Susan Sontag's
October 1, 2001 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Susan Sontag's getting bashed royale--ala Bill Maher--in the New Yorker forum (oh, you'll have to register to read them) and various over-the-top op-ed pages for the piece she was asked to write for Talk of The Town right after the attack. I don't know, she didn't say anything about the hijackers that Dinesh D'Souza didn't say on Politically Incorrect the same night Maher got himself in trouble. And as for me, "Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen," is not the most inflammatory thing I ever read. Especially, the 'let's not be stupid together' part.
posted by y2karl (33 comments total)
 
Just what Steinbeck's "Doc" found on his little walk through America. Sontag will discover again that the love of true things is not a common love among her countrymen.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:22 PM on October 1, 2001


Never thought I'd read phuckface in The New Yorker. William Shawn, bless him, must be turning in his grave...

Plus you don't have to register, y2karl. Good Lord, what have things come to? I'm shocked.

*nips back sharpish to further blubber over death of civilized journalism at the hands of the Internet*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:33 PM on October 1, 2001


Apparantly you missed this part: Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.
posted by aaron at 9:36 PM on October 1, 2001


"A single intelligent remark can destroy a man's entire career." Ezra Pound

or woman for that matter
posted by skallas at 9:54 PM on October 1, 2001


Um- aaron, you got a point with that?
posted by hincandenza at 10:00 PM on October 1, 2001


If you have to ask, I'm not sure it's worth my pointing out. Read it more closely. She is directly blaming the attack on the US in that graf. (The twisted toying around of the definition of "courage" is also pathetic, but so many others have tried the same thing already and failed, I don't think it's worth discussing.) She deserves every bit of over-the-top hyperbole thrown her way.
posted by aaron at 10:24 PM on October 1, 2001


I don't get it with you Americans. What's so great or important about being brave? Since when has it held a candle to being, say, good?
Most monsters aren't cowards. Most cowards are good people. The emphasis on cowardice is really strange, looked at from Europe. Who cares if the terrorists were cowards or not? They're much worse. They don't deserve that sort of detail.
Susan Sontag is just as gung-ho on this as your average Green Beret. Can it be courageous or cowardly to send thousands of innocent people to their grave?

I mention this because it keeps popping up - were they cowards or not? - and I suspect it's an American, jock/G.I Joe/Sergeant Rock silly kind of thing.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:36 PM on October 1, 2001


Aaron, you're not familiar with the concept of karma, are you? Why is it so hard for people to accept that this attack might be the result of U.S. foreign policy? Why is it so wrong to point out that 50 years of our government - not the U.S., not the people, but the government, an important distinction - undertaking dirty tricks might have provoked some retaliation? Is it wrong to search for a root cause to the symptom? Since World War II, we have given the world a huge target, and someone knocked us down. I think it's horrifying, but actions always have consequences. That's it. That's as simple as it gets.

I don't think anyone's condoning mass murder, Aaron. I think people are genuinely upset that 6,000 people died as an indirect result of America's foreign policy. What is horrifying to me, what with the armchair generaling from the right and left, is that in the end, 6,000 innocent people died horribly for no good reason. That is, if indeed this was an attack that's a nebulous tendril of U.S. realpolitik, then 6,000 people died for the sins of the U.S. government. Yes, I know, I know, the children in Iraq, the death tolls, yada yada yada, we know. The U.S. government has killed innocents. You know what? There's not a government on this planet that hasn't killed innocents. Government is not concerned with morality; government is concerned with power. But it's only now where that's becoming apparent. That the myths are shattered. America isn't necessarily a beacon of virtue and morality. In order for us to sleep safe and sound in our beds, our government has committed horrible acts that will haunt those responsible into their next lives, if you believe in that. We can't remain ignorant of the rest of the world anymore.

And to round out this ramble, I think it would take a certain amount of courage to drive a plane into a building. Then again, courage by itself - a "neutral virtue", I believe she called it - is nothing; it is what it is used for that matters. In this case, it was used for what I would call "evil" purposes.

If people are gloating over this tragedy...I honestly think that only a sociopath would do such a thing, so fuck them anyway. What's happening is that people are angry, and tremendously shook up, and that people want to know why this happened, what the systemic causes are. And no amount of jingoism or agitprop from the U.S. government, no amount of strikes on Afghanistan, are going to answer the deep underlying questions of how the American government conducts itself within the global realm.

