Derbyshire: pro-war, pro-restrictionist
vdare.com, John Derbyshire
makes an excellent apologia
for his pro-Iraq war and
pro-immigration restriction position, which happens to be the position of this website as well. The best part of the article is his explanation as to why a great country like America—completely apart from any imperial designs—must of necessity find itself from time to time using force far from its own shores to suppress barbarians.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 01, 2004 03:07 AM | Send
With all due respect to Mr. Auster, I have to disagree slightly with the idea that we must fight to suppress “barbarians.” Who are the barbarians in this world? I have good friends from Iran, and the one common thing they all tell me is that Philadelphia and New York City are more dangerous and sleazy than anywhere in Iran.
I understand the notion that we as a nation must fight to suppress organized terrorists who wish to harm us. However, I have a sinking feeling that this country is not what it was in 1940 and we are losing any moral authority that we once had. (Just turn on your television set for that.) I fear we are becoming wealthy technically competent barbarians ourselves.
Derbyshire’s piece goes just fine down to the last paragraph, where he grounds the assault on Iraq on the need for the civilized world to back up its resolutions, and deal with barbarian scoffing at the very concept of international order. In fact, the vehicle of that international order, the UN, is now seen to have been willing to pass all manner of resolutions, while its officers and officials of key member states were lining their pockets with Saddam cash, but unwilling to do anything about those resolutions. No, the justification for taking out Saddam was this: third world thug states, playing to ubiquitous envy and hate of America, were dabbling with impunity in surreptitious and deniable terror as 1) a means of ingratiating themselves with their constituencies, 2) exercising great power beyond their own resources (look at how the world has fawned over Arafat for decades). This situation, after 9/11, was unacceptable to us, never mind a spurious international order, and it was time to follow the Roman view: let them hate us, so long as they fear us. Our actions in Iraq sent an invaluable message to such thug leaders: if you play this game, it may cost you everything. Why Iraq? After the priority work of removing the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iraq was the best choice because of location and prominent obnoxiousness (to us) of its leader. Also, Iraqi fingerprints were all over the first World Trade bombing, and there are strong suggestions of Iraqi involvement in Oklahoma City and yes, 9/11 (Atta’s meetings with top Iraqi operatives in Prague).
I was NOT calling for us to go abroad in indiscriminate search of monsters to slay. As Derbyshire points out, from the time of President Jefferson (the most anti-imperial president we ever had) to the present, dangers have arisen that must be dealt with.
I agree with Mark that we have plenty of barbarism within our own society. Do we think we can win this war when, as Mark points out, our own television is filled with depravity? You can’t even watch the evening news without seeing salacious ads about cures for “erectile disfunction”—on a national news broadcast, during dinner hour! Our enemy hates us, not for our abstract freedom, but for the depraved uses we make of that freedom. I believe we opened ourselves to the 9/11 attack through our own depravity as well as through our open borders (which are two parts of the same spiritual sickness), and that we ultimately cannot win the war if we continue to indulge that depravity.
Mark: “I have a sinking feeling that this country is not what it was in 1940…” In 1940 this country wasn’t what it was in 1876! (I.e., 1940 +/- 64.)
FDR lost 57 or 58 of his home state’s 62 counties that year. He carried only Albany, Bronx, Kings and New York Counties, and possibly Erie if you add in the third-party votes. In those counties the descendants of post-1876 immigrants had become dominant. In the more traditional remainder of the state, well… put it this way: Bill Clinton did better among white Arkansans.
Very good point. That’s why I am of the opinion that we are wasting our time trying to chase down middle east dictators who threaten our “way of life.” Looking around at the culture in America in 2004, one sometimes wonders what we are trying to protect!
I feel what Mark feels, but I don’t take it to the same conclusion. We are in an agonizing dilemma, and we cannot solve the dilemma by going to either one extreme, i.e., mindlessly cheerleading America even as it descends into the sewer, which is the “conservative” approach today, or the other extreme, i.e., deciding that America is so depraved that it deserves to be destroyed by its enemies. The latter choice is that of Jeremiah, who said that Judah deserved to be conquered by its enemies as just punishment for its rebellion against God. As I say, I have those feelings too. But when our country is actually attacked in the most devastating way and is in imminent danger of more attacks, I am not able to choose the path of Jeremiah. We must defend our country, even while recognizing its depravities and calling on it to turn around.
Mark asks, “What is there to protect?” There is a great deal to protect, including our very lives, our livelihoods, our property, our freedom, our ability to function and move around. Reducing America to nothing but its cultural decadence is a big mistake that can lead one to the nihilism that says, “Nothing matters, there’s no practical difference between our present society and what the Jihadists would do to us.” Obviously, there’s plenty that matters, and there’s all the difference in the world between our state and the state our enemies would impose on us. It is a nihilistic abandonment of reason to suggest otherwise.
“Who are the barbarians in this world? I have good friends from Iran, and the one common thing they all tell me is that Philadelphia and New York City are more dangerous and sleazy than anywhere in Iran.”
Mark repeats a common theme among recent and not so recent (economic) migrants. As I pointed out before relatively recent immigrants often are mildly anti-american.
Perhaps to fortify one’s culture self-respect, one would look long and hard to find faults with America. Of course we all know that it is not very hard and doesn’t take too long.
I have lived for somewhat extended (6 months+) periods in 7 very different, culturally and otherwise, countries. Based on my experience, I find most of the complaints of the sort Mark mentiones, while somewhat valid on the surface, put forward to fortify one’s cultural self-esteem.
