Another response to Terrorism: "Good" vs. "Evil". Correspondent Doug sent the following column to me along with his editorial comment at the end:
By Michael Kelly
Wednesday, September 26, 2001; Page A25
Pacifists are not serious people, although they devoutly believe they are, and their arguments are not being taken seriously at the moment. Yet it is worth taking seriously, and in advance of need, the pacifists and their appeal.
It is worth it, first of all, because the idea of peace is inherently attractive; and the more war there is, the more attractive the idea becomes. Second, it is worth it because the reactionary left-liberal crowd in America and in Europe has already staked out its ground here: What happened to America is America's fault, the fruits of foolish arrogance and greedy imperialism, racism, colonialism, etc., etc. From this rises an argument that the resulting war is also an exercise in arrogance and imperialism, etc., and not deserving of support. This argument will be made with greater fearlessness as the first memories of the 7,000 murdered recede. Third, it is worth it because the American foreign policy establishment has all the heart for war of a titmouse, and not one of your braver titmice. The first faint, let-us-be-reasonable bleats can even now be heard: Yes, we must do something, but is an escalation of aggression really the right thing? Mightn't it just make matters ever so much worse?
Pacifists see themselves as obviously on the side of a higher morality, and there is a surface appeal to this notion, even for those who dismiss pacifism as hopelessly naive. The pacifists' argument is rooted entirely in this appeal: Two wrongs don't make a right; violence only begets more violence.
There can be truth in the pacifists' claim to the moral high ground, notably in the case of a war that is waged for manifestly evil purposes. So, for instance, a German citizen who declined to fight for the Nazi cause could be seen (although not likely by his family and friends) as occupying the moral position. But in the situation where one's nation has been attacked — a situation such as we are now in — pacifism is, inescapably and profoundly, immoral. Indeed, in the case of this specific situation, pacifism is on the side of the murderers, and it is on the side of letting them murder again.
In 1942 George Orwell wrote this, in Partisan Review, of Great Britain's pacifists:
"Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.' "
England's pacifists howled, but Orwell's logic was implacable. The Nazis wished the British to not fight. If the British did not fight, the Nazis would conquer Britain. The British pacifists also wished the British to not fight. The British pacifists, therefore, were on the side of a Nazi victory over Britain. They were objectively pro-Fascist.
An essentially identical logic obtains now. Organized terrorist groups have attacked America. These groups wish the Americans to not fight. The American pacifists wish the Americans to not fight. If the Americans do not fight, the terrorists will attack America again. And now we know such attacks can kill many thousands of Americans. The American pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murders of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist.
There is no way out of this reasoning. No honest person can pretend that the groups that attacked America will, if let alone, not attack again. Nor can any honest person say that this attack is not at least reasonably likely to kill thousands upon thousands of innocent people. To not fight in this instance is to let the attackers live to attack and murder again; to be a pacifist in this instance is to accept and, in practice, support this outcome.
As President Bush said of nations: A war has been declared; you are either on one side or another. You are either for doing what is necessary to capture or kill those who control and fund and harbor the terrorists, or you are for not doing this. If you are for not doing this, you are for allowing the terrorists to continue their attacks on America. You are saying, in fact: I believe that it is better to allow more Americans — perhaps a great many more — to be murdered than to capture or kill the murderers.
That is the pacifists' position, and it is evil.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
GOD BLESS AMERICA... AND PROTECT US FROM OUR ENEMIES... WHOEVER THEY ARE!
AMERICA, LOVE IT,OR LEAVE IT!
>> But in the situation where one's nation has been attacked — a situation such as we are now in — pacifism is, inescapably and profoundly, immoral. <<
We weren't attacked by the Taliban, who merely "harbored" the people who trained the terrorists who attacked America. That makes our response—because of the innocent Afghans it killed—immoral.
>> Indeed, in the case of this specific situation, pacifism is on the side of the murderers, and it is on the side of letting them murder again. <<
Wrong. Apparently Kelly has no arguments to justify this asinine conclusion, because he doesn't even try.
>> "Pacifism is objectively pro-Fascist. This is elementary common sense. <<
It reminds me of something my Grandma once said: "You can call your ass a turkey, but that doesn't make it Thanksgiving." Likewise, you can call your war just, and the rest of us naive, but that won't make it so.
Tim Wise, Who's Being Naive?
>> If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help out that of the other. <<
Only if war is the right and proper solution—which it almost never is.
