The Dartmouth Observer
Wednesday, July 28, 2004
In Need of Discrimination: Watching What You Say
[fired this off to the editor after reading Gago's piece on the D on Tues]
Both Bruce Gago in "Freedom of Hate Speech?" and Chaplain Richard R. Crocker in "Faith Under Fire" have written to the editor of the(Every-other Daily) D to comment on the debate concerning whether the College should censure Al-Nur for hosting/entertaining, on its website, anti-Semitic interpretations of the Qu'ran. I will summarize the twin positions of Messrs Gago and Chaplain to demonstrate the misguidedness of their views.
For Gago, controversy creates a space where "logic, reason, and open debate" adjudicates among competing claims. For the College to do so, through juridical means, would unnecessarily abridge and burden the climate of free speech, which Bruce implies in his rhetorical question is the "fundamental raison d'etre" of the university. The idea that the College should censor any speech at all, as provocatively implied in that firebrand closing of his with its deliberate employment of the word "hate",--"sanctions against any organization or student that expresses speech, be it hateful or controversial, would undermine the most elemental tenets of human expression and university education"--is a heretical doctrine and should never be consider by educated folk. (Educated folk are, of course, those lovely souls of wit and learning who utilize the holy trinity of "logic, reason, and open debate.")
The Chaplain is as devoted to the unquestioned place of "free speech" as Gago but pads his view by adding in the oft-neglected dimension of tone, encapsulated in the word "civility”, which Bruce overlooks. (Bruce apparently believes that screaming matches, with a little reason et al., will produce learning and knowledge. I beg to differ.) Chaplain Crocker offers that while "freedom of expression is essential in an academic community", participants and interlocutors should "always try to cultivate and maintain an attitude of respect toward those who may disagree." Moreover, religious groups have a special burden in the verbal competition of ideas for they should “take leadership in protesting...when such expressions cease to be objects of inquiry and are instead used to threaten individuals or groups. Being a responsible member of a pluralistic educational community requires that while our beliefs differ, we express those beliefs in a way that honors the dignity of those who disagree with them."
Both Gago and Crocker believe that free speech is a good, administrative bodies should be neutral to the content of the speech, and Chaplain Crocker adds, participants must keep the medium of delivery nice. I take issue with the idea that entities like the College must be neutral to the content of speech simply because it is speech and is thus declared, by fiat, "free". Why should we conflate "hate" speech with a discourse of learning? Bruce offers that the most fundamental tenet of a university education is the freedom to express. I suggest, in contra, that the *actual* fundament of a liberal education is the cultivation of discrimination-- that is, the increasing ability to discern between the good and the bad and preparation for the ability to choose conceptions of the good life that does not unnecessarily burden others by its existence.
The College does not simply import hundreds of incoming first years to the sanctuary of Hanover to simply allow them speak. The College requires classes, and encourages each individual to shape her mind through the distributive requirements system. It is particularly in the social sciences and the humanities that we learn how to identify what is good and what is bad. (Unfortunately, the sciences and engineering departments often have curricula that are devoid of normative content. This is, of course, unsurprising given how much of their funding comes from places like the Department of Defense and other assorted institutions of war making. In fact, most of the products of the science and engineering departments scoff at the idea that they should think critically about what scientific research means-- but I digress.) Through these classes, we explore the conceptual frameworks that will govern our outlook as persons and citizens, and leave a huge imprint on our scholarly undergraduate work. Antiracism, antidiscrimination, elitism, vegetarianism, a concern for injustice, and feminism are just a few of the values I have appropriated from my classes. None of these values suggests "content-neutral" thinking; in fact, my values specifically dictate that when one hears an offensive or incorrect proposition that has found a new interlocutor with which to have a Socratic dialogue.
This brings me to a practical application of what I have learned. The College can, and should, ban speech that injures the quality of life and the total community environment of learning. Since we as individuals are, as political theorist Benhabib notes, situated among many webs of interlocution and various communities of language and socializing, we as individuals, and the College as an institutional authority, have the responsibility to censor and punish speech-acts. The Supreme Court best defined those acts as those "which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." That responsibility is not simply the Chaplain's injunction to be nice, but also forces us to ensure *what* we say is not injurious before we determine *how* we are going to say it.
