When it first became politically trendy to back passage of ‘hate-crime’ legislation, I privately thought it a bad idea, while understanding completely why it was an appealing notion, especially for political and social entities which presumed to act on behalf of those threatened by weaponized hate. The fear in such communities was real, every bit as real as the threats, the vandalism, the lynch mobs, and disenfranchisement. It would take a politician with balls of brass to stand up before a group who justifiably were frightened by all that, and discount those fears. It was the easy way out for politicians, the media and social organizations to portray hate crime legislation as a good and discount those doubts held by those of us with inclinations toward the philosophical. A crime was a crime: there were already laws on the books dealing with vandalism, murder, arson and so on. A motivation for committing a crime ought to be of interest only in establishing the guilt of the perpetrator, not for piling on additional penalties. We do not have windows to peer accurately into the souls of others. Essentially, classifying a crime as a ‘hate crime’ was punishing the thought, over and above the actual crime itself. I didn’t think it was a good idea then, and still don’t think so – especially given the overwhelming numbers of so-called “hate crimes” which turn out to be either deliberate hoaxes, or the deeply imaginative letting their imaginations run away from them.

I feel the same way about hate crime’s dubious cousin – so-called hate speech, which of late seems to be classified lately as anything which the bien-pensant in academia, the media, or politics don’t wish to hear. Early on, the concept seemed to be that hate speech was the stuff of the KKK and the Nazis campaign against racial and religious minorities and encouraging the excision and/or destruction of those minorities from the human race by whatever means. Which was not just bad, it was also – in the words of my mother, one of the most militantly tolerant women on the face of the earth – rude. However, of late, the definition of hate-speech has become so loose as to be useless; a pity, as it once was a shorthand for the genuinely unacceptable in public discourse.

And that is not the worst, although the double standard when it comes to defining what is acceptable is galling to conservatives and moderates: why should nasty, bigoted racists like David Duke be un-personed, when a nasty, bigoted racist like Louis Farrakhan be an honored guest in the halls of the bien-pensant? Why is conservative speech on college campuses condemned as “violence” while violence perpetuated by far-leftists is excused as “free speech”? At this point, we know damned well why – and that is one of the reasons that the media, political, and academic members of the Ruling Class are hemorrhaging trust and credit with at least half the country.

The most troubling recent development on the hate-crime/hate speech front, though, is the concerted and organized effort to cut off organizations accused of having committed so-called “hate speech” (often on very thin grounds) not just from the popular social media outlets, but to pressure credit card and payment processing companies into denying their services. We’ve already seen this done to individuals – now it is an open campaign to economically punish the speech that the current Ruling Class doesn’t want to hear. Discuss our options for routing around this new insult to common sense and decency.

I speak, of course, of the missing Malaysia Airlines Boing 777, which took off last week from Kuala Lumpur and came to earth … or sea – we know not where. The whole saga just gets weirder and weirder as reported. Possible terrorists? Piracy and ransom? Complicity of the flight crew? Transponders turned off, and flying in a zig-zaggy pattern, and then vanishing entirely? There’s a new angle almost every day or so. Increasingly those who wonder about such things are wondering if those who do know or suspect with good reason what really happened to Flight MH370 are keeping their mouths shut as well. Yes – the oceans are wide and deep, and an airplane – even a Boeing 777 – is large and full of stuff, and people.

Wherever it came down, on land or on sea and if catastrophically … well, searchers usually have found something by now, especially by following along the original flight path. But MH370 went rogue, although why, how, where and at the hands of whom is a puzzle most extraordinary – in the words of Hercule Poirot. I’ll make no pretense of being an expert in investigating missing aircraft, but I only remember one other such case of a large aircraft vanishing so thoroughly and completely in the last decade or so. (It was in Africa, under weird circumstances, flight crew of three and … no one knows what happened to it after it took off.)

Usually, three days max, and somewhere along the expected flight path – the searchers find what’s left of the aircraft, and begin to make an educated guess at what happened, even if all there is to go on at first are some floating seat cushions and a fuel slick. But this, as I say, is just weird. Everything that is reported – and what is reported is sketchy, contradictory and filtered through the news media of several different countries – only adds to the weirdness. Speculation runs all the way through the possible, the probable to the ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and into the frankly extraordinary. But the thing is that once you have seen a plot to hijack four passenger airliners and crash them into tall buildings get carried out, one knows that what was once ‘thriller-novel-plot’ and conspiracy website fodder may very well turn up among tomorrows’ headlines.