There is only 10-15% of US population live in places like New York, LA, Chicago, etc. At least 70-80% of Americans live in places that are much cleaner, safer and more civilized than 98% of the world.
I recall seeing statistics showing that crime rate among Swedish Americans is lower than in Sweden, lower for German Americans than in Germany, same is true for virtually all white ethnic groups in the USA. For all I know it is probably true for most Americans of Asian races.
Mark, next time you might ask your Iranian friends if crime rate among them is higher or lower than in their old country. And if it turns out it is lower, how they explain that in the land of the Big Satan they commit fewer crimes than in their beloved Iran?
In contrast to the well done apologia by Mr. Derbyshire, this weekend’s VDARE includes some rabid rantings from Paul Craig Roberts, who sounds increasingly like a leftist when it comes to the war in Iraq. To use a quote from the movie “The Green Mile”, I’m beginning to think “that boy’s cheese done slid off his cracker.”
Your point is entirely valid and I think it has a lot of merit. I think the fact that I live in downtown Philadelphia may bias my opinion somewhat. I just feel that as I walk home at night, past the drug dealing, the XXX bars, through the needles, trash, and homeless people, I cannot help but laugh as I pick up a newspaper that discusses America trying to bring law and order to Iraq.
And I know it is tempting, but I am not trying to slide into a nihilistic “nothing matters” approach to America’s place in the world. This is a great country, and I would like to see it prosper. It is just that I suspect that our foreign policy problems are a direct result of our own cultural problems at home. We cannot expect to effectively project our values and interests throughout the world if our nation sinks into nihilism and no longer believes in any values at all.
Well Mark, America is not Philadelphia, and thank God for that. I live in NH, a State that is 97% white, and runs like a Swiss clock. Milk is right, crime in white ethnic groups runs very low, but add hispanics & blacks to that mix and you are dealing with a whole different matter. Mr.Auster is right that the spiritual rot we are expeiencing runs through the whole culture, but not yet to its very core, and with work, and hope, and yes, with prayer, perhaps we can save what we have, and rebuild what has been lost.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been to NH and found it to be a great place. I’ve read several posts about how much of America lives in nice clean rural areas that are safe, etc. However, I think it’s an illusion to think that we can just wall ourselves off from Philadelphia, Newark, Jersey City, Miami, LA, etc. A lot of the appeal of the suburbs is to hide from “big-city problems,” but I think we’re starting to run out of room. Big-city problems have long ago seeped into the ‘burbs.
The problems in America are indeed everywhere, and they do run deep. The whole white-flight experience of the last 40 years says several things: this is a big country, whites are voting with their feet, and someday they ARE going to run out of room to move….and when that day comes perhaps that will be the day America looks in the mirror. Until then, people, whites, asians, and middle class blacks are still going to be on the move. Our vast geography is our blessing & our curse.
I live in New Hampshire as well (legally I live in Maine, but in practical terms I spend most of my time in New Hampshire, I am a graduate student at UNH).
Yeah, it’s a pretty nice place.
Yes, Micheal Jose, I love the seacoast area where you are in and around Portsmouth.
Mark writes in his May 1, 9:51 a.m. post “…and we are losing any moral authority that we once had.” We lost our moral authority when those photos and that story hit the press about our prison guards mistreating enemy prisoners.
On another point, Mr. Auster made a very interesting statement in his May 1, 12:30 pm post, saying:
“The enemy hates us, not for our abstract freedom, but for the depraved uses we make of that freedom.”
It seems that Mr. Auster is saying that we should stop the selacious tv ads and stories from the likes of The Inquirer “…so that our enemies won’t hate us as much”—as if we are under their control and “need their approval” to do things. I do not see that. Who made the enemy “judger for our sins”? Why are his views (the enemy’s) at all important? Mr. Auster then asks:
“…and that ultimately, we cannot win the ear on terror if we continue to indulge in that depravity.”
I could care less “what” the enemy thinks. I just want him dead.
I just discovered this website and noticed a lot of good comment threads. So at the risk of presumptuousness I’d like to throw my hat in the ring as someone who hails from neither the left nor the right as commonly perceived. What faction it is I do hail from I leave to you to try to figure out.
I see many of the same old perspectives being bantered back and forth so I want to try to inject some new thought:
1. Isn’t there another alternative to bombing the heck out of people who hate you? As a country who claims or at least desires to be on the moral high ground shouldn’t our first question be, WHY do they hate us? and before we evem start talking about our society’s internal problems which may or may not contribute to outside hatred, are there maybe some things that we have done in other people’s lands that could inspire this hatred? If so, Is there anything we can do to fix it? How much mileage could we get out of spending $87.000.000 on aid (WITHOUT conditions attached), food, and healthcare for suffering people in that region versus spending it on bombs? People don’t quickly forget watching a friend or loved one die, isn’t it possible we’re increasing the motivation for people to want to strike back in any way they can?
2. The U.S. can be accused of genocide (native americans) and violent repression of separationist activities (Civil War) with some merit, though this is not say that makes us uniquely bad in any sense nor that we did not have reasons or that we really understood the consequences. Furthermore, as illustrated in a recent report on the California prison system and reports of prisoner abuse in Baghdad by American soldiers, there are horror stories to be told about confinement in or by America. In light of this, how is it that we so patently condemn Hussein’s rule in Iraq? Even if at the end of a discussion Hussein was determined to be a tyrant without mercy, in a free and educated society I would at least expect to hear analysis of atrocities which at least addressed the context of his atrocities, even if the end conclusion was a resounding UNJUSTIFIABLE. Is it possible that some of the horror tales we hear about what he did to some prisoners were things he directly ordered or was aware of (not to say he would have cared), just as with abuses by our own troops? Isn’t it possible that any solution/rule which focuses on using military strength and violence ultimately results in such crimes, not as a result of intent but as a systemic issue?
