Horror in southern Russia

by Chris Bertram on September 3, 2004

I tried to write something earlier about the horrifying developments in Russia where it seems that perhaps up to 300 people may have been murdered. I couldn’t find the words then and I can’t now after watching the scenes on TV. Parents especially will have experienced a rush of sympathy for the poor people desperate to learn whether their children had survived. There have been some bad days since September 11th, but this is one of the worst. Terrible.

{ 64 comments }

1

2shoes 09.03.04 at 9:41 pm

And lets not forget Darfur either!

2

bitchphd 09.03.04 at 10:09 pm

Yes. I can’t even begin to think of what to say about this. I haven’t watched tv all day, but I did see some photos on the Washington Post’s site. My god. I cannot even imagine what those poor parents …

3

Jimbo 09.03.04 at 10:19 pm

At last. Predictably, it took Chris’ voice to break the embarrassing silence. When I logged on this morning I could find three separate posts on Tariq Ramadan’s refused visa (for the record, he shouldn’t have been refused) but not a single one on Beslan. CT’s world is a place where hostage-takings, decapitations, busses and planes blowing up and various massacres across three continents are entirely off the intellectual radar. Unless they can be fashioned into a homily on Islamophobia. There is never any forest in CT’s trees.

4

Antoni Jaume 09.03.04 at 10:34 pm

Jimbo, the news are that there was a rushed rescue attempt, before any serious negociation could happen. Maybe 300 deads and 600 hurts. I am sure you’re happy from that.

DSW

5

Ugh 09.03.04 at 10:42 pm

antoni –

The news is that there was an agreement with the terrorists to remove the bodies of hostages already murdered. When the ambulance approached there was an explosion and some of the hostages tried to escape, for which they were shot in the back by the terrorists and the Russians had no choice.

6

Gatlin 09.03.04 at 10:48 pm

I am sure you’re happy from that.

Antoni, I realize that English isn’t your first language, but the only two interpretations of the above comment that I can think of, make you out to be either thoroughly stupid or an ugly bigot.

7

Ted Barlow 09.03.04 at 11:14 pm

Jimbo,

I don’t understand your anger. Surely you understand that blogs are largely opinion sites, and that major, indisputably tragic events can be difficult to blog about. No one should look to opinion outlets as their primary source of news, and the failure to blog about an event, especially something like a massacre, should not be taken as proof that a blogger thinks that it’s unimportant.

I had been struggling with a post about the school for a while before Henry posted. It’s hard to find the words. Give us a break, will you?

8

Ophelia Benson 09.03.04 at 11:16 pm

Such a useful exercise, too. Accomplished so much.

This is a nice new wrinkle, this business of seizing soft targets like schools and theatres. Places where there are a lot of unarmed people.

And the keeping them thirsty is a nice touch. The Guardian story earlier reported that children were seen gulping water after they escaped – I found that detail slightly overpowering, for some reason.

Crap, crap, crap.

9

kevin donoghue 09.03.04 at 11:44 pm

The key to Jimbo’s anger may be the phrase “a homily on Islamophobia.” A lot of people seem to feel that there is something rather inhuman about exploring the circumstances which give rise to horrors like this. The idea seems to be that any attempt at explanation is some kind of excuse.

As to Islamophobia, is there any harm in pointing out that the recent massacre in Burundi was not carried out by Muslims? Could it be, Jimbo, that the forest you want us to look at has a variety of trees?

10

Gordon Donaldson 09.03.04 at 11:57 pm

Ted,

I can’t answer for Jimbo, but I share some of his frustration. The fact that CT announces itself as an “academic” blog is no excuse for its patent purblindness. The usual suspects get rounded up over and over while the real world of terror remains little more than a social construct. Not every post on CT includes an argument. Or needs to. Chris’s is about right. Just very late.

11

dsquared 09.04.04 at 12:33 am

Gordon, may I interrupt your conversation with Ted to ask a couple of questions:

1) Not being an academic, could you explain to me what the chuff you mean by “patent purblindness”?

2) Since the first news of this horror story appear in Western media two days ago, what the hell do you mean by “very late”?

3) What criterion might CT use to decide which stories we have to comment on whether or not we have anything to add, which might meet with your approval?

4) Just out of interest, could you confirm which other prominent academic blogs you have also addressed your comment to; as far as I can tell, the Volokh Conspiracy have so far posted nothing on the subject, nor has Mark Kleiman and Instapundit only posted a few hours ago?

5) Finally, and most importantly, why don’t you just go and fuck yourself?

12

Jimbo 09.04.04 at 12:37 am

As to Islamophobia, is there any harm in pointing out that the recent massacre in Burundi was not carried out by Muslims? Could it be, Jimbo, that the forest you want us to look at has a variety of trees?