We are all sad and hurt and wounded. But instead of just killing our assailant, we should understand his/her motives. And then kill them.
posted by solistrato at 10:52 PM on October 1, 2001


weird to read this here now. I think the Sontag-bashing started with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on September 18, when they wrote:

Paul Newman, speaking to the press at Echouboulains, France, urged U.S. leaders to act with "moderation" as they responded to the attacks. Asked if he trusted Mr. Bush to lead the U.S. at this point, all he could muster was, "I'm sure he will be well advised."

But that was praise compared to the bile poured by writer Susan Sontag in a piece yesterday in Le Monde and Saturday in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The U.S. media were in cahoots with U.S. leaders to "infantilize" the public, she wrote. No one was pointing out, she protested, that "this was not a `coward' attack against `civilization' or `freedom' or `humanity' or against `the free world' but an attack against the United States, the self-declared global superpower, an attack which is the consequence of certain U.S. actions and interests."


Sontag, of course, is simply expressing her view. So, she's wrong, and her opinion is poorly balanced and not very thoughtful. Still, she's entitled to it, and others have chosen to publish it, for whatever reason; I don't see what the big deal is.

If anything, it would be interesting to discuss why a publication like the New Yorker thought it was worth publishing; discussing the opinion itself is a tedious exercise in slowly realizing that some people are muddle-headed and that the rest pretty much all agree once they understand what they're trying to say to each other.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:27 PM on October 1, 2001


Calling someone a coward is a great way to insult them. But so what? These guys are dead. And if someone achieves their goals, it really doesn`t matter if they`re cowards or not.

On the other hand, it would be pure idiocy to say that this had nothing to do with American foreign policy (unless the perpetrators turn out to be American citizens, which they seem not to be). Do you think America would have been targeted for attack if we`d closed our borders and never let any people or information in or out.

Of course, even if you buy the line that American brought this on itself (and I don`t for even a minute), it`s really pointless to dealing with the issue currently at hand.

As far as Sontag`s argument, all she`s saying is that "America is big and powerful. Some people don`t like that." You might be able to tack on another line about "So America is bad."

The responsibility of a (representative-style) government is to protect the interests of its citizens. So when the lives of its citizens are threatened, the government must take measures to fix that as soon as possible, as well as prevent it from happening again.

So while we can change our foreign policy to make some people happy (and therefore piss off other people), that will take years to have any effect on the safety of people living in America. And that means years of living under threat.

The result, then, is that the responsibility of the government is to find whoever did this, wherever they may be, and make an example of them. There`s no need for justifications based on revenge or retaliation-- that would only be relevant if we had reason to believe that this was a one time occurrence and that the infrastructure that brought about these attacks was going to focus on other things. The only justification needed for the elimination of that infrastructure is the safety of innocent people on American soil.
posted by chiheisen at 11:44 PM on October 1, 2001


It is not that I believe the US government has never made a stupid foreign policy move in its life; of course it has. Nor do I think there's anything wrong with analyzing past actions in trying to figure out what brought this about. The problem is that, in my view, Sontag and others of her ilk are intentionally simplifying it down to the utterly distorted statement "The US has gotten what it deserves." And also that they often seem to be a bit gleeful, or at least smug, about saying it.
posted by aaron at 12:08 AM on October 2, 2001


aaron, part of the reason they seem smug in saying "You deserved that" is that, when talking about bad stuff like stubbed toes, lung cancer or terrorist attacks, there isn`t really another way to say "You deserved that." It`s a smug and self-righteous expression as it is, more so when you don`t like the things the person did to "deserve" whatever happened to them.

[Note: I am aware that you can`t really call something self righteous without being somewhat self-righteous yourself.]
posted by chiheisen at 12:13 AM on October 2, 2001


It was written in haste, one must note, and in rage at how tv news--and we all were glued to our sets: I, for one, saw all, that could have been seen live, live--trivializes everything and sucks the real out of the common living room with their logos and their heartfelt tearjerking stories. And while working on the notes for my show, that damn telethon was on & I wasn't watching & Willie Nelson was singing America The Beautiful, a wonderful song & he could sing the classifieds with feeling...And I walk over to the tv and there's Kurt & Goldie & fucking Mariah Carey-aiiiyiieee!!! Kill your tv indeed. The firemen; the people on, what, flight 93 were heroes, yes, but the people who own this corporate state have been doing horrible things out there in the world & it finally came home. We've been living in a fool's paradise & all the flag waving in the world won't erase that it was the home of the brave selling the lion's share of the land mines and cluster bombs to the rest of the mostly underdeveloped world so people here could drive the SUV's with the Ask Me What I'm Doing To Change The Climate bumperstickers and talk about the new CD, movie, restaurant and what's on TV...And it wasn't like we weren't warned over and over and over. 'Even sleepers are workers and collaborators on what goes on in the universe,' said Heraclitus. Then came the wake up call...
posted by y2karl at 12:40 AM on October 2, 2001