So, yeah, my heart hasnt really been in this blogging thing for a while no, no nonono, I am not working up to pulling the plug, its just that I have been diverted by another mission. As I said in a post a couple of months ago, Im just laying down to bleed a while, then up and fight again but I know how Timmer feels. Theres a lot of stuff going on, which in days of yore I would have been perfectly at home, piling on with the rest of us. Some of it is just the usual blogger shit-fit: Marcotte who? At where? Ummm. OK this is the blogger-face you want with your campaign? Its always a bad sign when you piss off more than you make friends with. Didnt anyone actually read hers and that other blog before taking them on board officially? Apparently not. Smooth move, Ex-Lax, as we used to say in junior high.

Anna Nicole Smith, news coverage of, 24-7. Umm, OK. Clear demonstration that the major legacy media are not serving us well, although the Princess Di-like coverage fairly well illustrates the adage about first time tragedy, second time farce. Were kinda over served in the farce department here, although the astronaut Lisa whats-er-fern is probably grateful for it.

Britney Spears, bald. Sorry, Im not stooping to the obvious here. (Although the remembrance of a cartoon entitled Her First Masked Ball keeps popping up in my mind. I think it was in National Lampoon in about 1979. You google for it, you pervert.) Girl, the trailer park is calling. It is your destiny!

Talk about flashbacks to the 1970s, though watching our major political parties and politicians maneuver over the last couple of days. Tragedy and farce, tragedy and farce, people. Only this time its going to be a tragedy and a tragedy again. Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. Its been like watching a blindfolded person walk over a cliff; for the purposes of scoring domestic political points, just go ahead and kiss off and abandon our allies (yes, we do have some, here and there, although you wouldnt know it from your abject flunkies in the legacy media) and pull our forces out of Iraq in 90 days or whatever other timeline you have pulled out of your ass which will look good in the polls. Yeah. Sure. Whatever.

Sell out our national credibility and commitment to a long and difficult mission for a mess of pottage and polls. Do whatever it takes to keep you in that nice little office you have scored for yourself. Just keep thinking of your short-term interest. Just keep hoping that all that jihadist narsty stuff in the woodshed will all go away, when George Bush exits the White House. Yep, just keep hoping. Get your friends and mouthpieces in the legacy media to help you out with that. Everybody will love us once again, once the Bushhitlertyrant is gone, and our betters are in control. Take a nice long drink of the Koolaid, comrade, you will feel so much better.

Me, I am trying to take the long view. With luck the blogosphere will circumvent the flee-all-is-lost-in Iraq meme, as best we can. No more kindly and authoritative Uncle Walty declaring without opposition after the Tet Offensive , that all is lost in Vietnam! Flee, flee for your lives! And also there is a means of fighting the our troops are bloodthirsty baby-killers and war-criminals meme. Heres hoping we can scotch that one, right at the starting post, although given that the so-called military expert for the Washington Post is singing that little ditty like his hope of heaven depends on it doesnt necessary ensure that that particular meme will go down without a fight. Its going to be a bumpy ride in the next two years: fasten your metaphorical seatbelt, and prepare to weather the shitstorm

Me I have the feeling that bad stuff is going to happen. And that I can do my best part now by going back to our stories, or recollections of who we are, and what we had to overcome. We have had hard times, bad times, times when we might have given it all up. We have to remember these stories. Our past, those stories that some of us know, and that some of us have yet to be reminded of, we will need them, very soon. Things will start happening, in the next months or years. Events will overtake the best intentions of us all, and so we need to be reminded of our history, our stories and our heroes and heroines.

They are a talisman, our hope, our light in the dark when every other light has gone out.

