Posted by: quiscus | September 18, 2010

September 18, 2010

1.  “How Much Is an Iraqi Life Worth?

The lives of the Iraqi people didn’t belong to the U.S. government and, therefore, the U.S. government had no right to sacrifice them in the process of attempting to bring democracy to Iraq.

No one can place a value on the life of another person. Yet, that’s precisely what U.S. officials have done and continue to do. They’re saying that the lives of countless Iraqis were worth less than the value of achieving democracy in Iraq.

How do they arrive at that cavalier calculation? I don’t know. But it has to be among the most morally repugnant calculations ever made.

In fact, I find it fascinating that so many Christians who eagerly condemn Muslims, Islam, and the Koran, claim that there is nothing wrong with sacrificing the lives of other people — countless other people — for the sake of a political goal such as democracy.

How do they reconcile such a position with Christian principles?

They can’t.

In the eyes of God, every single person’s life is sacred, whether he is Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, or agnostic. God does not permit one human being to kill another human being for the sake of achieving democracy in other country.

It is this fundamental wrong that all too many Americans have yet to confront — that their government, operating through its military and paramilitary forces, has broken God’s sacred commandment against killing with its invasion of Iraq.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out that democracy is actually just a ruse anyway, one that U.S. officials use to justify their killing (and maiming) of countless Iraqis. (They’re countless because the U.S. government steadfastly refused to keep track of the Iraqi dead, even while claiming that the invasion was being done for them.)

The war was always about regime change, pure and simple — one intended to oust Saddam Hussein from power and install a U.S.-approved ruler in his stead.”

2.  “Criticism of France’s Roma Deportations

France has already deported over 8,000 Roma to Romania. While the summit endorsed a free trade deal with South Korea and temporarily waived tariffs on Pakistani goods, coverage of the meeting largely focused on the Roma issue.

On Tuesday, Reding denounced Sarkozy’s policy as “discrimination on the basis of ethnic origin or race”. She implicitly compared it to fascist ethnic cleansing policies, such as Vichy France’s policy of deporting the Roma during the Nazi Occupation, adding, “This is a situation I had thought Europe would not have to witness again after the Second World War”.

Claims by leading politicians that there are no parallels with the Nazi-Vichy era are patently dishonest and false. They reflect concern in the European ruling class that the obvious parallels between the two eras will provoke opposition to its current right-wing policies. They also fear the unearthing of the rotten basis of post-war European capitalism—in particular, the unresolved historical issues surrounded the Western European bourgeoisie’s collaboration with the Nazis.

Sarkozy’s ethnically-targeted deportations and incitement of anti-Muslim hatreds, amid the greatest economic crisis since the 1930s, inevitably recalls fascist scapegoating of foreigners and Jews for social and economic problems in the 1920s and 1930s. This ultimately led to the mass murder of Jews, Roma and millions of others.”

3.  “The “obscenity” of comparing Americans to “killers and terrorists”

A couple of weeks ago, I took issue with some of the objections being voiced by progressive critics of Markos Moulitsas’ new book, The American Taliban.  In particular, I found this sentence from The American Prospect‘s Jamelle Bouie — fairly representative of the negative reaction to the book — to be not only absurd but almost offensive in its self-loving nationalism:  “Yes, progressives are depressed and despondent about the future, but . . . . it doesn’t excuse the obscenity of comparing our political opponents to killers and terrorists.”  For the reasons I explained, it seems to me that only jingoistic blindness can account for the belief that it is “obscene” to compare the American architects and enablers of the attack on Iraq and the worldwide torture regime (among other crimes) to “killers and terrorists.”  The former are the latter, by definition.

I believe what’s driving the discomfort with the comparison is that we all know people who cheered for the attack on Iraq, America’s torture regime, lawless imprisonment and the like.  They’re our relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers, political allies and sometimes even ourselves.  But few of us know supporters of the Taliban.  Thus, as is always true with people we don’t know, we’re perfectly comfortable with extreme, two-dimensional demonization of Taliban sympathizers and other Islamic extremists, while taking offense at the notion that the people we know — like that funny, kibbitzy guy down the hallway in The Atlantic offices — could possibly be anything like them, notwithstanding their support for similar, extremist actions.

Actually, this disagreement represents the precise opposite dynamic.  Unlike Serwer (apparently), I don’t consider the Taliban “something utterly foreign, inhuman, and subject to entirely different drives than Us.”  Therefore, I don’t see the comparison of the American Right (as well as Democrats who support its radical policies) to the Taliban as a suggestion that “the GOP as a whole [is] ‘something utterly foreign, inhuman, and subject to entirely different drives than Us’.”  That’s the whole point:  those who are so upset by this comparison (how dare you compare Americans to the Taliban) have ingested the tribalistic, propagnadistic delusion that no matter what we do, We are always fundamentally different and better than Them.

The cartoonish demonization of our Enemy is accomplished by mindlessly screaming inflammatory, manipulated labels at them –“Terrorists!” — designed to rob them of their Humanness, obliterate nuances among them, and convert them into some incomprehensible Other.  That’s how we justify to ourselves what we do to them.

The insistence that this comparison between Us and Them is inherently invalid and even “obscene” lies at the heart of so much mischief — it’s the linchpin of exceptionalism and jingoism — and it’s very disappointing to see this claim being so casually invoked in reaction to this book.  The nature of tribalism is that one always thinks their side is better and the other side worse, and that comparisons between the two sides (or even equal application of standards to each) is deeply unfair and offensive (“moral relativism”).  Tribalism is a powerful human drive, which is why even those who are aware of its intoxicating effects and even consciously try to avoid it — all of us — nonetheless sometimes succumb to its temptations.”

4.  “This Country Just Can’t Deal with Reality Any More

The Right’s media power has enabled the Republicans to portray Obama as some un-American “other,” while the GOP has little fear that its spreading of racist-tinged conspiracy theories will hurt the party’s election chances.

The latest example is Dinesh D’Souza’s bizarre theorizing about Obama’s channeling his late father’s opposition to British colonialism in Kenya, a reincarnated dream which somehow has morphed into Obama’s “socialist” agenda which is “alien” to American values.

Instead of roundly condemning D’Souza for this strange and racist article, Gingrich – one of the supposed intellectuals of the Republican Party – went out of his way to praise the nonsense as “profound.”

As former Bush-43 speechwriter David Frum noted in a blog post, “With the Forbes story and now the Gingrich endorsement, the argument that Obama is an infiltrating alien, a deceiving foreigner – and not just any kind of alien, but specifically a Third World alien – has been absorbed almost to the very core of the Republican platform for November 2010.”

Despite some internal GOP critics like Frum, the Republican Party clearly feels that it has a winning formula, using such psychological warfare to exploit a confused and embittered electorate. That confidence will be tested on Nov. 2, although if most prognosticators are correct, the Republicans have good reason to feel confident.”

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