My conception of what speech means in the context of a liberal education would be allow a controversy that causes learning, and allow us to condemn the speech of a fraternity and possibly censor Al-Nur. It would force members of various communities of discourse to consider more carefully the content and application of their ideas. This is not to lead to political correctness, for I lambaste such things often, but means to serve as a major corrective to those who doubt the importance of group identity and self-respect.
Any person should have been offended and have wanted to act against what was found on Al-Nur's website. I do not know what the College will do to Al-Nur, if anything, but it is important that we defend the right of the College to do so. I close with an observation of Justice Frankfurter: a person's "job and [her] educational opportunities and the dignity afforded him may depend as much on the reputation of the racial and religious group to which [she] willy-nilly belongs, as on his own merits."
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
Those Crazy Candidates
G.W. Bush had a great retort to Kerry's claim that he has "conservative values" (as Reason notes, "though, to be fair, Bush started it by stealing compassion from the Democrats"), which is actually kind of amusing:
AUDIENCE: Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!The most amusing comment of the evening was, however, "My opponents look at all this progress and somehow conclude that the sky is falling. (Laughter.) But whether their message is delivered with a frown or a smile, it's the same old pessimism. And to cheer us up, they propose higher taxes --
AUDIENCE: Booo!None of this should be interpeted as an endorsement, really, of either "side." Politics is, if one stops to think about it, simply an exercise in farce, merely;a choice between going over the cliff at 65 mph vs. 45 mph with a side debate over whether the engine of destruction will be environmentally friendly. Pundit Sheldmon Richman is a bit too optimistic when describing Election 2004 as "An Echo, Not a Choice" by presuming there was something there in the first place. I would much rather have some of my friends running the White House than either of the men churned up the national Republican and Democratic parties. For starters, here's a good primer concerning Bush, nicely titled: "Ten Reasons to Fire George Bush, and Nine Reasons Kerry won't be better". Unfortunately it was written by those silly libertarians whose ideology blinds them from deficit of justice in American society, but what can you expect from ideologues who believe that a strictly unregulated market society is best thing since revealed religion?
Saturday, July 17, 2004
A Little Intervention Please?
"The conflict has been described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Pro-government Arab militia have forced more than a million people from their homes and killed thousands. The African Union has said it will send 300 troops to Darfur by the end of the month. But analysts say at least 15,000 would be needed to monitor such a large area."
Entire article found here.
What are the Courts trying to prove?
In addition to the five months in prison, "Stewart also was ordered to spend five months confined to her home and was fined $30,000. She was allowed to remain free pending appeal. The sentence was the minimum possible under federal guidelines."
Should the justice system be about mercy? "Defense lawyer Robert Morvillo had asked the judge for a sentence of merely probation and community service working with poor women. He said Stewart "knows she's not perfect" and deserved mercy."
Given the unnecessarily punitive sentences that lesser felonies, drug dealing/possession, and the crimes oftentimes committed by poor people receive, one can only wonder whether white collar crime, a la Ken Lay of Enron, Martha or her stockbroker should be punished more severely.
CBS News opines:
It is a sentence that ought to educate Stewart about how being tough doesn't necessarily have to preclude someone from being compassionate. Even though Cedarbaum gave Stewart prison time, she didn't give her the maximum 16 months possible under the federal sentencing guidelines. Instead, she gave her near the minimum sentence possible while still ensuring some hard prison time. And even though Cedarbaum remains convinced that Stewart was fairly tried and convicted by overwhelming evidence, she was willing and able to recognize that Stewart has "suffered, and will continue to suffer, enough."Concerning Ken Lay, "If convicted of all counts, Mr Lay could face up to 175 years in jail and fines totalling $5.75m. Bail was set at $500,000 by US magistrate Judge Mary Milloy, rejecting a request from prosecutors to post bail at $6m on the contention that Mr Lay is a flight risk."
