep the US a great liberal democracy ;). It is our liberalism which has made us a world leader.
When Nixon went to China, there were voices calling for detente with the Soviet Union. Yet Nixon deliberately pursued China, fearing that otherwise, China would become the standard-bearer for non-white third world nations everywhere. He feared that a US-Soviet axis (in fending off China) would be perceived as a "white" alliance (though the US and the Soviet Union included non-white peoples).
Nixon was obviously a strange duck. Yet he was correct to recognize how crucial it is that diverse peoples feel represented within the power structures of our society, if the US is to lead with moral authority in the world.
Conservatives of our era, by contrast, seem so overweening in their confidence in our military, that they may have forgotten the importance of symbolism in our fight for western values. Allowing General Boykin to evangelize, in uniform (though off duty, in his church), about how our success against Islamic armies was due to the fact that *we worship the true god* (Jesus), is an important symbolic mistake in this regard. I am somewhat torn, by the free speech argument; nevertheless I find it somewhat appaling that he would represent the armed forces in wearing his uniform while delivering such a message, without repercussion.
Some conservatives do in fact tout America's diversity as a qualification for our global leadership position. Conservatives seem genuinely to be ambivalent (or in transition): diversity has long been scorned with some derision by a certain quarter of the rightwing; yet it is used as proof of our beneficence by another quarter (when it is convenient).
We liberals never quite hear the full-throated endorsement of diversity that we seek from the conservative side of the house. Though I will admit, times have changed. Bush is much more comfortable with, and much more surrounded by, blacks (at least his rich friends) than Reagan ever was.
Herbie NY | 2004-05-02 19:20 | Link
Issac: "We liberals never quite hear the full-throated endorsement of diversity that we seek from the conservative side of the house." I fear you may be smoking something and it is not tobacco. Almost all of the conservatives I have read applaud diversity and immigration. What they deplore is the attempt by liberals to have society teach or uphold minority cultural identify. You just make excathedra pronouncements and almost always in absolute terms and when you do, I submit that any valid points you raise just get lost. French bashing? When Villipan can’t say whether the US or the Iraqis should win and when the best selling book in France purports to make the case that 9/11 was a “pentagon conspiracy”, well with “friends like that, we don’t need enemies.” There are certainly valid reason to disagree with US policy, but the French in my opinion, have gone beyond that. I for one am comfortable with what George Patten said “ I would rather face a German division then have a French division protecting my back.
| 2004-05-02 23:44 | Link
I Re-read that... sorry, and well... Thanks! I guess my radar for incoming was set too high.
In your last post you make many MANY assunptions here and state them as though they lend weight to arguments that would be dependent on them, so it's actually impossible to debate you on your main points... so I won't. I'll just point out the main elements that I think undermine the whole thing. For example:
"Clearly Republicans are much more suspicious of "the people"; granted, there is ample reason for pessimism in this regard. HOWEVER, so is there reason to fear oligarchic trends in the United States (concentration of wealth, influence of wealthy interests on the political process, etc.)."
There's a whole lot of odious modern Academia "truespeak" in that statement Isaac. And I can see why if you merely accept that Prima Facia, lots of other things must follow. Regrettably for your position, that is not the case. The vast majority of American Conservatives are either associated with a Libertarian element to a greater or lesser extent, or they are more of what is affectionately referred to as Classical Liberal. What you refer to as liberalism today is, to my mind very far indeed from what a meaningful distinction for the word must entail. It is a strange liberalism where a word like diversity requires intellectual conformism and a clear doctrinaire. Where tolerance is ideologically dogmatic. It is a philosophy that gave us Political Correctness and "The Herd" to mean the people you refer to above. It is elitist by defintion and blind to a moral bridge to posterity. Oligarchic trends you say?... see to your own house Isaac!
Then there's this:
"God bless the USA. I'm fighting rightwingers every day to keep the US a great liberal democracy ;). It is our liberalism which has made us a world leader."
REALLY! Well... I can understand why you felt so obligated to enter into a very artful if convoluted discussion of Nixon at that point to give "weight" to these things that someone told you are just ... ya know... True! But I hear a loud Buzzer sounding.
It was these kinds of desperately self satisfying Premises which I beleieve enabled you to lay out your final four paragraphs, which are so rife with emotive caricature masking itself as "Reason" that it ends up being... dare I say... simplisme.
I don't mean to be mean here Isaac, but whatever "full throated endorsement of diversity" you've been inculcated in... looks pretty doctrinaire and self-indulgent to me. Much like that fascinatingly postmodern misnomer..."liberalism".
Sandy P. | 2004-05-03 01:17 | Link
--"Clearly Republicans are much more suspicious of "the people"; granted, there is ample reason for pessimism in this regard. HOWEVER, so is there reason to fear oligarchic trends in the United States (concentration of wealth, influence of wealthy interests on the political process, etc.)."--
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This great white oppressor is off to Vegas to spread around some of that wealth she stole from the great unwashed, but, Isaac,
How come most wealthy people are dems who want to spend my money but keep theirs?
Bastiat was right.
As to frogistan, you little elitist you. Not ground up, top down, elitist old white boys' club, something you should be scorning. And I thought liberals were for the spirit of the thing, not the literal meaning. After all, isn't that how the Constitution should be interpreted?
And let me guess, the US is not a good democracy because we don't have the necessary safeguards in place which wouldn't allow the great unwashed, uneducated masses to actually get elected say, president?
So which 3-5 schools/states would you want our elected representatives from?
--I revile the France-bashing that went on in the US over the Iraq war. It was not to be taken seriously, yet it humiliated the US.--
John Adams pegged them 225 years ago. Read his bio. Didn't humiliate me, I still remember a few things they've done over the decades. Whatever debt we had over the Revolutionary War was paid in full many times over, not including the vine cuttings we sent them in the 1800s when theirs were ravaged by disease.
As to suspicious of the people, so were the FF, why do you think we have the electoral college?
As to non-acceptance, it's a Euro thing. Go read Sofia Sideshow's archives for a lesson in that. But as you've pointed out, correlation is not causation.
Viva, Las Vegas!
And how did the AF "allow" Boykin to do that? They gave him pre-approval?
You don't want "diversity" Isaac, you want diversity of color, but not thought.
Start reading Discriminations blog. You will begin to discern the difference. Or pay attention to the last 40 years, the language and repercussions are staring you in the face.
And you never did define "peace."
Or how about how many and which of those "western values" you so cherish are you willing to give up to get along? What's your line in the sand? When do you stop tolerating "diversity?"
I've asked Anders, IIRC, and so far, no response.
Sandy P. | 2004-05-03 01:28 | Link
Bjorn, you're missing the point. USSR, Iran, Cuba, former Iraq could all be considered "democracies."
My point is where the "elected representatives" come from, which is I think a BIG difference between us.
We start out going door-to-door to collect signatures of our neighbors to run for school boards, park districts, local level representation.
Don't have to come from a certain school, background, education. We move up the ladder. The french people are presented with a fait accompli(?). These are your choices. Much like all you will when you combine for one overriding suprastate(?), which is what I thought was a concern. And I thought right now a lot of the Brusselsprouts got where they are via the same methods, it's one big old white boys' club. It's Europe's 1000 y.o. monarchy dressed up w/modern language. And God help you, there's more of them to support. And it's going to get worse.
That's my point. And IMHO, that's part of Europe's problem, top down, not bottom up. You're still ruled by the ruling classes. Many Euros think our problem is that we're not that way. Hence butting heads. But that also goes to our core of what we are. Isaac has the same attitude, but he's from the NE, which is to be expected. I'm in a (blue) flyover state.
Viva, Las Vegas!
Jack D., U.S. | 2004-05-03 04:40 | Link
Anders says: "Should we fight terrorism using their strategies? If your neighbor's house is burning. Do you light a torch and go over to help him put it out with it?"
No, but if he has set mine on fire, then yes I might pay him a visit with a torch of my own. This is especially true if I am a state power and I am entitled according to the laws of war to take life if necessary.
What would have been your suggestion for Yassin? The physical circumstances of Gaza are such that it is not possible for Israel to conduct arrests of terrorist fugitives. Israel's only alternatives are either to allow the terrorists to roam free and continue to plot fresh murders of Israeli citizens or to mete out the admittedly rough justice that a missile provides.
Sandy P | 2004-05-03 06:10 | Link
This should spark an interesting discussion:
Americans should be wary of their European Allies
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 09:28 | Link
There's a kind of creepy malignant subtext to a lot of the sentiment expressed here. I sense a fundamental belief that THEY ARE EVIL! That is the essence of reactionary politics. Call yourselves Libertarian if you want, I just can't see it. It doesn't pass the smell test.
Now someone might respond: "YOU ARE THE HATER!" (all in caps, of course). Or something like that. I mean, I'm half expecting such a response. Which of course totally misses the point. I'm not trying to score points. I could care less. I'm a self-professed liberal, of the "modern" stripe, which for many here is basically the same as saying I'm a Stalinist. It's odd, because I can be highly, highly critical of liberalism's overreaches, and I wanted to discuss that, but I'll never get that chance. There's too much noise here.
Responses to me tend to get *personal*, addressed very much *to me*, when I had been attempting to keep things pretty impersonal. That's also *very* interesting, and also revealing. It's also a hallmark of reactionaries, in my experience.
It's ironic too. I say "here's my point" and I get a response that says in effect "you vile Stalinist, how dare you!" Which is funny, because the point you purport to try to make is that liberalism is intolerant of dissent. And you can't even address any points without vitriolic attack! It's just such a fundamental disconnect, that I don't know -- I don't know if the cancer is operable. For example, what I'm writing to you right now might as well be in Chinese, for all that it will get through to you.
So there are two things; it's very easy to prove that someone is *evil* (i.e. Palestinians, French, the UN, Villepin, Hans Blix, the usual bugaboos of conservatives). Dissension is not met with counterargument so much as anger, derision, scorn, and a very personal, in your face, attack.
This is a *temperament* in evidence. It's not just a line of reasoning.
I've long felt that temperament plays an important role in someone's political stance. And the temperament exhibited here, if I had to choose what outlook it corresponds to, would not be Libertarian, certainly not "Classical Liberalism," but reactionary.
Well, take care.
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 10:01 | Link
Your facts just aren't straight.
"let me guess, the US is not a good democracy because we don't have the necessary safeguards in place which wouldn't allow the great unwashed, uneducated masses to actually get elected say, president?"
And yet, when they told you to hate him, you listened to your Republican masters, and duly hated him. But why did they hate him? It was partly Clinton's class which made him so distrusted and hated by elitist Republican opinion.
"How come most wealthy people are dems who want to spend my money but keep theirs?"
"how did the AF 'allow' Boykin to do that? They gave him pre-approval?"
"You don't want 'diversity' Isaac, you want diversity of color, but not thought."
"Or how about how many and which of those 'western values' you so cherish are you willing to give up to get along? What's your line in the sand? When do you stop tolerating 'diversity?'"
Those are good questions to ask of *anybody*. I'd say we stop tolerating diversity at the point where someone says "hey, my viewpoint is just as valid as anybody else's. So, you know, the Holocaust never happened." I'd say you don't lock that person up, I guess because of freedom of speech issues, I don't want to give the government that much power. But you exert pressure, on whatever organization gives that guy a job -- you isolate that person, through shame. It's how we control behavior.
Do you have a better notion? How else are we to stamp out that type of thinking?
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 10:23 | Link
Sandy wrote "Isaac has the same attitude..."
Top down instead of bottom up is what I'm all about. You figured me out.
Bottom up would imply that we'd have labor leaders on TV, debating. When was the last time you saw a union leader on television, representing the liberal side? You never will. They'll show some *rich* liberal, from Hollywood, and tell you over and over "that's what they are all like."
It's necessary to perpetuate that myth. You will never see a labor leader on television.
It's absurd. They never show you a poor or middle class liberal. Because, we all know that *all liberals are rich.* And all rich people are liberal, and poor people vote Republican.
As you yourself said, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.
To the extent that the names of the parties mean anything, a "republic" is a more representative form of government, while a "democracy" is more a direct vote type of arrangement.
But throw out the names for a second. It's only conservatives in the United States who suggest repealing the 17th amendment (direct election of senators instead of their appointment).
Everything you espouse regarding class and economics is embodied much more by the Democratic party than the Republican party -- vastly moreso. You have been totally, completely hoodwinked.
One last point: CA is not in the NE.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-03 11:38 | Link
I am always slightly amused to see reactionaries bashing people for being liberal. In my English dictionary the following definition is given of liberal: ”Willing to understand and respect the ideas of others” (Longman 1992: 759). And yes Sandy, the impression I get is that this is what you are opposed to, and reluctant to do yourself.
Now you want something on peace too. An utterly strict definition is: absence of War. It's common to try to extend this a bit, but there is no need to do that on Sandy's request. Because, (as I have stated to you earlier: You seem to be deep into a third world war with Islam vs the rest already. I live in a different world. I don't recognize the planet to which you refer. Since your solutions to problems seem to be aggressive warfare...why worry about definitions of peace?
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-03 11:50 | Link
How would you categorize a Palestinian sniper shooting Ariel Sharon from the top of a roof? Would you label it terrorism? Or would you call it a just and fair way to deal with your enemies leaders? Would you condemn it? Do you think that Israel increased it's security by doing this detestable act, that would be worthy of any terrorist organization in the world?
Fighting fire with fire.
Herbie NY, NY | 2004-05-03 13:56 | Link
Anders "How would you categorize a Palestinian sniper shooting Ariel Sharon from the top of a roof?" No I would nhot call it terror. For better or worse attacking a government is not terror. I would call it terror when attacks are aimed at civilians for whatever reason.
| 2004-05-03 14:20 | Link
Anders and Isaac,
Well, you seem to both have gotten a nerve tickled. Sadly, it's unsurprising that your reaction to that is the typical tight clinging to a general state of condescension while not actually answering any of the direct or implied criticisms of your positions. You both want to argue a few choice parsed details... and convince yourselves of stereotypes you would tend to condemn as simplistic.
I also note with interest the decrying of the idea of labels being bandied about, combined with both of you irretrievably fixated on "reactionaries of the world".
Ok then. This is the the Law that I invoke on a thread when it has gone into a relativism enabled spiral of "there's nothing that those reactionary/fascistic/not as smart as me types can say to me that will derail me from my intrinsic superiority". I call it the "Whateverness Rule" and it happens because when one feels no compunction about being grounded to any type of objective premise, "nuance" can come to the rescue by turning anything or everything into gray fog whenever or wherever necessary. When the discourse illuminates a particularly disturbing concept or implication of our progressive little world, gray fog... is an improvement.
This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of culture meeting pop psychology in much of modern society, but thats another thread.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-05-03 15:05 | Link
Just skimming while I eat breakfast, so I don't have time to analyze Isaac and Anders' arguments, but I would just like to point out that saying that you are "for peace" and that your opponents are "reactionary" doesn't make you a great political thinker.
I've noticed that both Isaac and Anders refuse to consider any points of view but their own. One example: a poster said that it would have been difficult for the Israelis to go into Gaza and arrest Yassin, the leader of Hamas, a terrorist organization. Response: well, the Israelis should have gone into Gaza and arrested Yassin.
Not real subtle thinking going on here.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-03 15:41 | Link
Hmmm... I get confused. There was a post here that looked a lot like gray fog and accused me of not answering questions in here. I have provided a definition of peace, and I have concluded that to define democracy is close to impossible. I have said very clearly that to arrest Yassin (or just let him die...the man was old and sick for God's sake!)was an option. All this after being asked specific questions on that. And then Totoro claims I didn't answer it?? Shall I answer that question while taking for granted that my two suggested approaches are impossible? That is not a discussion....that's wasting time.