3. At the risk of being labeled gnostic (reference to an archived discussion on here), isn’t it maybe possible that some our actions and policies towards, and focus on the immediate threat posed by, Iraq were influenced by financial interests (like for example, the pipelines through Iraq and Afghanistan that the Unocal consortium expressed the dire need for to congress in 1998)? Am I a left wing paranoid nutjob who underestminates the integrity of our elite, and don’t realize that in fact it is merely coincidence that 80% of Bush’s administation (Bush, Rice, Rumsefeld, Cheney, Evans, Abraham, Norton, Martinez, Mineta, Card) are tied to oil and/or transportation companies (60% if you just include oil companies alone)?
4. Regarding the rise of depravity in our own society, which focused on porn, drugs and homelessness… this is a notion I hear again and again, but as a historian by education, I am not sure that it has much merit. It is not uncommon for masters to have raped their slaves, is that worse than porn (ask Stromm Thurmond’s black daughter)? Has homelessness really risen? Perhaps, since we have laws against substandard housing these days. But what about settlers moving west with no money? Weren’t they homeless? Is it a form of depravity? Children do not grow up faster today, for gosh sakes marriage and/or work in the factory used to be fairly common at the age of 14. Our prisons are packed with drug offenders, yet a lot of these drug offenses have only be come felony crimes in the past 60 years or so. Spousal abuse used to be common and acceptable. And in repsonse to J. Hagan’s extraordinarily racist viewpoint about crime rates being lower among white ethnic groups, isn’t it possible that those statistics are skewed because the white ethnic groups experienced advantages that allowed for more unreported or overlooked white collar crime, and/or that ethnically white neighborhoods are patrolled less because of perception? For example, the chance of me getting caught by police smoking a joint (or buying cocaine like one of the other kids in the neighborhood) in the neighborhood I grew up in was about, oh a snowball’s chance in hell. Not the same for a black kid in South Central. Statistics have a way of overlooking things, and perpetuating nonsense viewpoints such as the one you expressed(the only one here that I feel the need vehemently dispute rather than suggestively question)
Anyway, I could go on forever but I am anxious to hear what your thoughts are on these ideas and questions. Perhaps they are without merit, but I’m shocked to notice time and time again people going back and forth on the same liberal/conservative arguements which seem more like a distraction created for us than real communication of ideas between people with independent thought processes
I would not consider you to be a left-wing nutjob to question Bush’s oil interests. Bill Clinton was in a cushy position with NYC Investment Bankers and the legal community (and what a shock that his Sec. of Treasury was Robert Rubin!) I think it would be foolish for anyone, left or right, to ignore Bush’s ties to the oil industry.
Regarding crime, well, that’s a touchy subject. Could the post you referred to be considered racist? Sure it could. However, when 12% of the population commits roughly 60% of the violent crime, you cannot yell “racist” when people start to point out the obvious.
Also, I am not sure that giving aid without conditions would make the world view us in a more favorable light. Giving handouts puts other down and makes them feel like they are very low on the ladder. (Which is why jobs always work better than welfare handouts.) I bet if we gave the Muslims in Iraq free aid instead of bombs they would just laugh at us for being fools and hold us in even greater contempt. Or am I mistaken? My guess is that it would offend their pride. Perhaps I’m wrong…don’t know.
Mr. Auster wrote: “Our enemy hates us, not for our abstract freedom, but for the depraved uses we make of that freedom.” I believe our enemy does hate the very idea of freedom, and takes some of the negative consequences attendant upon it, that is, the inevitable misuse of freedom, as the whole story, and as proof that freedom is bad. The reason many hate freedom, not only in the Islamic world, but also among leftists everywhere, is that it calls for moral responsibility, a heavy burden for the individual to sustain. In contrast, Islam for its believers, and leftist ideology for its, provides a shorthand way of looking at the world (posits canned problems, i.e., lack of the universal reign of Islam, lack of an end to exploitation and oppression, which stand in the way of a supposed perfect world). These beliefs also posit canned answers. The individual is largely relieved of decision making. In contrast, the Western Judaeo-Christian heritage makes man a moral actor, with responsibility for what he does.
Matthew Kaney wrote
“…as illustrated in a recent report on the California prison system and reports of prisoner abuse in Baghdad by American soldiers, there are horror stories to be told about confinement in or by America. In light of this, how is it that we so patently condemn Hussein’s rule in Iraq?”
Because the abuses in Hussein’s prisons were of a different order of magnitude. By comparison, the recent Abu Ghraib pictures look like a fraternity initiation gone bad. I mentioned on another thread that the left has had people in Baghdad for a year collecting “victim statements” from Iraqis released from Abu Ghraib. One of the questions the Iraqis almost always ask is, “Where were you when Saddam Hussein was in power?”
“… the pipelines through Iraq and Afghanistan that the Unocal consortium expressed the dire need for to congress in 1998)?”
There’s one theory I do wish the left would drop and that’s the claim than Unocal’s pipeline was the reason for the invasion of Afghanistan. Yes, there was a proposed pipeline, and current president Hamid Karzai did draw a consultant’s salary to broker the deal with the Taliban. His enemies still call him “The Oilman” because of it. But the fact is that the Taliban never objected to the pipeline. According to Ahmad Rashid, who wrote the definitive book on the subject, they agreed to accept a transport fee of 25 cents a barrel, a quarter of the going rate. The pipeline was a non-issue.