A possible beginning to being "tough on coporate crime"?
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Update II: Books
The past four weeks I've read a couple of books that I think would make for excellent summer reading. One of them's Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, by the Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans. (David Pryce-Jones has a review of it here.) Irving's a prolific author who's written a great many books attempting to deny or downplay the Holocaust. When historian Deborah Lipstadt called him a "Holocaust denier," Irving sued her for libel in Britain (where the odds are stacked in favor of the plaintiff). Evans, a very distinguished scholar even before the trial, was brought in as one of several expert witnesses to demonstrate the validity of Lipstadt's claims. This he accomplishes superbly in Lying About Hitler, an absolutely engrossing book that I recommend to anyone interested in history, historiography, law, postmodernism, or - since it reads like one - detective stories. I should add that Evans's earlier book, In Defense of History is equally good (and in fact was one of the reasons why he was asked to defend Lipstadt).
While we're on the topic of the Holocaust, I should probably mention the book I'm reading right now: George L. Mosse's Crisis of German Ideology, an intellectual and cultural history of Nazi ideology that begins in the middle of the 19th century with German Romanticism and Volkish thought, traces the rise of anti-Semitism and its institutionalization, and ends with the coming of the National Socialists to power as a logical (though not pre-determined) outcome of all that preceded it.
In a couple of days, I'll be starting work at the Ministry of Defence here in Singapore, where I'll be for the next two years (actually, 1 year 10 months) doing highly-classified defence policy work. Believe it or not, I'm actually looking forward to my military service all of a sudden.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Rethinking the War
1. The justification of the war switched from bad dictators with WMD to 'freeing' the people after said weapons failed to materialize. What's up with that? AND
2. From whence does the US derive its "right" to interfere/intervene in the "sovereign" affairs of other nations given its inability to maintain a straight narrative on its most recent war with Iraq?
These two questions/hypotheses then lead us back to the original starting point of this discussion and the subject of the Slate inquiry: "Knowing what we know now, was intervention then a good thing?"
1. We have to admit that from the other side of the war -- before we invaded-- there was a compelling case to be made that WMD were a threat. In retrospect we can see that both the Blair and Bush administrations may have been led to overstate the immediate danger from these weapons, or may have wanted to overstate their case, but they did so among persuasive evidence that was supported by a long history of exorbitant behavior by the Baathists, and on a long history of culpable under reaction by Washington, London, Paris, and Brussels. Blair and Bush hyped the WMD argument to turn a war of choice into a war of necessity, unethically I might add, and thus tried to sell the Western peoples a war that we had no choice but to fight. Amidst all the pomp and circumstance of the lead-up to the war, Bush declared that we had not sought this war but it was brought to us and as defenders of civilization, we had to fight it. In the words of Picard from First Contact: "The line is drawn HERE. This far and no further."
