January 15th, 2002

January 15, 2002

Posted at 6:59 PM by Jack Chalker

My old friend the late Ted Sturgeon used to always sign his name with a small glyph. When asked what that meant, he always explained, “It means ‘Ask the next question.’” I was reminded of that when looking at a few responses to my comments on the 9/11 events. The comments tend to split in just a few ways: (1) It was the dirty, fascist United States’ fault that it provoked the attack; (2) We should have turned the other cheek even to this attack because doing otherwise was to lower ourselves to the attackers’ level; (3) We should have solved the problem that caused these people to hate us through diplomacy and negotiation (a variation of (1)). Now, of course, I insist that such opinions be logical and consistent across the board, something most of those making such comments don’t care to do - www.florafox.com/ru/syktyvkar-18.

     Take (1). Let’s not argue over whether we provoked anything and just stick to the core of the argument. You are saying that all those people in those airplanes and in those buildings deserved to die because of some long-standing American policy that you believe is wrong. This is certainly a justification for the Taliban, but it’s also a justification for us, since there is no logical reason to assume that our sense of morality is of any less value than theirs. If you want to completely throw out history, you’re saying that the west deserved Hitler and that it was the U.S. fault that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor without warning. I’m sorry, this is simply so intellectually dumb it’s hardly worth refuting, but it does say an awful lot about your own sense of self if you believe this because it says that you, and those who agree with you and your values, are absolutely correct and everybody who doesn’t agree with them deserves to die. That’s not just weird, it’s scary.

     Now there’s (2), best exemplified by the comment that more Afghans died in overthrowing the Taliban than Americans died on 9/11. First of all, civilians die in wars. They always have. War is messy, dirty, unglamorous business. However, I would like to see your source for those numbers. This claim and body count has been made only in the radical Islamic press, the kind of folks who support Bin Laden down the line. There is no such count from the current Afghans. Even if it were true, however, it’s irrelevant. Our government did not launch a preemptive attack against their civilians and cities. By Mullah Omar’s own admission, the Taliban government was 100% complicit in the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. I find your moral compass flawed. It should be noted that the ordinary Afghanis in general consider themselves liberated from the Taliban, who, by their estimate, murdered more of their own people in one single soccer stadium than were in either tower of the WTC. Under the morality this position posits, it was wrong to go to war with Hitler or with the Japanese in 1941. Evil must be allowed to go unchecked because anything else is immoral. Obviously we shouldn’t enforce laws against rape, murder, incest, robbery and the like, either. To do so is to lower ourselves to their standard? It must also be noted that even after Al Qaeda killed our people in various spots around the world including unprovoked attacks on embassies, we did not attack. We were, in fact, the soul of forebearance on this until, by not attacking, we were attacked as weak. Sorry, this doesn’t hold water.

     And the most dishonest of all is (3) because it posits a position that the other side rejected out of hand. First, it presupposes a government to negotiate with. Not that this really matters—Russia negotiated with and solved its worries with Nazi Germany by diplomacy and treaty until, of course, the Nazis attacked. In this case we do not even have a single government to deal with. We do have a mimimum list of Bin Laden objectives, though, straight from him. In brief, we are to withdraw to our national borders, disband the United Nations and all alliances with other powers, support the overthrow of the Saudi and Egyptian regimes, and insure that Israel got no aid or support so that it was completely annihilated, not merely as a state but also every man, woman, and child in it. Israel’s destruction, it must be noted, was a major objective of Bin Laden’s father and family but never seems to have concerned him all that much. His is a mission from God to purify all lands that are or ever were Islamic of all nonbelievers and impose a single state under his brand of Islamic law. Those who make this diplomacy argument almost always are using their “negotiations” as a euphimism for Israel and the Jews. First, there can be no compromise with the Al Queda brand of Islam so what you are really saying is that we should simply trade Jews for peace like so many Europeans did in the past. This is a myopic view of radical Islam and it also puts you right there in the company of the commandant of Dachau. If you advocate this and feel comfortable with Himmler, fine, but have the honesty to say so. Then we can have an honest debate.

     Oh—while we’re at it, the fact that Bill Maher is entitled to proclaim his position is not at issue. I am an absolutist on freedom of speech, and the only definition of freedom that makes sense is that freedom is the right to be wrong. Everybody can agree with the government or masses or whatever; it’s being “wrong” that makes free speech free. But he no more has the right to a network television show than I have an absolute right to be published by, say, Random House, nor is he insulated from the wrath of sponsors and consumers who don’t see why they have some obligation to pay for his hall. Two different questions. As to his remarks, Dennis Miller’s comments on it should suffice: “It isn’t whether Bill’s right or wrong on the issue, it’s the fact that there’s a proper way to disagree and then there’s dancing and shitting on the deceased grave at the funeral in fron of all his loved ones. Timing in any business is everything.”

     Next question?

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