After the last time America declared a victory and went home…
Cambodia.
(link through “Classical Values“)

So I am tired in the wake of the midterm election, and have problems of my own partially employed being one of them, and waiting to hear from the semi-interested agent if the latest book has a chance to rest in a publishers in-box rather than the unnoticed slush-pile being one of the others, and we cant afford to go to Mom and Dads for Christmas this year, Spike the shih-tzu still isnt housebroken and everything in my house that hasnt been shredded by a cat has been pissed on by a dog. On top of this I have had to endure a week of non-stop, full-bore balls to the wall gloating by the so very, very superior and knowledgeable intellects at NPR . Really, its enough to make one think seriously about being a hermit and canceling every subscription to every slightly to the left of center publication I have ever had except that a lot of them were left to lapse after 9/11. Or they went out of business. Hello, Brills Content! Hello, Spy! Where are you, now that we really need you!!!??? Harpers? Ugh, there was Moms old quandary about Harpers or Atlantic— one or the other and couldnt decide, so took both— 9/11 decided for us; up yours with a garden hose, Lewis Lapham, you nasty and arrogant old snob. Goodbye to Mother Jones, to Utne Reader, to the local edition of Current— a publication dedicated to progressive and politically correct -thinking, but apparently supported by the ad revenue generated from tittie bars and dubious personals. Ce la guerre.

Time and Newsweek may fall of themselves soon news that is a week old by the time it is printed seems like two weeks old to someone accustomed to scouting the internet. There may be a reason for them to exist these days, but damned if I can think of it. I can give them both up, as easily as the paladins of our free press surrendered the right of the people to know when it came to the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Man, they folded on that one faster than the French Army folded to the Germans in 1940. Even the French put up a bit of a fight way back then, but not so our fearless news media, with one or two honorable exceptions. If anything, the last couple of years have proved that fearless, unbiased and principled dedication to reporting all the news that is fit to print is as optional for our legacy media as underwear is to Paris Hilton. The same old media slime-balls— reporters and sources —- keep popping up, again and again like unsavory and un-flushable bits of sewage.

No matter how many times they are caught out, debunked, corrected, displayed before the public as complete idiots, theyre back like Freddy the Slasher. Dan Rather just wont go the hell away, neither will Sy Hersh, well never hear the end of the famous plastic turkey, Daniel Schorr, the Eyore of NPR is tiresomely still afflicting a newsroom someone still pays Robert Fisk, although god knows why. No, its all enough to make me extremely tired, to know that all these and more are eagerly planning to cover naked truth with another expedient print petticoat.

And then to look away, and pretend they didnt see a thing.

”I am hurt, but I am not slain;

I’ll lay me down and bleed a while,

And then I’ll rise and fight again.

After reading Sgt Mom’s outstanding post last night, and adding my own rosy commentary, I came across this article in The Daily Standard on the Moroccan approach to relations between Islam and other religions that offers hope. For example:

Abaddi’s visit to the United States underscores this point: It was part of an ongoing campaign to reach out to religious groups in the United States. One aim is to raise the profile of what he calls the “Moroccan model” of moderate Islam. Evangelical leaders, for example, have been invited to Casablanca for high-level meetings and inter-faith dialogues. In March of this year, the Moroccan government helped sponsor a conference of “Rabbis and Imams for Peace” in Seville.

I have tried to make sense of this issue for years now; tried to express the conclusions at which I have arrived without coming off as being cut from the same cloth as the Muslims that I have been critical of – more often than not unsuccessfully, I think and particularly with the left. It has been a challenge to reconcile the theme that Muslims-in America-are-not-like-those-zealots-in-Iran-they-just-want-to-live-the-American-dream with the stories about long standing mosques in the U.S. being hijacked by radical imams (I am looking for a link to a series by the Chicago Trib on this topic), and organizations like CAIR that, despite their moderate appearance, are a front for the radical fringe. I have no doubt that the former premise is largely true, but so is the latter. A question that I grapple with is why the moderate multitudes are so silent on the subject; why they do not loudly, openly, and with great frequency disavow the subset of the Muslim belief system that spawns the likes of what we see in the news on a nightly basis. Comments and emails to previous posts on the subject have chastised me for being ignorant of some supposed vocal repudiation, but were absent any sort of citation. To some extent, the print media must take some responsibility, for if they expended as much effort researching the Muslim counterpoint to radicalism as they spend in their attempt to sensationalize the horrible acts of (what I hope to be) the radical minority, perhaps average people like me would not have these questions.