I believe Thucydides is more nearly right than Mr. Auster on why our enemies hate us. My own view is that they do not really care about freedom in the abstract either — they do not understand it — but they are NOT motivated by hatred for our society’s growing depravity. The principal ideological doctrines of the Islamists were devised in the 1940s and 1950s, when, I think we’ll agree, America was a very different place. Lectures from Middle Eastern Muslims in general on this subject should leave us cold! Several of those countries have bigger drug problems than ours, and Afghanistan is the source of most of the world’s opiates. As for sex and the treatment of women — where do people who practice polygamy get the right to lecture us? As for homosexuality, the treatment of women in Muslim society has long been favorable to male homosexuality, which, traditionally was more tolerated there than in the west (though not practically sacralized as it is in the contemporary West. These people hate the West because they have always disliked, at least, Christians, and because the advanced countries are scapegoats for their own faults. Under the religious cover, I suspect, many of their motives resemble those of Japanese ultranationalists in the 30s and 40s.
Mr. Levine writes: “(Muslims) hate the West because they have always disliked, at least, Christians, and because the advanced countries are scapegoats for their own faults.” Now Islam does have an enormous hostility to infidels and non-believers, as set forth in the Quran. However, some terrorists do not seem to have lead very religious lives. I suspect the main motivation is a deep sense of inferiority, leading to envy and hatred. These haters of the West cling to these attitudes as a sort of consolatory fantasy. All their problems are the result of someone else’s plotting, not their own shortcomings. To judge by translations of Arab media, it would appear that the whole culture is near psychotic in its devotion to revanchist dreams.
The question of why the Moslems hate us is a big question we’ve discussed at length before, and I probably shouldn’t have wandered into it again. What I meant, though, is that the Moslems regard our culture as an existential threat. I think if we were still the kind of country we were in 1960, if our radically liberated culture were not spreading itself all over the world, and if our freedom were a restrained freedom instead of a radical freedom, they would fear and hate us less, even as we would be more centered and confident ourselves and better able to deal with their enmity. I’m not saying that that _explains_ their enmity or that their hatred of us is our fault. I’m saying their enmity would be _less_, if we were more restrained and upright ourselves.
See the last four paragraphs of this article at FrontPage (I’m sorry for repeatedly linking the same article, but there’s a lot in it):
A few comments on Matthew Kaney’s remarks: I fail to see any cause for complaint at the suppression of the Confederacy’s “separationist” activities. As for the “genocide” of Amerinds- destroying the Indian population was never either an intended or actual consequence of the American government’s policies. Though there were plenty of real injustices, and occasional downright massacres of Amerinds the idea that they were deliberately exterminated is a lot of nonsense. As for the deterioration of our society: It may not “explain” Muslim jihadist hostility to us but it is real enough. Drug use is fantastically more common than it was even in the 1950s, much less before World War II, as is homelessness — I am old enough to recall when NYC had a distinct “Skid Row” (the Bowery) and even there the worst off derelicts at least had safe shelter at night. I don’t find the prevalence of pornography and slaveowners raping their slaves commensurable problems (and even Southern apologists for slavery did not defend the latter)Noone doubts that we are better off without slavery, and that in some cases we are still better off than people in the nineteenth century. By comparison with the US in the 1940s and 1950s, however, our country has clearly deteriorated. It is hard to measure the amount of abuse of women and children, but this was always considered unmanly. There may be more of it now thanks to drug abuse and the general deterioration of social discipline. As for the skewing of crime statistics: they are based on victim reports, not cop perceptions.
After insisting that he’s neither a liberal nor a conservative, and that it’s necessary for people to go beyond the sterile opposition of liberal and conservatve, Matthew Kaney comes out with one stereotypical liberal position after another.
Mr. Kaney begins his post by asserting that he is “someone who hails from neither the left nor the right as commonly perceived” and proceeds in four subsequent paragraphs to repeat several leftist assertions.
1. The United States has given more aid of in terms of food and developmental aid than any other nation in the world. Apart from the group of nations known collectively as the West, there is very little aid donated to various famines, disasters, etc. Despite massive trasnfers of wealth, often via involuntary taxation of citizens of Western nations, to the third world - including many Islamic countries - an act of war was perpetrated upon the US - on unarmed civilians - on Sept. 11, 2001. Many, evidently a majority, in the Islamic world cheered openly. The majority, if not all, of the small number of denunciations of this atrocity coming from the Islamic world were pro-forma at best. The answer to the question “why do they hate us?” is not so difficult. They see us as standing in the way of the worldwide Islamic utopia, described in Thucydides’ post above. The United States is completely justified in carrying out acts of war against any regime and individuals who supported the attack. One does not fight an enemy facing you with a gun by giving him aid.
2. The charge of genocide regarding the treatmnet of American Indians is unfounded. To equate the policies of the US government of the 19th century with the planned exterimantion of entire ethnic groups perpetrated by Nazi Germany and the Turkish regime is a tpyical Marxist tactic. Yes, the Indians were often treated unfairly, and the governement often reneged on treaties negotiated in good faith. On several occaisions, ethnic cleansing campaigns were carried out. Andrew Jackson’s disgraceful refusal to protect the Cherokee, who were law-abiding candidates for full citizenship and won their case in the Supreme Court, is a real stain. Bad as it was, it doesn’t justify the use of “genocide.” The Indians themselves often indulged in disgraceful violence - which only exacerbated the problem by infaming whites to form militias who indulged in gratuitous slaughter on their own. It is somewhat surprising to see the civil war come up, as liberals usally have no sympathy for confederates. In Lincoln’s defense, the southern states who left the union did so without any finding from the courts as to whether they were entitled to under the constitution. The Supreme Court at that time might very well have found in theor favor. Instead, they chose to open fire.