No harm at all, Kevin. Islamophobia is just one of CT’s staples. Unless I completely missed it, I don’t believe the recent massacre in Burundi ever made it here. Maybe because the Hutu-Tutsi conflict just doesn’t contain any of (what a commenter above so nicely labelled) its “usual suspects.”

13

bob mcmanus 09.04.04 at 12:38 am

Following Ophelia’s line, I see

A) Large hostage events in Russia and Chechnya
B) Kidnappings and Israel-style suicide bombings in Iraq
C) High profile bombings on US targets, Turkey, SA, Pakistan? India?

Is this variation in tactics significant enough to be important? If it simply shows different leadership, that one cell does not copycat another show a level of cooperation?

I have said, tho it feels lousy to say it today, that if Osama wanted America to go crazy his best bet would be to get three groups of Native-American Muslims to take Kalishnikovs into three Des Moines grade schools.

14

Tom T. 09.04.04 at 12:40 am

Jimbo, Gordon,

You’re behaving like trolls. In the face of one of the worst terrorist horrors of our age, directed at the most innocent of targets, all you can think to do is tally points on your crabbed personal scoreboard of who-thinks-like-me-the-most? I’ve had my share of disagreements with the folks at Crooked Timber, but anyone who thinks that the writers here are not engaged with the world and deeply committed to using their intellectual gifts to the betterment of the human race is wearing blinders. Until you’re willing to understand that people aren’t reprehensible just because they don’t follow your agenda just the way you like it, I suggest that you’d be happier if you took your priorities back to your echo chambers and talked to yourselves.

15

Robin Green 09.04.04 at 1:12 am

If we were to have a moral obligation to talk about Beslan on political blogs (which I don’t agree with, but assuming we did) – then wouldn’t we have an even greater moral obligation to talk about the even greater numbers of children being killed by easily preventable diseases around the world?

Are those children somehow less worthy of protection, somehow discountable, compared to the Beslan children?

I’ll stop there.

16

no name today 09.04.04 at 1:32 am

What patent blindness? I don’t see any patent blindness on CT’s part here. This is a horrific story. I have had difficulty putting my feelings into words too and I don’t want to lash out into the simpleton’s pre-laid groove of Islam bashing. There is more here than just Islam.

For me the most powerful story was the one reported by ITN where a weeping soldier was holding a dead child and could not give it up. Those poor parents, that poor village.

17

vernaculo 09.04.04 at 4:24 am

The “War on Terror” is a true fiction; it’s like calling any armed conflict a “War Against the Bad Guys”.
Or maybe the “War Against People So Desperate They’ve Resorted To Terror”.
The viewing public, in between being urged to buy large gas-consuming vehicles, is shown images of what the bad guys are doing, horrible things to innocent people.
But nothing of their motives, as though there’s no back-story, no motives or causes. Just bad people doing bad things, making nice people feel terrible.
Why are they doing those bad things? Because they’re bad people. Why are they bad people? Because of those bad things they do.
There’s no human justification for the slaughter of children.
There’s no human justification for the conditions and events that cause the despair that results in terrorism either.

18

janet 09.04.04 at 4:32 am

What’s worse, Jimbo — not talking about this tragedy, or exploiting it to try to score political points? You decide.

Terrorism of any kind is despicable. Terrorism that explicitly targets children is so far beyond despicable that I don’t know that there’s a word for it. What else is there to say?

19

nick 09.04.04 at 5:19 am

The Guardian story earlier reported that children were seen gulping water after they escaped – I found that detail slightly overpowering, for some reason.

I saw the live pictures on CNNi: the most overpowering detail was that the children fled the school half-naked, having stripped themselves down to their underclothes to cope with the unbearable temperatures in the gym where they were being held.

20

Lindsay Beyerstein 09.04.04 at 6:40 am

CT’s world is a place where hostage-takings, decapitations, busses and planes blowing up and various massacres across three continents are entirely off the intellectual radar. Unless they can be fashioned into a homily on Islamophobia.

I don’t understand your anger at all. CT bloggers aren’t assigned to summarize breaking news or write obits.

What’s the point of pontificating about a tragedy like this before all the facts are in?

21

Elizabeth 09.04.04 at 8:22 am

“There’s no human justification for the conditions and events that cause the despair that results in terrorism either.”

Kudos to vernaculo for being extraordinarily quick on the draw in identifying the “cycle of violence”. It usually takes a few days for that tacit justification of terrorist atrocities to be trotted out. Now we must round out the analysis by investigating the “root causes” and finding the two sides to be equally morally culpable.

