Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mah hole

Can you dig it?

Time for some shorters, tho some may run long.

Are you talking to me?: Yes, we are. Now read the comment Nutella posted. Freddie is allowed to speak for the rest of us.

Anger Management:

Once more into the breach, and then I will go back to more pleasant topics, like how we know how many people have died in Iraq (answer: we don't. But that's a long story.)
Megan is never too angry to make jokes about death counts. What a trooper.
Obviously, I have a temper. I am slow to anger, but once roused, I as well as anyone know the delights of unloading one's accumulated venom on richly deserving targets. It is not my most attractive quality, and I do strive to control it, but there you are; one does not achieve perfection in this vale of tears. My only defense is that I almost never direct my verbal ire at anyone who has not put in hours of solid work being nasty, rude, and otherwise intolerable.
Megan, Megan, Megan. It really doesn't take that long to be harsh to you.
There is a culture on the internet that prevails in certain areas of both the right and left blogosphere, of using insults and incredulity as a substitute for thought. Sadly, the assumption in both corners is that the reason the people they are provoking do not respond in kind is that they are simply not bright enough to muster the devastating weapons of personal rudeness and sarcasm to their side. It is thus useful and more than a little satisfying to occasionally demonstrate that no, the politer quarters aren't forgoing these things because we can't, but because they're both counterproductive, and not quite nice. All right, maybe more satisfying than useful. As I say, I have a temper. Also, if I do say so myself, I'm rather a dab hand at sarcasm, and it's a pity to have a skill one can't use.
Shouldn't you at least say your mom thinks you're smart and pretty Megan? This whole thing is kinda about how your opinion can be monstrously wrong.
Well, now that I've gone through the exercise and thoroughly expelled the remaining poison from my mandibular venom sacs, I do want to say something seriously to both sides: the anger is making things much, much, much, much worse.

I don't want to hear about who started it. Believe me, in 2003 many on both sides were acting like complete . . . well, I can't say what they were acting like, because this is a family blog. But you know what I would say, if I weren't a lady. Neither side's manners have improved noticeably since then. The very same people who were calling names and accusing those who disagreed with them of stupidity, poor judgement, immorality, and bad faith, are still saying exactly the same things. I'm now on the receiving end of all of it, so don't try to tell me that your side doesn't bear part of the blame.
Now she's going to lecture us. Oh, boy.
War supporters: in November, it is extremely likely Barack Obama is going to win the presidency. If you continue to respond to the war's critics with "lalalalalalalala I can't HEAR you!", you are going to be completely shut out of the discussion come November. Demanding, incredulously, of me or anyone else, whether we seriously think it would have been better to leave a murderous dictator in place is not going to help. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 125,000 to 150,000 Iraqis have died since we invaded, each of whose heart beat and eyes blinked and minds dreamed as yours do right now staring at this computer screen.
Actually, I got enough waspy passive aggression growing up on the fringes of New England, and this thing just keeps going and going and... Besides, it's mostly a recap of her comments in the "Note to opponents of the war" post, minus the Althousian personal attacks at Rea. Megan projecting blame for the effects of her faults isn't worth further attention.

A method to my madness:
One thing that I didn't make sufficiently clear--for which I, yes, apologize--is that I'm making a methodological argument about learning, not a play to exclude war opponents from the nation's op-ed pages and blog comments sections.
Once they apologize for having been right, that is.
Obviously, there are people who were right about the war for the right reasons, and we should examine what their thought process was--not merely the conclusions they came to, but how they got there. Other peoples' opposition was animated by principles that may be right, but aren't really very helpful: the pacifists, the isolationists, the reflexive opponents of Republicans or the US military. Within the limits on foreign policy in a hegemonic power, these just aren't particularly useful, again, regardless of whether you are metaphysically correct.
Sure, you might have been right, but you were probably just a hippy. A mean hippy.
"It won't work" is the easiest prediction to get right; almost nothing does.
On the other hand, "I thought it would work for X reason", when it didn't work, is, I think, a lesson you can carry into both decisions about what to do, and what not to do.
I agree, and like to test birth control methods the same way.

Whither Iraq?:
A friend asked me today what I thought we should do in Iraq. Answer: I think at this point we have a moral obligation to do whatever is best for the Iraqis. I have no idea what that is.
See how much you can learn from your mistakes?


M. Bouffant said...

Nice hole. Where'd you get it?

Anonymous said...

A friend asked me today what I thought we should do in Iraq. Answer: I think at this point we have a moral obligation to do whatever is best for the Iraqis. I have no idea what that is.

It's been killing me that I didn't get my response to this up there in due time. Something to the effect of:

What should we do? What we've always done: Adopt the talking points of the Republican Establishment.

But, also as we've always done, we need to pretend that we're objective (or objectivist!). Pretending to be libertarian has worked so far. We should go with that. We'll pretend to hem and haw, like we're making a huge decision that's really testing us (see Bush endorsement in 2004; we couldn't even name the Libertarian candidate!).

We should also pretend to care. Obviously, we didn't care when we adopted the Republican position to invade Iraq, but we pretended to. Saying things like "I think at this point we have a moral obligation to do whatever is best for the Iraqis" is a great start. As a bonus, this will come in handy five years from now when it's gone so horribly wrong that even we will have to give another phony admission that we were in any way wrong about What to do in Iraq. We'll be able to throw up the "we were wrong for the right reasons: we just cared too much," unlike all those weak-minded liberals--er NotLibertarians--who just got lucky.

So even though we'll be recycling insipid Republican talking points aimed at the Fox News mouth-breathing demographic (again), we need to go about it the right way.

Well, something like that.