3. Mark has addressed the issue of Bush’s corporate connections here. It’s very reasonable to have questions about this. However, the charge that we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq solely to benefit the energy companies does not hold up under any reasonable scrutiny anymore than the Buchananites’ charge that the whole thing is to make the world safe for Israel.
4. The masters raping the slave girls, coupled with the Strom Thurmond story, is a typical leftist rant. First, only a tiny percentage of whites in the pre-1865 US owned slaves at all. There were black slave owners as well. Yes, there were certainly rapes and other sinful liasons between slave owners and slaves. It was a profoundly immoral enterprise to begin with, so it isn’t surprising that such depravity would take place. The real story about slavery, which leftists always ignore and bury, is that only within the Christian nations of the West was their any movement to abolish the practice, which is still commonplace in the Islamic world and in parts of Africa - including the forcible rape of slaves. David Horowitz’s statement is particularly apt: “Slavery was largely ended through the action of Yankee bluecoats, British gunboats, and French bureaucrats.”
Strom Thurmond, while never publicly ackowledging his illegitimate child, did so privately and provided for both the child and her mother. While not excusing the sin, it does show some moral character. I wonder how many illegitimate children were fathered by that paragon of liberal sainthood and virtue, Martin Luther King? If it’s left up to the leftist media, we’ll never know.
In addition to commission of approximately 55 percent of violent crime in the US, the black on white vs. white on black crime rates are very illuminating. For every black murdered by a white, there are between seven and nine whites murdered by blacks. Oh, and this is using the DOJ’s deliberately misleading classification of hispanics as “white” when counting perpetrators despite breaking out hispancs as a separate category when counting victims. When it comes to forcible rape, the ratio goes up to about 400 to 1. It is only rational to conclude that blacks are basically waging a dirty war upon whites in the US, with the complicity of leftists in the legal profession and the media. The only group in the US with a lower violent crime rate than whites are Asians. Another leftist stunt is to lump together non-violent crime with the far more serious violent crime - to effectively equate shoplifting with murder.
//Regarding crime, well, that’s a touchy subject. Could the post you referred to be considered racist? Sure it could. However, when 12% of the population commits roughly 60% of the violent crime, you cannot yell “racist” when people start to point out the obvious.//
According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, blacks actually commit about 24% of violent crimes(though blacks do commit over 50% of all murders in the U.S., and the figure may be greater than 24% for more serious crimes).
Matthew Kaney writes:
//For example, the chance of me getting caught by police smoking a joint (or buying cocaine like one of the other kids in the neighborhood) in the neighborhood I grew up in was about, oh a snowball’s chance in hell. Not the same for a black kid in South Central.//
Probably true, but this probably has to do with the far greater need to patrol South Central than an upper-middle class neighborhood to keep down the rate of murders and other serious violent crimes rather than “racism.” Perhaps some sort of limited marijuana de-criminalization is in order to prevent those stopped in random or profiling stops from landing in jail for pot possession, but patrolling dangerous neighborhoods less or going soft on crime to not be “racist” or “classist” (as many leftists might support) is not a solution.
Carl wrote: “…only a tiny percentage of whites in the pre-1865 US owned slaves at all.”
This needs to be clarified. Slavery probably fits the “80/20 principle”— i.e., four-fifths of the slaves were owned by one-fifth of the slaveowners. Much of today’s mullatism may be the result of a handful of busy overseers.
Most blacks were on plantations, but few whites owned plantations. So whites look back and see great-grandpappy with one or two fieldhands, while blacks look back and see large teams under the whip.
Also, that few whites owned slaves then doesn’t mean that few whites today descend from them. Any random, purebred Southerner has eight great-great-grandfathers like everyone else, and almost certainly one of them will have owned slaves. One of about twenty white Americans descends from the tiny Mayflower list, and that ratio can only rise.
Not that this has any legal ramifications. Anyway, Democrats owned the slaves; Democrats should pay the reparations.
Thucydides in his post of 11:08 a.m. offers what seems to me an interesting new theory, that both leftists and Moslems hate the West because the West stands for the ideal of individual moral responsibility, while both leftism and Islam seek a collectivist world in which the individual is relieved of individual responsibility and its burdens. The idea that leftists feel this way is not new; what strikes me as new is the idea the Moslems may have a similar psychology to leftists and so share a similar animus and a similar destructive agenda.
To put it in very simple terms, people want security. Western (or least American) freedom creates lots of insecurity. The left seeks a provider state. Moslems seek a Moslem way of life where individual needs are taken care of or subsumed in the life of the Islamic community.
This is analogous to Voegelin’s discussion of the perennial temptation of gnosticism. Christianity is a _difficult_ religion, as it posits a highly differentiated spiritual reality and leaves man in perpetual uncertainty since God is above man. Gnosticism is the attempt to get rid of that uncertainty by getting rid of the differentiation, getting rid of transcendence, “re-compacting” the world so that man becomes “one” with the truth. Leftism (and perhaps Islam, I don’t know enough to say) also involves the attempt to “re-compact” the world, by removing the differentiation of individual man and higher truth, and saying that there is no truth but man’s own desires, which are to be provided for by the state.