Now it was the WMD security argument that led me to tepidly denounce the war in the pages of the Free Press. In my mind, either Sadaam had weapons or he didn't. If he did, we risked upsetting the balance of deterrence and may force his hands against us. Put another way, if Sadaam had nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, we didn't want to attack for precisely this reason. I penned these sentences in the Winter 2003:
Although the people of Iraq live in submission to a highly efficient terror machine, the cost of warfare would enact a terrible toll on the population. Either urban warfare will occur and decimate the population centers, or the U.S. forces will have to surround the cities and besiege them by eliminating water and electricity. The urban warfare will, if it occurs, eat our troops alive. There is also the problem that we cannot estimate how supportive the Iraqi citizens and army will be in the face of an American-led attack. Some contend that the U.S. has a duty to protect the international order from powerful aggressive states. In viewing the United States' responsibility to protect international order, I do not see invasion as the logical conclusion. The role of the "great powers" within any given international system is to deter powerful states from aggression; if and only if that fails, do mightier states bear the burden of defeating the aggressor or aggressors. Has deterrence worked in the case of Iraq? Yes. After the Gulf War, Saddam has not attacked any of his neighbors because he could not, conventionally, and would not dare to, unconventionally. He used chemical weapons against Iraqi citizens in the 1980s and against the Kurds in the 1990s. However, he has not attacked either U.S. troops or the state of Israel with chemical weapons because he knows that were he to do so, both regional powers and world powers would wipe him off the map. Applied to Iraq, we see a preponderance of evidence to not attack. First, as mentioned above, the potentially devastating human costs of urban warfare should be enough to preclude the invasion of Baghdad. Second, there is no threat of genocide by leaving Saddam Hussein in power. Third, Iraq poses no serious threat for the U.S., and even Israel's safety seems assured. Fourth, the danger facing the U.S. from proliferation in Iraq is minimal. Fifth, there is no guarantee of stability during the "morning after" a U.S. takeover. On the political side, the case for war is a little stronger, but still unconvincing. Saddam is deterrable even though there is no civilian control of the military. The Middle East, like most clusters of Third World countries, is unstable but not extremely so, given the presence of Turkey, the U.S., and Israel. The only serious danger, therefore, is whether there will be good nuclear hygiene. To attack Iraq at this point would be both morally and politically unfounded.I added in other places (on this blog for instance) that the threat of provoking Saddam to rage was too much of a risk, especially with Shrub butchering our foreign policy. This just goes to show that yes, the war was very much about weapons of mass destruction from the get go for good reason. This essentially mainstream view, which has been seconded by other hawks, liberals, and veteran inspectors , takes account of: the Iraqi deception and concealment programs, the failure to comply at any point with U.N. resolutions, and the preservation of secret funds, documents, and resources in Baghdad against the day when sanctions might be lifted and another bid for regional hegemony be made. (Note that Saddam's original reason, from the 70s, for wanting nuclear weapons was to avenge the 'Arab people' from the large insult dealt to them by Israel. Even Bill Clinton, in denouncing Blair and Bush, made this case in the Guardian: "[I]f we leave Iraq with chemical and biological weapons, after 12 years of defiance, there is a considerable risk that one day these weapons will fall into the wrong hands and put many more lives at risk than will be lost in overthrowing Saddam... In the post-cold war world, America and Britain have been in tough positions before: in 1998, when others wanted to lift sanctions on Iraq and we said no; in 1999 when we went into Kosovo to stop ethnic cleansing. In each case, there were voices of dissent. But the British-American partnership and the progress of the world were preserved. Now in another difficult spot, Blair will have to do what he believes to be right. I trust him to do that and hope the British people will too." Here's Tony's speech to the parliament where he details the mainstream view.
However, for me, as it was for many IR theorists such as Mearsheimer (see his Foreign Policy article), deterrence was working. Cate provided the most recently reinteration of this on my house list: "There were other ways we could have dealt with the Iraq situation. Saddam was being contained." As I realize now, the chief blemish of that de facto policy, in which every main faction in American politics was already complicit, was that it involved a shame-faced and unstated power-sharing with Saddam Hussein with its regionally autonomous zones and constant aerial bombardment. Containment was really an unethical coexistence that was intolerable for all parties involved, civilians included. In retrospect, I give the president, his war cabinet, the British, and the Polish, a lot of credit for shouldering the responsibility.
