Monday, October 02, 2006

Council Winners

[posted by Callimachus]

This week's winners have been posted.

First place within the council went to Unhinged or Calculated by Soccer Dad, a look at the Bill Clinton-Chris Wallace blowup. (A Missed Opportunity by ShrinkWrapped, which also got a vote, covered the same topic).

The next-highest vote-getter was No Commitment! by The Sundries Shack, which asks a pertinent question of us in the war against the Islamists:

I do not understand our fear. We have, objectively, the superior culture which provides more personal freedom and a stable civilization in which those freedoms can flourish. No culture has ever done so much to allow each human being the room to flower as he or she sees fit. Our pre-eminent theology, which could be loosely described as Rational Christian is clearly superior in any number of ways. We spent countless hours wrestling with our beliefs, how they affect us spiritually and how they impact the world around us.

Yet we are scared to death to say such things, even though they are manifest. We would rather see ourselves murdered and enslaved than fight for the supremacy of our culture and religion.

Other votes went to A Real Peace Proposal for the Middle East by Joshuapundit. I thought this was an important post. Joshua has staked out a position as a strong defender of Israel. But here he outlines a path to peace that involves sacrifices. That enhances his authority as a defender by showing him interested in solutions, not permanent crisis.

Other votes went to Ouch from right here, which continues what has become a series of posts from my contractor friend, Kat, about her experience in Iraq and her observations about the media coverage there. Stay tuned; more is coming.

The Glittering Eye earned votes for Considering the Big Picture in the War on Terror, a typical fine effort at perspective from Dave.

Outside the council the winner was Fear and Loathing in the Land of the Pure by Isaac Schrödinger. "Isaac's" blog always was a good read, full of pith and wisdom. But since his life has become a personal refugee drama, it has transcended even that to become indispensible. "This essay," he writes, "goes in great detail about why I am asking for asylum in the West."

Votes also went to Civility in Political Discourse by The Anchoress, a plea for sanity for the sake of democracy. I think only the compelling drama of Isaac's story prevented this from being the top vote-getter.

It’s so easy to call someone (or some group) “moronic,” - it is always easier to denigrate and call names than it is to acknowledge and respect the strengths of those you consider an “enemy.” It is easy, but it is shortsighted, too.

I routinely praise “the loyal opposition” for their strong points, and I do so for two reasons:

1) There is no reason not to recognise another’s gifts unless you are insecure in your own.

2) If you cannot see past your political fury to acknowledge your opponent’s gifts and strengths, you are bound to succumb to them.

When urged to come down hard on one side of a political debate, even when provoked, she holds back. In part, because:

It’s just a difference of opinion. This is America. If someone wants to disagree, they’re entitled. If they want to call me a name, well, that says nothing at all about me, and loads about them, so what do I care? And my site-meter doesn’t mind a bit. I decided the first time I saw myself referred to as “The Wankeress” (which struck me as pretty funny, btw, and made me laugh) that my job is to treat everyone as respectfully as I can, and not to reciprocate in kind. I might be boring, but that’s my choice.

There is a deep and ugly chasm between left and right in this nation, like a sabre slice that is going untreated and infecting the whole body of the nation, and weakening it. As long as we have folks on the right referring to Democrats as “Demoncraps” and former presidents as “BlowJob”, as long as we have folks on the left referring to Republicans as “extra chromosome people,” (nice and compassionate toward the impaired, btw) and to the president as “Bushitler” the body is going to continue to weaken.

I know there are plenty of sites, both left and right, which engage in the ugliness of name-calling. But there are many on the right and some on the left, who do not. I simply prefer to be one that does not. If one blogger shrieks into his or her echo chamber, there really is no need to shriek back.

I disagree, BTW, with her sense that this is a new and radically worse state of things in American history. It's a minor quibble. But there are places where the level of political discourse always has been divisive and bitter. The American newspaper pioneered that style in the decade of the 1800s. But there are ways in which what is happening now is, if not more vituperative than in the past, more deadly to our democracy.

Also getting votes were my nominee, In Memory of Sgt. Paul R. Smith at The Freedom Dogs. In addition to finding this a compelling story and an example of the kind of work an alternate media needs to do, I also want to keep up the dialogue between milbloggers and non-military political observers (as, I suspect, most of the WC are). Other votes went to Abbas Is Now the "Political Wing" of Hamas by Elder of Ziyon.