I think you’re making a great point here: people want security. But I think you need to focus on a deeper issue: classical liberalism only succeeded in the U.S. because there was such an emphasis on personal responsibility which came from religious and family authority. Authority comes from God (religion), your parents (family), or from the state (mr. police officer and social worker). People need physical security and they need spiritual security. I think today people are spiritually vacuous, and they are trying to fill that up with as much physical security as possible.
The Left doesn’t believe in God or family. Naturally, they want the State to become our God and our family. I don’t think Islamic fanatacism has much to do with this, in my humble opinion. They just think we’re decadent pigs with too much money and that we stick our noses where it doesn’t belong. (and there’s probably some truth to that.)
Mark’s three sources of authority—the family, the state, and religion—correspond with the three “societies” to which man belongs, as delineated by the early 19th century French conservative de Bonald.
“I think today people are spiritually vacuous, and they are trying to fill that up with as much physical security as possible.”
This is very good. I don’t know if this has ever been said before, or at least so cogently as this. I’m thinking particularly of the Europeans, with their obsession with their five week vacations, and the Canadians, for whom their greatest claim to national pride is Canada’s National Health program. The total focus on physical security in today’s Western world is a symptom of spiritual death.
Mark’s comment that you can’t yell “racist” when people point out the obvious is a more than a bit overoptimistic. Racism is now so broadly defined that almost anybody can be accused of being a racist for saying almost anything. I myself once aroused veiled accusations of “racism” just for using such traditional anthropological classifications as Australoid and Mongoloid in discussing the Pacific peoples.
I and others may have jumped a bit on Mr. Kaney, but I would be interested in just what about VFR he did agree with or find interesting!
Alan Levine’s excellent 1:20 pm post leaves out another sickening aspect of the Taliban’s—and perhaps other Arab countries’ treatment of women
—genital mutilation. They don’t want their women receiving pleasure from sex—only they want that vested pleasure. Nothing could be sicker than that, except of course the filming of the beheadings of innocent Western journalists who happen to be either Jewish, Italian, etc.
I thank Thucydides for introducing me to a wonderful word I was not familiar with—“revanchist”. I looked it up and it could also very easily apply to our “friends” in La Raza and in Mexico who want the Southern part of the U.S. back.
“Here! Here!” to Carl whose 3:08 pm post took the words right out of my head (in response to Mr. Kaney’s cornicopea of U.S. criticisms). And I mean RIGHT out of my head!
Incidentally, I am probably not alone here in stating that starting out a treatise—as Mr. Klaney does in his initial post—by saying (to paraphrase his opening comments), “I am not a liberal or a conservative, but…” invariably comes from a person is a wacked out leftist who thinks he/she can pull the wool over our eyes. We end up spending a great deal of time reading his long piece of supposed “crimes” the U.S. has perpetated on slaves and Indians “hoping” we will find a glimmer of libertarianism or at the very least, common sense therein! Instead, we (excuse me, “I”) find someone simply trying to (as they always seem to do) “stir up the pot”—and put us on the defensive. Looks like the writings of a trial lawyer who sees everything as “victimization”of the poor, downtrodden, murderers, carjackers, rapists, kidnappers and burglars.
The essence of these Leftist rants that deride America for its past “crimes” is rooted in the Left’s belief in moral relativism and its corresponding disbelief in “truth.”
Of course, the Left is two-faced here (shocking)in that they assert that since the U.S. has committed “crimes” in the past, everything the U.S. says or does now is hypocritical and in addition the values of the West have no moral authority, etc. Of course, upon further examination, this idea makes no sense, because if everything is relative and there is no truth, how can hypocrisy exist?!
The difficult issue is how great a sacrifice do we make to defend our country today. Mr. Auster proposes that we defend our country because there are still many worthwhile things to defend, and based on his past comments, he accurately thinks there is an an enemy that will not stop killing our fellow citizens unless we stop them. (This is a shameless attempt to take advantage of one of Mr. Auster’s off-topic comments. It is very important to me, but I will understand if it is ignored.) There is a plethora of worthwhile things in America, and Jeremiah’s solution would be insane if based on the situation in America today. Still, I am not sure the worthiness of our assets is the decisive element to base a defense on, not that Mr. Auster, given the chance (like now) to comment at length, would disagree.
Germany in the 1930’s had many worthwhile things to defend. It had an educated, Christian, cultured, prosperous, industrious, modern, proud, mercantile, brave, Western people. It faced an enormous, vengeful, barbaric, poor, totalitarian Russia with many of the same worthwhile assets possessed by Germany. Yet both Germans and Russians believed first and foremost in the defense of their countries, no matter what. These advanced societies, enraptured with the idea of a country, would not admit to themselves that the systematic atrocities their elites led were atrocities or were occurring or both. It seems then, the existence of many worthy assets cannot be the decisive reason to defend one’s homeland.
I’ll stop now because I don’t want to put everyone to sleep and I don’t have a succinct argument to propose as an answer to the issue: sorry.
Mr. Auster, thank you for the compliment. Of course, being a product of public schools (1980s), I had no idea that was de Bonald. (I’ll have to make a note of that.)
The best evidence of this spiritual death you describe can be found much closer than NHS in Canada: the baby-boomer obsession with health clubs, organic food, and Viagra, etc. It seems man worshipped God, then he worshipped the state (1930s), and now he worships himself.
