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February 27, 2009 - February 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas.

Come bask in the warmth of the American heart.

VINNIE.49.5. If you think the so-called War on Christmas is somehow succeeding, take some time out from your other festivities today to watch the uniquely domestic American channels TLC, HGTV, and their cable cousins. You'll discover an amazing variety of individual and community celebrations that range from spectacular Christmas light displays on land and sea to Santa parades and fruitcake catapult competitions. We Americans just love Christmas, and even our most vulgar commercial excesses are routinely alchemized by our native generosity into demonstrations of the hope, faith and good will that lie at the heart of Christmas.

Our best to all of you on this most blessed of days.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Kitty-Cat Worldview

We're all just warm, cuddly, fuzzy things at heart.

THE SELF-HATREDDELUSIONS OF THE YANKS. This post was going to be an essay responding to a significant percentage of the U.S. population, represented in the Comments on this post by Peter, who said:

I think there's no way to protect against individuals willing to cause mass death by killing themselves to make a point. We're probably better off not cultivating hatred when we can avoid it. We're definitely not better off suspending the Constitution to protect ourselves from intermittent and hidden threats

Actually, Peter is sounding more bellicose in his other remarks than the Ron Paul campaign he backs and far more patriotic and realistic than either the libertarians or leftists who also want to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq and "cease cultivating hatred" in the world by imposing our will on people who want to kill us.

But the hardest thing in the world is trying to prove the obvious to people who don't want to see the obvious. In fact, it's impossible.

So I'm not doing an essay. I'll just assert a few points.

Ron Paul, America Firsters, pacifists, America-haters, and leftists all subscribe to what I call the Kitty-Cat Worldview. They think the right organization or the right system or the right constraints on "imperialists" can somehow repeal history and make the world a peaceful place. It's not true. There's no warm and fuzzy Utopia out there waiting for us. There will always be predators -- individuals, nations, ideologies, religions -- who use irrational hatred as a source of power, and concealment of their own deficiencies, to feather their own nests. Human predators are essentially serial killers and mass murderers who have to be stopped because the damage they do is so catastrophic.

It's not true that all people are really the same under the skin. They may have similar appetites, but that's where the similarities end. Everything else about them differs -- wants, needs, values, even the fabric of individual consciousness itself. If you set any store by what you have, rest assured there are always people who actually live, and are willing to die, to take it away from you. They don't need an excuse Your very existence justifies their opposition to you, and they will endure evey hardship and deprivation to punish you for being you. You cannot hide from that kind of antipathy.

The notion that American actions abroad increase hatred of us more than isolationism would is flat wrong. America is the world's policeman because the world insists on it. They don't trust anyone else to do it. Everyone else kills and tortures and destroys and oppresses people more than we do when they intercede in other people's affairs. The so-called hatred we experience is the resentment average citizens have for cops in general; it's nothing compared to the rage and chaos that would result if people dialed 911 in an emergency and nobody came.

The global economy is not a new thing. It has always existed, as far back as two millennia BC. What has also always existed is the fate of nations who try to isolate themselves from that global economy. If you attempt to live in a shell, the world will open you up like a can of beans, unless you explode outward in psychotic paranoid aggression first. (Ron Paul followeres, think of 19th century China and Japan and 20th century imperial Japan and Kim il Sung's Korea.) Reclusiveness by nations is indistinguishable from psychotic denial.

On the homefront, no one's talking about suspending the Constitution. In all but a very few narrowly defined cases, the constitutional issues concerning the war on terror have to do with efforts by the left to extend the umbrella of U.S. due process protections to foreigners. Here's a post describing what rightwing (not) Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz thinks about the constitutional validity of such arguments.

Finally, the so-called enlightenment of (i.e., sanctimonious rhetoric by) Europeans about imperialism is bullshit. Like it or not, the United States has inherited the mantle of empire abandoned by the British after WWII. It was Brit-Euro imperialism -- and Brit-Euro Christendom -- that carried law, medicine, and lifespans past the age of 40 to five continents, a subcontinent, and multiple island kingdoms. The contemporary and suspiciously politically correct fury against imperialism is strongest in those regions where it was least successful in establishing western values. What the U.N. routinely asks of the U.S. is old-style European imperialism accompanied by politically correct public relations.

All in all, it's folly to think that libertarian or truly liberal dreams can be advanced by American withdrawal from the world stage. The world needs us. They will hate us always just a shade less than they need and want us, and we will always benefit a lot more by investing lives and money in their predicaments than we would by pretending it's more moral to ignore them or just write them bigger checks. The ugly fact is, they still need lessons on what it means to be civilized, and the United States knows more about that than any nation on earth.

The world is stuck with us, and we're stuck with the world. Sadly for all the dreamy-eyed Utopians, the world isn't populated by adorable, fluffy kittens. If you leave them alone long enough, the kittens turn into tigers. But if you try to defend against the tigers by cooing "Nice kitty" and hiding behind your Maginot Line, they will hunt you down and eat you before you can get off a defensive shot. More often than we'd like to think, defending against tigers requires killing tigers before they kill us. And what if tigers hate us while we're hunting them? Tough Call PETA.

Peter. Listen to Alfa and learn something about Islam. Lake. Stop humoring him. History long predates our brief lives and there's no way we can simply flash a penalty card and demand a do-over. All we can do is the best we can.

There be tigers out there. Meow.

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