Herbie: Interesting post. I agree with you that terrorists must target civilians. If not it's something else (guerilia warfare etc.) But is Sharon military commander or in fact a civilian in the example? And was ever Yassin a civilian or was he only a terrorist? These are difficult questions that I do not have fixed answers for... They may be discussed. ;.)
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-05-03 15:52 | Link
Okay, I notice one of the threads here has gone meta. "You're attacking me, and ignoring my arguments." "No _you're_ attacking me,
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-03 16:01 | Link
Anders You wrote "I agree with you that terrorists must target civilians." I assume you meant "I agree with you that terrorists must NOT target civilians." I cannot see how any definition of rebellion or a fight for freedom can be any other way. If it were then all bets would be off, so to speak, and there would be no definition of anything in this area except might.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-05-03 16:18 | Link
Sandy P: "Bjorn, you're missing the point. USSR, Iran, Cuba, former Iraq could all be considered "democracies.""
No they couldn't. Rule of law? The government _is_ the law, and the leaders above it. Separation of powers? There's only one power, and it has no limit. Election at most levels of government? Only fake ones. Iran is more democratic than the other three, but it's not _a_ democracy by my definition.
France is. It has rule of law. It has separation of powers. It has free elections. None of what you write contradict this. What you're describing is a major flaw in French democracy, which raises the barrier of entry into politics for everyone outside this elite. But it's not a legal barrier, there are still choices, and the people is free to vote for who they want, elite or not. Or do you see Front National as part of the French elite?
But these definition debates are often pointless. You have one definition of democracy, I have another, but as democracy is a matter of degree, and our definitions mostly arbitrary points on a scale, the scale itself is more important than which parts of it count as democratic. So: Do you agree that France, though less democratic than the US, is much more democratic than Iran?
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 17:02 | Link
It's true that the meta discussion is pointless. I did think I had expressed a couple of ideas, but... if people can't recognize them, and see me as only spouting truisms, then they aren't hearing... not sure what to do at that point...
I thought this for example was an idea:
Sandy: "You don't want 'diversity' Isaac, you want diversity of color, but not thought."
Me: I don't really see the difference all of the time...
Someone could say to me, "what do you mean by that?" And I could say, I think a diversity of peoples virtually guarantees a differences of opinion, certainly varying perspectives, sometimes dramatically so.
Different cultures bring to the table such a different set of shared experience, philosophy, religion, etc., etc.
Notice that I said "culture." So, arguably, a rural southerner is a different culture than a midwesterner, is different than a Swede...
And universities recognize that and some use geographic preferences in their admitting criteria. Princeton uses a geographical formula which favors the west (Colorado, etc.) in their applications weighing criteria.
Nowadays similar formulas can be used to reduce the number of Asians that the university must admit, etc.
The point in striving for diversity is twofold: first, seeking a form of racial/social justice where we do not have one favored class, race, or what have you; and second, ensuring diversity of thought.
The US military had a problem on its hands, during the Vietnam war. The officer corps was principally white. The enlisteds were largely white as well of course. But discipline broke down when the officer corps could not command the respect of minority enlisted men.
The military initiated policies to ensure a racially diverse officer corps.
It was partly the military academies (West Point, etc.) arguing in favor of their affirmative action policies which helped defeat the landmark affirmative action Supreme Court case last year.
And military men that I know untuitively understand the need for diversity in the officer ranks as necessary for morale and discipline to be maintained in the military as a whole. It's an interesting case study.
I'd argue that the same is true of society, that what's true for the military in this case is true of the larger society.
Anyway I think white people already have affirmative action working in their favor. I know tons of jobs where blacks won't be as likely to make it through the interview. It's not that the interviewers are openly racist, but they have biases. The criteria of "culture fit" that is used in measuring an applicant's suitability will work against a lot of minority applicants.
The reason it works against applicants -- well, assume that you were white for a second, and think about what it would be like if you were in Ghana and you were applying for a job in a firm, where 99% of the empoyees were black. And you would interview, and the guys would sit around the campfire: "did you like him?" "yeah, he was ok, but, I don't know -- he just wasn't a good culture fit."
At my company, 99% of employees are not black, not to say white. We have east indians, a man of Palestinian extraction, a few Jews, some asians, but only one or two blacks. I don't know, it seems to me blacks are at a disadvantage, maybe not at my company, but across the board...
I think the diversity of opinion which diversity of backgrounds engenders makes conservatives deeply uncomfortable. They are hostile to a number of cultural trends that have been fostered through diversity. To take a dumb example, Pat Buchanan says (paraphrase) "the cultural war is between those who wish to hear bongo drums in the town square and those who don't."
But he is generally hostile to non-white cultures. For example, in advocating an immigration policy that favors European extraction (with white European countries at the top of the list, and then countries settled by white Europeans next, etc -- so Canadian as well as German immigration would be favored under his scheme), even Bill O'Reilly questioned why Mexico should not be favored, as it was settled by the Spanish. And Buchanan averred: "These are brown people."
So the mask is off. The objection is that the people are "brown." But Buchanan doesn't object to the color, he objects to the culture.
I said "I don't always see the difference [between diversity of thought and diversity of color]."
I believe that in achieving diversity of cultures and backgrounds, which the US has largely succeeded in (though against conservatives' strenuous objection and opposition), as a way of achieving diversity of thought.
But what surprises me, is that I am then being interpreted as "oh, I see, the standard liberal cant, you are an elitist," etc., etc. And I'm sort of surprised. We never got to the well articulated critique of the liberal position, it was only ever a meta argument against my position... that's how I perceive it anyway...
So, yeah, no sustained meta arguments. If no one can sympathize with or appreciate anything I've just said, and engage in rational discourse about it, then there's no point... I'll have to give up on my experiment of engaging in a dialogue with a bunch of conservatives... which is a shame...
Some blogs' discussion threads really only want cheerleaders for their agreed upon set of a priori assumptions... I was hoping this one would be different, or I would not have come here. *Of course* I have my own set of prejudices. What is helpful is to realize that... you are never going to not have prejudices... when you can deliver an analysis of something, and be engaged on the ideas, it can be stimulating to have people with a different set of prejudices examine your thinking... but that's not what I am experiencing this as... that's my honest appraisal...
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 17:20 | Link
ME: "I think the diversity of opinion which diversity of backgrounds engenders makes conservatives deeply uncomfortable."
I'd like to amend that to "*some* conservatives." I went on to talk about Buchanan at that point.
Please read my whole post though, and don't assume that I am this horrible hater spewing bile. If that is how you perceive it after careful sifting and weighing, then, I'll just have to mosey along ;). I mean, I really really REALLY don't mean to be that way... but I've gotten a lot of strong reactions, so I'm going out of my way to follow some kind of protocol in stating my position here... I'll see if that helps any...
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-05-03 17:33 | Link
Bjørn... I agree. That was in fact my point. I will add this though, since Anders seems to indicate he wants to be held accountable for the threads of a discussion. You'll indulge me in a little getting to the “roots” of it I hope.
Anders, you say that you gave a definition of peace as a solid base, and that was simply the absence of war. Is that it?
I submit to you that such a definition is inadequate even in the "simplisme" view of so called neo-conservatives/Wilsonians, and is outright absurd in what I assume is your more nuanced anthropological view of the world. It strikes me as preloaded for the sentiment laden idea of "Peace"... as though this were always a desired end in itself. If it is Anders, then the ruthless will inherit the earth, period... do the math.
In the end, conflict is always brutal. It is a horrible facet of human existence that we have always had, alongside with the quest for understanding ourselves and nature, the institutionalization of violence. An insidious "progressive" angle on this fact is the idea that conflict itself is the effect, and that "beliefs"... of any type, are the cause. This is a significant factor in the rising meaninglessness and nihilism that follows stealthily behind this intellectually "nuanced" view of our fellow man, because if belief in objective truth itself is nullified, even as an abstract idea, then there is nothing at all to separate us from animals (I get struck by at these moments by nature and origins of the ideological rhetoric of organizations such as PETA and The Human Virus Movement... but that would be a digression). It is the idea that there is a center to which all are at some level bound, that enables us to be beings who conceive of Justice (as opposed to the infinitely malleable and artfully convenient "living" concept of social justice). It is the temporal perspective of a greater enterprise that allows us to transcend the here and now... and consider posterity as a meaningful concept. It permits Justice since we are stewards of an endeavor larger than our own selves which must go somewhere, if it is to have meaning. If we believe in nothing outside of us, then there is nothing to believe in… and thus anything that feels good in the moment will do.
To believe in most things, at least initially, is at least partly an act of faith and/or intuition. The proponents of Social Justice often profess(though they can maddeningly go the other way without compunction) that it is beliefs and mores themselves which cause conflict, since without them, there would be no reason to fight. But in this illusory relativist perspective, what then is worth defending at all? What is happening now is not even remotely about attacking others who do not accept some specific dogma, it is about defending the very idea of a world where universal principles can ever hope to exist. Look at history and consider the truly heinous implications that peace without Justice, contains perhaps the most bitter flavor of tyranny. This is particularly insidious when one considers the nature of the peace that results when the ruthless are appeased. It is the peace of the oppressed, and an empty destiny.
We take the position now that there is nothing "superior" in any culture... to any other. This Multicultural "Progressive" Peace seems to contradict directly the idea of Human Rights for example, since so much of its implication is hidden in the consequence that there is no tenet, no belief, no fundamental value that might be in a "culture" ... which has objective value or universal relevance. At the same time we depict "culture" as a thing which reduces all of us as beings, to pieces of this pervasive phenomenon where we can actually rest easy in the indulgent idea that we have little in the way of autonomous character or will... and thus accountability (well… except for philosopher kings). From multiculturalism, which rejects the idea of common humanity, we embrace relativism and moral equivalence. From the assertion of group identities based on race, ethnicity and gender, we get separateness, walls and dissolution. And from the ironically self identified "transnational" elites, we get a relentless stream of messages hostile to individual human dignity and conformist in perspective and determined to weaken the foundations of Liberty (for all). (I'm paraphrasing someone a bit here...can't remember who)
Is Norway internalizing the meme of Jew Hatred as more and more palatable? IF so, then is this the result of top down imagery being inculcated vis a vis Platos Cave? IF so, then whom does it serve? Questions, questions...
Anders, I see your reticence about the idea of evil and I understand it all too well. If I asked you to find a more palatable term to your sensibilities and also boldly suggested to you that your reflexive rejection of the "form" the word is meant to depict, is the result of your own internal biases.... would you consider it? Or would you throw it back my way proclaiming that the use of the term is actually the result of my own (sigh...) "reactionary" biases. This is my point on where threads go into "whateverness" when they reach the heart of nuance... which is nothing... which nobody wants to admit… or even look at.
Is this all a question of one side versus another? Merely two ways of seeing things... in opposition but neither more valid, more "true" than the other? It is not... and if the idea that there is no meaningful distinction between the forces that are moving in the world today becomes dominant then ruthlessness, whether it be overt or pernicious...or both, will triumph.
Journalism/Academia/some others have become an intellectual aristocracy in every sense of the word, and are appropriately far from the world they speak of and pass “non-judgmental” judgement on. They do nothing relevant to attempt to define what the naked nihilism loose across the Arab world means for the world as a whole (because it hits far too close to home in a very deep place that our modern world collectively faces now I think… but I won’t address that here and now). Yet we see world conferences gather to label Israel, one of the most admirable and idealistic (consider the social PRESSURES it has existed under), as a pariah state. (Is it difficult to stomach my characterization of Israel this way? … after say… the “massacre at Jenin”?…but it is not an untrue characterization, and therein lies an important and frightening truth about what we consider to be the "Opinion and Voice of the World" that we are so often told about.)
The evil that is thus enabled must remain nameless in a morally imploded world where the idea of seeing evil and calling it such...is itself evil. This is not new, nor is it strictly speaking, a Left versus Right thing. It is a thing in fact that has little to do with nations or cultures, though it will cite these repeatedly. It is the domain of power and it is home in our modern world to the "intellectual" elite. It is in the power to project, and it is what meaningful freedom defends against.
I'll end with this thought, which probably invites derision, but I will state nonetheless. I fear at this point that this entire state of affairs is unsustainable without great strife. Ultimately, if we are ever to reach a place that will truly embrace human dignity en masse (and not vague images of it that gloss over its antithesis) and make real a meaningful posterity, it will inevitably be only as a result of great strife. Not because strife is in our "nature", or because of an unwritten “cultural” rule to which we all adhere, but because the pursuit of Justice and a destiny of worth, can not be a harmonious process when evil is as ruthless as it must be. It is the nature of evil that incurs the strife, but it is in the struggle that its nature is revealed, its lies and imagery exposed and its tendrils reaching down into the hearts of the many, expunged. In that respect Germany for example, was “liberated” from the metaphysical onus of Nazism at the end of WWII… which is not a characterization we are used to.
I believe this is indeed the fulcrum upon which history will turn, and a ruthless evil loose in the extended mind of man more pernicious and malignant than any that has come before is at its heart. Indeed, the subtle connectedness of various flavors of the nihilistic abyss is unprecedented and chilling. It is insidious enough that it extends through those that proclaim the sanctity of “peace” while denying or recasting tyranny to mean… whatever works. But tyranny is always the end of light, and has a form in human affairs that is what it is, and remains evil.
In my opinion, we are at this place.
Bjørn Stærk | 2004-05-03 17:35 | Link
Isaac: "Some blogs' discussion threads really only want cheerleaders for their agreed upon set of a priori assumptions... I was hoping this one would be different, or I would not have come here."
It's the stated policy of this blog that I would rather lose five commenters who agree with me than one who don't. Whatever vibes you're picking up from other people here, _I_ want to hear more arguments like the ones you're making. I don't agree with most of it, but I'm a lot more scared of feedback loops than wrong ideas. So stick around.
Herbie NY | 2004-05-03 17:47 | Link
Issac I fail to see how diversity of color or culture makes for diversity of thought let alone why all thought is of equal merit. Moreoever there is no study I am aware of that supports the view that diversity of thought (as you seem to define it) is an advantage except for touchy feelly studies, i.e. "I am more comfortable." In a capitalist society merit is more important. “Diversify” today has become a sop to advance otherwise unqualified people. Moreover there is no end in sight since your approach is victim determinative. Anyone claiming to be a victim has the right to make demands for separate treatment. I am further not interested in wasting the resources of society to make someone feel good. Citizens have the right to demand that they be graded and treated on the merits, beyond that they have no right to make any demands for special treatment most espcially for the fact that their parents or grandparents were treated unfairly. Pretty soon we will divide the world into the descendants of Cain and Able
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 17:52 | Link
another thing which I was accused of was referring to Nixon "to add weight" to my argument. I think the implication was that I just threw that in there where it didn't fit. I clarified what I meant in my response to Sandy...
I have tried to address the various points made by others -- there are maybe three posters who will offer criticisms, three to one as it were, and it's hard to address everything.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-03 18:26 | Link
Who accused you of a crime? You are airing your views and having them debated. If you see someone respond to you in a way that is pure screed or merely ad-hominem, you can consider and discard as you see fit... including me of course. I would point out though, that my "attack" was based on the content of your posting, and I would only post what I hope provides food for thought. I assure you that for my part, I don't get involved in many blog threads (who has time!?) but when I do... I am reading every word and thinking about them, as indeed I did with your posts. Therefore, I can state cleanly that my critique was expressing a frustration that I believe is valid and germane. If it was ever so ad-hominem, accept my apologies... but my criticism remains, and it is offerred TO you, not meant to drive you away as a voice I want to pretend can be discounted and would rather not hear.
Just for the record.
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 18:37 | Link
Thank you for your hospitality.
I can't accuse anyone here of anything I myself am not guilty of. But I really really felt misunderstood. I think that's inevitable when you jump the gap and engage the "other side." Just in a very mundane sense, you find you are outnumbered, and that contributes to a state of siege.