Mr. Kaney comes aboard as a “new” thinker, as opposed to us old, dreary thinkers, I guess. Of course he says nothing really new, it is again, the same liberal pap. As for him calling me a racist, big surprise. If I’m a racist for pointing out the simple “facts” that minority crime rates are higher than white crime rates then it is indeed Orwell’s 1984 we find ourselves in. The great thing about this site is the level of intelligence of the regular posters. In very short order the Mr. Kaney’s of the world slink away after they figure out the posters are not afraid of being called names, and can defend their positions very well.
The statement that one does not know what political stripe one wears is irrefutable evidence one is a leftist, liberal, libertarian, or a child. Many rhetorical questions are strong corroborating evidence: “oh, I am just so confused with all the evil things OTHER people think; aren’t I the righteous rationalist?”
We are all somewhat foolish, so please stay around to question the ideas here.
Finally, the brilliant John Derbyshire has thrown his hat unequivically into the ring on the side of immigration restrictions.
I welcome new posters here, and I hope I did not give Mr. Murgos the impression that I wanted to drive the likes of Mr. Kaney away. My obsevation over the time that I have posted here is that leftists, or people like Mr. Kaney, once confronted with facts, and strong opinions, tend to drift away on their own.
I am certan Mr. Hagan, as a regular contributor here, insists on formidable arguments.
If anyone was “hard on Mr. Kaney”, it was I. However, I know a zebra when I see a zebra, and I saw Mr. Kaney’s stripes—and called it as I saw it. I didn’t (and would never) call for a postee to leave the fold. But, any liberal or libertarian or neocon who wants to get into a chat with something to contribute is fine with me—and it also “red meat” to many of us!
I recall how I was treated in my first two days of posts at freerepublic.com—I was literally chased off the site by supposedly other conservatives! They HATED my criticisms of Bush and his policies (particularly illegal immigration, which many of them apparently love and cherish). I wasn’t even aware at that time (just prior to coming to VFR) that the majority of freepers are either neocons or libertarians.
So, perhaps I was being a bit disingenuous to Mr. Klaney when in my 5/2 7:00 pm post, I suggested that “We spend a great deal of time reading his long piece of supposed crimes the U.S. has perpetrated…” Like many of you, I welcome differing points of view as long as they are cogently—and passionately—expressed. But when they begin to sound like line for line of the leftist mantra/dribble, I am afraid I have a knee jerk reaction against it—in large part because I have heard it for so many years from my own family and family friends. Believe me, it is NOT easy having a sibling who is a Communist OR an entire family that believes that “it’s the evil corporations/oil barons, Republicans and militias that are behind everything.”
It is not easy, to say the least, Mr. Levin. Lay your head down here. Fortunately my family is conservative, though pro-Bush, because the Democrats are so awful. I can’t imagine the courage it must take for others to endure while raised in a bizarro world of liberalism.
I could not watch the Gangs of New York because of its disturbing nature. It was incredible to me as an American. I had assumed Protestants and Catholics were mere people of differing opinions. My grandmother was Baptist and my dearest first cousin is Lutheran. I went to Lutheran kindergarden and to Luthean services often. Yet I, my mother, and my father are Catholic. The hatred was shocking but instructive about the situation in Northern Ireland.
Mr. Murgos is very kind. I never thought it was possible to “fall in love with a web site”, but I suppose this is it! It is wonderful to be wanted! Music (I have been a musician my entire life) and political/philisophical discourse…it doesn’t get any better than this!
For the record, I have visited other sites (besides freerepublic.com) and have never seen such “good fellowship” (although the discussions can get somewhat intense and argumentative) among the writers/messengers. Moreover, every one of you has a gift of giving a unique nuance or slant to every particular issue, which is why I find the posts so interesting. A site that really makes you think!
I don’t know if it is because so many of VFR’s Messengers are “trad-cons” like me (pardon the abbreviation) as I am sure there is a certain “happiness” in being with others of similar mind. But I think it goes “beyond” that happiness. The few conservative talk show host chats I had looked into were nothing but pro-Bush railings (even though their hosts professed “Independent conservatism”), and I needed “another perspective” from the right, a different view without blind allegiance to The Party. Most importantly, I wanted “to learn”. I found those perspectives here, as well as strong fellowship—among those who are obviously better educated than I will ever be, and people like me.
Mr. Levine wrote:
“Several of those countries have bigger drug problems than ours, and Afghanistan is the source of most of the world’s opiates. As for sex and the treatment of women — where do people who practice polygamy get the right to lecture us? As for homosexuality, the treatment of women in Muslim society has long been favorable to male homosexuality, which, traditionally was more tolerated there than in the west (though not practically sacralized as it is in the contemporary West.”
Talking about attitudes to heroin and homosexuality in Central Asia could fill an article on its own. According to the educated, urban moderates, all intoxicants were considered haram and heroin users were shunned and stigmatized. In the villages it was completely socially acceptable. The fundamentalist religious authorities took the strict constructionist line that opium was well known in Mohammed’s time so if he’d meant to prohibit it, he’d have mentioned it by name. It was very common for men to smoke heroin at wedding parties or at night before wandering to the tea-shop to meet their friends.
When the Taliban outlawed it in April 2001, it was a secular law, not a religious one. The penalty for smuggling large amounts (in the hundreds of pounds) was a 90 day jail sentence— with profuse apologies from everyone involved for the unfortunate political necessity of having to impose it. They were absolutely incredulous to learn the sentence for a similar violation in the United States.