MiguelCardoso said:
I don't get it with you Americans. What's so great or important about being brave? Since when has it held a candle to being, say, good?

Miguel I'll try and answer,

You have to understand, intuitively (that may not be possible for most non-americans) what it is like to grow up on the Media Teat of Hollywood (Burbank for TV). Bravery from an American's view isn't the same as a more Cosmopolitan or Global version. A good historical comparison would be the British Dunkirk or "Charge of the Light Brigade" as compared to Inchon or "Sgt York", We US'er Think usually only in Victories (specifically OUR victory or by someone we consider comfortably similar to us) when we think of bravery. Bataan and the loss of Wake Island are defeats to us and not worthy of the phrase bravely fought. (I'm not going to argue the merits of this attitude but just point out that it exists). We shake our heads at the Brits finding some joy in the fiasco at dunkirk and are confused as to how they can consider a rout in any way as worhty of any applause. (again, not looking for flame just defining an attitude). Bravery is not to us "Fight the good fight" but more of "Win the good fight".

That bring said, my opinion:
The Firemen are always brave, they put life online every alarm and to celibrate not means we weren't celibrating enough before.

Cops, Well I think if they would have known the second plane was coming, they would have run fast. Remember these are the same proud servants who shot an unarmed man, in his lobby, 40 times, over a wallet and then rape suspects with a plunger and lies about both to the public. We seem to have forgotten this about these actions just because of some patriotic ferver, Meanwhile Cleavland lets cops shot black boys with no consiquences.

Rescue workers and EMTs, Hey they temd to call the police and firemen to make sure its safe for them to go in, even if it means the death of the injured, I also think they would have dropped thier bags and the injured and ran.

Bravery to me implies knowingly risking your life to save others.. Knowingly.. and with some chance of success.

If the Terrorists thought (In some twisted logic) that their sacrifice was going to save more than they would kill then they may qualify under this definition of bravery, or they could have just wanted to kill lots of yuppies.

My thoughts: Defeatism does not equal courage, niether does revenge, and nor does desperatism.
posted by Elim at 12:44 AM on October 2, 2001


Remember these are the same proud servants who shot an unarmed man, in his lobby, 40 times, over a wallet and then rape suspects with a plunger and lies about both to the public.

Really? The same cops who did these things were killed in the WTC collapse? Where did you uncover this tidbit?
posted by kindall at 12:58 AM on October 2, 2001


Miguel:

I`m not sure the bravery thing is specifically American, though cowboy flicks often have it so that "coward" is the greatest insult you can throw at someone.

I think the referral to cowardice in this situation is an attempt to insult the perpetrators, sort of get in the last word.

I certainly don`t think that Elim`s got the right idea by saying bravery = victory. American history books look at the Alamo as an instance of bravery on the part of the defenders, but there is no doubt in anyone`s mind that Mexico won that battle handily. If the claim had been "bravery = the good guy," I might buy it.

Elim:

Do you think it is a bad idea for EMTs to make sure that they can get into an area and safely treat a patient, as opposed to becoming extra casualties? Or should they rush in recklessly and simply add to the body count so they can look brave.

A more important question:

Are plunger-assault, killing of innocents and racism requirements for getting onto a police force?

If yes, then that`s one secret that has eluded even the most sensitive of civil rights activists.

If no, then it seems you`ve made as big a generalization as the people who think that all Arabs are guilty of the attacks.
posted by chiheisen at 1:22 AM on October 2, 2001


Bravery is not to us "Fight the good fight" but more of "Win the good fight".