However, there was a less emphasized, but equally apparent humanitarian argument made on behalf of the war. Many writers made the case that the humanitarian crisis under Saddam's regime prompted action on behalf of the Iraqi people. In my article against the war I asserted that if you cared about human rights you had to support invasion and now after the war, you really have to be happy that it happened. (This is not to say that you have to stand part and parcel next to the Administration.) As one theorist on Slate said:
On Sept. 10, 2001, liberal-minded people in those two countries had no reason to think that life would ever be better. Today the liberal-minded Afghanis and Iraqis have been given a somewhat shaky boost, but a boost, nonetheless, which can only encourage their fellow-thinkers in other parts of the Muslim world. Strategic goals? These are the strategic goals. Why don't people understand these goals and accomplishments? (And, therefore, why don't they lend their support, which is desperately needed, if only to undo the American blunders that Fred correctly identifies?) The blame, a lot of it, does fall on Bush, who, in addition to his other errors, has given a very muddy picture of the reasons for war and its goals, sometimes making one argument, sometimes a contradictory argument. Really, the man has a lot to answer for... But some of the blame falls as well on the anti-Bush naifs who pretend not to hear when anyone speaks about the larger reasons and goals--the people who pretend that WMD and non-existent conspiracies were the only reasons for war and pretend that the only serious goals were the arrests of a couple of men, or the achieving of a magical utopia tomorrow, and pretend that if war has still not ended, we have gotten nowhere at all. It's all too true that better leaders could have made better plans, and the French and the Germans and the United Nations could help even now, if only they would. But it ought not to be so hard to see that, even so, the prospects of the totalitarian movement are looking a lot less healthy today than they did on Sept. 10, 2001 and the prospects of Muslim liberalism are looking up, somewhat.2. The answer to this question I put more succinctly. If you believe in human rights (thanks to Professor Means and CW for getting me to see the light on this one), there is a compelling case to be made that the enforcement of international law, especially in humanitarian crises, is necessary. Relying on markets and international private law, the law that governs commerce, travel, etc, will not work. Habermas make's a compelling case in "Philosophy in a Time of Terror" and his thoughts on Kantian Perpetual Peace that using the destructive force of capitalism to "force open" societies and democratize them is as spineless and it is heartless. Marketization often destroys the social institutions of a state without replacing them with anything, creating the fundamentalist response. If relying on international private law won't work, then a reliance on international public law would necessitate a coercive authority to impose the law on criminals. As Dante offered in his treatise on World Government, the World Government is the corrective against regimes that don't respect human rights. Obviously we don't have a world government or an international sovereign; we do, however, have an unipolar hegemon capable of enforcing the little international public law surrounding human rights, that we do have. The US has an obligation to enforce international public law. In fact, I believe in this so strongly that I have begun to agitate for the US to intervene in Darfur where senseless slaughter is occurring.
This war put the final nail in the coffins of libertarian approaches to foreign policy for me. While I am not a raving fan of interventionist foreign policy, I believe that internationalism is necessary for a great power with occasional boughts of interventionism for egregious cases of human rights violations. The difference between the interventionism and internationalism is: interventionism looks like Bush I on Haiti and Clinton on Kosovo, Bosnia and Palestine; internationalism means being a better friend to every country than any other country possibly could. The US-Russian relationship is more beneficial than to Russia than a Russian-Chinese relationship against the US. Israel and Egypt wish for the presence of the US more than they do for each other. It's the Kissingerian strategy of detente but on a global scale. The libertarian rejoinder is that if we minded our own business and only cared about our vital interests things like September 11th would not have happened. First of al, what are 'vital interests' when you are a global power? Let's say that we focused only on Central Asia and the Middle East. Troops in Europe are necessary for swift deployment to E. Europe some of the Central Asian republics. Our navy is important to movement of troops and power projection so we keep all our based in S. E. Asia and Japan. Well, now we have to be concerned about India-Pakistan to prevent them from blowing up that region of the world. If you are in the Middle East, we are talking about a region from Morocco to Iran. That means allies over there and whoops we are talking about Israel and Turkey again. Secondly, what would happen if we 'pulled out?' Is it worth the risk to play the isolationist?
It is tempting to say that this doctrine of internationalism leaves room for more, not less, war. This is why we have the just war doctrine to guide us. Peace all cost, though seemingly in harmony with the just in 'just war', is a violation of the principle of the idea. What just war suggests is that war is an evil from which we cannot escape before the Second Advent. Since warfare and war craft aren't going anywhere in the 'City of Man', we need standards by which war would be justified, not a theoretical doctrine that completely robs nations of war making legitimacy. What academicians need to develop, and what I wish to contribute to the field if I can get my PhD in International Relations, is a just peace theory as a corollary to just war. We must be mindful of the inherent tensions between peace and justice; we must also try not to privilege pacificism over non-aggressive approaches. The gavel does not fall often; when it does it should not fall lightly.