The mores on homosexuality were even stranger. Kandahar has always been known as the gay capital of Central Asia. There, sex between teenage boys is considered the next best alternative to abstinence and preferable to taking somebody’s daughter’s and starting a family feud. It was also recognized that some men never lose the taste for it. For a grown man to keep a “beardless boy” was seen as somewhat distasteful but not sinful or criminal. Consensual sex between two grown men was a death penalty offense, with the exact method of execution being changed repeatedly in seach of ever more unpleasant ones.
“Looking around at the culture in America in 2004, one sometimes wonders what we are trying to protect!”
Here is a concise answer: (1) Learn about all that is great with the Anglo-American cultural heritage, in law, government, religion, family, manners, language and literature, etc. (2) Realize that if we don’t revive and strengthen that heritage within the USA, perhaps no one anywhere on earth will. (3) Realize that the depravities of popular culture, noisy and attention-grabbing as they are, should not be allowed to cause us to lose sight of that great heritage.
Wow! I got a bit tied up so now is my first chance to respond. I but I’m actually glad that I was delayed because it gave many of you the opportunity to demonstrate a disturbing amount of presumption about my ideology, which was then capitalized upon to attack the whole of liberal ideology. Many users, still again without even waiting to see how I would respond, and already flying along a smooth stream of easy generalizations then followed up with subsequent posts by reaching into their grab-bag of prepackaged notions about “the left” in order to continue their already grossly incorrect explanataion of the thought processes behind the things I said. After the first 15-20 posts, cruising on a self confidence inspired by the fact that those around them were nodding their heads, people then began proscribing a whole host of other ideas to me that I never even said, and then even ventured to arrogantly explain how my mental process (which guided me to say the things I never said) was flawed and stereotypical.
I don’t even know where to start, but I have quite a few points to address here. Give me a little time this afternoon to come up with a response that’s reasonably concise because you have opened the floodgates of my mind and I want to avoid going on and on and boring you all to death.
Here is something for Matthew Kaney to ponder concerning thought processes, real and imagined. He wrote: “As a country who claims or at least desires to be on the moral high ground shouldn’t our first question be, WHY do they hate us?”
I will reveal my own thought processes here. When I read this sentence, I thought, “We have done quite a bit of talking on this board about why the Muslims hate us.” For example, we have discussed the feelings of inferiority among Muslims, their total lack of accomplishment in the world for the last several centuries, the origins of Wahhabism (before there was such a thing as a modern nation of Israel or any U.S. involvement in the Middle East), the reaction of the world to our popular culture, and so on. So, I was not sure what you were leading up to.
Then came your next sentence: “… and before we even start talking about our society’s internal problems which may or may not contribute to outside hatred, are there maybe some things that we have done in other people’s lands that could inspire this hatred?” At this point, I realized that you were not likely to answer the question of why they hate us in quite the same way as others on this board.
Why don’t you explain your thought processes in this one regard, rather than engaging in a lengthy response to everything said on this thread? Why not just tell us why it is that some people immediately answer the question by assuming that it is our fault, that we did things to make them hate us, while others accept the possibility that haters have their own problems, which tend to lead to hatred of others?
Then we can explain why it is that this dichotomy is 99% certain to identify liberals and conservatives.
I hope Mr. Kaney will confine himself to Mr. Coleman’s narrowly framed question so that the discussion doesn’t get completely out of hand. Frankly I thought all the responses to Mr. Kaney stereotypical liberal comments constituted a bit of piling on.
Methinks Mr. Coleman hits the nail on the head here with is final question to Mr. Kaney. Muddled thinkers like Mr. Kaney, who come to the site with their race-baiting, and the moral belief that they are going to set the record straight for the rest of us soon run into facts, logic, and a group of people who will defend themselves, something the Mr. Kaneys of the world are not used to as we see by his inability to even answer one post, but he will be back at us, so we await the great mans return:)
No, Mr. Auster is right. There has been a bit of “piling on.” I would like to read Mr. Kaney’s responses. Reading an intelligent dialogue between civilized people of different mindsets would be a fascinating thing to experience. Being a law student, I only listen to socialist blather and its echo.
When you come on the board and start calling people racists for using common crime data you might get pilied onto, that’s just a fact. I too would like civil, rational, logical debate, but I’m not surprised that we as of yet have not heard much back from Mr. Kaney, except that he will get back to us. Mark would like to read about civil discourse between diffrent people on the board, so would I. Yet don’t forget just how Mr. Kaney used the race-card early in his post, a common practice, and not a very civil, or promising way to start a conversation. People who have come on the board and respected the other posters have been treated with respect.
My May 3rd 2:46 am post took at least “partial responsibility” for coming down on Mr. Klaney. I further reiterated MY unpleasant “introduction” to the Freepers at their well known chat site. That was “empathy”. But, there was one major difference; I didn’t enter that discussion (it was on Bush’s amnesty-for-illegals plan) beligerently or accusingly. I stated my position(s) and then caught holy hell for it. They’re probably still not over my anti-amnesty posts at that site!
But in the same May 3rd 2:26 am post, I stated that “…any person with differing opinions is welcomed by me”, and that they are, at the same time “…red meat for anyone here”. In other words, one should never come to a site which he/she knows to be mostly represented by opposing views and not expect to have some fireworks thrown his/her way!
So as for “piling on”, I plead guilty, but in fairness to all, I believe we all read Mr. Klaney’s long and detailed initial outline of his views (many of which we posited as questions, which, in my mind’s eye, has been a tactic/style used by those who skirt around issues and refuse to tackle them head on). We were, I hope, only reacting to what he WROTE and THE WAY he wrote it, and NOT reacting to his being “a Leftist” or “from some other camp”.