Getting back to Morocco, I think a large part of the problem is that in many nations the Muslim majority is poor and illiterate, and hence easily led by corrupt leaders. I am skeptical that the moderation practiced by Morocco, and hopefully a future Iraq, can turn the tide in the apparent time frame that we have. There are too many people over there both serving and drinking the KoolAid, and too long a history of distrust for the west.

Geez, I started this with an upbeat attitude and end up at the same place. Maybe I need to take a trip to Casablanca. Maybe stop by Rick’s Place. I hear the Nazi’s are gone.

Radar

The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air

From The Fellowship of the Ring

There is a change in our world, and in the world of the blogosphere, that most sensitive of organisms, like a jellyfish that flinches at the slightest change in the water, the temperature or the flow of it, curling in upon itself, tensing in readiness against something harsh and horrible. I thought it was just me, for the last six months or so, feeling a jangling unease, thinking it was just me that found it hard to write, finding it all sad and wearying and depressing, finding it all too horrible, words and ideas not flowing easily, thoughts all incoherent, un-climbable mountains of trollage and spam piling up, of editorial issues and looking for a new job, of temp wage slavery at the Enormous Corporate Behemoth all of that, and thinking it was just me and my personal issues, not finding blogging to be fun any more, just another grim job to be dealt with, until I read this, and thought with no little relief; Oh, it just isnt me, after all.

I have really enjoyed blogging over the last four years— it is a lifeline and outlet, a useful purpose and a voice, my connection to others of like mind and if not of like, at least of interesting and stimulating minds. And sometimes I am touched by fire, and write something interesting and cogent and relevant, and someone on the other side of the world or in the next city reads it, and is touched by the fire also, and lets me know about how I have made it possible to understand something, or feel something, or be able to see an event with someone elses eyes. Blogging here is an opportunity to educate about the many-splendored weirdness of the military world and I would hate to think I was at the point of giving it up, after the fun of the coaster-ride over the last four years and since it only this last week the NY Times, the magisterial paper of record, had to publish a correction about muddling a Purple Heart and a Gold Star in a story about the funeral of a serving military member, it would seem that there is still a heck of a lot of educating to do. (Sheesh! Three years of war, and theyre as bone ignorant today as they were then, another reason to be slightly depressed ok, breath deeply, and repeat the mantra. It is not my job to reform the NY Times, it is not my job to reform the NY Times, it is not my job to reform the NY Times better be someones job soon, otherwise they will just be a local fish-wrap with an amusingly elevated sense of its own importance, and about thirty readers, who all live in expensive condos in a very small part of town. See the LA Times, which used to be a fine and respected newspaper.)

I can suppose this is only cosmic payback for a lifetime spent entranced in history, of the times before of the times before things changed, of the times just out of reach of my own memory, the times of my grandparents and my parents formative years, of the worlds that they remembered, but which irretrievably slipped away. Grandpa Jim, Grandpa Al, Grannie Jessie and Grannie Dodie all were born into a world of horse-drawn conveyances, of gaslights and steamships, where the monarchies of Russia and Austria and Germany were seemingly set-in-stone eternal, and the sun never set on the British Empire and then, hey presto by the time they were all teenagers or in their early twenties, three of those verities were gone and the fourth moved into twilight. But my grandparents moved on, did their jobs and made their homes, raised their families into that new world, and then there was that other seismic shift, the next war that shattered and reformed their established world, the one that I most particularly studied, almost to the extent of sometimes thinking I was re-living it.

In a curious way, I think that it is 1938 again, the very last year that it was possible for the well-meaning and well-intentioned to believe with a whole heart that total war was not inevitable, the year of the annexation of Austria, of Neville Chamberlains attempt to buy peace—followed promptly by the German annexation of the Sudetenland, and the Night of Broken Glass— the year that it became obvious to more than just the extremely far-sighted that no peaceful and well-meant actions on the part of the British and French administrations could swerve Hitler from his appointed path, that there was nothing to be expected from the League of Nations, that however much they wished otherwise, bad stuff would be happening. It might be soon, it might be later, but it would be happening, however much one wished and prayed for, otherwise war would come. And there was nothing to be done that would stop it happening

Events and portents appear, flashing like lightning in one of our summer Texas thunderstorms, finally occurring so frequently that the sky is continuously lit with an eerie blue-white lightriots in Paris and in Australia, murders of Thai teachers, the Affair of the Danish Cartoons. The abject truckling in to threats and violence by western main-stream media, and now threats by Irans president to destroy Israel, twinned with Irans nuclear ambitions and such threats reported not in fringy little foreign-affairs journals and blogs, but over and over again, on the front pages and in the headlines. Are they credible threats? Whose lives do we bet that they are not?