Thanks, Elim. I think you've pointed to a fundamental difference between the Anglo and the American sides of the equation, if it is one.
In English culture to be brave is to do your best, be a good sport, not care about what figure you'll cut. It's essentially about pluck, doing your bit, mucking in. It's wanting to play; wanting to win - even if you haven't a ghost of a chance of winning; or playing well.
Hence the love of Cricket, though we get thrashed something awful(I say we because my mother is English and Portugal has yet to form a cricket team).
American bravery is about results, you imply. About winning? This makes sense and explains a lot. For example: nowhere else is "loser" such an insult.
In Latin Europe bravery is all about cheek, chutzpah, nerve. Which can mean just running away whenever duty calls, as long as it's done in a nonchalant, shoulder-shrugging way.
Winners are universally felt sorry for. The most common soccer expression here in Portugal, when dealing with the winning team, is: "Oh let the poor guys win - what harm have they done to you?". The worst insult is to concede your adversary is right and say: "OK, OK, take the trophy".

This might also be explainable by the indisputable fact that we do tend to be losers.

So am I right in concluding there is a secret admiration for the terrorists, just because they "succeeded", i.e., carried out what they set out to do?

I hear all this ridiculous praise about what a "complex" and "sophisticated" operation it was and it bothers me something crazy; as if there's a sort of tacit approval.

Maniacs with boxcutters crashing domestic flights into the two tallest buildings in wide-open Manhattan? What is there to admire, even tacitly, even with maximum reluctance, about their genocidal spree?

I think you Americans definitely have a problem, then...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:34 AM on October 2, 2001


Miguel,

I agree that the operation was not all that complex. I`m also sick of people saying "this was a huge undertaking. There`s no way a small group could do this." I call "bullshit." This was nothing more than doing something unexpected.

I think the thing some people admire (though they might couch it in something else) is that these guys were willing to give their lives for "the cause."
posted by chiheisen at 1:40 AM on October 2, 2001


Kindall:
It did happen in NY and the Bronx Division did arrive on scene so stands to reason that Bronx cops were included in the Peoples Glorious Effort to save our Heroic Citizens.

Oh my mistake shot at 41 times hit 19..

You do the math.

chiheisen:
Alamo is more a Texas thing here in Colorado. Like saying remember Little Big Horn, But also the Alamo was a time delay for Houston's forces to get in place to retaliate and ultimatly end, a loss battle (Although they thought they could hold out) not a rout or pointless waste of life.

Do I think and EMT should rush blindly into a firefight, no. But Army medics do just that, only to save a life, so in degrees we see shades of grey. Ive seem EMT in Colorado Springs let a man expire due to fear of gas fumes until a fireman finally said "Gaddamnit, out of the way 'I'll' save him" he was too late but he did try. Likew watching flood rescuers wait untill thier safety officer was onsite before trying to get a line out to a woman on the hood of her car in Fort Collins, Some army guy had to save her while the rescue squad watched from the side lines.

It's not what the police require to get hired, it's what they require to get fired that I'm concerned with, which apparently is some really monsterous behavior and not much else... and that`s one secret that has not civil rights activists or even Amnesty Intl. We just need to start listening.

I've been an SP and MP and worked with police off and on for the last fifteen years or so, and frankly, they doon't seem to care if their racest, sadistic or even corrupt as long as we (the public) don't find out and they get results (More money for the PD).

Not a generalization that doesn't hold up.
posted by Elim at 1:49 AM on October 2, 2001


I think you've all got the wrong angle on the English/American bravery thing. When we used to win everything then winning was seen as vulgar. Now we don't tend to win so much, winning is everything, although we still retain an affection for losers, but it's mixed with contempt. And we always call IRA bombers cowards in exactly the same way the US calls these particular pieces of scum cowards. I think it comes from the victims' sense of helplessness. There's no-one to hit back at. That's what makes them seem like cowards. They're shirking responsibility.
posted by Summer at 1:55 AM on October 2, 2001


Sorry, chiheisen - enjoying your contributions immensely tonight - but I missed your last comment when I was replying to Elim. I wish I'd read it before.
You're right - it is difficult to generalize and does entail certain stereotyping risks - but, hey, we gotta try.

The night before last I watched this toothless Afghan warrior, very cooly say on TV that he thought American soldiers didn't "love death" as much as they did.
Somewhere else I read that another Afghan said Americans preferred Pepsi to dying.

Now, no one is braver than the Afghans. And yet I find it really hard to admire that sort of attitude. Secretly I think they hate life. That they're waiting for the afterlife or something, as if life is merely a necessary evil, a painful pre-entry to Paradise.

