Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Pity-for-Osama Lobby

Brendan O'Neill in Spiked:
It is extraordinary, and revealing, how quickly the expression of concern about the use of American force in Pakistan became an expression of values superiority over the American people. The modern chattering classes are so utterly removed from the mass of the population, so profoundly disconnected from ‘ordinary people’ and their ‘ordinary thoughts’, that they effectively see happy Americans as a more alien and unusual thing than Osama bin Laden. Where OBL wins their empathy, American jocks receive only their bile.
American jocks are take-charge kind of people. Since they tend not to be sympathetic to the politics of such as Red Ken Livingstone, communist* former mayor of London, they are inherently bad people.

Thinking of Red Ken, O'Neill says:
Watching Americans celebrate OBL’s death, Ken Livingstone said: ‘I realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack on London.’ This is really a call to elevate precaution over action, meekness over passionate political feeling, staying at home over taking risks, all in the name of protecting ourselves from any possible future action by a hot-headed Islamist. In this sense, the disdain for America and its people is really an expression of angst about what America is perceived to represent: confidence, cockiness, self-possession, a willingness to take risks (little of which is actually accurate). The post-OBL ‘uncomfortable feeling’ is really a quite craven sentiment, a fear-fuelled desire for self-preservation over anything else, which is dolled up as a principled critique of American militarism.
So, is anti-Americanism simply self-loathing masking as political principle?

And just my own observation, of course, by an American non-jock who is unabashedly delighted that Osama bin Laden died a violent death at the hands of Americans: What did Red Ken and his bien-pensant cohort say about the people celebrating by the tens of thousands in the streets of Gaza and other places when the Twin Towers filled with thousand of innocents were knocked down? Did Red Ken proclaim "I realised that it would increase the likelihood of a terror attack by the Americans on Kabul or Baghdad"? Or does he refrain from moral indignation over Muslims, or Arabs, or Afghans because he thinks they just aren't up to being held responsible for their actions? Does Red Ken really ascribe to the credo of the White Man's Burden?

Do Red Ken et al believe that Americans of all colors can be held morally accountable, but their 'Little Brown Brothers' can't be? Are the bien-pensants the real racists here?

* Livingstone calls himself a socialist, saying: "I still believe one day that the idea that the main means of production are owned by private individuals... will be considered as anti-democratic as the idea serfs could be tied to the land." This is the sort which Londoners elect to be Mayor.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Justice Stevens, bin Laden, and Admiral Yamamoto

I came across an interesting tidbit on Volokh Cospiracy a little while ago and verified the paraphrase of Justice John Paul Stevens in a 2007 New York Times interview.
(Stevens...)won a bronze star for his service as a cryptographer, after he helped break the code that informed American officials that Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, the commander of the Japanese Navy and architect of the Pearl Harbor attack, was about to travel to the front...U.S. pilots, on Roosevelt’s orders, shot down Yamamoto’s plane in April 1943.

Stevens told me he was troubled by the fact that Yamamoto, a highly intelligent officer who had lived in the United States and become friends with American officers, was shot down with so little apparent deliberation or humanitarian consideration. The experience, he said, raised questions in his mind about the fairness of the death penalty. “I was on the desk, on watch, when I got word that they had shot down Yamamoto in the Solomon Islands, and I remember thinking: This is a particular individual they went out to intercept,” he said. “There is a very different notion when you’re thinking about killing an individual, as opposed to killing a soldier in the line of fire.” Stevens said that, partly as a result of his World War II experience, he has tried on the court to narrow the category of offenders who are eligible for the death penalty and to ensure that it is imposed fairly and accurately. He has been the most outspoken critic of the death penalty on the current court.
Amazing: a justice of the US Supreme Court being troubled by targetting an enemy officer during a declared war.

It makes me wonder if Stevens was ever qualified to sit on the court.

For Eugene Volokh's comments, see here.

I Feel So Morally & Culturally Inferior... our more nuanced European superiors. They know how to handle rejoicing at the killing on an enemy:
A Hamburg judge has filed a criminal complaint against Chancellor Angela Merkel for "endorsing a crime" after she stated she was "glad" that Osama bin Laden was killed by US forces.
That isn't all:
Meanwhile a new poll reveals that a majority of Germans do not see the terrorist's death as a reason to celebrate.
This is described by der Spiegel as "A Sober German Reaction", but I think it is more along the lines of evidence for pathological self-hatred.

I suppose if Obama had been truly sensitive he would have declared a national day of mourning. Or, instead of ordering bin Laden killed at all, he would have simply committed sepuku on the White House lawn.

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