I wonder now, if some of the contemporary venom, and malice directed towards FDR, and to a lesser extent, Churchill— both of whom quite clear-eyed about the menace that Hitler posed from a fairly early date— might be a sort of displacement of their fears. There are terrible, lurking dangers, awful people that you can, in the long run, essentially do nothing about— more comfortable to be able to displace your fear and anger, aim it all towards someone that you can do something about, not some fanatic in a cave, or in Berlin, far, far away. Best to focus all your fears and apprehensions, and aim that at the closer and more comprehensible target, and comfort yourself that you have done what you could, that you are blameless and above reproach, sincere in not wanting any of that nasty war and violence. If it falls on someone else, then it must be all their fault then, it was something they did, or didnt do, that caused war to be interested in them and their children, their houses and cities, and tall shining buildings on a lovely September morning.

What could our grandparents and great-grandparents do, in 1938, but wait for the inevitable to fall, knowing that all their safe and peaceful world would not be eternal and everlasting, but would be finite, and of short duration; that there would soon be an end to all the lovely, predictable joys of a settled existence. What better encouragement to enjoy them with bitter-sweet gusto, knowing that the ship was definitively and slowly sinking, that the ordinary pleasures of life would be at an end?

I am going to finish the touch-ups to the house this weekend, painstakingly climbing up and down a tall ladder borrowed from a neighbor, who most definitely will be wanting it back soon, since I have had it since early this month, carrying a small brush and a paint-can, my pockets filled with nails and tools. I have a notion to pave the center part of the back yard with concrete pavers of my own creation, set with black river pebbles set on end, to make flowers and geometric patterns, like the stairs and terraces I saw in Spain and have never seen again. I want to set a small fountain in the middle of it, to hear the sound of running water in the afternoons of these brutally hot summer days, which is work that will take months to accomplish and about the same to pay for. And all the time I am doing it, I will have the radio on. And all these days to come, Ill know that someday, some time, Ill hear a news bulletin about a mushroom cloud someplace in the Middle East, or Europe, or maybe over an American city and that these days of peace will be ended for once and all.

Frodo: “I wish none of this had happened. ”
Gandalf: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
From “The Fellowship of the Ring”

To: Osama Bin Laden
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Dahab Bombing

So, Effendi, how is that hearts and minds thing going in Moslim countries, these days?

Sincerely,

Sgt. Mom

19. July 2004 · Comments Off · Categories: Mordor

Here’s a minor victory over the Saudis:

Lawmakers cheered as the House of Representatives voted on Thursday to strip financial assistance for Saudi Arabia from a foreign aid bill because of criticism that the country has not been sufficiently cooperative in the US war on terror.

The vote was a stinging defeat for the Bush Administration which had strongly opposed the measure saying it would severely undermine counter-terrorism cooperation with Saudi Arabia and US efforts for peace in the Middle East.

The House voted 217-191 to remove $25,000 in the $19.4 billion 2005 foreign aid bill earmarked for Saudi Arabia.

The funds were designated for military training but approval would have triggered millions of dollars in discounts on hardware and other military training, lawmakers said.

I dont want my taxpayer dollars going to the Saudis and I dont want anyone elses to, said Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley.

I second Rep. Berkley’s sentiments, and go one further: The Saudis can go fuck themselves. When I vote this year, one of my major considerations will be whether I believe a candidate is the recipient of financial aid from the Saudis or appears friendly to them. As far as I’m concerned, they are the real enemy in this war and to appease them or accept money from them would be analogous to those in the 1930’s who worked for Nazi Germany’s best interests rather than our own.

The Saudi Royal Family, and their Wahhabist strain of Islam that resulted in 3,000 dead on Sept. 11th, needs to be wiped clean from the face of the Earth. This war’s not over until they’re dead.