A cornucopia of “reminders”

Apparently the world is not taking to heart my advice that it inappropriate, morally tone-deaf, and a bit inhuman, on hearing of the terrorist murder of a human being or of many human beings, immediately to describe such a terrible event as a “reminder,” as though one were jotting something down on a to-do list. Further, as I pointed out, to call a terrorist act a “reminder” that we are in a war with terrorism suggests that we are not in such a war at all but are deluding ourselves, since, if we really were in such a war, we would not need to be “reminded” of it. A Google search for

<< Bhutto assassination reminder >>

turned up 35,700 results (though the great majority of these were repeats). In some cases, as you will see below, the writers and editors could not even wait to get into the body of the article to call the murder of Bhutto a “reminder.” They put it right in the headline.

Here’s a brief sampling.

New York Post editorial:

December 28, 2007—The assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto provided a stark reminder that, despite the improved military situation in Iraq, the future of the War on Terror remains a critical, if not overriding, issue facing the US electorate.


Bhutto Assassination A Reminder This Is A Real War
By Bill West

Today’s assassination in Pakistan of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto should be a stark reminder that terrorists are engaged in a very real war against modern civilized society.

At the American Thinker (or should they call it the American Sloganeer?), they managed a trifecta: “reminder” is in the headline, in the second sentence of the first paragraph of the story, and in the first sentence of a quote from Counterterroism.org (see above) that immediately follows the first paragraph of the story:

Bhutto Assassination a Painful Reminder that we are at War
Rick Moran

In our rush to claim progress in the War on Terror, we sometimes forget that the enemy has the entire globe as a potential target and can strike at any time. The Bhutto assassination is a brutal reminder that this is a shooting war and that al-Qaeda is now firmly ensconced in nuclear armed Pakistan:

Today’s assassination in Pakistan of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto should be a stark reminder that terrorists are engaged in a very real war against modern civilized society. Bhutto had her own ethically questionable background; but her current public political posture was pro-Western, democratic, peaceful and against the radical Islamic terrorists who may have been responsible for her death. While the investigation must go forward, initial speculation is pointing to those radical Islamic terrorist elements operating in Pakistan, perhaps even al-Qaeda.

MSN’s account of the Indian prime minister’s response to the assassination is also a trifecta: “reminder” is in the headline, in the first sentence of the story, and in the quote that follows the first sentence:

Bhutto’s assassination a reminder of common dangers: Manmohan

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday expressed deep shock over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, saying that the incident is a “reminder” of the common dangers faced in the sub-continent.

“The manner of her going is a reminder of the common dangers that our region faces from cowardly acts of terrorism and of the need to eradicate this dangerous threat,” he said in a statement from Goa.

Are you starting to get the idea that the big story of the day is not that Benazir Bhutto and 20 people were slain by terrorist killers, but that their murder “reminds” us of something?

Continuing along, here’s a sampling from the Boston Globe of some U.S. political figures.

House Republican Leader John Boehner:

“This cowardice act serves as yet another reminder that we must remain vigilant in standing against the enemies of freedom in Pakistan and around the world to ensure that their efforts to thwart democracy will once again fail.”

Hillary Clinton:

“Her death is a tragedy for her country and a terrible reminder of the work that remains to bring peace, stability and hope to regions of the globe too often paralyzed by fear, hatred and violence.”—, D-N.Y.

Rudolph Giuliani:

“Her death is a reminder that terrorism anywhere—whether in New York, London, Tel Aviv or Rawalpindi—is an enemy of freedom. We must redouble our efforts to win the terrorists’ war on us.”

Finally, here’s John “Nepotism had nothing to do with it” Podhoretz at Commentary’s blog:

“The horrifying assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan this morning comes only one week before the Iowa caucuses and 12 days before New Hampshire. It is a sobering and frightening reminder of the challenges and threats and dangers posed to the United States by radical Islam, the nature of the struggle being waged against the effort to extend democratic freedoms in the Muslim world, and the awful possibility of a nuclear Pakistan overrun by Islamofascists.

- end of initial entry -

Richard W. writes:

Your reminder column is very astute.

I thought about it and concluded that the reason we need a “reminder” is that we are not really at war. Let me explain.

The diminishment that the word “war” has suffered over the last few decades is complete. It has little power, especially when used in the “war on X” configuration. We’ve had a “war on poverty,” “war on drugs,” “war on homelessness,” “war on cancer,” and many others. Obviously these are not real wars, but the word “war” being used as an all purpose descriptor to attach importance to some moral cause.

It’s interesting that in REAL wars we use the word slightly differently, as in “Vietnam War,” “Korean War.” Thus the Iraqi War sounds like a “real” war, while the “War On Terror” sounds like another moral crusade invented by someone in Washington with an ax to grind. (Note too that “terror” is a tactic or emotion, not a group or nation, and thus not a possible target for a war.)