22

john b 09.04.04 at 1:25 pm

It usually takes a few days for that tacit justification of terrorist atrocities to be trotted out. Now we must round out the analysis by investigating the “root causes” and finding the two sides to be equally morally culpable.

Yes. Terrorists are magically created by a vengeful god, and the societies they live in have no impact whatsoever on their behaviour. Trying to understand what steps we can take reduce the number of terrorist outrages in the future is not only a doomed plan, but is in itself a surrender to the terrorists.

You idiot.

23

Jimbo 09.04.04 at 1:48 pm

What’s worse, Jimbo — not talking about this tragedy, or exploiting it to try to score political points? You decide.

What’s worse, Janet, is not talking about this tragedy because there aren’t any political points to be scored. That’s my point. No more and no less.

Since I’ve been accused of being a “troll”, presumably of the right wing variety, let me make a few things clear. Not that it should matter, but my politics are probably to the left of most people here. I’m a an old socialist, as was my mother and her parents before her. For the last 14 years I’ve been lucky to be able to vote for the only socialist representative in Congress. I was against the war in Iraq, and even demonstrated my opposition in the street. Not because I didn’t think Hussein worth getting rid of–that should have happened in 1991–but because I did not trust the current Bush gang to do anything that didn’t advance their selfish political goals. So it’s no surprise to find myself agreeing with 90% of the political positions taken by CT posters. Where we part company is over (some posters on) CT’s tacit avoidance of uncomfortable truths, e.g. that the insurgents in Iraq are not glorious resisters but murderous thugs. On this I applaud the opinion provocatively expressed by Italian journalist Riccardo Barenghi, former editor of the communist daily Il Manifesto, in that paper on August 28: “Between an Iraq liberated by severed heads and one occupied by Americans, I choose the second hypothesis.” Among recent Iraq-related events, I could find no consideration on CT of the kidnapping of two French journalists and its consequences on the anti-hijab law. Not mentioned either, but especially abhorrent, was the slaughter, by the Ansar al-Sunna Army, of a dozen Nepalese cooks and cleaners, impoverished men whose only crime was to to seek work in Iraq to support their families. And so on. CT isn’t a news service and isn’t expected to to note or comment on each fresh atrocity, but it is a bit unseemly to see Sadr and his ilk get repeated considerate hearings while their victims remain unmentioned. Similarly, I am repelled by the pooh-poohing of Islamism in many CT posts, a position adopted apparently because all anti-Islamists are deemed to be anti-progressive as well. Sorry, but one doesn’t have to be Richard Pipes to consider militant Islamism a dangerous political scourge. Since when has it become “right wing” to oppose religious fascists? We may disagree about how best to combat it, but I reject any attempt to minimize its menace. (We needn’t have waited for Juan Cole’s imprimatur to call Qaradawi what he so obviously is.) Etc.

What I am saying is not that some CTers take positions I disagree with (of course some do), but that they avoid discussing certain subjects — because the facts don’t fit neatly into their scheme of things. Call it hypocrisy, call it self-censorship, call it a failure of responsibility and imagination. And if some people are offended by such suggestions, too bad: I am offended by the alternative.

24

strawman 09.04.04 at 2:27 pm

Hey Jimbo

NOw that the good folk at CT have violated their contract to provide you with speedy commentary on the top news stories of the day, I think you have a very strong case in small-claims court for asking for your money back for breach of contract. If you want news, read a fucking newspaper – don’t assume that everyone has as little time on their hands as apparently you do.

As for elizabeth, who in the LGF mode, clearly understands terrorism at a deeper level than mere mortals do, why do you bother visiting such ill-informed blogs like CT? Daniel Pipes, Michelle Malkin, Charles Johnson, Glenn Reynolds, Hugh Hewitt: they all provide the steely-eye resolve, the clear vision and the moral courage that is so needed to save thousands of blog readers from impending doom.

25

feh 09.04.04 at 2:51 pm

Since when has it become “right wing” to oppose religious fascists?

Since when has criticism of the right wing become support for religious fascists?

Since when has failing to reiterate the obvious – terrorists are cruel murderous bastards since they cruelly murder people – become sympathy for terrorists?

On the other hand, what does all this holier-than-thou race to see who first reiterates that obvious – that murder is murder, terror is terror, torturing children and blowing up buses is horrifying – aim to achieve? Do you not think it is the obvious default reaction for any decent human being with decent human feelings, to be horrified by such events? what is there to add, before the events are even over?

What bitter view of the world is it, when you demand that the emotional and moral disgust is spelt out, otherwise you assume there’s indifference? Isn’t it a tad hypocrite, to use those dead bodies for polemical purposes while preaching about the hypocrisy in others?