I want to take back what I said about temperament. I know that liberals are just as vitriolic and illogical as conservatives, at least, demonstrably in my experience. Surely there are some differences, but I can't capse them with facile arguments like the one I mistakenly made up above.
But I didn't say what I did in bad faith. It actually seemed compelling to me when I wrote it. It's just that on further reflection that it falls apart.
I'm trying to respond to your points. I agree with more than you might suppose. The aim in seeking diversity should not be relativistic pablum. Personally, I thought that diversity meant throwing a whole lot of cultures into the pot, and letting the seething bubbling cauldron produce a superior product based upon the *competition* of ideas.
But I was trying to point out that that competition can be waged on a number of levels, only some of which are academic. I've more to say, I hope to write it up and post it soon.
Herbie, NYC | 2004-05-03 19:22 | Link
Issac You say "I thought that diversity meant throwing a whole lot of cultures into the pot, and letting the seething bubbling cauldron produce a superior product based upon the *competition* of ideas"
I could not agree more, but if that is what you meant it did not come across as you intended.
Isaac, CA | 2004-05-03 19:57 | Link
It's just that, when there is a ruling class, it's hard for the competition to occur. You perceive the "ruling class" as the liberal elite. You argue that that is what is truly stifling the free flourishing of ideas. I see your point, but I believe there is also a "conservative elite." My idea of the oligarchy, which I was accused of being a part of by KM, is the media masters who control the purse strings of the major media outlets.
I don't ever see labor leaders held up as liberals on talk shows. I see a constant smearing of liberals as "elites," yet I don't hear anything about the conservative elites that exist in our society. Or not as much as I would like anyway.
I have to run just now. I won't be back for awhile.
Bill, US | 2004-05-03 19:57 | Link
Isaac: "I think the diversity of opinion which diversity of backgrounds engenders makes conservatives deeply uncomfortable."
Uh... I remember that it wasn't the NeoCons giving contrarian africian american Star Parker the Heckler's Veto at Penn State a few years ago, it was the "progressive" liberal group Womyn's Concerns. Indeed, I have seem more trembling over intellecutal diversity coming from the Crayon-Diversity advocates then from the allegedly White Conservatives (and that even includes the Buccananites and Horowitzians in addition to the more mainstream Cons).
I may not be a conservative but I thank the goddess that they're around. They are much MUCH more interested in debate than the left and I'd rather debate issues with a well read conservative than a well read liberal. The con's are MUCH better at it making it a better and more fun experience - mostly because they feel more pressed to advocate their ideas in a hostile academic environment. When you play mostly "away" games, you stand up to pressure with more grace than those who expect the constant entitlement of local adoration.
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-03 20:09 | Link
Issac you say "You perceive the "ruling class" as the liberal elite." Come again? I never said or implied any such thing. Indeed I dond not even refer to elites in my e-mails. I do surmise that you see "through the glass darkly" :)
Isaac | 2004-05-03 21:59 | Link
I haven't found what you say to be true. I do have one conservative friend with whom I enjoy arguing. I find that most liberals can't argue interestingly, and neither can most conservatives. I tend to agree with the liberal's conclusions without admiring their train of thought.
I agree that we need conservatives around. It's just, I can't really understand when exactly they lost their moorings. You see, I would think that conservatives would *hate* Bush. For example, wasn't it KM who said that modern day conservatives are truly Libertarian? Well, hello, sodomy laws in Texas being upheld, Fourth Amendment infringement by the Patriot Act, and some first amendment infringements I could explain if anyone had time.
The 1st amendment argument goes like this, and I can never get my conservative friends to understand: if you have media consolidation, it's very easy for the government to exert influence on the content. Clear Channel can organize cd burnings of Dixie Chicks for speaking out against the war, and then get the FCC to approve their buying of more radio stations. This kind of cozy arrangement is absolutely a threat to our system of government.
So, conservatives will say "state run media is wrong." I say, "well, we could have the same thing, through the mechanism I just described."
And they don't say "here's why that won't happen," or "here's where you are wrong." What they say is "Bah!" and they run.
Then they turn around next minute and say, "you know, liberals only ever argue from emotion, conservatives are much more concise and reasoning in their debate." And then, here comes the anecdote about what happened on some college campus 3 years ago or whatever.
I'm not saying anecdote is not real, I'm not saying they are wrong about the campus even... but I'd like to see some *proof* that conservatives can engage the opposing viewpoint, instead of just hearing *rumors* that this is the case. I still often feel like I'm waiting for this vaunted prowess in the debating room. Often, in the media, what I see instead is bluster, brow-beating, hyperbole, ad hominem attack ("Kerry threw his ribbons, no his medals, blah blah"). It's all just so darn trivial. There is no serious debate of ideas.
But I *do* hear, over and over and over and over again, that the Left is conducting thought control, that it's orwellian, etc. And what is weird, parts of the Left are definitely trying, as are parts of the Right, to control the debate through stifling the opposition, rather than through exchange of ideas and debate.
But the fallacy is to think that because there are those on the Left who do so, that *those positions are invalidated as a result.* It's the equivalent of my saying "well you know Hitler thought full employment was good, so therefore full employment must be bad." Or whatever. It's just logically fallacious.
All of which seems obvious enough.
Seeing through the glass darkly: Herbie I guess I lumped you in with Sandy, sorry about that.
Ester | 2004-05-03 22:09 | Link
Thank you for the work done, Bjørn.
I don't belive the Norvegian media anymore .. !! Got the feeling of loosing a country . .
My hope is that the Norvegians still have the fighting spirit. You see, we are known from our history to get into some kind of civilian wars, fighting ideological points of view. Authors fighted to establish our value system, and later we fighted the communists. We fighted the rights of women, and our fights against the nazis was actually rather good. We fighted against EEC, twice. You should have seen the fighting spirit of northern people using two days in stormy weather in order to vote against the membership of EEC. Norvegians are rather strange, rather extremists in their fighting spirit.
Norvegians were allways more splitted and less calm than the Danish.
If we did not loose our fighting spirit - we might fight again -
- another idelological fight -
- against the legitimation of terror and against antisemittism - -
last word is not said yet
| 2004-05-03 22:53 | Link
We probably need conservatives around.
The thing about your description after that though, I simply can't pass up commenting on. You say you just can't figure out where they lost their moorings. See, the funny thing of it is, they actually... have moorings... or at least believe that its a positive thing to aspire to have them... and that there are meaningful ones that exist. In fact I would submit, that its this fact, if you really want to get to the root of it, that founded the US... and kept it striving, imperfectly as humans are wont, to be a place where freedom and dignity and purpose can thrive. I don't know if you read my long post, and I'm not lauding it... but the concept of moorings that aren't tied to a "living" (a misnomer of there ever were one) concept that moves like the wind, and is generally steerable by those who do, is pretty much at the core of what ails us. (IMHO)
Then a few points: Sodomy laws in Texas were struck down. The Patriot act falls well within the purview of Government responsibility to protect the security of its citizenry (you should look into it... its been miscast so absurdly now that its public image as opposed to its substance is laughably distinct). First Amendment impingements? Like how its an impingement on "free speech" every time someone's Academia based and formerly unassailable postmodern, neo colonialist, pseudo Marxist tripe has been effectively challenged in the public discourse? Its McCarthyism then? Sorry... First Amendment rights are in true bloom when that occurs. Its when there is a myopic "framework" of what is acceptable that free speech falls. Its amazing what can become "hate speech" when those who hate decide.
So, I can clearly understand why you have trouble getting your conservative comrades to understand the 1st amendment as you see it. The Dixie Chicks row fro example, was as you say, a matter of Free Speech. The people spoke and the private stations who served them responded. Once again... this WAS free speech and the lefts reaction that this was an impingement on free speech and even, ironically, implying that the State should have a role to prevent such "badness" is yes... Orwellian in character.
I am not trying to attack you Isaac... but I can absolutely see where you get your news... because I read from there too. Its just that I don't stop there like they say you should.
Also, regarding Kerry and his ribbons/medals (symbolically there is no distinction btw), it wasn't the act... but his very nuanced to the point of surreal reaction to being questioned about it...that pretty much iced it for me. At this point, thats AINTK (All I Need To Know).
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-03 23:12 | Link
Issac you say "Fourth Amendment infringement by the Patriot Act" To be blunt:this is pure drivel and is frankly typical of "liberal" -- more like uninformed thought that has degenerated into the current cant of "I feel therefore I must be right" type of process. The fourth Amendment does not protect against intrusions it protects agiant arbitrary intrusions.
What it says is “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.“
Under the Patriot Act a Court order supported by an affidavit of reasonable cause is required and God help the US attorney or FBI agent who falsifies his affidavit. The case goes down the tubes and his career is over and in apprpriate cases they get charged with perjury. I don’t mean to be sarcastic, but it would sure help if you would write in something other than stream of emotion and had some facts to back up your position
Isaac | 2004-05-03 23:16 | Link
I just wrote this post, and I basically come out and say, you are setting up a straw man. And in making my point, I don't set up a straw man exactly, but there's a lot of hyperbole.
And that's, maybe all you are doing? No, I think you go further than hyperbole. But maybe I'm wrong.
Each is a distortion of the others' point of view. I tend to be hyperbolic. The fantasies I employ are sometimes over the top.
Please bear that in mind as you read this post, and please do not be offended. I am not trying to offend. I am merely trying to make my points, which I believe in, however imperfectly.
If I had time, I could try and edit this post, and make it better. But what happens is, I throw it out, and start over, and then that next attempt is imperfect, and at some point, I just give up, and I either bite my tongue, or post... so that's sort of where I'm coming from here...
But it doesn't follow from that that I must believe that any specific war is particulary wise, or that it furthers our cause.
I merely argue that war is not desirable -- is to be avoided. There are heavy costs. It should, truly, be a last resort. Not "last" as in, "last, after we tried unilaterally disarming." Not "last," as in "last, after we surrendered unconditionally to Osama Bin Laden." But, I'd hope at least, "last, after we gave the inspectors another month like they wanted," or whatever. Not, "last, after Bush swore he hadn't made up his mind but really had in January." He *lied* to the entire world, when he said he had not made up his mind. He lied to the American people. And it wasn't about something as momentous as sex, I will grant you that.
I sometimes feel like I'm being dressed up in a mock outfit, a caricature of liberalism, which my conservative opposition dresses me up in, and then beats down. It's a straw man gambit. I'm liberal, so therefore, I believe in the absolute equivalence of everything. I don't believe that anything has any value. I believe in a 100% tax rate. I believe that blacks shold enslave whites, and on and on and on. "Oh, you are liberal? So, do you really believe that men are evil and that all women should be forced to become lesbians?" Whatever. It's ludicrous.
And I spoke before about how both sides do that. I'm not saying I haven't set up straw men. I'm going to point it out whenever I see it from a conservative, and you can do the same for your part when you see me do it.
I look at our situation in Iraq, a war I opposed from the start, and I see my skepticism vindicated. Our interests are not served by this conflagration.
Yet I understood the necessity of the Afghan war.
I never said that, never implied it. But I think about the Jews in New York city, have you ever seen a picture of the Lower East Side, circa 1930 or what have you? I'm not sure I have the dates exactly right. But let me tell you, *anyone* would have assumed this was a vastly, vastly *inferior* culture. Wrongly.
When we remember that, and have an initial, gut reaction of disgust for a people, "look at these people, they live like *animals*," liberals have been trained to distrust that initial reaction. How easy it would be to fall into that. How natural it would be to indulge it. But we truly aspire to reserve judgement.
Not, "all judgement is bad, we will never judge, since we ourselves are guilty." Not, "since we are a (mostly) white and relatively rich and powerful country, it must be our fault." Again, caricatures. Liberals have taken an applied lesson in reserving judgement, in examining a belief, and come up with a compelling worldview. It is absolutely not, as you have argued, communist, totalitarian, relativistic, or anything you have accused it of.
To the extent that it may be called "relativistic," liberalism would try to understand context in applying "universal" truths.
Universal truths exist, but all too often, cultural *bias* blinds us. Liberals have absolutely not rejected universal ideas that America holds dear. It's simply that we've used certain techniques to innoculate ourselves from facile and naive appraisals of other people.
Example: 9-11: wrong
Gee, even a liberal can figure out that that was wrong. We didn't have to "get inside the Muslim mindset" -- we didn't say, "gee, let's see if that's considered wrong in their context -- if it isn't, then it's just a matter of understanding where they are coming from."
I mean, god, why do I even have to say this? I feel like I'm addressing nonsensical arguments. And yet, that is at least the sneaking suspicion of conservatives -- that liberals are that crazy. I don't know, how many liberals have you met who would espouse that? Where have you ever seen such a thing?
I'm not saying that we just make up artificial rules, that we arbitrate the struggle of ideas. What informs the liberal mindset, is that he is cognizant that *it's often easy to misjudge a group of people.* Often, what is assumed to be inferior, is a product of circumstances. I know that's the case.
Who would have stepped in the breach, in 1930, and said "no, these people are merely *poor*, which is different from *inferior*?" Would it have been a conservative, or a liberal? I'll just leave that out there as a question.
I see a projection of a conservative's idea of what a progressive must be, based on perhaps a very extreme version of what a progressive position might hold, superimposed on my own views. There is little harmony between the reality and the fantasy however.
I've been pretty specific about what I believe here, and also open about my biases. I believe that the Iraq war must be understood as the trial balloon in a neocon agenda of preemptive war. I have reasons for seeing it this way. I don't buy that it's a war over oil. I don't believe it was ever about the WMD, really, though that was used as pretext. I don't believe it's about terrorism, since Iraq's links to terrorism were limited to Palestinian terrorists. It would be one thing if this was the explicit justification for the war, but it really wasn't. It wasn't even in the top five of the list. Hence the mad scramble for any shred linking Al Qaeda to Iraq.
Now, I could be wrong about all of that. But none of that is the same as "you know, man, like, mellow out, I mean, why you gotta like, have all these *beliefs* and shit, I mean, can't you see that's just, like, *bumming people out?* I mean, like, that's the *real* reason that we keep having wars, man, trip on that one, dude." And, "here, have another hit of this indo weed, dude!"
I guess, I don't know, I would expect more engagement of what I said, less caricaturing...
Isaac | 2004-05-03 23:52 | Link
Kevin, I don't feel attacked. I did read what you wrote.
I have sifted over a few portions of the patriot act. I have watched also as a couple of American citizens are being held without being charged. That's pretty basic stuff.
I realize those are separate issues, in a sense, but it's a single administration, I think it's valid to examine what they are about.
The justification is ever, 'but these people are terrorists'...
But they are *not* terrorists, at least not under the system of jurisprudence we had for 200 years, where a man is presumed innocent... until charged and *proven* guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The precedent set by putting a man in a cell to rot indefinitely without being tried is a threat to the rule of law, there's no question about it in my mind.
You didn't understand about the "Chicks." Those were not spontaneous reactions of people. The network forbade DJ's from playing the songs, even if the songs were requested. A couple of DJ's were disciplined. At the same time that the CD's were #1 on the country charts.
The cd destructions were organized by Clear Channel, not "bottom up" as Sandy would say, but clearly "top down." It was politically motivated, part of a campaign to stifle any anti-war voices.
I would have no problem with a bottom up movement against the "Chicks." I'm sure there was some of that, too. But much of it was not. And that, is what we call "propaganda." I know you are going to be *so mad* when you read that, but that's what it was in my opinion.
My point is, the government can send the message it wants through the media. We see this more and more in the media.
For example, how many serious anti-war voices did you get on CNN prior to war with Iraq?
