Monday, November 30, 2009

On Open Hands and Closed-Fisting

Needless to say, November has not been a banner month for posting this year. Tonight won't be making any significant dents in that.

However, I didn't want to let this post from Commentary magazine's blog, "Contentions" go un-linked. In it , Max Boot reflects on the altogether ineffectual approach of the Obama administration (the phrase still makes me cringe) toward the Mullahs of Iran, viz their nuclear program.

Obama’s efforts at glad-handing have been interpreted, correctly, as evidence of American weakness and a further spur to nuclear development. Khameini and Ahmadinejad & Co. aren’t even bothering to be polite as they brush aside offers, such as the one to export their uranium for enrichment abroad. They wear their contempt for the West quite openly because they are not afraid of suffering any repercussions.
Boot argues that the naive and toothless approach of this administration toward the Iranian threat has --as Liberal Utopian fantasies so consistently do-- only served to increase the probability of armed conflict by emboldening those for whom polite conversation offers nothing so much as the opportunity to arm for a chance at the dominance which they see as having been unilaterally ceded. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, When you take force off the table, you invite others to take the table by force.

It is a lesson which this administration seems hell-bent on learning the very, very hard way.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thoughts on Fort Hood

I've been monitoring the coverage of the murderous rampage at Fort Hood (I steadfastly refuse to call it a "Tragedy."). I am as struck by the eagerness on the Right to declare it an unalloyed act of Islamist terrorism, as I am by the refusal on the Left to speak aloud the idea that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan's religion played any role at all. In the former case, Hasan's contacts with known Islamist radicals are correctly highlighted, In the latter, his obvious signs of mental illness are emphasized. Both sides commit the error of allowing ideological bias to corrupt their perception (let alone their interpretation) of the available evidence.

It may well prove that Hassan was gripped by a delusional system which took the form of murderous religious grandiosity (clearly there were indications of thought disorder of increasing severity over time, and religious themes are common in delusional processes). It may be that a kind of vicarious traumatization did in fact take place in the course of his work with combat veterans, resulting in such a pronounced decompensation even in the absence of first-hand trauma in battle (i.e., exacerbating a pre-existing mental instability). These may prove to be legitimately mitigating circumstances in the eventual outcome of the case (vs. the steely-eyed, clear-thinking fanatic scenario, for example).

However, even granting these possibilities, the willful exclusion of the role which Hasan’s Islamopathy (as in “Osama bin Laden is not so much a Muslim as an Islamopath,” It’s a term I coined the other day, of which I’m growing increasingly fond) is itself a kind of madness. If ever there was a glaring example of how political correctness paralyzes the processes of rational thought, it is this. Whether Hasan was shouting “Allahu Akhbar” as a battle cry, or as a prayer to preserve his soul in what even he must have seen as a probably fatal act, the fact remains that his religion (and his demented interpretation thereof) was somewhere in the mix. To insist otherwise is willfully to exclude the evidence of one’s senses.

The latter is by no means an exclusive proclivity of ideologues on the Right or the Left, to be sure. But I have noted with dismay that the comments I have read on the Right do factor in his mental illness (even if they discount any exculpatory value it may have to the matter at hand), while their counterparts on the Left have widely been characterized by a deafening silence on the matter of Hasan's religion...except to note that it may spur the widespread anti-Muslim backlash which even 9/11 conspicuously failed to bring about.

Events such as these serve to underscore that we live in times in which bias and bigotry and willful blindness can both speed the bullets with more or less equally devastating effect.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Whose Party is it Anyway?

Time is short, and I'll likely have more to say about this later, but I was just struck by a tire-iron of an irony. Have you noticed that the very same people who were going on about how the Tea Parties were "astroturfed" passion plays put on by the GOP, are now saying that these events and the movement they represent are evidence that the GOP is engaged in a "circular firing squad," that it is flying apart and being undone by the "radicals" in its midst? How are we to square this circle?

Can it simply be that the populist, small-government, Party-scorning movement in Conservative thought is simply a force unto itself, which is making both Liberals and establishment Republicans just about equally nervous? What might it say about those who live in a world in which this is a bad thing?