The only thing to comment upon in a political weblog is the political aspects of those situations, and that’s a step further from instant, instintively horrified reactions. It takes a bit more cold-headed reflection. Everyone has their preferences in terms of commentary, but I for one actually appreciate it a lot more when more complex political analysis is *not* made in real time, at the push of a button, while horrible events are still unfolding.

You turn on the tv and everyone on the news is already giving you their strategical vision and scenarios before anyone has even had a chance to understand what the fuck went on. Here’s a crying mother over a 12 year old corpse – here’s our correspondent’s all-knowing predictions about possible responses, which will turn out to be clueless, but we have to fill the time between ads and the sports news. It can get really disturbing, the way tv news can milk the pain of victims of such tragedies for the sake of bragging about who’s got the best coverage. I prefer weblogs, who are unpaid and unsponsored, to not be a replica of that kind of 24/7 treatment of news you get on tv channels, but if you have a different preference, jimbo, here’s an idea: find other weblogs to read, sites that talk of things you want them to talk about in exactly the way you want them to be talked about, or better still, open your own. Just don’t complain if one of your commenters start accusing you of failure to denounce terrorism when you fail to record in real time on your weblog your obvious disgust for a terrorist attack on ordinary people like you. If you go around assuming everyone who doesn’t make their feelings of shock public at the very moment they feel them is an insensitive hypocrite bastard blinded by a political agenda, one day that generous view of mankind might come back and bite you.

26

dsquared 09.04.04 at 2:55 pm

Jimbo, I disagree with much of the rest of your post (in particular, I think that ‘Islamism’ is a politically convenient but fictional construct drawn up by people who want to drag their own pet Middle Eastern issue into the fight against Al-Quaeda). But I must protest strongly against this remark:

, but it is a bit unseemly to see Sadr and his ilk get repeated considerate hearings while their victims remain unmentioned.

That’s purely and simply a lie. If you click on the small symbol next to my name, you’ll see a list of my posts, which will allow you to see a recent one called “Sadr’s Sharia Courts”. You probably need to apologise for this statement, because otherwise, I’m going to find it very difficult to take seriously all your other claims to be a regular reader.

27

Dinkum 09.04.04 at 4:01 pm

‘Islamism’ is a politically convenient but fictional construct drawn up by people who want to drag their own pet Middle Eastern issue into the fight against Al-Quaeda

It took a while, but we all knew that, sooner or later, for Dsquared it would come down to this: “Islamism” was wholly invented by the Zionists.

28

janet 09.04.04 at 4:02 pm

Jimbo, I don’t really care what your politics are. You’ve turned this thread away from the very topic you think we should be discussing. Instead, we’re discussing you. Good work.

29

Steve 09.04.04 at 4:36 pm

On this I applaud the opinion provocatively expressed by Italian journalist Riccardo Barenghi, former editor of the communist daily Il Manifesto, in that paper on August 28: “Between an Iraq liberated by severed heads and one occupied by Americans, I choose the second hypothesis.”

That’s one “provocative” opinion alright: apparently there are two, and only two, possibilities in Iraq. It’s us or the thugs. We’re going to be there for a hell of a long time if our “mission” has now metastasized from protecting us from Saddam into protecting the Iraqis from themselves.

Sounds like the provocative Mr. Barenghi, much like our own Dear Leader, “doesn’t do nuance.”

30

dsquared 09.04.04 at 5:54 pm

“Islamism” was wholly invented by the Zionists

Doesn’t it seem rather pointless trying to claim I said this when the very words you’ve quoted show that I didn’t?

31

Kieran Healy 09.04.04 at 6:12 pm

Doesn’t it seem rather pointless trying to claim I said this

It took a while, but we all knew that, sooner or later, for Dsquared it would come down to this: there’s no such thing as objective and so he is revealed as a postmodernist academic social-constructionist Foucauldian Marxist idiotarian. I shall demand my money back from CT immediately.

32

Dinkum 09.04.04 at 6:38 pm

OK, what part of “fictional construct” or “pet Middle Eastern issue” didn’t we get?

33

bitchphd 09.04.04 at 6:44 pm

I don’t know how to do trackbacks, but I tried, and failed, to say something about this over on my own blog.

34

Elizabeth 09.04.04 at 8:02 pm

“Trying to understand what steps we can take reduce the number of terrorist outrages in the future is not only a doomed plan but is in itself a surrender to the terrorists.”

I’m afraid I have to respectfully disagree with you there, John. It is important understand the mind of an enemy in order to know best how to deal with him. It is also fair to consider whether he has legitimate grievances that should be addressed. But the uncritical thinker is often wooed by the lazy assumption that if a group of people is willing to kill and die for a cause, then, ipso facto, the cause must be legitimate in some way; that the scale of the violence is a measure of the validity of the claim.