In fact, the anti-war voice has been ever caricatured as "a bunch of peacenik, pacifist. activist, leftwing, baby seal hugging," etc., etc. And you yourself lapse into the convenient stereotyping, I think, of the antiwar position, in your weaker moments. In essence, "they oppose the Iraq war, so they must have no core beliefs for which they would stand. They must be complete and total cultural relativists, who would not dare criticize even the most vicious Islamic state." I've never met someone *that leftwing*. Well, maybe I have. Are you talking about a hardcore communist or something? Is that supposed to be a standin for the entire liberal position? Do we have to answer for that guy? I reject that requirement, if so...
For the record, I am not a pacifist. I'd like to have heard General Zinni, James Webb, Brent Scowcroft, the conservative realists, the conservative Republicans, whomever, who opposed the war, on the news channels, *before the war*, so we could have had a real debate. Instead, we had sort of iconic images of "hippies." This image of a shaggy weirdo was conjured up, as the face of the antiwar movement, and everyone sort of resolved that they didn't want to be like *that*.
In short, it was a stampede to war. I witnessed it with my own eyes. All of the screaming about "liberal media," and not a peep from the so-named media with any real alternatives to war. Day after day, the drumbeat grew louder. And the insistence that any who questioned were unloyal or unpatriotic did the trick. Scary.
Also, this sense you have that it's conservatism which is anchored, and liberalism which is blowing in the wind, is very interesting, but I think it's more a personal conviction. I mean, peer into the heart of a liberal, you may find deep convictions.
You threw in a buzzword there, "hate speech," but you know, wait a minute, I didn't accuse anyone of that. I said that antiwar voices were squelched, and that the media did it at the behest of government. That's the threat to freedom of speech that I'm talking about.
I think the media is entirely too cozy with government. That doesn't make it a Stalinist, state run media, but it's a slippery slope.
Herb: as I told KM, I have looked at parts of the Patriot Act. I'm not a lawyer, obviously I have not parsed its entirety. And you'd be surprised, a number of liberals have taken devil's advocate positions, as if to say "what else would you have Bush do?" Good for them, let's have a real debate about this stuff.
What I find threatening about the Patriot act -- and if you ask me to bolster with line by line proof, I'm not going to be able to oblige, but with the energy I'm prepared to give to it, you are going to have to settle for something like this: in a nutshell, the Patriot Act makes government opaque to citizens, and citizens' lives transparent to government. Thus it's simultaneously a privacy threat, as well as a totalitarian police-state threat.
One of the worst aspects is, *we can't even know how it's being used.* The government will deny that it changes all that much; deny using its provisions; but the provisions state precisely that *we aren't allowed to know these things*.
Look, you all cite books for me, I'll give you a fun one, an easy read, maybe you have read it, "The Trial."
I'm not saying that proves anything. I'm just saying it dramatizes a threat.
| 2004-05-04 00:29 | Link
Hmmm. This has wound its way into a combination of victimization and fluff. If I've misunderstood you anywhere, then elaborate on how. The caricatures I decried, I attached to phenomenon in the public discourse that are worthy of discussion. You say that I set up strawmen around your position vis a vis multiculturalism. Fair enough (if true), but it was an unintentional strawman, and I don't think you realize how discordant with your previous tone, was the post you sent about how diversity should be a combination of everything in a pot where the best can bubble up. Conservatives would in the main, cheer your position enthusiastically on that point.
You should read Woodword's book. It turns out... he didn't lie after all! (Though for some reason that aspect is not what got the air time on 60 minutes.) I wonder if that concept is possible to engage rationally after all the Brechtian icons about the "Bush Lie" that have been foisted on the walls now for so long. In any case, you talk about all the reasons you don't think we went to war in Iraq, and I appreciate that you don't subscribe to those absurdities. But I get the distinct feeling that what ever IS the reason... it is nefarious. Can you explain why we in fact DID go to war in Iraq?
Also, I almost regret informing you that the "very specific" positions you have taken, for the most part put you at odds with that web of ideologies we presently call "liberalism/progressivism et al." That's happened in threads before, so I just thought I would point it out. It may make no difference to you... it often doesn't.
Oh... and you lost me in the last paragraph completely. What the hell was that little bout of posted EKG? I would prefer it if one's solipsism is kept to themselves.
btw, I strongly contest your assumption that I or anyone with a Classic Liberal perspective would have judged the Jewish NYC Ghetto in the 30s to be de facto inferior culturally. It wouldn't (and didn't!... read some things from that era) take much to see life affirmation and growth in a free society in that place. However to use this as though it is equivalent to, and thus somehow negates what I said about the nature of Palestinian society after fascistic inculcation for over a decade, is the kind of meaningless comparison that furthers my points about what relativism hath wrought in our extended consciousness. Thus your question about who would do what back then... is ANOTHER strawman dammit Isaac!
I urge you to drill down and look closely at some of the things you have said you believe... and see if that jibes with the actual substance of what you subscribe to. I am not patronizing you... just telling you what I see. But then again, it could be nothing after all... but my opinion.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-04 02:11 | Link
There is just SO MUCH good stuff in this article via Natan Sharansky, and it is so relaevant to the discussion here, that I submit this link with the hope that some will read it. Late in the thread though it may be... I'm going to bed.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 02:35 | Link
I don't think it's contradictory to say that I'm for competition, yet I think that affirmative action is a way of fostering it. When a company is convicted of monopolistic practices, there is often a *remedy* portion to the verdict. I'm not accusing modern day whites of any collective guilt, or crimes. However, this is just an analogy. I believe that the *remedy* is an appropriate way of stimulating competition. I agree with Powell -- it's not a level playing field.
I haven't backed away from my position on affirmative action. I do want the best to bubble up. For a couple of reasons, I think blacks are unique, mainly because they were enslaved. I also believe that there is a kind of de facto "affirmative action" for the ones who hold the levers. That's not to say, "all whites have money" -- far from it.
Also, again, you have employed some circular logic, at least in this respect:
Have you ever read Josh Marshall? Would you not classify him as a liberal? I don't see that vast cultural relativism you talk about.
About affirmative action -- my favorite case study is the military. It was the military academies arguing in behalf of affirmative action in front of the supreme court, which I think helped defeat the court case last year.
The military simply could not function if the officer corps did not reflect the makeup of the enlisted. And part of the problem in Vietnam, or at least one thing that the military learned, was that discipline would break down if the officers were perceived as "the man" by the enlisteds.
Please don't accuse me of arguing that the enlisted were made up "primarily of minorities" -- unless you want to count as a minority southern whites. If you count them and blacks, and hispanics, you've got your majority.
My point is otherwise. It's that, here we have a case study, and all of my military friends, in fact just about everyone I know can intuitively understand why the officer corps has to reflect the makeup of the military as a whole.
The military has in place measures to achieve this balance. That is the essence of affirmative action.
It's not about promoting unqualified applicants, Herb, it's about taking into account race, economics, region, whatever.
I understand the objections, I just do *not* feel that it represents this great relativistic protocol, etc., etc. That is what I have called the "straw man" argument. I believe that our media is saturated with talk of such a liberal conspiracy, but I think it does not accurately capse liberal views.
Clearly, I may be an iconoclast. But liberal nonetheless.
Oh, about the 1930s -- my belief is that *I myself* would have had that "gut" reaction, that revulsion, at "these people." That should not be construed as anything but an illustration of the curbing of the gut reaction that a liberal tries to do. There's a danger in curbing one's gut reaction too much. There are times to trust your gut. I recognize the pitfalls, or I try to.
I have a Christian friend who tells me "all Muslims want to come here and kill us or convert us -- I know this because I know an actual Muslim who told me that."
That to me is simple prejudice. She doesn't have that "Liberal" filter I just spoke of. In this case, it would be a good thing. Not so that she's be all "touchy feely" and "I love Muslims." But maybe she could temper her ignorance, read about it. Hell, all she has to do is a simple thought experiment: "1 billion Muslims, all want to come here and kill us or convert us. Religious war, 2 plus 2 equals..." I don't know. *Something*. Some kind of examination. Reasoning by prejudice is a Bad Thing.
That in itself doesn't make her wrong. She happens to be wrong, though: by no means to "all" Muslims want to kill us or convert us.
You know, there was a poll done, and it turned out that 57% of Americans believed there was some link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, or that we had found WMD, or some such... I may not have the numbers right, but the essence of the story was: a lot of people are clueless. Why doesn't Bush come clean? Because it will hurt his approval rating.
Now, of course, this should not be construed as my saying "all conservatives are guilty of such fallacies." That would be the equivalent of what I accuse you of -- caricaturing my position.
However, my point is thus: how many of those people who believe that Hussein was in cahoots with Bin Laden, that "all" Muslims want to "kill us or convert us," how many of them will be voting for Bush? The vast majority.
Now, that's at least as bad as "yeah, but, the guys who will vote for Kerry include *COMMUNISTS*" -- or whatever.
My point wasn't that "Palestinians are equivalent to the Jews of the Lower East Side." You see -- there you go taking the ball and running with it. It's putting words in my mouth. That Israel/Palestine issue -- whoa nelly. That's a can of worms.
It's true that the IDF has never targeted a school bus.
I guess you could say that I feel about Israel/Palestine the same way that I feel about the Iraq war, to an extent. I believe in pragmatism. Does it make things better, for Israel to humiliate Palestinians?
I also see a grievance, on the part of Palestinians. In spite of the fact that others eschew Sandy's vitriol for the most part, no one has elucidated a firmer basis for Israel's continued settlement of parts of Gaza and the West Bank than "fair and square" -- finder's keepers, spoils of war, all of that.
I also *still* don't understand how to harmonize the cognitive dissonance between "Israel has not annexed Gaza and the West Bank" and "Israel is going to keep those settlements in Gaza and the West Bank." That's like saying "the works of Shakespeare were not written in fact by Shakespeare, but by a different man of the same name." Whatever you call it, moving in and keeping the territory is annexation.
| 2004-05-04 03:23 | Link
Kevin McDonnell . . .
Excellent arguments and link to Sharansky.
Isaac . . .
You brought up so many points that it's difficult to go over them. I'd like to leave you with several ideas.
(1) Stop using the terms "liberal" and "conservative" or "left-wing" and "right-wing/reactionary." Consider various arguments on their merits, rather than trying to bunch them all together into some one-size-fits-all category. I guarantee that you have NO way of knowing whether or not I or many other posters are "liberal," "reactionary," whatever. I guarantee this.
(2) You need to do A LOT more reading. I suggest you start with Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam. It's fairly quick to read and gives a lot of background for what is going on today in the Muslim world.
(3) Stop worrying about whether Bush "lied," the "real" reasons we went to war, etc. The true facts will never be known, only studied and analyzed. I can say this with confidence--I have an advanced degree in U.S. history. If you want to understand what is going on, whether the war in Iraq is justified, and so on, you need to read more than the daily newspapers. One book I recommend to many opponents of the war is Kenneth Pollack, The Threatening Storm, written in 2000. He gives a lot of details regarding Iraq-U.S. relations and the reasons why the U.S. wanted to get rid of Saddam. This book is well worth wading through because it contains so many important details--the kind that most mass media writers don't bother with.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-05-04 03:26 | Link
Sorry, Bjorn, the above post is from me.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 03:29 | Link
Read Sharansky -- I don't think that the Soviet paradigm applies to middle eastern dictatorships. Think about it.
"[conservatives] actually... have moorings... or at least believe that its a positive thing to aspire to have them..."
Ok, ok, I'll 'fess up: I really don't think that we should have any convictions. I think that everything is relative. Palestinian terrorists equal Zen Buddhist pacifist land caretakers. It's all, like, really the same, you know? We should always cave in in the face of opposition...
It's just so odd, that whatever I say, that's all you seem to hear...
You know who is a good liberal to read? Lawrence Lessig. Go and buy "Free Culture."
If you find that it's all, you know, touchy feely, only black lesbians are worthy, the rest of us are shit, and oh, by the way, Bin Laden equals Bush, oh and, we are all really guilty, because, like, man, we are part of the power structure, you know, man? -- if it comes to that conclusion, I will bow, and I will admit that only conservatives have moorings.
But until that is proven, I'm going to go out on a limb here: you actually *don't like* liberal convictions. You don't like our "moorings." Instead of addressing them, your tactic is to argue that *we have none*.
I hear it so much: liberals are utopians. Utopianism always ends up in tyranny. Now, let's drop bombs on Islamic countries, because we can create (a utopia of) democracies there by doing so! It will be the domino effect in reverse (there's your reason by the way, for the war).
What are we to do as things don't pan out as predicted? "Stay the course?" The course is a failure.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 04:26 | Link
'Stop worrying about whether Bush "lied," the "real" reasons we went to war, etc.'
These questions are worthy questions in and of themselves. I was brought up in the '90s to always, always always care if a president lied, and I'm not going to stop now. While many Americans thought "it's sexual peccadillos," the conservatives drew the line in the sand: "the president *lied*," they said...
But then, wait a second, it used to matter that Clinton avoided the draft...
If I had no cultural moorings, if everything was *relative*, then I'd be able to one administration care about lying, and the next not. That's what I don't understand here. What part of "we know he has WMDs" is not of concern?
I have _moorings_. I do care about a president lying to the American people, over so momentous a matter. To be honest, I did *not* care that Clinton lied, because it was over sex. But I *would have* cared if he had lied over the Balkan war.
I am consistent, across administrations, in precisely that way.
So there's that. But yeah, guys are *dying* in Iraq. It's weird to see folks say "therefore, stop all this bickering." What, we need to put the blinders on now? Bush gets away with anything?
It *used to* matter when a president lied, but now, now that we are at war, we should not question lies told to get us there. Stay the course. Go about your business. Nothing to see here.
It's very very orwellian. Nothing to see -- these men are terrorists. They don't need trials. Move along, citizen.
| 2004-05-04 12:06 | Link
Its becoming tedious now, because it seems like you actually aren't interested in being in a coherent discussion, and are (perhaps understandably) defensive.
You cover so much ground in such a short span in these last comments that it would take a day to address them in a coherent way...and frankly... I don't have that kind of time. But for the sake of brotherly love I am going to hit a few and see if it rings any bells.
In your post above, where you begin with the idea that competition and affirmative action are compatible(they are not btw, and the excellent results in the military are NOT affirmative action by todays criteria...VERY important distinctions), your thrust seems to be that all the points you make after that show that the way I described the implications of liberalism on its adherents are simplistic and wrong. This... is done while at the same time arguing that all the generalizations you have about conservatives are viable. You don't seems to get how insidious equivalence as a concept is Isaac. You host arguments about how relativism as a defining element of liberal discourse is irrelevant, and then (INTERESTINGLY!) you make references to a wide variety of the pernicious memes at play now, as though your reference to them while not adhering to them, discounts them. It doesn't, and in fact it would imply that the admittedly circular logic I applied to you above, IS viable.
For your own part, when you say that you didn't mean to make any comparison between the Palestinians of today and the NYC Jewish Ghetto of the 30s, thats simply untrue. You did indeed imply in a sort of "who are wee to say there isn't a diamond in the rough there" way, while at the same time wrapping it up in the idea that the view on the part of a conservative to the 30s ghetto would be superficial enough that nothing good would be seen there by them. This is a deeply convoluted chain of reasoning to say the least.
I'm going to post a few paragraphs here from the same comment, and then I'm going to make a point and hope that it sheds light on your general state of affairs ideologically speaking... because I have to get back to work.
You say: "You know, there was a poll done, and it turned out that 57% of Americans believed there was some link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, or that we had found WMD, or some such... I may not have the numbers right, but the essence of the story was: a lot of people are clueless. Why doesn't Bush come clean? Because it will hurt his approval rating.
Now, of course, this should not be construed as my saying "all conservatives are guilty of such fallacies." That would be the equivalent of what I accuse you of -- caricaturing my position.