Knowing this should we have intervened? Of course. Was it done as well as it could have? No. Is the good going to outweigh the bad? Most likely.
Friday, July 02, 2004
Rock the Vote 2004, 2006, 2008, etc.
We have a responsibility to vote in this election, especially if we are residents of New Hampshire. When the political situation of the nation resembles a tie between competing blocs of ideolouges who no longer recognize the participation of the other, it is the moderates and swing voters in questioning states like New Hampshire who will determine the fate of the nation.
We not only should vote against President Bush and his contempt for the lives of homosexuals everywhere, his irresponsible tax cuts, trade war politicking, and questionable commitments to human rights but against every congressman who voted for the Patriot Act or this latest war without the dignity of a debate on behalf of the American public. Every Senator who was present in the chambers when Vice President Al Gore presided over certification of the election of 2000 who didn't' respond to the calls of their fellow colleagues in the House to dispute the election to verify who won (who won doesn't matter as much as the fact that the national debate didn't happen) should be resoundly voted against. In casting a vote against Bush and these spineless law-makers against the instrumentalization of religious fervor for political reasons, against antiquated debates surrounding issues of the 1980s---welfare, social security, immigration, etc.--- and for vigorous public debate over important issues, for dealing with the muck and bite of living in an international market society, for the advancement of civil rights from shameless discourses of shame, hate and bias (on the homosexual question and on the race question still) to inclusionary dynamics of equality and acceptance. We should not be voting to excise religion from the public sphere, as many want to do since the loudest voices are often the most intolerant, but to prevent a coopting of the sociological institutions of the church by party hacks.
When we vote we should have in mind foreign policy and not only how we wish to be regarded by other nations, but also how we wish to shape the law of nations which now governs persons, coperations, and states alike. Is international law merely going to remain wedded to the forces of marketization and secularization? Or shall we begin a process of examination to identify and mitigate, if not eradicate, the sources of terrorism?
Of course, we must ask ourselves how we arrived in a choice between a Kerry and a Bush? Our nation is overdue for the elite establishment to be less male, less well-off, and less white. Even a rich, white woman would be an unacceptable candidate given the current composition and ubiquity of the same, well-financed elite. The political parties must include the perspectives, the paticularities, and sometimes the narrowness of the views of classes and persons who don't sit at the head of large coporations (thus includes multi-billion dollar universities) and who don't live comfortable lives. These same parties ought to then place these paticularities into a generalizing dynamic which incoporates, but is limited by, these perspectives. Until this occurs, politics will simply be an exercise in farce. A choice between going over the cliff at 65 and 45 mph with a side debate over whether the engine of destruction will be environmentally friendly.
It is always very tempting for me to become a pure isolationist pacifist after being reminded of the grief and suffering of civilians in war zones. Reading of the plight of Iraqis caught in the cross-fires, of the Palestinians under occupation in the territories, of the blacks subjugated under the Arab boot in the North Africa, of the Israeli survivors of terrorist attacks, coupled with the pain and suffering of parents, spouses, and siblings who have been informed, in that crisp institutional manner, that their blood relative or spouse has died due to someone's ghastly war, makes me want to march right out the curbside and wave a simplistic sign in protest of warfare everywhere. Orwell once wrote: "The majority of pacifists either belong to obscure religious sects or are simply humanitarians who object to taking life and prefer not to follow their thoughts beyond that point."
That's me he's talking about there. Taking life is so ghastly that I could not imagine doing it and know that a betrayal of my country would be necessary in the case of a draft. I vacillate between respect, contempt, and pity for all those who, for whatever reasons, find themselves complicitous in the bloody maw of the military-industrial complex, realist power politics, and machinations of political elite globally. Having been rescued from an institution that has been paradoxically progressive (and heavy-handed) concerning matters of integration, but surprisingly backward as thousands of blacks and poor went sent to die in countless interventions throughout the Cold War by both private and public funding for my education, I was appropriately shocked and horrified that my sister is/was considering joining the US airforce. My patriotism is often obscured by my revulsion at the warmongering and fighting of the US.