Take the farrago of terrorists who fall under the heading of “separatists.” The “root cause” is clear: nationalism, not the “despair” vernaculo moans about. The Basque Country for example. It is the richest region in Spain and has its own language/culture etc. It has an enormous amount of autonomy, as well as representation in Parliament. Part of its populace wants to secede from Spain on nationalist grounds; a sliver of this faction routinely kills innocents to underline its point. But there is a difference between a reason and an implicit excuse (terrorism is bad, but just as bad as whatever caused it, so it’s a draw), and we should have NO sympathy for ETA and its like.

Nor can al-Qa’ida claim any validity. The reasons given in OBL’s Declaration of War are wholly insufficient as to the US (though the criticisms of the royal Family seem to be fair) and the most legitimate complaints have now been addressed (troops out of SA, lifting of sanctions against Iraq). OBL’s “despair” is the result of the economic stagnation and secular government in the ME. Free trade, democracy and a prosperous Iraq should help with the first, and when that happens perhaps the second won’t be so important.

That said, while I find the contributors and most commenters on CT to be polite thoughtful people, other commenters are shrill, intolerant and appallingly crude (even to fellow travelers). Jimbo is hardly a troll and Gordon should not “go fuck himself” (nor am I an “idiot”). They are commenters who (rightly or wrongly) argue against the collective opinion of the thread. And then there is strawman, who thinks I should leave if I don’t agree with him. All I can say to that is that if he feels threatened by debate then he should reexamine his arguments. Or, if disagreement is truly insufferable, there should be some sort of membership and password requirement.

35

dsquared 09.04.04 at 8:12 pm

Elizabeth, you may have a point in your own case and that of Jimbo, but look at what Gordon’s contribution actually was. He didn’t actually contribute anything on the thread. He simply opined that CT sucked. I am entirely happy with my response to him. As I’ve mentioned on the last thread that ended up this way, CT is rather like a good pub; one doesn’t get barred for rowdy behaviour, but if one tries to start a fight, one should not expect the gentle touch.

36

Ophelia Benson 09.04.04 at 8:31 pm

Oh really.

Dsquared to Elizabeth:

“Elizabeth, you may have a point in your own case and that of Jimbo, but look at what Gordon’s contribution actually was. He didn’t actually contribute anything on the thread. He simply opined that CT sucked.”

What Gordon actually said, in its entirety:

“I can’t answer for Jimbo, but I share some of his frustration. The fact that CT announces itself as an “academic” blog is no excuse for its patent purblindness. The usual suspects get rounded up over and over while the real world of terror remains little more than a social construct. Not every post on CT includes an argument. Or needs to. Chris’s is about right. Just very late.”

Now that’s what I call careful reading.

Jeez.

37

Ophelia Benson 09.04.04 at 8:34 pm

Or to put it another way, a slightly less bad-tempered way – is that post really so outrageous that it cries out for a ‘go fuck yourself’? I wouldn’t have thought so.

38

Carlos 09.04.04 at 9:17 pm

Elizabeth, on comparisons between ETA and Al Qaeda, I think you should look at the story in the long term. ETA exists since the seventies, during which basques had no autonomy and couldn’t even speak their own language. Only when Franco died and democracy arrived, some of the restrictions were removed. Then, ETA instead of accepting the democratic Spanish government as legitimate decided to keep fighting for independence. As part of a strategy to fight ETA succesive goverments made numerous concessions in terms of political, economic and cultural rights. It worked; many members of ETA left (the present day ETA is really a faction of a faction) and the organization is a shadow of his former self. Of course at the same time the government pursued a “get tough” policy (which at some time included death squads). This stick and carrot approach has a history of being effective.

39

yabonn 09.04.04 at 9:20 pm

Hey matthew!

Yes, you, big media yglesias! Reopen your comment section and take them back! Now!

40

Gordon D. 09.04.04 at 9:26 pm

Thanks for the defence, Ophelia; my self-esteem was suffering and I was beginning to avoid mirrors. This will probably be my last visit to this pub, however. The proprietor thinks I started a “fight” on my previous visit, and has done a Cheney on me, so I guess I’ll have to take my custom elsewhere.

41

strawman 09.04.04 at 9:32 pm

I lost my previous post so here’s another try:

Elizabeth, I make no apologies to you. You came in here attacking a strawman that the posters at Crooked Timber were trying to find moral equivalence with the bastards who killed 200+ inncoent kids. I was merely pointing out that you would be much more comfortable with someone like Glenn “Ethnic cleansing ought to take care of the Palestinian conflict” Reynolds, whose steely eyed vision is so different from people like Chris and Kieran and D-Squared who stagger around in a fog of moral unclarity.

