Kant and Iraq

by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2004

According to conservative philosopher Roger Scruton, “Immanuel Kant would have been a supporter of the Iraq war”:http://www.opendemocracy.net/themes/article-5-1749.jsp . I’m posting this as a curiosity, really, since it seems unlikely to me that Kant, who didn’t allow peoples the right to overthrow despots (however much he might rejoice at the consequences) would have allowed the legitimacy of one people overthrowing another people’s regime (however despotic).

The sweet science

by Ted on February 19, 2004

On the other wing…

Matt Welch once wrote a pretty good column about liberal pieties at alternative weeklies. I think I’ve found Exhibit A. I’d like to distance myself from this article before Lileks or somebody finds it.

The cover story of Houston’s alt-weekly, the Houston Press, is about a talented young boxer named Benjamin Flores. Flores was born in Mexico and came to the United States when he was eleven. Although he came here illegally, he has a work permit (but not permanent residency or citizenship.) The work permit doesn’t give him to the right to re-enter the country.

He’s beaten the No. 1 amateur featherweight fighter in the United States and the No. 1 from Mexico. But that means nothing, because Benjamin Flores belongs neither here nor there. He can’t fight for the United States because he’s not a citizen. He could fight for Mexico, but there’s no guarantee the U.S. would let him back in this country once he crossed the border.

He is a fighter without a country — a pugilist caught in the gears of globalization.

Tonight, as he takes his first step into the professional ranks at the International Ballroom, he will also take home a modest cash prize. The money will seal him off from ever competing on an Olympic stage.

I guess that this is where the infinite flood of compassion is supposed to kick in, but it’s not happening. Flores isn’t doing too badly; he’s got a work permit and a promising career ahead of him. It’s entirely reasonable to restrict a country’s Olympic athletes to its citizens- it prevents rich countries from athlete-shopping all over the world. It’s isn’t Flores’ fault that his birthplace disqualifies him from boxing for the U.S. But it isn’t my fault that I hit like a ten-year old, either. If he had been one or two years younger, he probably wouldn’t have waited until 2008 to start his pro career. Plenty of successful boxers have gone to the Olympics, but plenty haven’t, including Buster Douglas, Mike Tyson, and Matthew Saad Muhammad.

Also, it’s really Daniel’s gig, but I call “globollocks” on “a pugilist caught in the gears of globalization,” for reasons that should be obvious.

Flores comes across as a decent guy; my perception is that the wheedling tone comes from the reporter. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Mark Steyn

by Ted on February 19, 2004

Ann Coulter is not really a pundit; she’s a political insult comic. When she lied about Max Cleland’s Vietnam injuries in her column last week, I heard about it, but didn’t comment. Life’s too short. (Besides, Tbogg, Arthur Silber, and Senator Jack Reed did a good job with it.)

Mark Steyn has repeated the story, using Ann Coulter as a source.

As Ann Coulter pointed out in a merciless but entirely accurate column, it wasn’t on the “battlefield.” It wasn’t in combat. He was working on a radio relay station. He saw a grenade dropped by one of his colleagues and bent down to pick it up. It’s impossible for most of us to imagine what that must be like — to be flown home, with your body shattered, not because of some firefight, but because of a stupid mistake.

[click to continue…]


by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2004

I’ve recently started going to German classes in an attempt to move beyond my dismal O-level German of thirty years ago. One thing I this has spurred me to want to do is to watch Edgar Reitz’s “Heimat”:http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0087400/ again. Heimat is the 11-episode-long dramatic chronicle of a German village from 1919 to the 1980s and tracks the ordinary lives of Germans against the background of political and military cataclysm. When it was broadcast by the BBC on successive evenings in the 1980s we stayed in and watched the whole thing (we had a small baby at the time, so staying in was just the way it was). Reitz’s immensely humane film makes explicable, but does not excuse, how German society could succumb to the lure of Nazism and it has to rate as one of the best things I’ve ever seen in TV. Its successor, “Die zweite Heimat”:http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0105906/ , dealing with the lives of young Germans in Munich from the postwar period to the present was much less compelling – but still good. Now I see that a further series, “Heimat 3”:http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0312142/ , is in production. Disappointingly, as far as I can tell, Heimat is not available on DVD or video but if anyone knows differently — let me know.

(Here’s “a page with some clips”:http://www.dickinson.edu/departments/germn/glossen/heft9/heimat.html in MOV format.)

All men (nearly)

by Chris Bertram on February 19, 2004

Inspired by “Michael Brooke’s post”:http://www.michaelbrooke.com/archive/2004_02_15_index.html#107714320022442574 on “The Gender Genie”:http://www.bookblog.net/gender/genie.html , a site that analyses text and guesses whether the author is male or female, I’ve just run samples of the Crooked Timber team’s writings though the test. It turns out that Ted is probably a woman and that all the rest of us (including Eszter and Maria) are men! Harry, whom I had down as a caring-sharing type, turns out to have gallons of testosterone coursing through his sentences. Who’d uv thunk it?