However, my point is thus: how many of those people who believe that Hussein was in cahoots with Bin Laden, that "all" Muslims want to "kill us or convert us," how many of them will be voting for Bush? The vast majority."
Now... there's plenty to argue above(which is part of the point) but it's the framing of it which I find is most important to illuminate. I feel like saying to you "Isaac!... if you can become consciously aware of the preconceived notions, inherent contradictions, and most importantly, to the specious 'truisms', in those paragraphs, and unwrap them from their heavy coatings for open scrutiny.... you will be truly liberated!"
I'll leave it at that.
Herbie, NYC | 2004-05-04 14:01 | Link
Kevin, actually one the best books on Arabs and the MIddel Eastr is a 30 year old book that has just been republished "The Closed Circle" by Pryce -Jones. the last chapter on Arab literature is worth the price of the book alone.
Herbie, NYC | 2004-05-04 16:23 | Link
Issac, my last comment I know someone to introduce you to -- his name is Sisyphus :-)
Isaac | 2004-05-04 18:56 | Link
1). The military academies use affirmative action.
2). Herbie, you wanted to know *why* we are in Iraq -- so would I. Isn't it on our country's leadership, rather than me, to make that case, to explain that to the American people?
Read the latest in Salon about the neocons and Chalabi. Whatever you say about the slant, read the quotes by Zell and others. Enjoy.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 19:05 | Link
Thanks for Sisyphus!
Yes, I empathize with him now...
'Bye to everyone else. No, I don't think that my comments were a combination of fluff and victimization, but then, we are so talking at cross-purposes that it might seem like that to you.
One point KM: even Sharansky believes that "under the right circumstances... everyone can attain [freedom]" (from the Sharansky article you linked).
What a relativist! Is he saying that Palestinians are capable of democracy?
But isn't that what I'm saying? And we are just arguing over tactics, and morals, as we struggle with the conflict? Isn't that what is occuring?
Now, in my arguments to you, it's sure no fun to have them reduced to cliches about liberal points of view. I completely reject your deconstruction of what I say, at every turn.
You know, I could find a neo-nazi conservative, or a racist, or whatever, and reduce everything you say to that, too. It's a tactic that seems pursued without the good faith that I was hoping for.
Enough. This thread is now dead -- and I didn't cite Hitler (though I did say "puke" -- maybe that's good enough).
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-04 19:16 | Link
Issac, I was being droll, don't take it as a compliment.
OG Norway | 2004-05-04 19:24 | Link
well, interesting thread, please come back another time Isaac.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 19:28 | Link
You can't even spell my name, after writing it about 26 times. How seriously could I take anything you say?
Herbie | 2004-05-04 19:36 | Link
Isaac You might try and distinguish between the message and the messenger
Isaac | 2004-05-04 20:01 | Link
George Will in today's Post:
How do you spell "disaster?"
Oh, wait, here it comes: "Isaac, if only you could see all of the implicit assumptions in that paragraph..."
Implicit assumptions. Hmm. Like, "when you end up with an Iraq which is hostile to Israel, bolsters Iran, costs hundreds of American soldiers' lives, humiliates and downgrades the reputation of the United States through the airing of those prison torture photos, then you have failed."
Yes, to me, there is a chain of logic there, which I subscribe to. If all of those things happen, by my definition, it's a disaster.
I don't change my definition of failure/success to fit the administration. I have some principles. I must be a rare liberal indeed, to see those things as bad. A relativistic liberal would say "hmm, who are we to say what is 'success' or 'failure?' Perhaps it's better that the status of the US is downgraded -- the US is evil anyway. Yes, this war has been a success. I will vote for Bush, since he seems to consistently make the United States weaker... pretty soon, we will be so weak, we will not be able to object when the UN jackboots arrive on our soil.... yes, this whole Bush administration is working out *very nicely*."
That's how liberals *really* think. We put up a good front, arguing tactics, or morals or whatever, but we really seek the sweet oblivion of defeat.
Bush in '04 -- cutnrun bush!
Isaac | 2004-05-04 20:17 | Link
I assume the anonymous post was the inimitable KM. Yes, Kevin, I *do* reject a lot of the liberal memes.
Gosh darnit, isn't it ok to be a reformer? Isn't it ok to wish to take what is good in liberalism, what is good in conservatism, to elevate the debate?
I really really aspire to that.
A figure which intrigues me is Moynihan. He was a candidate for neoconism, but he rejected the slot. He wrote "Joining the Jackals," an exposure of the anti-Americanism which was rampant in the UN (*and* here at home).
So, I'm a reconstructed liberal. What's so bad about that? I don't want that '70s anti-Americanism hung about my head.
But there are tons and tons of liberals like me out there now. I believe it's a movement, and that your criticism of liberalism is now grown passe.
Now, all pounce on me, at once -- bring it on.
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-04 22:07 | Link
"all pounce on me, at once" Not me. I will have my dog Brynjulf attack. He has a much stronger stomach. :-)
Isaac | 2004-05-04 22:22 | Link
And what of conservatism? Could I hang around the neck of every conservative opposition to civil rights? Jeez -- talk about a double standard.
Conservatives fought women's rights, civil rights, now gay rights, the Americans With Disabilities Act.
And any time you say "conservatives are anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-minority" they jump and scream, "you are only listening to what the media tells you. No I'm not. I'm listening to what their stances tell me.
So, if you are going to try and hang around my neck some stance that liberals took 30, 40, 50 years ago, well, the conversation won't get anywhere. Yet, that is exactly what the KM does. It conveniently allows for an avoidance of the here and now. It's argument by bromide.
Isaac | 2004-05-04 22:25 | Link
Here's a good post refuting the conservative myopia on iraq:
It seems the conservatives nowadays are "objectively pro-torture."
Isaac | 2004-05-04 22:36 | Link
Don't address what Will said. Keep it personal...
| 2004-05-05 03:13 | Link
First... If you consider yourself a Moynihan liberal or a Truman liberal or hell... even a Kennedy liberal... then in point of fact you're darn close today to being a (so called) "neo-conservative"! If you're a reformer of that which today calls itself liberalism... particularly the so called liberal wing which embraces that odiously oxymoronic label of progressivism (am I making my point?) than all I can say is.... good luck with that my friend.
Second...and Very Important. You say: "One point KM: even Sharansky believes that "under the right circumstances... everyone can attain [freedom]"
me: Yes... exactly!!!
then you say "What a relativist! Is he saying that Palestinians are capable of democracy?"
Damn... you were almost there! Isaac the position is absolutely the opposite of relativism and the conditions to which he refers require first and foremost, for naked fascism to be expunged from the "leadership" of that society by whatever means is adequate and minimizes pain... though fascism being what it is... unavoidable strife is on the agenda.
What we absolutely do not need, and what serves only those in the artful self indulgence of appeasement and denial, as well as the ruthless themselves ... is the fog of characterization ad absurdum, moral equivalence of naked hatred with civilized self defense, multicultural tripe about Palestinian "democracy".... etc. Understand?
Third... I have gone to the trouble of rereading every post I made, and regarding your insistence that I have been taking your views and having them "reduced to cliches about liberal points of view". Methinks thou dost protest a bit too much. I believe I didn't "characterize" them at all... I think I illuminated them. Is that the problem perhaps? And I know Isaac... I MOST definitely know... that I didn't "deconstruct" them. (You gave me a Maalox moment there!)
Fourth... I was going to cite Will myself. You beat me to it. Will... is a Conservative. Conservatives tend toward realism... which unfortunately has proved itself to be a fairly poor barometer of reality. Throw in a bit of postmodern Kissingerian cynicism and what you have is pretty ugly. Yet... in this argument... it would be the Bush administration who takes the position of the Sharansky line you chose to cite above... and Will who sides with Kissingers abysmal cynicism. Interestingly... it would also be liberalism/progressivism who sit there also. (Christopher Hitchens has a luminous take on this!) How odd that an ideological web that projects endless imagery with high sounding rhetoric about human rights and justice... would be so adamant in the defense of a status quo which clearly favors the antithesis of these things. I find it deeply odious. It's no wonder the UN is ...what it is. (in reality I mean... not its projection).
And Finally... You say: "Conservatives fought women's rights, civil rights, now gay rights, the Americans With Disabilities Act."
So many of these causes have gone to hell Isaac because of exactly the reasons I cite above. You range from the epic to the parsed detail there. In any case, You think that which calls itself liberalism can claim ownership... of Civil Rights? You assume far too much.
Then you say: "And any time you say "conservatives are anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-minority" they jump and scream, "you are only listening to what the media tells you. No I'm not. I'm listening to what their stances tell me."
Yes... you are listening to the bromides of "freethinking" smart people... and its tripe. I didn't jump and scream as I say it though... does that help?
And then you say: "So, if you are going to try and hang around my neck some stance that liberals took 30, 40, 50 years ago, well, the conversation won't get anywhere."
Isaac... For the vast majority of those who could call themselves liberals from those periods... I wouldn't need to hang a label on them... they would be shaking their head in dismay at what we have all become... just like me.
Going to bed again now... this has to stop!
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-05 03:20 | Link
Oh... the above was from me.
One last thing:
Isaac: Regarding "It seems the conservatives nowadays are "objectively pro-torture." "
You can't tell me you couldn't be better than this!? If I were a stickler... would I not point out that this undermines your credibility rather dramatically. If I were really mean wouldn't I come back with a comment like "So much for nuanced views and a reluctance to characterize... and a good example of liberal tolerance".
Well... fortunately for you I am neither of those things so I won't make those kinds of statements.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-05 09:51 | Link
I can't provide answers to numerous long lectures in here. I agree that this has gone meta. Bjørn's comment on that sadly didn't improve things. Most of these blogs are very one-sided. This one too. And what you then get is that people who express different views are bombarded with arguments and things that resemble arguments from all sides. This assymetry makes it a too time consuming effort to get involved. I apologize for that.
Kevin: You have a post here that is very long. You challenge me on the use of 'evil'. I have discussed the usage og evil at length here in a previous blog. Check that out if you are interested in my position on this. Here's the link.
OG Norway | 2004-05-05 11:14 | Link
Is this real?
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-05 13:51 | Link
It didn't do me any harm. It does however sound very much like the work of an inflated ego. Humility is a lost virtue in an age where self is supreme.
It is as you say, an interesting book. Historically, it has marginal value at best, and what I found in that area, was primarily from reading between the lines. It is mostly interesting in the way reading Paul Johnson's Intellectuals was interesting. That book by the way... wouldn't do you any harm.
Anders, you apologized for not engaging in arguments now that it has all gone "Meta"? I assume that by your stance you mean to imply that you could have saved us all from our folly if only the thread remained framed in a way that was... in accordance with your standards? I think you kid yourself. Here, as in other times if I'm not mistaken, you dropped off when the debate was challenging. If the thread got a bit frayed, it was mainly the result of Isaac's intelligent but incohesive digressions which occurred when he found himself with internal contradictions. He certainly remained though.
Blogs are one sided? Every venue where there are ideas aired has sides Anders... or should. How was this thread one sided to your mind? Is it because your pronouncements were effectively rebutted, or even just challenged? Are you so unused to that? Do you think it shouldn't be allowed? You'll forgive me if I point out that I debate the left quite a lot, and have observed the venues in that "freethinking" environment. Such things will go nowhere good... is my only observation.
If there is any value to discourse, it comes from engagement. If there is a valid center, it will not be discerned from the cogitations of any one person... or even a group of really really "smart" people.
As to Per Christiansens views on foreign policy... well, that would be another thread for you and I wouldn't it? I would be happy to engage in it. I suppose I have to assume that you are aware that I have exchanged a few emails with Per. The last was after his "10000 deaths" article. Suffice it to say... we differ.
As to our differences Anders, I don't think it was merely "evil" per se that I argued with you over. You can leave it there if you like. You chose not to engage then, and so be it. In any case I read through the earlier post and comments you linked to. Are these your views on evil? There's a third thread we could have!
To go somewhat back on thread, I would like to point out one thing from those comments that I hope will shed light on some of the fundamental objections I have to the nature of the public discourse today. (The one outside of this "one-sided" thread... the one that I guess you seem to think must be ... many sided.)
You said "The USA does not seem to be interested in why terrorism occurs, and why so much of it is aimed at the USA."
I'm not going to argue with the statement really... only what it reveals. You see Anders, what you fail to even consider, is that the USA knows very well why terorism occurs... why it REALLY occurs. It has so very little to do with the tenets of multicultural nuance which to many of us, amounts to intellectual masturbation. We see the "root causes" in plain sight. Europe indulges in fantasies of nuance and articulates progressively deeper layers of fog like an oyster dealing with sand. But you say then, in almost sand thumpingly ignorant condascension, that the USA does not seem to care to know. How good it must feel to imagine that if someone does not seem to give your position deference, they must be ignorant or not care. How attached that emotive image is to the caricaturing of the day!!!... which masks itself as reason.
I'll go further... the reason "so much of it is aimed at the USA" ... is the very reason why the USA is mostly right about what it considers the causes... and why those in Europe who engage in this paradigm that you do... are dead wrong. It has something to do with evil.
But you can continue to figure that since the US doesn't subscribe to your ... "philosophy"... it must not care.
Yes Anders... it MUST be that.
| 2004-05-05 14:34 | Link
sorry about the link, it worked earlier, but now it's a blind link.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-05-05 14:41 | Link
Kevin McDonnell . . .
You said,"How odd that an ideological web that projects endless imagery with high sounding rhetoric about human rights and justice... would be so adamant in the defense of a status quo which clearly favors the antithesis of these things. I find it deeply odious. It's no wonder the UN is ...what it is. (in reality I mean... not its projection)."
Excellent summary of the entire discussion!
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-05 15:01 | Link
From the NY Times 5/5/04
Mr. Schily caused a stir when he told a German magazine, Der Spiegel, last week that in cases in which there was a direct danger of terrorism it should be possible to take a suspect into preventive custody, or, under extreme circumstances, to carry out assassinations."
"Is there not a right of self-defense against terrorists who plan mass murder?" he asked. "That leads to the question whether in extreme cases it is justified to kill that person in self-defense."
I think this is incredible since Germany, of course, strongly criticized Israel for its response to terror attacks.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-05 15:13 | Link
I tend to quit these discussions when posts are VERY long and it takes too much of my working time.
I think your post fits trivially in to the pattern of:..."oh you don't get it you liberal quasi-intellectual hairsplitter." I tend to quit discussions when that's what happens too.
I disagree with your post. I think your arguments are truly flawed and you just ruminate what everyone can easily find on the web-pages of American authorities.
"the USA knows very well why terorism occurs... why it REALLY occurs."
You may think that you out-smart me when I don't pick up all the points of your lengthy lectures. That should be judged by others. What is for sure is that you out-volume me....- Quantity of thought is not a virtue. If you wish to educate me any further please be brief!
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-05 15:16 | Link
Sorry, the above post was a response to Kevin's recent contributions.
Herbie, NY | 2004-05-05 16:12 | Link
I apologize for the length of this post
From Aftenposten (A Norwegian news paper)
Churches should not become mosques
I think this article lends some urgency to my position which is that unless Islam is reformed to become tolerant and its adherents integrated into the society in which they live that one of two things will happen, unless the European birth rate begins to climb rapidly: a) Islam will become the major religion along with its practices in those countries or b) there will be a religious war to end all wars.
As was said by Dalyrmple an English psychiatrist in two articles in http://www.city-journal.org/:
The first entitled “When Islam Breaks Down:
“The Muslim immigrants . . . were not seeking a new way of life when they arrived; they expected to continue their old lives, but more prosperously. * * *
“Anyone who lives in a city like mine and interests himself in the fate of the world cannot help wondering whether, deeper than this immediate cultural desperation, there is anything intrinsic to Islam—beyond the devout Muslim’s instinctive understanding that secularization, once it starts, is like an unstoppable chain reaction—that renders it unable to adapt itself comfortably to the modern world. * * *
“I think the answer is yes, and that the problem begins with Islam’s failure to make a distinction between church and state. Unlike Christianity, which had to spend its first centuries developing institutions clandestinely and so from the outset clearly had to separate church from state, Islam was from its inception both church and state, one and indivisible* * * [and]since he was, by Islamic definition, the last prophet of God upon earth, his was a political model whose perfection could not be challenged or questioned without the total abandonment of the pretensions of the entire religion.