After all Reynolds today criticized an Yglesias post that dared express the idea that the two options facing the Russians were both bad, presumably for offering two options. A law professor who is unable to handle TWO competing ideas at the same time, now that’s the kind of academic you will find kinship with not these pointy headed girlie-men and manly-girls at CT.

And as for Jimbo, I think it is perfectly civil to ask him to go fuck himself. After all, he not only had the temerity to come to someone else’s blog and criticize topics that they were NOT covering but also decided to pass on some aspersions about their character for not covering as well. If Jimbo would like a blog that covers topics that outrage him, he can send me a list of pet peeves and a large check and I will be glad to provide entertainment. Until he refrains from the “if you don’t say child rape is bad you must be a child rapist” school of discourse, I am more than happy to ask him to go fuck himself.

42

Ophelia Benson 09.04.04 at 9:42 pm

“I think it is perfectly civil to ask him to go fuck himself.”

Yeah, there are a lot of people who think that, going to and fro in the world and strolling up and down in it. How pleasant they do make life, to be sure.

43

strawman 09.04.04 at 9:46 pm

I just take my cue from the second most powerful man in America :)

44

wren 09.04.04 at 9:51 pm

The most important thing is mobilization of the whole nation to confront the danger. Events in other countries show that the terrorists get the most effective rebuff where they encounter not only the power of the state but an organized and consolidated civil society.

45

Ophelia Benson 09.04.04 at 10:02 pm

Yeah well take your cue from somewhere else. Someone other than Rumsfeld or Dsquared.

Dang – ‘agree with me or I’ll tell you to go fuck yourself’? That’s the new rule around here? Let’s hope not!

46

strawman 09.04.04 at 10:11 pm

Ah, another strawman. I asked ONE specific person to go fuck themself, I disagree with many more than one, but did not ask them to follow in Pat Leahy’s footsteps.

Chris wrote “I couldn’t find the words then and I can’t now after watching the scenes on TV” to which Jimbo responded with “CT’s world is a place where hostage-takings, decapitations, busses and planes blowing up and various massacres across three continents are entirely off the intellectual radar.” If you have a more articulate response to Jimbo than the one my meager vocabulary was able to come up with you should send it to him. Whether or not Jimbo disagreed with me had nothing to do with my post but if you want to keep pretending that it did and burning up strawmen to make you feel good, be CT’s guest

47

Elizabeth 09.04.04 at 10:23 pm

Exactly so, Carlos! That is why I favor the “get tough” approach to AQ, as well as incentives for Muslim extremists to abandon the terrorism insanity. To wit, AQ operatives should be captured or killed, and we should see what we can do about improving economic opportunity in the ME. With the employment, prosperity and personal liberty a liberal democracy can bring, the siren song of martyrdom may well be muted (although this is not certain; religion is a powerful force), and people can spend their time arguing over education, healthcare and sundry frivolities, as we do.

My quibble is with Vernaculo’s post, Strawman, which I consider to be a clear defense (albeit hedged) of terrorism; particularly his rejection of the characterization of terrorists as “bad guys.” And I am not prepared to accept that CT posters are “pointy headed girlie-men and manly-girls.” I certainly am not.

PS: A smile for Ophelia.

48

vernaculo 09.04.04 at 11:51 pm

elizabeth-
Inasmuch as I’m absolutely opposed to the mindset you represent, and inasmuch as in your Manichaen universe there are only two positions available, I must perforce be on the other side. A defender of terrorists and terrorism.
I’m not moaning, far from it. I’m capping rage. And it’s directed at you and the clot of bloodsucking leeches you defend.
Maybe I’m capping it too well.
There was never an agreement as to what “terrorists” are. Only a barrage of media enforcement of the term. And a passive acceptance of it by a bewildered public. It means “them”. Anyone who doesn’t roll over and die when they’re told to, by whatever it is you represent. Privilege, the elite, the elect, I don’t care what you call it.
People who can’t distinguish between someone stealing bread to feed their children, and someone stealing bread to resell it at an inflated price to a starving man, people whose fetish-worship of the law comes at the expense of human dignity, and whose compassion doesn’t extend beyond their housepets, sicken me.
What color is the skin of a “terrorist”?
Now tell me it isn’t brown.
How many children died in Fallujah on Friday?
I’m not justifying what was done in Beslan, you are.

49

Elizabeth 09.05.04 at 12:25 am

Vernaculo: Oh dear!

Strawman: My mistake. He wasn’t arguing moral equivalence for the Beslan terrorists; it was moral SUPERIORITY!