I think the thing some people admire (though they might couch it in something else) is that these guys were willing to give their lives for "the cause."


you say and I'm afraid I agree. And it terrifies me.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:01 AM on October 2, 2001


Yes, but it's like calling Kamakaze's cowards ain't it?

Depends on whether you respect 'them' or not I suppose. Comes from spouting rhetoric without caring who or how it effects.

"Remember Pearl Harbor" and then "Remember the Maine!".
posted by Elim at 2:04 AM on October 2, 2001


To extremely para-phrase Patton (or at least the Hollywood Patton): You don't win by dying, but making the other poor bastard Die. So the question really is do we prefer Pepsi to killing. Both are pretty easy to us by now, and one we are biting at the bit to proceed with..
posted by Elim at 2:08 AM on October 2, 2001


Summer: perhaps bravery is exactly facing up to what you did. In this sense, I understand calling the terrorists cowards.
Running away, right? (Thanks; this gets so confusing when everyone seems so convincing...)

P.S. Very funny - and English - what you said: how easy it is to consider winning a vulgar thing, as long as you never lose!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:09 AM on October 2, 2001


miguel, i also learned that americans have a different idea about war. for us in europe it means "everything at home gets distroyed and we lose a lot of beloved people" whereas americans think "our brave army goes somewhere and our heros fight the good fight".
posted by arf at 5:16 AM on October 2, 2001


Just to look at one of the comments by Sontag which gives aaron and the WSJ so much grief:

Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?

I'd take grave issue with the clause I've emboldened. This was not a "consequence", because that word presumes some kind of "sequence", an orderly explanatory progress which necessarily culminates in mass slaughter. No such explanation exists, nor should it ever be presumed to exist. Ever. That's beyond argument: a self-imposed fissure that sets the perpetrators outside the boundaries and protections of society.

But truly, the argument that this was an attack on "freedom", or some other abstract concept, and that the US is a beacon of freedom to the world, is something only accepted uncritically within the US itself. Which makes it something of a spot-light of freedom.
posted by holgate at 5:37 AM on October 2, 2001


Just what Steinbeck's "Doc" found on his little walk through America. Sontag will discover again that the love of true things is not a common love among her countrymen.

Thanks, fold_and_mutilate. You made me cry first thing in the morning.
posted by rushmc at 6:33 AM on October 2, 2001


people that blame the Sept 11th attacks on American foreign policy - Sontag in particular - are operating on the mistaken assumption that the terrorists' agendas were political and the attacks were essentially reprisals. anyone that has seriously studied Al-Qaeda knows this is not the case. American foreign policy certainly adds fuel to the fire, but to suggest that this was all bad karma demonstates an ignorance of the real issues and an attempt to justify what happened in rational cause-and-effect terms. Sontag - and many of the people that state that "we had it coming all along" - don't understand that these groups operate under fundamentally different normative systems than we do. Things that would infuriate Americans - i.e., foreign intervention in our domestic policies - are not necessarily what would drive these groups to mass murder. SOntag doesn't seem to realize that her argument is predicated upon the notion that these groups think like Americans.

In the meantime, when Sontag becomes an expert on Middle Eastern affairs, Sharia law, and can translate Jihad manuals from the Arabic, I might give her credit as a authority on teh subject of American foreign policy and the quality of decision-making therein. As far as I can tell, however, she has no more expertise on the matter that the millions of us glued to CNN, which contrary to seemingly popular belief is not arbiter of truth either.
posted by lizs at 9:06 AM on October 2, 2001


Woo hoo, here we go again.

I'll say the inflamatory truth and point out that the terrorists behind the September 11th bombing WERE NOT cowards. They executed a brilliant suicide plan at great risk of discovery and capture with multiply redundant backups. When an American soldier sacrifices his or her life in a high-risk mission to take out a military target we tend to award metals. What the terrorists did was undeniably wrong. However even if you favor direct military intervention, even if you favor a ground war in an attempt to crush Ben Ladan's organization, underestimating his organization by calling them "cowards" is a certain ticket to getting our soldier's asses handed back to us on a sliver platter.

I will also say the unpopular and inflamatory truth in that I object to this sudden enforced amnesia that we can't make the conection between our foreign policy and these attacks. Those who claim that observing a connection implies laying blame are missing the point and engaging in a simple-minded knee-jerk assumption that someone is "responsible."