This anti-war, pro-life sentiment coarsed so thickly through my veins after watching Moore's F 9-11 that I wept with and for the mother as Moore pitilessly directed his camera at her, for minutes after he should have turned it off, encapsulating that shared, but incommunicable, sense of pain and loss. And who could resist crying, both drawn to the screen yet wanting to look away from the grieving mother because her private pain had become public? I sobbed silently into the chair for a few moments. While walking back to from the movie theater to my Princeton dormitory (of course, it's ironic this occurs in an elite university), I exclaim "I can never, in good faith, ever support a war again!" My comrades with whom I was walking quickly affirmed my decision.
Moments later, after safely crossing the road, I realized that could not be true and added: "Except in the case of genocides." This was answered by the usual rejoinders of "Well, who are we to judge?" and in my usual "You're stupid if you don't agree me because I've clearly thought about this more often and more thoroughly than you have" tone of voice I retorted: "I am not really going to debate this with you. In the cases of genocide, like in Rwanda or Darfur, no decently moral person can condemn warfare to make it stop." I was then informed that only persons who had been educated in elite liberal arts colleges could come to such an opinion because war is never justified.
To which I had to quickly add, "And prolonged civil wars of 10 years or longer." They looked at me aghast as my pacifism began to unravel. The usual charges of "Who are we to judge?" and "But it's warfare" or "It's just their business" were quickly answered by this simple fact (and I truly resent all people who don't acknowledge this fact): intra-state conflicts internationalize to the degree that some of the conflictants inhabit neighboring countries, their arms and monetary support comes from external sources and dislocated persons seek refuge in foreign countries. Prolonged civil wars promote large scale arms trafficking, territorial raids and scores of refugees who fester in their resentment and anger.
And there I was unable to remain a pacifist for more than 20 minutes. My friends were able to continue in their blissful uninformed opinions. (I know longer debate persons who do not study political science or political theory on these matters.) It seems to me that if one desires to see structural pacification in this world but also desires human rights enforcement, that warfare is sometimes a necessary evil to deal with this scourge. this tool, of warfare, should be deployed as carefully and as infrequently as possible. I am willing to hear arguments to the contrary but would posit that no intelligent, non-religious defense of pure pacifism is possible. As such, we should begin clamoring for the occupation of Darfur.
Thursday, July 01, 2004
What CW Forgot to Mention
In re-reading the archives of this blog I found this little entry by CW: ""Michael Moore Conservatives"?
Adrian Woolridge, the Economist's Washington correspondent and co-author of The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, writes in The Weekly Standard on how the Tories are beginning more and more to resemble American liberals. What are the reasons for this? One's Tony Blair:
American conservatives may regard Blair as a reincarnation of Winston Churchill, but for most Tories he is the devil incarnate, a cultural vandal who is destroying great British institutions, from the House of Lords to fox hunting, in the name of nonsense such as "Cool Britannia." Tories resent Blair for showing more backbone in dealing with America's enemies, in the form of al Qaeda, than he showed in dealing with the IRA; some of them are also bitter at George W. Bush for bestowing the Churchillian mantle on a left-wing lightweight.
For more reasons, read the whole article."
I think the following paragraphs are a bit more revealing:
"BUT THERE ARE DARKER REASONS for the Tories' embrace of Michael Moorism. One is social snobbery. The Tory Old Guard was much happier with Rockefeller Republicans, with the sort of people who were impressed by Oxbridge colleges and London clubs. George W. Bush represents an America where people actually believe in God, rather than treating religion as a convenient fiction, where people believe in business, rather than dismissing it as a rather grubby pastime, and where people believe that gun ownership should be extended to the masses, rather than confined to people who own grouse moors.
A second might be termed "imperial snobbery." The easiest way to get the chaps in the golf club guffawing is to ask what it would have been like if the Americans had ruled India. The British are convinced that they are much better at understanding "Johnny Arab" than the Americans. (A hint: The way to deal with Arabs is to coopt their local leadership rather than to blather on about democracy, something Johnny has never understood and never will.)