50

anon 09.05.04 at 9:49 am

Jimbo – for your information, the Italian communist editor you’re talking about, Mr Barenghi, last year, before the US attack on Iraq, wrote another “provocative” editorial where he explicitely wrote he wished lots of Americans would die in a long-draw out war, because the US was asking for it, so massive carnage was preferable to a quick victory, as that’ll teach them about invading other countries.

As for the latest “provocation” you quoted, that amazingly original statement in the proud tradition of “US: still not as bad as Saddam/Al Qaeda/random terrorists who behead random people”, he said it was a way of provoking controversy and debate, just like his statements of last year were intended as only a way of provoking controversy and debate, which they sure did. He says he just wants the anti-war to reflect on how much worse it would be if terrorists who behead people at random occupied Iraq instead. (He must think he’s the only one who had this amazing revelation).

But he still wants all troops out, right now, no conditions.

How exactly is that going to prevent terrorists from taking over Iraq? No explanation. It’s beyond the scope of “provocation” and “stimulating doubt and debate”.

Just so you know how logical, coherent and credible the opinion and person you’re applauding is.

Or is it anything goes, in the verbal war against straw men?

I look forward to the day Milosevic is cited as authority on how to defeat Islamic terrorists.

51

Matt 09.05.04 at 4:45 pm

This is boring. I would encourage anyone with any patience to read the discussion at Lenin.

52

ian 09.05.04 at 5:35 pm

I did a quick sample of blogs I normally read and found references to Beslan on maybe 20% of them. Does this mean I can’t read the others now? Actually – I haven’t commented either – I’ll have to stop reading myself. What crap!

I think Chris’s comments were spot on – anyone who is a parent will have had dificulty coping with this horror. I see no reason why he or anyone else should have to construct a throw away post just to keep the blog traffic up.

53

Tsilimidos T. 09.05.04 at 5:59 pm

Jimbo,

If you are still reading this thread, please accept warm thanks from me – and from many others like me, I expect – for having ruffled some of Crooked Timber’s feathers. CT is an excellent site, a regular stop on the circuit, but it has also become smug, self-congratulatory, and politically stilted, a place where lines are quickly drawn and followed, where (some) posters can spend endless columns digging down deeper into the same holes and remain oblivious to what is happening beyond the tips of their noses. I know that they advertise it as a blog by academics, a category that includes me, but they needn’t always demonstrate why the term is so often uncomplimentary when used as an adjective.

Again, thanks.

54

kevin donoghue 09.05.04 at 9:42 pm

T. Tsilimidos,

I never knew CT was advertised as a blog by academics. In case you intend recommending Jimbo’s work to your own students, please take another look at the contributions which you have so warmly endorsed.

To begin with, Jimbo’s first comment didn’t tell us what was bothering him (if Jimbo is a woman, my apologies; my best guess is that this is a man’s name). Seeking to divine Jimbo’s concerns, I took a shot in the dark, suggesting that his use of the word “Islamophobia” might be a clue. Accordingly, I pointed out that the recent massacre in Burundi was not carried out by Muslims. His response – opening his shell ever so slightly – was that he didn’t believe “the recent massacre in Burundi ever made it here. Maybe because the Hutu-Tutsi conflict just doesn’t contain any of … [CT’s] ‘usual suspects’.”

All right. We may be getting somewhere. The charge is that CT only concerns itself with conflicts which involve the USA and its allies (reading between the lines a little, since Jimbo doesn’t actually lay it on the line).

Is there any substance to this? Should CT concern itself with whether Hutus are acting in accordance with the highest standards of Hutudom? Or whether Putin is behaving less honourably than the Politburo of old? In my view this contribution of Jimbo’s is sheer piffle. If you disagree, please explain why. Frankly, you are no more forthcoming than he is.

Janet managed to get a bit more out of him, including his remark that it is “a bit unseemly to see Sadr and his ilk get repeated considerate hearings while their victims remain unmentioned.” D-squared responded, quite accurately, that this is “purely and simply a lie.”

Jimbo also faulted CT for failing to mention “the kidnapping of two French journalists and its consequences on the anti-hijab law.” So what is being suggested here? That an Australian economist, a (non-academic) American living in London and sundry other unsavoury characters are cheese-eating surrender monkeys? What legal (or other) consequences is he on about?

In the end I am no wiser than before about Jimbo’s worries; but my original diagnosis is supported by his comment: “one doesn’t have to be Richard Pipes to consider militant Islamism a dangerous political scourge. Since when has it become ‘right wing’ to oppose religious fascists? We may disagree about how best to combat it, but I reject any attempt to minimize its menace.”

