Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

Here are the champions of last week. Votes were all over the map, because there were lots of strong entires.

First place within the council went to It’s Not a War. It’s a Trendy Buzzword! by The Sundries Shack, which takes the "Islamic fascists" brouhaha a step further and wonders how the media got to the point where it bumped the war from the headlines for the sake of extended snark at the president's choice of a word to describe the enemy. (My take on that one, if you care to know, is here).

Also getting votes was It Is Time for Jews to Think About Leaving Western Europe by Joshuapundit, which is pretty self-explanatory:

Europe has traded 6 million Jews for 20 million Muslims and now appears to be poised to make some real progress towards finishing the exchange. They may yet live to regret it.

It used to frustrate me that prominent biologists like Stephen Jay spent so much of their time in courtrooms and public debates, fighting a rear-guard action against creationists. Yes, someone has to do it, but imagine how much we could have learned and accomplished if their time had been devoted purely to the research in their profession.

Right Wing Nut House takes the same attitude toward conspiracy theorists in 9/11 Tin Foil Hats Are Melting:

The fact that it took a dozen people two months to condense the evidence for the tower’s collapse down to 7 pages should make you angry. This waste of time and resources is the direct result of people who should (or actually do) know better but whose ignorance and inability to grasp reality (or who choose to believe otherwise for political purposes) have infected the gullible, the shallow thinkers, and out and out loons who have spread their laughable theories on the internet and elsewhere.

Also getting a vote was my comments on Condi Rice's evocation of the domestic political situation in the North during the Civil War to give context to the state of things today. I thought it was rather apt, but I guessed most people wouldn't get it.

They didn't. "What a ridiculously poor comparison. I mean…wow is that a sad way to try and make your point," but unless you bother to explain why it was ridiculous or sad you haven't made one either.

A commenter on that thread at least tried to pick it up:

One BIG difference between our Civil War and the Iraq War:

The Civil War was here in the United States!!!!!!!!!! Therefore, it was very much our business and our problem. Notice we didn’t have troops from other countries coming over to get involved. Actually, I think some were going to come over - and help the South. I guess WE are greatful no one interfered in OUR civil war, right?

Oy. This is why I hate arguing using ill-defined terms like "civil war." Take it at its loosest definition as a war between factions within a nation to decide the nature or future of that nation or control of its government. Well, then it's the term applied to every unsuccesful rebellion by those who crushed it.

Was the American Civil War a civil war? There still was a United States of America, untroubled by insurrection, after April 1861. It just was a smaller one than a year before. The American Civil War was a civil war, a war about the nature of the nation, in only one sense I can determine: The South thought "it is the nature of this nation that we can up and leave it when we feel vindicated in so doing," and Lincoln said, "No, it's not."

Was it any "business" or "problem" to a farmer in Vermont whether Florida was in the union or out of it? Yet his civil rights were suspended, he was drafted, he was subject ot martial law and suspension of habeas corpus. You can argue, of course, that it was in his material interest to prevent the South from seceding or to end slavery. But you might find it a hard sell.

The commenter continues:

If Condi is trying to say that we should be over there to correct the injustice in Iraq, which is not unlike the injustice of slavery, I would suggest that we start invading all countries were social injustice is occurring. If anyone needs suggestions, I can provide a few - Africa and North Korea to start with.

Ah, the great nation of Africa. Seriously, though, I miss the days when it was we liberals who dreamed of being able to right the world's wrongs and conservatives told us it was chimerical. Who are these self-proclaimed liberals I see today?

The only response I can come up with - whatever. No valid analysis. It doesn’t work. You can compare any two things if you try hard enough. I guess they’re both wars. They both involve hate and injustice. The fact is, you could say, “well, just think what would happen if we decided to end X war early,” where X equals all wars that have ever occurred. She chose the civil war to evoke particular emotions, and that is manipulative by definition. Period.

But some wars are more alike than others. This war has many parallels to the ACW, worth exploring. It has fewer to, say World War I. And the people who lived through the ACW noted its similarity to the Peloponnesian War, and remarked on that.

Simply noting the possibility of comparing any two things isn't the end of an analysis. It ought to be the beginning.

Also getting votes was Reasons for Optimism: Part V by ShrinkWrapped:

[A]t the moment, we are indeed winning the long war against Islamic fascism, but I wonder about our ability to remain mobilized in the face of the forces arrayed against us. Furthermore, I wonder if our impatience and our mutual incomprehension will inevitably lead to worse coming to worst.

Students Swearing In Class: Tolerating The Intolerable? by The Education Wonks is a real jaw-dropper if you haven't been in a classroom lately.

Outside the council, the winner was Hezbollah Probably Lost the War, But They May Never Have Been In It To Win by Mere Rhetoric.

Votes also went to this post from Gideon's Blog, which also takes on the "fascism" question; Repeal McCainFeingold by Going to the Mat; UN: No Right To Self-Defense In International Law by Daled Amos (we argued about that here).

MFers Tea Party by Tom Rants also sounds the alarm on McCain-Feingold; and the remarkable The Smell of Death by Grim at Winds of Change ranges from road kill to hunting to what ought to be done in Iran.