>> In practice, 'he that is not with me is against me.' <<
Quoting Bush to support an "intellectual" argument is about as valid as quoting Dr. Seuss, Dubya's favorite author.
Quoting Bush—the three-time crook who stole the 2000 election and has lied repeatedly in office—to support a moral argument is nothing short of hysterical.
>> The Nazis wished the British to not fight. If the British did not fight, the Nazis would conquer Britain. <<
I kicked this pathetic argument in the butt at Diplomacy Works, Violence Doesn't. Read and weep.
>> Organized terrorist groups have attacked America. <<
No, one organized terrorist group attacked America. We've hampered that group's operations in Afghanistan but done little or nothing to curb terrorism worldwide. Now what?
>> These groups wish the Americans to not fight. <<
Kelly can't get even the basic details right. Actually, it's clear Osama bin Laden and his terrorist group did want the US to fight. He apparently expected the Islamic masses to rise up against the US war machine. That never happened, but Bin Laden certainly didn't want the US and the Islamic to remain in their neutral corners, allied.
>> The American pacifists wish the Americans to not fight. <<
Here's the root of Kelly's stupid misunderstanding. No, we wish the US not to fight first when other options are better. Fighting is always available as a last resort.
>> If the Americans do not fight, the terrorists will attack America again. <<
Stupid speculation. My counter-speculation: If Americans do fight, the terrorists will attack again. Disprove it if you can.
>> The American pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murders of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist. <<
This doofus doesn't have a clue what "objectively" means, since he has yet to provide an objective fact supporting his screed. Here are some facts he might want to address:
To be realistic is to insist that nations harboring terrorists must be brought to justice. To be naive is to note that a) we aren't really serious about that—after all, many nations that do so are coalition partners in the war on Afghanistan; and b) by that standard, any number of nations would have the right to attack us. After all, we have harbored and even taught terrorists and death squad leaders at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. We have harbored known Cuban terrorists in Miami. We even gave a tax exemption for several years to a neo-Nazi "church" affiliated with the National Alliance, whose leader has called for worldwide racial cleansing, whose words are credited with inspiring Timothy McVeigh, and whose members have committed bombings, murders and armed robberies across the country.
Tim Wise, Who's Being Naive?
>> There is no way out of this reasoning. <<
What reasoning? This column is devoid of anything I'd call reasoning.
Kelly's sole "reasoning" seems to be that there's no other response to terrorism but war. His "reasoning" is an opinion unsupported by facts.
>> No honest person can pretend that the groups that attacked America will, if let alone, not attack again. <<
To be realistic is to think that pummeling one nation—in this case Afghanistan—will have some appreciable effect on the thugs in al-Qaeda, despite the fact that the group operates in sixty-four countries including many allies whom we have no intention of bombing. To be naive is to point out that terrorists aren't reliant on one, or even several countries to operate, and as such, we could eradicate every member of the Taliban tomorrow without delaying by so much as a day any future attacks on our shores.
Tim Wise, Who's Being Naive?
>> You are either for doing what is necessary to capture or kill those who control and fund and harbor the terrorists <<
So far the bombing has killed one Al Qaeda commander accidentally. Price: hundreds or thousands of dead Afghans. Good going, America. If you need help killing terrorists, my suggestion of having people shoot guns at random is still available. It can't do much worse than the US assault has done.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is the Taliban's largest funder, I believe. Germany and the US harbored the terrorists who actually committed the crimes. We all await the US attack on Saudi Arabia, Germany, and the US with bated breath.
>> If you are for not doing this, you are for allowing the terrorists to continue their attacks on America. <<
You can say the same stupid thing a thousand stupid ways, but it's still stupid.
>> That is the pacifists' position, and it is evil. <<
That's Kelly's stupid misunderstanding of the pacifists' position. Too bad the Washington Post gave him a forum in which to spout his ignorance.
This column is so ridiculous I don't know whether to laugh or cry. That you forwarded it, Doug, suggests you're incredibly openminded or incredibly simpleminded.
More debates with Doug
"You don't know. You never will. You are a coward. Yep. I'm starting to hate you again."
God bless secular America
Winning through nonviolence
What happened: results of the so-called war
. . .
All material © copyright its original owners, except where noted.
Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
Copyrighted material is posted under the Fair Use provision of the Copyright Act,
which allows copying for nonprofit educational uses including criticism and commentary.
Comments sent to the publisher become the property of Blue Corn Comics
and may be used in other postings without permission.