And, in fact, isn’t that exactly what it is? Isn’t the WOT just another slogan designed by someone in Washington with and agenda they are promoting? It certainly seems that way.

In a real war you find and kill the enemy, no questions asked. In a real war dedication to victory is absolute, you do what is needed to win. Famously this included firebombing European cities and nuking Japan in WW2. It included denuding much of the Vietnamese jungle and bombing Hanoi in Vietnam (when it was still a real war for us).

Compare with fake wars. The War on Drugs has gone on for 30 years. Drug dealers are regularly caught, but they are not executed. The border, across which much of the drug trade runs, is wide open. A normal person looking at this can’t help but by cynical and say “that’s not a war.”

Which category does the War on Terror fit into? Is it a real war? Certainly the NY Times and liberal elite don’t think so. Else they would not continue to debate the fine points and release secret plans to our enemies.

But obviously the administration doesn’t really think so either.

Look at what Lincoln did with critics during the Civil War! He jailed them, held them incommunicado, exiled them from the country. Whatever it took. Even the liberal icon FDR was serious about winning WW2 and took such actions as censoring news reports and rounding up the Japanese.

I will believe we are serious about winning the War on Terror when I see such actions from an American administration.

When the first NY Times reporter to reveal an effective top secret program on the pages of the gray lady is taken from the Times building in handcuffs and held incommunicado before being taken in front of a military commission, you will convince me that the WOT is a real war. As it is my B.S. detectors are ringing. The “War on Terror” is another attempt to sell me some big government program we probably don’t need and surely can’t afford.

It may be apocryphal but supposedly the soldiers in Iraq have a saying: “The U.S. Army is at war, America is at the mall.” This perfectly sums up the sense of detachment that people have towards even the “real war” part of the phony “war on terror.”

Thus, perhaps all this reminding is needed?

American Cassandra writes:

At first when I read you post about “reminders” I brushed by it without thinking much about how common it is to hear such a phrase, but later in the day, I saw this article from last year at the San Francisco Chronicle. Right in the sub-head:

Keeper’s mauling a reminder wild animals can turn vicious at any time, experts say

Really? People need a reminder (from experts, no less!) that tigers can turn vicious at any time? How can a person forget that it is appropriate to fear wild animals like tigers? [LA: LOL.] But the article explains it: in order to spend a lot of time with them, you have to forget they are dangerous predators, or you wouldn’t be able to stand being around them so much. Yes, I think you’re onto something.

Although there is indeed something ghastly about likening a person’s untimely death or mutilation to an errand list, there is an accuracy to it. What is it that makes a liberal society possible? It is being protected from reality, protected from the truth. The more protected you are, the more liberal you can be. Why do we have this attitude towards Islamic terrorists, that they are not really a danger to us? Because we are sheltered. The mentality is not entirely different from the way we city dwellers forget to fear wild animals. But this protection from reality breaks down when there is a terror attack or an assassination. The only way to protect yourself from the truth, which doesn’t go away but keeps intruding all the time, is by forgetting. And that is why the intrusion of reality is a reminder. It wouldn’t be the case for a society that has not forgotten so many basic things about the way the world really works.

The sad thing is, if these continuous reminders actually did make people remember, we’d be better off. Last year, this tiger ate the zookeeper’s hand. What did they do? Did they put the tiger down? No, they did not. I think they might have responded by not doing anything at all. And this was the same tiger that killed a visitor to the zoo on Christmas. But then, the reminders and wake up calls about the Islamic world never seem to lead to people waking up either.

The world is actually full of predators. To continue to believe the world is not full of predators liberals must continue forgetting every predator attack that happens to them. That is why predator attacks are shocking reminders. I was not shocked that there was a political assassination in Pakistan. It is a lot of things, but surprising isn’t one of them to me.

The people who have not forgotten about the predators in the world are labeled as having various sorts of “phobias” implying their fears are all irrational. How strange it is that, if you point out the dangers of having large numbers of Muslims in your midst, a liberal will call you Islamophobic, as if your fear of Muslims somehow is proof that there is nothing to fear from Muslims. Yes, of course I’m afraid. If I said it wasn’t a good idea to pet a tiger, would someone say, don’t be silly, you’re just afraid of the tiger. Well, yes of course I’m afraid of the tiger. That fear is telling me something really important about the way I should conduct myself, and it would be foolish of me not to listen to my fears. Of course, once you listen to your own fears, you can still decide they are mistaken or irrational, but the liberal world seems to insist that you must automatically discount them.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 28, 2007 06:50 PM | Send

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