Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

Catching up on some winners from a couple of weeks ago.

First place within the council went to Your Chance of Dying in a Terrorist Attack by Socratic Rhythm Method.

Also getting votes were Three Strands Not Easily Broken by Soccer Dad (the title refers to three factors that led up to 9/11) and 9/11 Ambiguities by ShrinkWrapped, which takes a similar big picture view of what happened five years ago and what has come since.

A couple of MSM-themed entries also got votes: A Little Journalistic Arrogance by Rhymes With Right, and my Pronoun Trouble.

It's disturbing to me how disturbing this one has been to me. If a guy I know and like suddenly wants to be called "Fifi" and described as "she," I'm fine with that. If I'm introduced to a woman who tells me her name is "George" and asks me to address her as "he," I'd do it out of courtesy. But I guess I still believed, in spite of all I've said, there was some integrity and some loyalty to the language in journalism. We let people call themselves "pro-life" or "pro-choice" in quotes, but we don't describe them as such, no matter their insistence, because the terms are not descriptively accurate. It has nothing to do, theoretically, with politics or our preferences. On the basic level, we copy editors are as cold-blooded as reptiles or librarians.

Yet now the AP tells me, in the style book I'm bound to use as a bible, that "he" is sometimes "she" and the object of the preposition gets to choose which it is. How am I supposed to take that book seriously again when someone pulls it up in some debate about whether to hyphenate "townhouse" or not? Shouldn't the townhouse decide that, not us?

First place outside the council went to And At Night, I Dream Of You... by Villainous Company. This was a project I didn't know about till it was over, to have online writers do personal profiles of all the 9/11 victims, assigned at random. It could have been a disaster, an open door for purple prose and bloviation, but this is just a beautiful bit of writing. (At least one of the council members also joined in, and did a fine job of it: AbbaGav's tribute to Angel M. Pabon. )

Also getting votes were Ten Reasons Why the West Will Lose the War on Terror (the pessimist’s view) by TMH's Bacon Bits, which got mine, even though I realize it's only one half of a "good news/bad news" pair of posts. And Countdown To 9/11: My Days With the Dead a touching memoir of that day by Greetings from the French Hill.

Also getting votes was The Shadow of Our Hand by the perpetually thought-provoking Belmont Club. Wretchard has a tendency to weave poetry into his posts, and when he starts one out with a passage from Auden's meditation on the dying Yeats, and the impending death of so much more, uoi know it's going to be a dark, quick, end-of-autumn sundown.

Our tools have converged but our souls have diverged. And intentionally too, for if the multicultural policies of the last century meant anything it was that we got to keep our own prejudices. The result is that while we all have cell phones some use them to call their friends and others use them to set off IEDs; where we can all fly but some to earn a living and others to make a religious statement. And no way to judge between. Nor does the problem consist simply of Infidels versus Muslims. The years since 9/11 have exploded the idea of a monolithic West and a single complaisant Ummah; a Muslim Shi'ite might prefer an American infidel over a Sunni and an American liberal an Iranian Mullah over a conservative countryman. We have equal opportunity everything; including equal opportunity hostility. If the Christian hell is defined as a place devoid of love, then welcome to the 21st century, where the watchword, if not "hate your neighbor" is at least "a neighbor you can hate".

Also getting votes were A General Theory of Just About Everything by Jonathan Rosenblum, posted at Cross-Currents, and 38 Years of Terrorism by Alpha Patriot, which invokes a post by our friend Sideways in a way sure to make him choke and spray a mouthful of port on his topsiders.

Donkelphant wonders if we have have lost because Pakistan has essentially surrendered the northern badlands to the Taliban, once again giving them a base of operations.

But no, that isn't when we lose.

We lose when the New York Times publishes image after image from Abu Ghraib but few of our heros and accuses the president of "politisizing terrorism".

Also note Marc's summation of the progress of editorial opinion in the New York Times between 9/11/01 and now, the kind of meticulous analysis he does so well, and, for a welcome break from the 9/11 and WoT pieces, this little gem.