A day that will live in…love and kindness?

Another ramble because this is a somewhat emotional outburst.

The date, December 8, 1941.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great sadness that I announce the entirely understandable attack yesterday on the Pearl Harbor Imperial Aggression Base, by rightfully outraged Japanese freedom fighters.  As we look at the results of this courageous effort by the Japanese we have to ask ourselves what provoked it?  Was it Japanophobia?  What it the American Presence in the Philippines and other areas Japan claimed as part of the Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere?  Or was it our refusal to sell to Japan the oil needed for their efforts to liberate Manchuria and China from their Manchurian and Chinese overlords?

We will probably never know the true cause for this random act of workplace violence.  All we know is that hate can never end hate.  We must answer this Japanese action with love and kindness.  We must have empathy for them.  Clearly the problem is a lack of jobs and a poor economy driving them to violence.  Only if we share our own wealth and industrial might–but do so in a way that makes no changes to their culture which changes would be Cultural Imperialism and give the more reason to attack us–can we have peace.

Therefore, I am asking Congress to draft an unconditional surrender as of this date.

Sound ridiculous?  To most of you, I’m sure it does.  Of course, there are a few people who actually agree with all of the excoriation of America in the above paragraphs.

However as ridiculous as the above sounds, by just changing a few details it could be a good summary of what many in the media and the “intelligentsia” say whenever there is an Islamist attack on the West.  What did we do to deserve it?  How did we provoke it?  Empathize with the attackers.  Love them.  “Share” our wealth with them (but not in any way that might influence their culture).  And, above all, be very, very careful to avoid “Islamophobia”.

First off, before I go any farther, let me just say that my heart goes out to the victims of the Manchester bombing.  May Frigga guard and keep them.

But please, don’t just offer prayers.  There are charities set up to help:  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TogetherWithManchester

The Manchester bombing is not the first time terrorists have targeted children.  But to be blunt, most of the cases happen in war torn areas where violence is so common that even horrible atrocities get “lost in the noise”.  Humans are tribal.  It’s no coincidence that so many cultures’ names for themselves was some variation of “the people” making all others “not people”.  Even the word “barbarian” was originally an onomatopoeia from “bar bar” the sound a sheep makes:  people not speaking Greek (at that time and place) not being fully human.

Thus, the simple truth is that the vast majority of people will feel less affected by people far away with whom they have little connection.  The poison and acid attacks on schoolgirls in Afghanistan?  A statistic to most people. (It takes a particular individual given an individual story to draw people’s attention–thus Malala Yousafzai’s becoming a cause celebre).  Boko Haram’s many attacks and kidnappings.  A hashtag campaign?  Really?  Taliban slaughter in a school in Pakistan?  War is horrid but it’s far away.  Beslan?  The same.

This tribal nature is not an admirable trait, perhaps, but it is there.  The great wonder of Western civilization is not how tribal we remain, but how much we’ve ovecome that tendency.  Imperfectly to be sure, yet still the gold standard for the rest of the world.

But it is still there.  So when it’s some of “ours” that are the victims of attack, particularly those we feel a deep and instinctive need to protect–our children–the reaction is deep and visceral.  You might say we should feel as deeply for the others and I might agree, But what were we supposed to do about it?  I may have decried the hashtag campaign above, but what were we supposed to do?  Mount a military operation and invade Nigeria in an effort to recover the kidnapped girls?  Without local resources, good local intelligence, or any of the things that might actually make such an operation a success?

Some folk say we should never interfere with other countries’ internal matters so long as they don’t directly threaten us.  And a strong case can be made for that.  Others say that we can’t just sit by and let atrocities go without limit and not do something.  And a case can be made for that, too.  As the old expression goes, “Reasonable men may disagree.”  But even in the latter case, we can’t interfere in everything.  We have to pick and choose.  And often pragmatic considerations have to control.  However, I submit that an operation that cannot succeed is not only a failure from practical grounds but from moral ones.  Throwing away lives and resources for nothing is evil in itself.

So, in most of these cases, there’s really nothing we can do about them, so to protect themselves and get on with their lives most people “tune it out” to a certain extent.  If a person felt the full weight of every death anywhere the same as if it were that of a close friend or loved one, they’d be crushed by it, completely unable to function.  So they don’t.  They can’t.

So when something happens closer, we feel it more.  Here in the US we share a lot of common history and culture with Great Britain.  Our differences may sometimes loom large, but we remain brothers, or perhaps as one person put it, “The US and Great Britain are a couple that broke up but still love each other.”

So this Manchester attack hits harder than others because these were, in a sense “our people”.  Admirable?  Perhaps not.  But all too human.

And yet after the attack we get calls that we need to avoid Islamophobia.  Don’t blame Islam.  It’s just a minority of Muslims.  This isn’t real Islam.

On the other hand it wasn’t all Japanese either.  The imperialists in Japan were a very small minority.  Most people just wanted to get along with their daily lives.  It wasn’t all Germans either.  Most people weren’t Nazis, at least not ideological Nazis (as opposed to folk who joined the party for pragmatic believers without being true believers).

Well, you know what?  If these guys really are a tiny minority then the Islamic world should act like it.  These radicals should be on the run and in hiding, or reduced to holding pathetic marches where counter-protesters outnumber them usually by an order of magnitude.  The radicals should be terrified of being found out by other Muslims because they’d be turned in, convicted, and face the full penalty of the law.

In short, Muslims need to treat their radicals the same way Christians in the Western World (and I’m not a Christian–understand that right here) treat theirs.

2 thoughts on “A day that will live in…love and kindness?”

  1. In the film Prelude to War (in the Why We Fight series of films) a repeated phrase was “Who care{s,d] about a few mud huts a world away.” And yet… WWII. No, not every “mud hut” or such is a sure precursor. That’s the gotchya: Who can anyone tell? Afterwards, it may seems obvious, but obviousness is a very dangerous concept.

    Every attack like this is another straw. No one straw might be all that much, but the accumulation… until that fateful “last straw” which might even be lighter than all before.. yet, pushes the total pressure to a critical level and the response will appear “disproportionate.” It might have been kinder had the initial response(s) been so. For now the problem will no longer something to merely manage, but to _SOLVE_. So it stays solved. There are ways to that… but there is a way that seems more simple (in concept) and more sure than the rest – and that is the one most likely to be chosen when it’s, “Alright, no Mr. Nice Guy.”


    1. There’s the old joke about training a mule that ends with the line “First you have to get his attention.” Very poor animal training technique but sometimes a good metaphor for dealing with folk who mean you harm.

      First, before you can do anything else, you have to defeat them and defeat them so thoroughly that they know they have lost. That’s what we did to Germany in 1918 and 1945. That’s what we did to Japan in 1945. That’s what we have rarely been willing to do since. (Too worried about the “optics” of actually defeating our foes, and by defeating I mean utterly crushing.) The result is they think “that wasn’t so bad” and that we’re a “paper tiger” (and not without justice) and are willing to keep going on and on and on.

      The result of that approach is left as an exercise for the student.


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