Well, at least now we now what Jimbo rejects. He is of course quite right to say that attempts to minimise menaces are reprehensible. Never, ever, minimise a menace!

Perhaps in time we will get a clearer picture of Jimbo’s political philosophy. In the meantime discussion will be more fruitful if people who have comments to make give some indication of just what the hell they mean to say.

55

anon 09.05.04 at 10:43 pm

CT is an excellent site, a regular stop on the circuit, but it has also become smug, self-congratulatory, and politically stilted, a place where lines are quickly drawn and followed, where (some) posters can spend endless columns digging down deeper into the same holes and remain oblivious to what is happening beyond the tips of their noses.

In other words, individuals with their own opinions, who tend to write about what *they* like, rather than what some whingeing bores among their readers expect.

Oh, and people who leave comments who consist solely and entirely in complaints that they are not being served the content they want in exactly the way they want it, followed by a set of ridiculous straw men, displays of ignorance, blatant misreadings, righteous indignation and moral condemnation of the lack of humanity of their hosts, are not “ruffling feathers”, they are only a waste of bandwidth, a.k.a. trolls. Some standard of political debate, that. Then again. Small minds tend to ride high horses.

56

harvestbird 09.05.04 at 10:53 pm

in lieu of knowledge of how to trackback, some thoughts, (hopefully from a low horse).

57

harvestbird 09.05.04 at 10:57 pm

an empty link above–excuse me. My username followed by the blogspot domain will do the trick as a URL.

58

anon 09.05.04 at 11:12 pm

Harvestbird, for what it’s worth, I enjoyed reading the commentary on your site. It’s a relief to come across some calm, collected reasoning after this…

I had the impression the initial Darfur comment on this thread was sarcastic, though. At least, I’d hope so. Not that this diminishes any of the points you make (god knows the ‘why don’t you care about Darfur’ charge has been raised ad nauseam in other contexts).

59

harvestbird 09.06.04 at 3:14 am

yes, I thought the remark concerning Darfur might be intended as a conversation stopper, but the question itself is something that recurs and one I’ve asked myself in other contexts concerning other conflicts.

60

Len 09.06.04 at 1:42 pm

In the meantime discussion will be more fruitful if people who have comments to make give some indication of just what the hell they mean to say.

Hey Kevin, I could have saved you the trouble.

What I am saying is not that some CTers take positions I disagree with (of course some do), but that they avoid discussing certain subjects — because the facts don’t fit neatly into their scheme of things. Call it hypocrisy, call it self-censorship, call it a failure of responsibility and imagination. And if some people are offended by such suggestions, too bad: I am offended by the alternative.

Seems pretty straightforward. Next time try reading on the lines instead of between them.

61

anon 09.06.04 at 3:03 pm

Seems pretty straightforward.

Indeed:

What I am saying is not that some CTers take positions I disagree with (of course some do) –> pre-emptive disclaimer of trollage, to justify whatever one is writing next

but that they avoid discussing certain subjects –> assumption 1 – assuming a voluntary, politically-motivated avoidance rather than the obvious and declared shock at unfolding events: “tried to write… couldn’t find the words then and I can’t now…”

because the facts don’t fit neatly into their scheme of things —> assumption 2 – projection of obtuseness and ideological motivations behind lack of commentary on the siege for all of 2 days (how’s that for reading between the lines)

Call it hypocrisy, call it self-censorship, call it a failure of responsibility and imagination.
–> list of judgements derived from above assumptions

And if some people are offended by such suggestions, too bad –> 2nd disclaimer (a.k.a. the wrapper) to justify whatever was written before, and declare immunity from (and indifference to) possible responses except the congratulatory kind

I am offended by the alternative. –> the punchline, reinforcing superiority of speaker’s moral indignation.

A classic pattern, perfect for rhetorical speeches and sermons.

You can package pretty much any kind of strawmen in that format.

62

Len 09.06.04 at 3:41 pm

trollage… obtuseness… assumptions… indignation… classic pattern…

Circling the wagons, uh, “Anon”?

And since you also can’t seem to read the lines for what’s between them, note that Jimbo’s original comment makes it quite clear he regards Chris’ to be an exceptional voice here.

63

Hannah 09.06.04 at 3:52 pm

Len,

What seems to rile (some) CTers, and especially their apologists, is that Jimbo’s criticism is coming from their left. That’s obviously a very weak flank. They just can’t imagine that left-liberals like us would be so… disloyal.

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anon 09.06.04 at 5:09 pm

Hannah, that’s got to be the most hilarious comment I’ve come across here.

Us, them, left-liberals, apologists, I love that kind of neat categorisation, very stylish, like ikea boxes with their instruction leaflets inside.

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