“But his model left Islam with [one] . . . intractable problem. the legitimacy of temporal power could always be challenged by those who, citing Muhammad’s spiritual role, claimed greater religious purity or authority; the fanatic in Islam is always at a moral advantage vis-à-vis the moderate. Moreover, Islam—in which the mosque is a meetinghouse, not an institutional church—has no established, anointed ecclesiastical hierarchy to decide such claims authoritatively. With political power constantly liable to challenge from the pious, or the allegedly pious, tyranny becomes the only guarantor of stability, and assassination the only means of reform. Hence the Saudi time bomb: sooner or later, religious revolt will depose a dynasty founded upon its supposed piety but long since corrupted by the ways of the world.
“The second problem is intellectual. In the West, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment .* * * liberated individual men to think for themselves, and thus set in motion an unprecedented and still unstoppable material advancement. Islam, with no separate, secular sphere where inquiry could flourish free from the claims of religion, if only for technical purposes, was hopelessly left behind: as, several centuries later, it still is.
“The indivisibility of any aspect of life from any other in Islam is a source of strength, but also of fragility and weakness, for individuals as well as for polities. Where all conduct, all custom, has a religious sanction and justification, any change is a threat to the whole system of belief. Certainty that their way of life is the right one thus coexists with fear that the whole edifice—intellectual and political—will come tumbling down if it is tampered with in any way. Intransigence is a defense against doubt and makes living on terms of true equality with others who do not share the creed impossible.
“Not coincidentally, the punishment for apostasy in Islam is death: * * * “The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is hardly favorable to free inquiry or frank discussion, to say the least, and surely it explains why no Muslim, or former Muslim, in an Islamic society would dare to suggest that the Qu’ran was not divinely dictated. * * * In my experience, devout Muslims expect and demand a freedom to criticize, often with perspicacity, the doctrines and customs of others, while demanding an exaggerated degree of respect and freedom from criticism for their own doctrines and customs.
The second was in an earlier article in the same publication: ”Lo, the Poor Terrorist” in January and also in City Journal
“The man who kidnapped Pearl in Karachi was a highly educated British Pakistani, Ahmed Omar Sheikh. Sheikh attended public school and later studied at the London School of Economics. Eventually he came to be associated with both Harkat ul-Mujahideen and al-Qaeda.”
“Now Sheikh’s father must have spent at least $20,000 a year, and probably more, on his son’s education for five years or more: surely a sign of reasonable economic success in his adopted country. Moreover, Sheikh was then admitted to an elite institution of higher education. * * *
“If intelligent, successful and well-educated British Muslims such as Omar Sheikh can be so readily drawn to the world of the jehadis, we are in trouble.” Indeed, we are. The fact is, the kind of success that British society offered Sheikh, evidence of its comparative openness despite instances of insult and discrimination, did not satisfy him. He was in the grip of a utopian ideology, * * *
Anyway those are my thoughts (as articulated by someone else) which I find very depressing, I must say.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-05 16:14 | Link
My goodness, what a fusillade. Ok then.. allow me to respond directly to you, by point and in brief.
You: "I think your post fits trivially in to the pattern of:..."oh you don't get it you liberal quasi-intellectual hairsplitter." I tend to quit discussions when that's what happens too."
Me: Strawman... and wishful thinking; that isn't supported by the posts... at all.
Me: Ad hominem circumstantial (Comforting thought I'm sure though!)
Me: Projection (Note: Anders, that was my point regarding YOUR comment... ironic!)
Me: Argumentum ad Verecundiam (And feigned no less!)
Me: Argumentum ad personam
All in all a fallacy laden comment you probably should have been less "fired up" over when you posted it, but I'm just offering constructive criticism on your technique. I don't see what more I can do to address the content. Still... why were so stirred up? In my experience there could be an opportunity for understanding there. Who knows...
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-05 17:20 | Link
Kevin: Yup. That was brief enough. And thanks for the Latin lessons!
It is frustrating to me when I don't have the time to answer all the questions. What happens is that I get accused of "dodging bullets" and leaving the discussion when I encounter counterarguments of force. I am in fact offended by such critiscism and respond in kind. I believe that some earlier blogs suggest that I don't instinctively turn my back when my positions are challenged. Your argument suggested: "You stop discussing because you don't know." I think that borders to foul play.
People are in a sense in their right to expect answers but there is a limit somewhere. Every time I engage in blog discussions (this is in fact the only place I have done it) I think to myself.... Do I have time for this? Will I get trapped in a maze of threads I do not have the capacity, (and yes possibly knowledge) to follow up on? I should perhaps be more judicious in the future.
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-05 17:26 | Link
I forgot to include my main point Kevin, the one thing that really pissed me off:
When I try to retreat from a discussion and even apologize for doing so.... I would have hoped for a different interpretation than the one you offered. That was sordid.
Kevin McDonnell, Bergen | 2004-05-05 18:18 | Link
Your very welcome regarding the Classical definitions. Their use does instill in a discourse the kind of basic discipline that frames with reason, rather than doctine, the thread of an argument.
As to sordid... Sordid? My goodness I'm not mudslinging! I've been engaged in discussions like this, both written and in live debate numerous times, and I have also observed you personally (unless I'm mistaken) before, and I was sharing my thoughts on that. If that really "pisses you off" ... well... I'll still sleep I suppose.
All that aside Anders, note for the record that I have absolutely no desire to make you feel diminished, nor question the intelligence you obviously possess, nor even to undermine the fundamental tenets which I surmise from your statements, that you believe in. In fact, at a level where it most matters (but sadly, isn't discussed in the public forum, as metaphysical perspectives would rapidly become a wee bit uncomfortable for some... but thats another thread), I have little doubt we agree on quite a bit. I DO however want and have endeavored, to cast light on the why and how of the way those tenets are ... interpreted ... in the dominant and dominating intellectual and ideological paradigm that is so pervasive in our beloved West (and beyond) today. IMHO, where we are in our extended consciousness now, does not AT ALL serve those ideas to which I would hope you and I agree. At least then, it should be worth scrutinizing this paradigm across the board. Alas though, one of its insidious elements is that it encourages adherents to assume that those who do not think within a certain paradigm... are closed minded, racist, simplisme and so on. (I'm certain this over-simplification invites easy rebuttal... but consider the essence of it first if you plan to parse it.)
Isn't THAT what a discourse is supposed to be about? Words have meaning, ideas have consequences and opinions (should, in a free society) matter. Also... there's an essential truth to virtually everything... its just usually impossible to grasp in any of our puny little heads. In our arrogance, its easier to figure that since it gets very difficult to discern everything, we might as well pretend that grayness is best. But humility begets wisdom, arrogance... folly. Thats a truth simply because while we may not be able to discern an ultimate Truth, yet it is certainly easier to discern what is really borne of lies... unless we give up the will to make such a distinction. Sometimes, even by proclaiming there is no meaningful one... ala nuance.
I'll end it there before I digress even more and have to work here all bloody night.
Totoro, Chicago, U.S. | 2004-05-05 23:14 | Link
I enjoy discussions on this blog because there are some real differences of opinion. The discussions work best, however, when limited to one, two, or three points. Also, as soon as people start accusing each other of major character flaws, discussions tend to become bogged down and snarky.
For those who are interested--I view the word "reactionary" as a dreadful insult. Just so you know. If you call me "reactionary," I will call you "clueless."
Herbie NY | 2004-05-05 23:52 | Link
Actually the term "clueless reactionary" would seem to apply to most liberals :-) I agree that many people take themselves too seriously and appear to impliedly take the position that they are the font of all knowledge and all others will benefit greatly from sitting at their feet. I thnk that is why most dialogue begins to degenerate after a while in most blog sites
Anders, Oslo | 2004-05-06 11:30 | Link
Anyone of you who have engaged in the practices of:
Read todays piece in Dagbladet by my distinguished college Henrik Thune (p. 46). This piece also relates to Ester Kristoffer's point on our powerlessness towards the media.....which I think was the initial theme of this post. This piece will not go down nicely....the calls are already coming in here. (it is of course, unless Bjørn intervenes, only available in Norwegian)
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-05-09 01:24 | Link
I read the original post, and was surprised at NRK's actions. This is the first time I've felt the urge to join a protest demonstration since I was eight years old!
Jag vil stå upp mot terror!
Although obviously those of us outside Norway can't physically join a demonstration in Oslo, we can still contribute.
Ester, you say:
As far as I see it, the divisions between those who agree with you and those who support anti-semitic terror is one that runs not between but through the middle of countries. You may have been let down by the established media in Norway, but the same problem is happening around the world. You have support both within Norway and overseas.
For my part, I've posted about this on my blog, and will now be more alert to anti-semitism in the media.
As you can see, quite a number of other bloggers have linked back to Bjorn's report.
Trevor Stanley, Melbourne | 2004-05-09 01:33 | Link
Some other comments:
[ to make it easier to participate for those who fear that to rally against antisemitism is to support Sharon, the event was split into separate parts with different themes.]
This is a bit of a worry. Did the people who were reluctant to rally against anti-semitism because to do so meant to support Sharon not see anything strange about that? It's odd to have people protesting against terrorism, but stopping short of opposing terrorism against Jews.
Thanks, Kevin. One of the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle just slipped into place for me when I read that.
My understanding is that traditional Islam has been under challenge by various reform movements since the 18th Century. Al-Qaeda represents one vanguard party of what was once called Islamic Reformism, Islamic Modernism or Salafism (now only the last name is employed, although the Arabic word for 'reform' occurs in certain al-Qaeda-linked organisations.)
An earlier attempt to 'reform' Islam eventually conquered much of the Arabian Peninsula and established Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism pared down Islam, jetisoning tolerance in favour of jihad. Remember that the protestant 'reform'ation changed Christianity and not only for the good. The process of change also involved centuries of warfare. And before we respond to Salafi Islamic Modernism by demanding that Islam modernise along European lines, we ought to remember that secular liberal-democratic Capitalism shares the dais of European modernist ideology with secular Socialism (Marxist and otherwise) and intransigent secular nationalism (Nazi and otherwise). The French Revolutionaries separated Church and State, and it didn't prove to be a panacea. Ba'athism, Nasser's Pan-Arab nationalism and Arafat's PLO were attempts to transpose modern western political models directly onto an Arab milleu.
We are currently witnessing the Muslim Reformation. Attempts to blame the religion of Islam for the evils of political Islam are flawed.
Don't assume I'm a touchy feely multiculturalist however.
My response to the melting pot model of cultural diversity (pour three pots into one and let them bubble together into a new concoction) is to alter the analogy slightly. If you have three pots of paint - red, yellow and blue - and you mix them together, what do you get? That's right, a big, homogenous pot of boring, brown paint. Admixture often reduces diversity. Without effective and durable delineations between cultural groupings, difference is lost and the world becomes a less interesting place. Does diversity of colour mean diversity of opinion? Like on Sesame Street? Lots of different colours, one happy but homogenous outlook. Boring, and pure fantasy.
This is simply not true. Like many analyses of Islam today, it takes the Salafis and other radicals at their word that theirs is the only correct interpretation of Islam. If some young punk with a copy of the US Constitution told us that because he had the basic source of America's laws in his hands, he didn't need a lawyer to tell him what he was permitted to do, would we believe him? As a qualified traditionalist Islamic fuqaha (one who is qualified to interpret Islamic scriptures) recently said, "When I have a toothache, I go to the dentist, even though I have a perfectly good plumber next door."
[“The second problem is intellectual. In the West, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment .* * * liberated individual men to think for themselves, [...] Islam, with no separate, secular sphere where inquiry could flourish free from the claims of religion, if only for technical purposes, was hopelessly left behind: as, several centuries later, it still is.]
Salafism is based on the principle of European protestant/modernist freethinking, which is why Salafis feel entitled to radically reinterpret the Quran and ahadith.
Sandy P. | 2004-05-09 04:13 | Link
--And yet, when they told you to hate him, you listened to your Republican masters, and duly hated him. But why did they hate him? It was partly Clinton's class which made him so distrusted and hated by elitist Republican opinion.--
Ohh, Isaac, you have so much to learn. It's not because I'm a pubbie, it's because I'm female. That '92 interview did it for me. If your spouse will willing to screw around on you, who else is he/she willing to screw? Not just physically. Employer? Other employees? Family? Friends? I think the track record speaks for itself. That's a basic Isaac.
If you can't trust your spouse, who can you trust? And not only in the AIDS/rising STD era.
--When was the last time you saw a union leader on television, representing the liberal side?--
Can't have them doing that, they'd lose tax- exempt status.
As to pubbies are "the rich" how come the ave donation to W is around $208, IIRC? It's from the little people. Opensecrets.org.
And if I were you, I'd start boning up on the salary break where "the poor" start voting for "the rich who are pubbies." Hispanics also broke that way for Arnold. One of the dem hispanic advisors started sounding the alarm before the election.
--But throw out the names for a second. It's only conservatives in the United States who suggest repealing the 17th amendment (direct election of senators instead of their appointment).--
Not me. And I could have sworn you posted NY somewhere around here.
--Those are good questions to ask of *anybody*. I'd say we stop tolerating diversity at the point where someone says "hey, my viewpoint is just as valid as anybody else's. So, you know, the Holocaust never happened." I'd say you don't lock that person up, I guess because of freedom of speech issues, I don't want to give the government that much power. But you exert pressure, on whatever organization gives that guy a job -- you isolate that person, through shame. It's how we control behavior.
Do you have a better notion? How else are we to stamp out that type of thinking?--
Considering quite a bit of the world thinks that way, what's your suggestion?
Sandy P. | 2004-05-09 04:14 | Link
--But you exert pressure, on whatever organization gives that guy a job -- you isolate that person, through shame. It's how we control behavior.--
Uh, huh. Like Trent v. Dodd's statements, eh?
Sandy P. | 2004-05-09 04:26 | Link
--some first amendment infringements I could explain if anyone had time.--
You mean like, "Congress shall make no law...?"
Check out Gregg Easterbrook's 11/5/01 column, free speech is not free.
Sandy P. | 2004-05-09 04:32 | Link
--The 1st amendment argument goes like this, and I can never get my conservative friends to understand: if you have media consolidation, it's very easy for the government to exert influence on the content. Clear Channel can organize cd burnings of Dixie Chicks for speaking out against the war, and then get the FCC to approve their buying of more radio stations. This kind of cozy arrangement is absolutely a threat to our system of government.
Ever follow the linkage at Instapundit? It seems Michael Powell was trying to do the right thing until it was tanked because it was spun. This was in 02 or 03, IIRC.
The media will never have a serious debate about ideas, Isaac. Because it will show the unwashed masses what empty heads they are. And pesky facts they want suppressed will get out and make people go, Hmmmm..... The uninsured comes to mind.
Sandy P | 2004-05-09 05:23 | Link
One other point about the Patriot Act. Didn't most of it originally come from Reno's reign?
It's just that it couldn't be implemented because there was no reason, IIRC.
And, Isaac, what I "threw" at you was not vitriol.
Unless calling you "elitist" qualifies.
And please correct me if I'm wrong, but if conservatives were against civil rights, how come its conservatives which got the Act passed in the 60s?