It is axiomatic in Tory England that the coalition's problems in the war on terrorism would melt away if only the British were in charge and the Americans playing second fiddle. U.S. military incompetence is now a running joke in the British press. Unnamed officers queue up to ridicule the Yanks for being heavy-handed in Iraq (look at the way American troops dress up like Darth Vader while the Brits wear berets); for not being brave enough to flush bin Laden out of the caves of Tora Bora (which the SAS would happily have done); and for having no idea how to police war zones (which the British learned how to do in Northern Ireland). Americans may be good at blowing things up; but they have no talent for the more subtle arts of war.
The last is Britain's traditional Arabism. Hostility to Israel is restricted to a Buchananite rump in the United States; in Britain it is widespread on the right (as on the left), with fans in the foreign office, the business world, and the upper reaches of the Conservative party. Middle England has thoroughly internalized the left's view of the rights and wrongs of Israel and Palestine, a view that is propagated daily by the BBC, the Church, the universities, and the influential "camel corps" in the foreign office. One of the most popular political programs in Britain is a radio show called Any Questions? that takes selected panelists to town halls across the country. The burghers of Tory Britain react to discussions of the Middle East in much the same way that radical students might in the United States. Denounce Israel as a WMD-armed rogue state and you are guaranteed cheers and applause; defend Israel and you are booed. Indeed, anti-Israeli sentiment is the only area where internationalist Tories are in clear disagreement with John Kerry."
To sum it all up, the Torries think that they are better imperialists than we are. Honestly, that's not a contest in which America should participate. Sorry, I feel no pity for the Torries.
Not Just a Yes-Man
So I'm trying to catch up on the latest supreme court cases, a few days behind the rest of the world, when I run across this good article. Being an avid promoter of nuance and distinctions, I am always happy when articles are written that deprogram popular, though false, notions. This one problematizes the characterizations of Scalia and Thomas. A good read.
All should go see F 9-11 by Michael Moore. Not only is it a very enjoyable movie, but it does raise some rather interesting questions through suggestion and association.
Tuition, Funding, etc.
One thing you learn from talking to graduate students is this: your stipend (how much the university will pay you to study there) is an essential part of the package as well as what you have to do to get it (teaching, etc.) The same is true of the undergraduate expirience: it's all about the money. Who can afford to pay for college these days? Certainly not the working class up to middle middle class Americans.
We have some good news though from Grossman over on Dartlog: "nominal (official) tuition has been growing at [a] quick pace, [but] the amount that the average student pays has stayed the same or even decreased, in some cases." On Heritage this finding is summed up as: "On the private side, higher education is more progressively-funded than ever before, with students from wealthier families subsidizing the education of others."
This is, of course, most excellent news. With a bachelor's degree being the minimum standard for the workplace today, and the master's/professional quickly following in its wake, aggressive (and progressive) sources of funding for the average (and below average) person serve as an important mechanism to increase the numbers of persons who can participate in our market society. (I know that without private education being basically free for me since 3rd grade I would be in a very different state of affairs.)
However, we should not allow the case for public funding to be overstated. One of my friends had to drop out of UNH because his family couldn't afford to send him to college. He now works in NYC. There are still many families who can't find the heavily subsidized parochial schools or get into well-endowed collegiate institutions like Dartmouth.
Whether we directly benefit from an aggressive funding opportunities, it is our responsibility to see these opportunities extended to more. This is why I only half-jokingly tell each person I know who graduates from Dartmouth to put aside at least 200 to 500 USD a year to be given to the College specifically for financial aid. We should lobby Congress to take some of our taxes which goes toward budgets with too much money and reallocate some of that money to increase the amount in federal funding for higher education. And of course, as citizens of states we should lobby our state congressmen to aggressively fund lower schools and community colleges also. More funding never hurt anyone.
In summary, give money to your alma mater's out there for financial aid. Consider it philanthropy.