To the reductionist modern mind, Islamic terrorist mass murder is the moral equivalent of … traffic accidents

The human biodiversity blogger Richard Hoste, with whom I had an exchange the other week, has a kindred spirit, Paul Campos, a professor at the University of Colorado Law School, writing in the Wall Street Journal.

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John M. writes:

I agree that Richard Hoste’s comment was out of line, and unfortunately he is probably firmly set in his beliefs and won’t backtrack. A pity, because his arguments that are around his comment are sound, such as immigration and intervention being the two big sources of terrorism. But I can sort of see where Mr. Hoste is coming from in regards to the comment. As a Ron Paulian back in the day when race was verboten in my mind, I was tired of neoconservatives using 9/11 as a justification for American imperialism. It was so absurd that the RINOs would formulate “What about 9/11?” as a response to any statement made by Ron Paul during one of the presidential debates. As if there was their only rebuttal. “9/11 changed everything”. I’m felt outraged at that, and continue to feel outraged at people who use 9/11 to justify imperialism.

Unfortunately, however, some critics of the “War on Terror” looked at the neocon-hijacked tragedy and saw two extreme ways of deconstructing it as a neocon propaganda tool. One was to deny the perpetrators: that was the 9/11 Truth Movement. The other was being indifferent to it and citing that “more Americans die in traffic accidents” statistic. Both methods are a mental defense to diffuse the tragedy of 9/11 so that it can no longer be used against their agenda and the “Make 9/11 trivial” camp sought to make it a mere “incident” like some random shooting in some dark alley of LA so it can no longer be used to justify imperialism. I’ve noticed that reading Richard Hoste’s invocation of illegal wars, torture, loss of civil liberties, etc.

To me, it’s possible both to recognize the tragedy of 9/11 and to reject the neocon hijacking of the tragedy. It’s much like the Holocaust. It’s a terrible crime that leftists use to justify their genocide campaign against the white race, which is equally criminal. But the leftist hijacking of the Holocaust makes some white nationalists feel the need to “debunk” the Holocaust in order to take away a powerful leftist weapon. As you know, this is a childish tactic, and it’s far better to acknowledge that 9/11 and the Holocaust were terrible tragedies that should never happen again, and to diffuse both liberal and neocon hijacking of said events. Call out the liberals and neocons for exploiting a tragedy.

LA replies:

This is informative. I never looked systematically at these two methods of dismissing the 9/11 attack. Both methods are depraved. Honest men seeking to advance a principled position (e.g., “We shouldn’t interfere in Muslim countries”) don’t do so by embracing nihilistic lies (e.g., “Bush and Israel carried out the 9/11 attack,” “The 9/11 attack is the moral equivalent of traffic accidents”). But many on the right did embrace such nihilistic lies, and separated themselves from decent society in the process.

However, on another point I must protest your repeated use of the word “tragedy” to describe the 9/11 attack and the Nazi Holocaust. “Tragedy” means a great misfortune, not a criminal or evil act. When Curtis Vance broke into Anne Pressly’s house and raped her and beat her to death, breaking every bone in her face, that was not tragedy, it was a monstrous crime. When Muhammad Atta and his band of fiends set out to destroy the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and probably the Capitol Building, that was not a tragedy, it was an act of jihad war and mass murder against the United States. Liberals constantly speak of crimes and jihad attacks and other monstrosities as “tragedies,” which removes the element of wrongdoing from the event. This systematic distortion of language is an Orwellian tool used by liberal society to eliminate the possibility of moral judgment. The liberal order doesn’t have to tell people, “Don’t make moral judgments.” All it has to do is get them to accept the ubiquitous use of the word “tragedy” in place of the words “crime,” “murder,” and “terrorism,” and it’s accomplished the same purpose.

John M. replies:

You have a very strong point. I’ve been hearing the word “tragedy” since my freshman year of high school when 9/11 happened and it’s become wired into my brain. From my understanding, it originally meant pity, such as tragic plays like Oedipus or Hamlet, where there is a fall and people feel pity for the lead character. In that context, you are very correct. However I think there’s a societal shift in its definition. Liberal programming? Perhaps. I was going to defend the usage of the term tragedy, but then I thought how usually in tragic plays the downfall is brought upon by the lead character himself. And so, tragedy would be very inappropriate in the context of 9/11 and the Holocaust. I apologize for that.

Perhaps tragedy shouldn’t be redefined, but then again, that’s the nature of language. And all it takes is enough people to use the new definition and enough time that people forget the original usage, and suddenly, the new definition is listed in the Webster dictionary. Incidentally, according to one of the definitions listed in the online Webster dictionary, tragedy can be a “disaster or calamity.” Disaster is a fairly strong word that might be more appropriate. But at the same time, disaster has no moral judgment. A tornado or hurricane is more appropriate in that context.

So what words can be used? Crime is a good one, but to me, 9/11 and the Holocaust are both incidents that are more terrible than a crime, which in my mind invokes theft or rape, which are wicked but not on the same level. Abominable acts? I’d prefer something that was one word. I guess atrocities would be the best term, unless you can think of a better one.

LA replies:

I agree that the 9/11 attack is obviously much more than a mere crime. It’s an atrocity, an act of terrorism, an act of jihad war against civilians, an act of mass murder. There are plenty of words to choose from that are accurate and avoid non-judgmentalism. The same with the Nazi destruction of the Jews.

Gintas writes:

Our society is a factory for producing not just naive young women eager to live dangerously but also serried ranks of Thomas Gradgrinds.

Gintas continues:

That’s Mr. Thomas Gradgrind from Dickens’s Hard Times.

In the story, he was the father of five children, naming them after prominent utilitarians such as Robert Malthus. He also ran a model school where young pupils were treated as pitchers which were to be filled to the brim with facts. This satirised Scottish philosopher James Mill who attempted to develop his sons into perfect utilitarians.

Gintas writes:

You wrote:

“But many on the right did embrace such nihilistic lies, and separated themselves from decent society in the process.”

But many of these people are techno-geek types, who entertain logical possibilities, not likelihoods. These people are not well-balanced, in my experience. Think “Libertarian” and you are finally there. They weren’t part of decent society to start with. Sure Lew Rockwell looks jolly, but he classifies us as Red State Fascists. [LA replies: I’ve seen Rockwell interviewed on TV. In my opinion, his “jolliness” conveys malignity.]

Speaking of Rockwell, he comes across the same way as Fleming—in a normal civilized West they’d have a place among the ruling elite, and would live normal lives. Fleming would be a classics scholar at a university, Rockwell a businessman or economist crunching numbers. But they don’t have a place, and they don’t live normal lives, they are a failed fringe ruling elite. There’s something about this failed low-end ruling elite: they hate the current ruling elite, but they really hate Middle America for not embracing them as their new ruling elite.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 18, 2010 04:15 PM | Send

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