And as to a "rush to war" which one of your comments was boiled down to by me, it's been a 30 year rush to war. I could state 1979 as the beginning, but I'll be more generous and say Nixon should have taken out Arafat since he gave the go-ahead to kill one of our diplomats in 1973, IIRC. But I'm sure someone here could clarify.
Now Bjorn - unfortunately, I have read too many people with the belief that certain countries are "democracies" because the masses have been allowed to vote. Seems some in Australia also have this view, besides Europeans I've had "discussions" with in different forums. I do realize correlation is not causation, but I keep bumping into it's the process that's important, not the outcome or action. Just my experience of surfing the world the last 3 years. I'm also getting the opinion that the process v. outcome/action is an European/American difference.
And just to let you guys know, Inside Iberian Notes had written that some of the 3/11 suspects won't see anyone/their attorney for about 4 years. They've been locked away.
Sandy P. | 2004-05-09 16:20 | Link
I also want to thank you Isaac, for fleshing out my "bottom up" point when you gave everyone Bubba's background. When I wrote that I was thinking of him.
Lincoln is another one.
Have you ever thought it is because we're so young and look forward?
Britain is still way more class-conscious than we are. Again, unless one has the right background and goes to 1 of 3 schools, one will never get into the upper eschelons (sp) of the ruling french elite.
And in Germany one takes a test when one is 13, IIRC, which will determine whether one is on the trade/vocational school or university path. Doesn't really matter whether you want to go to one or the other, it's all in how you test when you're 13ish.
We're a raucous (sp) free-for-all. They have never really understood it. And we've worked in spite of it.
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-05-10 16:16 | Link
Kevin, I submit that our response does not really address the Q. With the possible exception of Turkey where religion and the state were forcibly separated, I am unaware of any responsible Islamic dissent. To assert that “We are currently witnessing the Muslim Reformation. Attempts to blame the religion of Islam for the evils of political Islam are flawed” can be characterized as wit once said “hiding from the light does not make it dark” The fact is that almost the entirely of Islamic thought regards anything that separates church and state as illegitimate. Whatever has taken place since the 18th century has had almost no impact on Islamic thought.
Sandy P | 2004-05-11 20:24 | Link
Dismiss my simplisme bottom-up/top down definition, but just found this on ChicagoBoyz:
I am visiting Paris and am struck at how state-centered even businessmen are. The state is supposed to do everything here. The US joke, "I'm from the govt and I'm here to help you" would get no traction here.
One fellow told me: The problem with Americans is they give voice to people (i.e. The People) who should have no say in the running of the country. They should leave that to those who know best.
He also said (a propos a recent trip through Red America where he noticed all these fat, happy cowboys and cowgirls) There are too many uncultured rich in America. Those without the right education should not be PERMITTED to get rich.
He was not joking.
Oh, Isaac, as to bottom-up, do you think a recent immigrant to france would dream that his soon-to-be-born child might one day lead france?
That is the difference in a nutshell. It might come true here, Bobby Jindahl (sp) recent candidate in LA came close.
Trevor Stanley | 2004-05-13 15:23 | Link
Then Sandy posted seven out of the eight posts than followed mine!
(So that's ok then!)
Sandy P | 2004-05-15 06:27 | Link
I was in Vegas, had a lot of catching up to do.
Herbie NY, NY | 2004-05-18 18:37 | Link
A visitor in Oslo happened to see a vicious dog attacking a toddler. He picked up a brick, and beat the dog dead, thus saving the child's life.
"Tell us! What's your name? All Oslo will love you! Tomorrow's headline will be: "Oslo Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!"
The guy says, " I'm not from Oslo."
Reporter: "That's OK. Then the whole of Norway will love you, and tomorrow's headline will read: 'Norweigan Hero Saves Girl from Vicious Dog!'"
The guy says, "I'm not from Norway, either."
Reporter: "So, where ARE you from?"
The guy says, "I'm from Israel.
The next day the headline reads: 'Israeli Kills Little Girl's Dog!'"
Sverre Trondheim | 2004-05-20 22:34 | Link
What`s really the point of this unconditional support for Israel and jews in general? I think it is absolutely absurd. It`s almost as if you are cheering for a footballteam or something. What about the fact that 1/3 of the populasion in many african countries has HIV? What about the fact that we only have one world, with only a limited amount of recourses to share amongst us, and that 20% of the people in the world occupy 80% of it?
To support american capitalist culture, is like signing the deathsentence for the world. How can you critizise someone(the left side politicians) for only beeing human, and having a dream about equality and justice in the world? Are you afraid to share with your fellow human beeings?
I try to understand, but I just don`t seem to get it...
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-05-20 23:39 | Link
Sverre I don't think the point is "unconditional support for Israel and jews in general" I rather think the point is the opposite unconditional nonsupport "in general" to the point of distortion.
Nor do I understand "To support american capitalist culture, is like signing the deathsentence for the world. How can you critizise someone(the left side politicians) for only beeing human, and having a dream about equality and justice in the world"
What system would you prefer: Communism, Socialism? Capitalism is incompatable with equality and justice. In fact I would argue that equality and justice flourish far more under captitalsm than any other system.
Herbie NY, NY | 2004-05-21 20:17 | Link
Aftenposten English Web Desk: The Wiesenthal Center has prepared a report on the international pursuit of Nazi WWII war criminals. The document, which will be published later this summer, classes Norway's efforts a failure and gives the country a spot in the lowest group, newspaper Dagsavisen reports. Norway's statute of limitations is the main stumbling block.
Norway has a statute of limitations of 25 years on all crimes, while international law puts no limit on the pursuit of genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Norwegian government is currently assessing proposed changes to legislation that would bring the country into line with the international stance on such crimes.
Professor of criminology at Oslo University, Per Ole Johansen, has researched Norway's post-war efforts to prosecute those who committed crimes against Jews.
"The great majority of those involved in the Norwegian persecution of Jews went free," Johansen said. He argues that post-war prosecutions were random and many of the worst offenders went free.
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-21 22:40 | Link
Herbie: In order to obtain equality across borders, there has to be a system to prevent that some people grab as much as they can, and leave all others with nothing. Capitalism is great for some people, but unfair for most people. I have to repeat that we are not alone on this planet. The limited amount of recourses has to be shared. African countries can`t build their own economic infrastructure; we won`t let them. I`m not saying that socialism or communism is the way to go, but capitalism is certainly not the way. I`m not cheering for communism, or capitalism. As long as you have taken a side, you are doomed not to find a new, perhaps more creative solution, wich can work for all of us.
What`s money good for anyway? A study of overall happiness in the usa, from 1930 to 1991, showed that the rise in average income, starting at 3500$ in 1930 and 16000$ in 1991, did not effect the average happiness within the united states. Still, there are only about 30% wich consider themselves as very happy.
About the jews, and Israel; isn`t it strange to support an aggressive, illegal occupant? Picture this: You live in a house with a nice garden. Your neighbor suddenly moves your fence 10 metres further into your property. The next day, he builds a guesthouse in the stolen lawnpiece. You turn him in to the police, but they support him. Picture your frustration, and feeling of helplessness. Maybe you can start to feel 1/1000 of the amount of frustration that the palestinians feel. What makes a person commit suicide for a cause? Is he made of something else then you are?
Georg Rabl, Bergen | 2004-05-22 13:51 | Link
Sverre: There isn’t only one cake for all of us to fight over, from which the capitalists grab an unfair share. Capitalism fosters creativity and individualism, leading to the creation of new resources, or better use of limited resources, in short, new cakes. The differences between communist North Korea and capitalist South, or the differences between East and West Germany, tell it all. All other -isms (communism, socialism...) with their focus on selfishness, equality, solidarity and the good of the masses do not provide the incentives for creativity and original thought that capitalism, through rewarding bright individuals and productive firms, does. We cannot all be rent seekers or second handers, someone must create the cake you eat, and few will do that out of solidarity. As to your question “What`s money good for anyway?” I don’t get it. Even if people’s living standards improve, they are still likely to find new worries, but that doesn’t mean they are not better off...
About the Jews and Israel; supporting the only capitalist democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by stagnant and racist dictatorships doesn’t seem strange to me. As to comparing the Jews to someone stealing your land, that is strange. Don’t the Jews belong in Judea? Hasn’t Israel always been a land where Jews have lived? Perhaps your argument could be turned around, and used to discredit the Arab’s claim to all of Israel (the charters of both Hamas and the PLO still state that all of Israel must be “retaken”)? Anyway, the Palestinian (Arab) racism towards Jews is just unbelievable. While one million Arabs live in Israel with full citizenship and access to a generous welfare state, not a single Jew is welcome in Palestine. All of Palestine is to be cleansed of Jews. In this matter the Palestinians are simply following their Arab brothers that since 1948 have chased almost one million Jews from their former Arab homelands (more Jews have fled Arab lands than Palestinians having fled Israel).
avner bird | 2004-05-22 20:22 | Link
To: Isaac, CA
Blaming Israel for apartheid policy is at least looking the wrong monocular. If you want to blame some one for acting by ethnical cleansing policy you better point your fingure towards the Palestinians that act tactically by methods of terror and suicide bombing against Jews Just because they are Jews, and strategically by acting apartheid against Jews that want to live in their own land, in Hebron, Shechem, Beit-Lehem etc. Why Jews can’t live in these places even if the Palestinians are ruling there? Why Arabs and Jews can dwell in Oslo or Haifa, but Jews not in Beit-Lehem? That is the most ethnical cleansing apparatus in that mixed conflict.
And of course I didn’t relate my post to the fact that Israel didn’t fight against a Palestinian state in 1967 but against Jordan and Egypt. There has been never an Arab Palestinian state through out all the Arab conquest of this land. The Palestinian demand for a state of their own is, historicaly very new, and tackles the existence and the reality of the whole region. Two unities are clashing in Israel; one looks for compromise and the other one - the Arabs in Palestine - look for the destruction of Israel “even if it will take 50 years” (as Arafat said once in 2002). You better read Arafat’s declarations translated from Arabic. That will picture the facts that you hold in real colors.
avner bird | 2004-05-22 20:56 | Link
To: Anders, Oslo
The occupied territories were occupied by Jordan (Judea and Samaria) and by Egypt in 1949, and the hold that occupation against UN resolutions. Those areas should have partitioned between Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs, but the Arabs deny the offer and claim for all. In 1967 they broke a war against Israel in order to “throw the whole Jews to the sea” but failed. Only in late 80’ a dialog between both had started, but the Arabs kept go on with terror beside the political process. That apparatus continued through all the 90’, but still Israel stuck to Oslo process demands, with Palestinian response as demanded by the Oslo accord. And then they opened a war of terror against Israel to achieve what they thought they deserve and didn’t agreed to accept any mutual concessions.
Herbie NY | 2004-05-22 21:14 | Link
Yea the EU complains and complains about Israel. I don't propose to go back and argue the point. MOre to the point is the following: Estonia plans to unveil memorial to SS veterans
The Society of Fighters for Estonia's Freedom, which includes, among others, veterans of the Estonian 20th SS division, has initiated the opening of a monument to Estonian SS fighters who fought for Nazi Germany during WWII, Russia's Interfax quoted the Postimees newspaper as reporting on Saturday.
The initiators plan to install the monument in Tallinn's district of Maarjamae, about fifty meters away from a memorial in honor of the Soviet forces who fought in Estonia, in July this year, Interfax said.
The new monument is intended to include plaques bearing the names of 16 Estonian units that fought for the Wehrmacht. There will also be flagpoles, a plaque with explanatory text in four languages, and a cast-iron map of Estonia indicating the places where the SS units fought against the Soviet army, the Russian news agency reported.
Another fine member of the EU. I think it is just easier to conclude that the EU by and large ids Anti-Semitic. I myself have concluded that Jews are like canaries in a coal mine. Each time in Europe that they have been trashed Europe has descended into a black hole and the US has had to expend the lives of its citizens to bring back civilization. Only this time it may be different the Arab apologists in Europe will continue to attack Israel. As the European population continues to plummet Europe will become more and more a Muslim enclave and the US will probably not offer much in the way of help. It does not seem to bother Europe that most of the World would prefer to emigrate to the US and all you get are Muslims? In about 75 years I would guess that Notre Dame will be a Mosque and all of the latter day apologists will carp about that if Israel was not there none of this would have happened. The statistic that gives me the greatest glee however is the largest ethnic group dollar wise that have contributed to Bush’s reelection are Arb- Americans. And the EU can’t even begin to integrate your Muslim population.
I guess I’m just tired of listening to the EU and other Europeans continue to dump on Israel because they are a a group too chicken shit to ever take a moral stand on anything and certainly not if it will cost them any money
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-22 23:44 | Link
I`m starting to lose my respect for you guys. It`s not very difficult to understand why people hate eachother in this world. Herbie: Aren`t you beeing a little antiarabic here? Everyone is complaining about antisemiticm, and on the other side, they practice racism themselves. Can`t you see it? Who is most right? Is there a universal objective understanding that I don`t get? Is there anything universal, or any objective way of seeing things at all? The way religion and politics are messed up together here, is nothing but sick, and irrational. You are engaging in a subjective BELIEF, not a fact proven by anyone. If you are religious, you are certainly not getting yourselves a ticket to paradise by hating muslims.
Georg Rabl: To make cookies you need lots of ingredients. These ingredients, don`t make themselves. In a small context, I agree with you, but in a global context,- I`m sorry to say that you are wrong. The earth is a closed system with a limited amount of recourses. Do you think africans want to eat tobacco or coffeebeans?
Freedom and democracy; let`s vote for a god to believe in. Who wins? Well, I think we all know the answer to that.
Religion is an irrational way of suppressing anxiety and finding answers to complex problems. It`s a strategy for weak people who don`t have the guts to face reality.
| 2004-05-23 15:39 | Link
Sverre: Just what do you mean by “In a small context I agree, but in a global context you are wrong”? Please elaborate... In my opinion this is all about giving individuals and firms the right incentives to be creative and productive (for example by getting more output from less input, or by using entirely new resources), something that can only happen in a free and capitalistic society. Individual behaviour is indeed “small context”, but surely you must agree that such effects will be felt in a “global context”. After all we are all individuals.
As to the discussion on the Middle East: I am certainly not religious, but letting religious views distort the discussion is second only to letting moral relativism rule. There is nothing relative about the way the Arab nations have cleansed themselves of Jews (900.000 Jews have been chased from their Arab homelands, this has never gotten media coverage in Norway) or how Israel treats its Arab citizens (full citizenship, access to welfare state) and other minorities compared to the way the Arabs dictatorships (including Palestine) treat their minorities (Christians and smaller Islamic sects are persecuted, being gay is illegal, political opposition to the local dictator is dangerous and ethnic minorities (Jews) are to be killed). In Europe however this has hardly been noticed, because we expect nothing from the Arabs, while we expect much more from the Jews (and ourselves). This is not, as most people see it, only racist towards the Jews, but exceptionally racist towards the Arabs, whom we apparently expect to behave no better than animals. Moral and cultural relativism is to blame.
When it comes to voting for gods, I will vote for Bacchus or Mammon.
Georg Rabl, Bergen | 2004-05-23 15:41 | Link
Forgot to give my name. Above (2004-05-23 15:39) is by Georg Rabl
Herbie NY | 2004-05-23 17:57 | Link
Severre you say: Aren`t you being a little antiArabic here? Everyone is complaining about antiSemiticm, and on the other side, they practice racism themselves. Can`t you see it? Who is most right? “ I am not. Islamic religious mandates dictate that Islam is in constant and unremitting war with any other religion and will continue in that fashion until Islam is triumphant and Sharia law rules. Islamic emigrants to Europe are not being integrated into the society they live and the European Christian population is not declining it is --literally imploding while the average Arab family has in excess of 5 children. Just exactly what do think is going to happen? I am reasonably sure that it will not end in a 1960's style love fest. Israel, while certainly not unblemished, is the only democracy in the Middle East. Traditional Islamic thought is that once an area has been under Islamic rule it is impermissible for it to be under any other type of rule. Hamas says that there will be no peace until Israel disappears. You are apparently of the view “come let us join hands and reason together”. I, on the other hand take people at their word – particularly when they say their actions are based on a direct dictation from God. There is a great difference between prejudice and an objective analysis of the facts.
| 2004-05-23 21:38 | Link
"giving individuals and firms the right incentives to be creative and productive (for example by getting more output from less input, or by using entirely new resources)": I agree. I`m not a communist. The collective farms in sovjet, had 75% of the recourses, but only gave 1% of the total output. This can be due to various factors, wich I will not discuss here.
