Monday, May 22, 2006

Council Winners

The latest batch of Council winners is up. I'm honored and humbled to have gotten a lot of votes for the piece on public virtue. I tried to point out that, though we continue the forms of the old arguments about how Americans ought to be governed, we've largely forgotten the purpose of the argument.

Also getting votes were Conservative Fatigue Syndrome by ShrinkWrapped and Take Off The 9/11 Tinfoil Hats by Right Wing Nut House.

My vote went to Daniel Wultz Is Coming Home by Joshuapundit. Victims don't automatically acquire absolute moral authority, and juxtaposed quotes aren't always a fair form of argument.

But they speak to your heart.

Daniel's father, who had the horrendous sorrow of living every parent's nightmare and burying a beloved child had this to say:

"Daniel was 16 years old, and I need 16 years to tell you about Daniel, because every day was different.

You left us, Daniel. You fought a heroic, unbelievable fight, the fight of your life. But it was too much ... I was honored to be your father, and privileged and lucky to have you for 16 years."

There may be those of you who feel that this has nothing to do with me and you ... sad, yeah, but just another episode in the `cycle of violence'. That is a huge mistake.

According to the U.S. Embassy, more than 200 American citizens have been killed or wounded in terrorist attacks in Israel since 1992.

Consider the reaction to Daniel's death by Abu Nasser, one of the leaders of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who helped plan his murder:

"This is a gift from Allah. We wish this young dog will go directly with no transit to hell ... we say to the Americans we wish you more Daniel Wultzs and more pain and sorrow because it seems that this is the only thing you deserve."

Or from Abu Amin, one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad: "...our hero believed in Allah and died while fighting for Allah but your pig was killed in a restaurant."

He said Wultz's death should demonstrate to Americans "that even if you live in the US the hand of Allah and the sword of the Jihad fighters will reach you and you will find the same end (as Wultz)."

Outside the council, top votes went to You Dissin' My God! by Vox Poplar Is Right About Everything & Don't You Forget It! which attempts to craft a test (tongue firmly in his secular cheek) to discover which religions are worthy of respect. I thought it was clever. Some of the questions:

  • Is your most prominent religious leader a fugitive from justice on legitimate criminal charges?

  • Does your religion justify the abuse of women based on how the women are dressed rather than the respect they are due as human beings?

  • Is anyone currently commiting genocide in the name of your religion, and your fellow followers who are considered 'moderate' and 'mainstream' won't do anything to stop it?

  • Do your religious leaders claim that any attempt to study or understand the nature of the universe (otherwise known as God's Creation) as sinful?

  • Do your religious leaders demand isolation from the rest of the world, its peoples and their cultures as part of some vague plan to preserve the purity of your faith?

Kennedy's "Stigma" Is Limbaugh's "Crime" by Don Surber got some votes, too. This is the kind of thing you could fill a blog with every day (and some folks do). Read the news and spot the unconscious double standards.

Our friend Neo-Neocon got some attention, too, for Negotiating with Iran: Who's the Real Enemy?, which is full of common sense.

I personally still advocate a combination of the strategic and clandestine solutions, holding off a military one till if/when it may be absolutely necessary. But in any event, I don't think it's best to take any possibility off the table.

And another vote went to The Anchoress for "Blog Meltdowns, Egos and Echo Chambers," in which she watches the slow burning of much of the right-side of this medium and the foul fumes that rise from the wreck.

Imagine being President of the US, dealing with the world as it is, right now, and having to hear that every pissant little writer with a blog is demanding THIS sort of action or THAT sort of solution and threatening to…I don’t know, hold the breath or lead his or her “loyal readers” into open revolt. Imagine being president and having to hear from an advisor that one-issue people, with one-issue perspectives are demanding a perfect (and probably undoable) action on their one-issue, or they’ll toss you overboard, because the other thousand things you got right no longer matter. That they’ll commit electoral suicide rather than accept a compromise.

Imagine hearing that and then looking at your map of the world, your intelligence reports, your CIA imploding with rogue agents, your troops all-but-forgotten by most Americans, your roaring economy being yawned at, your most effective tools to keep the nation secure being leaked and rendered ineffective, your congressional majority utterly lacking in cojones, the media moving toward mendacity, etc, etc, etc.

Imagine thinking of all of that, and then having to worry about the roar coming from the blogosphere - not from a writer having a one-time temper-tantrum and venting (I’ve certainly been known to do that, as have most of us) but by bloggers who have determined that they are not mere commenters and information gatherers/relators, but in-the-game movers and shakers, more tuned-in to the realities of any problem than the President could ever be, more morally upright, more patriotic, more extensively knowledgable, more…well, more caring, dammit! And more loyal to America, too! Just ask their readers!
If I were president, I’d stop caring what everyone was saying, too, after a while, and just try to do the best I could by my own lights, and hope things work out the best for the whole nation. Not just for the foot-stompers.

Undoubtedly, I will be denounced by more conservatives and a few bloggers for daring to suggest it, but I am a blogger, so I know whereof I speak: the seductive tones of the echo chambers and the Amen Chorus can skewer perspective and (if one is not cautious) overinflate the ego. We are all susceptible to it; to deny that is to be fully in the ego’s grip.