By a small context, I meant the national level. In Norway we have a large stategouverned healthcare system, wich is hard to run effectively. I would think that a private company could run parts of the system more effectively.
But as I said, at a global level this is not fair. The poor countries are so far behind that competing with them in buissness, would be as easy fo us as it is for the Israelian soldiers to shoot an unarmed palestinian child... In other words, we would crush them, just like we are doing now. I`m not saying that I have the answer to this problem. We have to be creative to find one, and not just seek our answers in an ideology wich already exists.
Cultural relativism is the most important tool we have for understanding each other. It is also important to prevent further group polarization, wich in turn will lead to an escalation of the conflict.
Herbie: If muslims like to live in a country with stright rules, why bother? And if they hate us, let them do so. We don`t care, do we? Muslims come to norway with their own view of things, and they see our world with muslim eyes. Soon enough, the kids are growing up in our society, following our rules, and internalizing the values of our society. Sharia laws, prevents a person from running a buisness. Well, not here, so they run buisnesses.
Norway are left with the fugitives that have no education and are generally weaker than the fugitives that the us recieves. That`s because we see value in human lives and cultural diversity, not just cash. Look at the status of the family in muslim countries. Here we couldn`t care less about our sick parents and stuff them into a nursing home instead of taking care of them ourselves. These are things we can learn from cultural diversity. Maybe things don`t fit your pesonal schemas in the beginning, but run along for a little while, and you might feel better. Conservativism is only slightly heritable, so the possibilty of having a less rigid and negative view on other people, is there for you to.
Have a nice, hateless evening!
Above: Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-23 21:40 | Link
Herbie, New York | 2004-05-24 14:45 | Link
Contrary to your statement that “cultural relativism is the most important tool we have for understanding each other”, it is “the most important tool we have for making value judgments.” I don’t agree that all cultures are equal. I don’t agree with female circumcising. I don’t agree that a husband has the right to beat his wife. I don’t agree that Islam is a superior force and that the world should be ruled by Sharia law and that for theft a man’s had gets cut off. You, in your absurd “relativism”, are apparently not prepared to judge that and claim it is just as valid a way to govern society as Western values. As for “further group polarization”, it appears to be your view that if someone hits you that you sit down and talk about it. My view is different. If you hit me I will punch your teeth out. We can then talk about it.
“Sharia laws, prevents a person from running a business” Not remotely; it prevents a Muslim from being an employee of someone not a Muslim. I am sorry to say that from what I’ve read Muslims are not being integrated into European society let alone Norwegian society. Running a business is not integration – although from your economic myopia I can see how you feel it would be.
As for “Norway are left with the fugitives that have no education and are generally weaker than the fugitives that the US receives.” Get real. What and who Norway takes in is to its credit, but the US takes far more numbers --on a proportionate basis – and with as many problems.
As for your snide “Have a nice, hateless evening!” I spend most evenings reading to try and see where the world is going. You might try that for a change. It does wonders for the intellect.
As for Muslim family structure and Muslim countries, you might wish to read the UN report on Human development. According to the UN 70% percent of Muslim woman are illiterate in the Arb world, more books have been translated into Portugese in 2000 than were translated into Arabic in the last 65 years
| 2004-05-24 18:26 | Link
Sverre. Relative to to your economic arguments, the Wall St. Journal reports last week that it takes 5 official forms to change yur address in France when you move -- filed with different agencies. In the US when we move and want to get mail, we file a change of address form with the Post Office which is good for 6 months. After that they throw out the mail and it is up to you to remind people including the government that you have moved. Imagine that. Personal responsibility on the part of the citizen. We even expect the culterally deprived to follow this rule and accept responsibility. According to Alberto Alesina, Chair of economics at Harvard "The mentality of Europe is, if could have the right rules and regulations, we could all be happy." In the US we have a diffent view "If we had less rules and regulations, we could all be happy. -- including the culterally deprived" That is the difference in a nut-shell as I see it
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-24 18:38 | Link
Nice arguments Herbie. You pinpointed what I wanted to say about the third world problems. I don`t have the knowledge about these things that you obviously have. Thanks. I have to say that I`m supprised by your lack of understanding for metaphores and abstractions. A detailed description of the sides arguments were not important to make my point; We are rich, and they are poor; What are we doing about it?
I still belive that culture relativism is important, because people don`t see the same world. Just like the jews think that they have the right to "their" holy land, the palestinians also think so. If your reading leads you to belive that you are getting closer to the objective truth, you should take a course in critical reading. There is nothing objective about enything.
The strategy of solving problems that you display, is one of the reasons that people kill eachother. It`s a primitive way, wich only leads to further polarizing. How do we prevent terrorism? Well we tear down peoples houses, shoot their kids, and take their land. This seems like a very logic way of dealing with the problem, leaving the victims with no hard feelings and peace and joy between them afterwards, similar to the way you think you could have a reasonable conversation after a serious fight.
Running a buisness is not integration, but it`s a positive sign that people are adapting to a new way of life. It`s not that easy anyway. Imagine yourself, beeing as rigid as you are, to move to a totally different culture, and to live in their society for a year. Anthropologists try this all the time, and they describe it as hell. How easy can it be? Imagine Chagnon when he first arrived at the yanomamo camp. Having to live with people who has never seen a white man before...
Norway and scandinavia in general gets the weakest refugees. USA and Canada get the ones with more recourses. That is not a belief, but a fact provided by the UN.
Quality of a culture can not be measured. These were one of the problems the UN faced when they tried to write the first human rights. Value of human life is not the same everywhere. Many of the values are rooted in religion, and can not easily be changed.
"As for “further group polarization”, it appears to be your view that if someone hits you that you sit down and talk about it. My view is different. If you hit me I will punch your teeth out. We can then talk about it".
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-24 18:47 | Link
To noname. Social responsibility is important, and is one of the key marks of the political organization that I support. In norway we have a similar system to the US, but they just recently reduced the time from 6 to 3 months,to make things more effective...
Herbie NY | 2004-05-24 20:12 | Link
“How do we prevent terrorism? Well we tear down peoples houses, shoot their kids, and take their land.” Just what you have the Israeli’s do? The short response is that the Israelis did not start it, but they have a right, in my view to defend themselves and they do not as the PLO does deliberately target civilians.
“Running a business is not integration, but it`s a positive sign that people are adapting to a new way of life.” A non-sequitur.
“Norway and Scandinavia in general gets the weakest refugees. USA and Canada get the ones with more resources. That is not a belief, but a fact provided by the UN.” If you are right OK so what
“Quality of a culture can not be measured.” In a word -- bullshit.
“Many of the values are rooted in religion, and can not easily be changed.” So, won't you at least condemn slavery in the Sudan or former societies eating other humans. Or is that too judgmental
"I have weapon training ,I`m a graded Krav Maga exerciser, and if I ever wanted to hurt you; you wouldn`t stand on your feet for weeks...” The best mediocre response you've made yet . Perhaps, but then perhaps not since you know nothing about me and what I have trained at or not. One thing I did learn long ago is never, never have the confidence to lead with your chin as you seem to be prepared to do. People get very badly hurt that way. :-)
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-24 21:18 | Link
"So, won't you at least condemn slavery in the Sudan or former societies eating other humans. Or is that too judgmental". There are no evidence that cannibalism does exist or ever has. Endocannibalism does, but it`s not any worse than christians who are drinking the "blood" of christ. Slavery is bad in any case.
"The best mediocre response you've made yet . Perhaps, but then perhaps not since you know nothing about me and what I have trained at or not. One thing I did learn long ago is never, never have the confidence to lead with your chin as you seem to be prepared to do. People get very badly hurt that way. :-)" Thank you! I hoped you would say something like that, leaving out my key point; I don`t fight, even I`m not a pacifist. You would, creating more problems for yourself. Remember me saying "I`m certainly not a pacifist. But I also realize wich factors that lead to an escalation of a conflict". I am a man of peace, and would not get into a fight unless someone is trying to kill me for no reason.
“Quality of a culture can not be measured.” In a word -- bullshit. - Try to discuss this issue at the anthropological, psychological, or sociological institute. I accept your view, but it`s not a very scientfic way of thinking. In the beginning, anthropologists thought of cultures in an evolutionary way. They no longer do so, because that makes us put ourselves on the top of the hierarchy, implicating that our culture is qualitatively better.
"Just what you have the Israeli’s do? The short response is that the Israelis did not start it, but they have a right, in my view to defend themselves and they do not as the PLO does deliberately target civilians". -The minister of justice in Israel stated (yesterday I think) that the way Israel was tearing down the homes of civilians, reminded him of the holocaust. Who started it? Is that even an issue when things have gotten this far?
Herbie, NY, NY | 2004-05-24 22:20 | Link
SVERRE, I must depart. "no evidence that cannibalism does exist or ever has." The dialogue -- if one could call it that -- has has become much too sophomoric for me. Good luck who ever you -- you do seem to need some good luck :-)
Sverre, Trondheim | 2004-05-24 23:09 | Link
Thank you Herbie! "has has become much too sophomoric for me". I kneal before you my great master! I guess you missed those basic years because you were to bright. You certainly don`t need any luck then.
What`s a Jewish dilemma? - Free ham!
Herbie NY | 2004-05-25 14:19 | Link
Kevin McDonnell | 2004-05-26 00:05 | Link
That was the mostinteresting thing I've had had hit me all day! In several days in fact (albeit with the admission that I've had a few pretty boring days going now... BUT STILL!!!)
Yesterday I had read this exchange and felt that I really wanted to make a comment... being how Sverre seems so deeply ensconsed in his self satisfied nuance and is such a perfect representation to my mind of the ideological malaise so deeply afflicting the Western discourse now. He perfectly reflects that dogma of narrow conformity that considers its meaninglessness enabling precepts to be the very Apex of "freethinking" and (ahem)... forward mindedness. I deal with this all the time Herbie. Ego masturbation masquerading as "sophisticated" intellectual theory and emotive caricature pretending it is "Reason".
My personal opinion is that there has never been an "ideology" more dangerous to human liberty, than this tangled web of insidious rationales for relativistic subjectivism. It empowers the cleverest purveyors of what we absurdly call "nuance", to positions where they can revel in power afforded them by the nature of Media and Academia in the modern world, and they are made all the more "effective" as elitists by the fact that their self professed relativism (attached as it is to such meaningless but feel good about ourselves concepts as "social justice"), dissolves any connection to objective moral standards. They can pretty much do or say anything they want as long as it distorts in the way that satisifies their solipsism. (Its ironic that I could make a nice and releavnt reference to Neitzcheaan Ubermensch here... but I won't go there.) I beleive it was Chesterton who said something like "For the arrogant and would be elitists among us, it has always been easier to remake the world in our collective minds, than to examine ourselves and our place in the real one." Though he was aware then of the first stirrings of postmodernism, I'm sure he never could have imagined what the coming "ism's" that were to be the intellectual playground of philosopher king wannabee's and their resulting detachment from even the idea of a moral center, would wreak on the western mind. We have the likes of Sverre to shake our heads at now in surveying the results. History, if there is to be a meaningful one written, will see that the so called End of the Cold War... unleashed much more than it ended.
Frankly, I'm surprised that he lost his composure to the extent that he typed the slur at the end, but that is the only thing that surprises. The thing that mostly pissed Sverrwe off is that you argued his points effectively, in a way that cast light on the fact that beneath the intellectually convoluted fog of his wordview, there is no substance.
In any case, meaninglessness invites nihilism, which always needs something to hate. I can tell you for certain Herbie that this beast is out again, and its gaining ground in the mainstream. I'm sure it will continue to clothe itself in a more "nuanced" and "sophisticated" rhetoric than the (now obviously seen as "simplisme") public face that Nazism had... but it is the same beast nonetheless. And... it makes total sense, though it is chilling to consider how and why it does.
PS Regarding the poker gang.... HEH HEH HEH HEH HA HA HA!!!! Man I miss NYC! If I get time to come home this summer for a few weeks to visit, I'd like to sit in on one of those with you!
Herbie, NY NY | 2004-05-26 13:29 | Link
Kevin, very interesting post.
I have a book for you which I am sure you will enjoy, if you have not read it already. It is "After Theory" By Terry Eagleton who is the infant terrible of culteral/literary theory. As he says in the first chapter
“There I are advantages in being able to write you PH.D thesis without stirring from in front of the TV.” p. 3
"For some post modern thought, consensus is tyrannical and solidarity means nothing but soulless uniformity. [footnote] By "post modern I mean, roughly speaking, the contemporary movement of thought which rejects totalities, universal values, grand historical narratives, sold foundations to human existence and the possibility of objective knowledge.. Post modern thought is skeptical of truth, unity and progress. . . . (p. 13)
Eaglton is quite well regarded and surely worth reading.
My own view of Sverre (my poker buddies aside) is that he fairly young, bright (if he would apply himself) and what passes for analysis for him are glib phrases. I did find his last comment appalling and just "off the wall" in terms of the discussion that was being had. Sadly it is too common today among post-modern “thinkers”.
I have always read your posts with great interest. They are logical, coherent and very well thought out. Although I don’t agree with all your points at various times, I do learn something and many times you cause me to rethink my position and not make assumptions.
If you are ever in NY, It would be my pleasure to buy you a drink.
Danny, Israel | 2004-05-26 23:42 | Link
gee, so there are pro-Israeli, opposing to Palestinian terror ("acts of resistence made by freedom fighters according to European&UN terminology) in Scandinavia? How odd.
Colin Brayton | 2004-07-11 07:10 | Link
It's really too bad that we can't have a debate about Israel these days without wandering into one of two minefields: (1) The slightest criticism of Israeli government policy is tantamount to anti-semitism; and (2) the slightest show of support for Israel makes us dupes of some ultrasophisticated paranoid plot.
Both of these points of view are cartoonish and contribute nothing to the practical resolution of conflict.
First of all, the current government of Israel is not the same thing as Judaism, Jews in the aggregate, or the diversity of Jewish experience, opinion and belief. There are strong differences of opinion in Israel itself. It's perfectly possible to disagree with the actions of that government without wishing ill to the nation of Israel or the Jewish people in general.
So I thank you for pointing this out (I was pointed here by the Stambord blog, by the way). I wished you had been able to provide more information on what was actually reported (my Norwegian is non-existent!). But I congratulate you on your practical efforts to relieve suffering, and I commiserate with you on having fallen into a political meat-grinder because of it.
After all, I'm a New Yorker who once worked in the WTC: I think I know a little bit about what people on the receiving end of attacks on civilians are feeling. And I think that as well-meaning third parties to conflicts outside the U.S. and Europe, we can at least agree that violent conflict brutalizes every human being involved, and that all of those people are entitled to our human sympathy.
Johnny, Oslo | 2004-12-09 00:55 | Link
NRK didn't do anything wrong. The PFU cleared them of any wrongdoing. Case closed. So to anyone who demonized the NRK: Get a life!
joestoe | 2005-11-04 22:57 | Link
Thanks joestoe http://www.joestoe.com joestoe in part to celebrity interest, the comeback of cards has fanned from Hollywood to hometowns across the country ? with televised tournaments drawing millions of viewers each week
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