This is nothing new. This is something that has been admited by the military in its own unclassified internal memos. It was one of the key messages of Richard Lugar's 1995 presidential campaign. Over and over again, during the last 10 years politicians on the right and left have pointed out that our participation on the world stage makes us vunerable to terrorist activities in much the same way that every other country in the world is vunerable. Suddenly now we are forced to forget everything that has been said about the Middle East in the last 30 years.

It seems that the only politically correct assumption that can be expressed is that 18 people just suddenly decided to throw together a suicide mission just because of some evil whim? What next in this blanket denial of historical context? Demonic posession?

American foreign policy certainly adds fuel to the fire, but to suggest that this was all bad karma demonstates an ignorance of the real issues and an attempt to justify what happened in rational cause-and-effect terms. Sontag - and many of the people that state that "we had it coming all along" - don't understand that these groups operate under fundamentally different normative systems than we do.

Well, aside from demonstrating a pretty glaring if epidemic misunderstanding of "karma." Part of the problem is that "karma" has very little to do with right or wrong, it isn't some cosmic Santa Claus with a scoresheet marking "good, good, bad, bad." It isn't about who has the moral right to bomb whom. From a Buddhist perspective of karma, no one is justified in killing anyone.

In fact, I have yet to read a single article which makes the claim that the terrorists were justified in taking control of four planes and deliberately crashing them into buildings. On the other hand, this demand for amnesia, the demand that our response to these attacks in building a multinational coalition against terrorism must be based on a willful ignorance of history is certain to doom it to failure.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:44 AM on October 2, 2001


i said nothing about cowardice or lack thereof. i don't think it's relevant.

i'm not suggesting a willful ignorance of history, i'm saying that framing the problem as a reaction American foreign policy is dangerous reductionism and indicates a lack of understanding of religious fundamentalism. it's like people just can't fathom that anyone would be driven to commit a crime because they thought it was "allah's will," and American targets are symbolic of something larger. It's not all about us.

also - i used the word karma because that's how another MeFi poster framed it and i believe i was saying that i thought it was invalid analysis.

a simple-minded knee-jerk assumption that someone is "responsible."

I'm not an objectivist, but when i see nauseating comments like this, I begin to think Ayn Rand had some valid points.
posted by lizs at 12:53 PM on October 2, 2001


i'm not suggesting a willful ignorance of history, i'm saying that framing the problem as a reaction American foreign policy is dangerous reductionism and indicates a lack of understanding of religious fundamentalism. it's like people just can't fathom that anyone would be driven to commit a crime because they thought it was "allah's will," and American targets are symbolic of something larger. It's not all about us.

Certainly its not all about us. On the other hand, it certainly is partially about us. After all, the terrorists chose to attack the pentagon and the WTC here in the U.S., not random targets in Europe or Asia.

I'm not an objectivist, but when i see nauseating comments like this, I begin to think Ayn Rand had some valid points.

Such as?

But you took what I said out of context what I said was:
I will also say the unpopular and inflamatory truth in that I object to this sudden enforced amnesia that we can't make the conection between our foreign policy and these attacks. Those who claim that observing a connection implies laying blame are missing the point and engaging in a simple-minded knee-jerk assumption that someone is "responsible."

Granted, I could have written this paragraph much better. But I think that one of the reasons why those who cry wolf about "justifying" the attacks feel the need to do so because they feel the need to assign blame without worrying about messy concepts such as motive. The entire "knee jerk" is that if we suggest that the terrorists are anything other than pure evil poured into a human form motivated by nothing other than a wanton hatred of life that we somehow make their actions less an abomination.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:16 PM on October 2, 2001


The entire "knee jerk" is that if we suggest that the terrorists are anything other than pure evil poured into a human form motivated by nothing other than a wanton hatred of life that we somehow make their actions less an abomination I never suggested that.
posted by lizs at 2:34 PM on October 2, 2001


it's like people just can't fathom that anyone would be driven to commit a crime because they thought it was "allah's will,"

And you don't see how that is a simplistic assessment? Even if someone believes it is "Allah's will" to do something, they come to that conclusion through certain reasoning, albeit a flawed one, e.g., "Evil secularists are polluting holy temples," or "Evil Christians are working a master plan to annihilate Muslims," and they have causes that they can point to--however suspect--that produce this reasoning. They do NOT start by hearing a little voice in the night telling them out of the blue, "Go blow up the World Trade Center." "Allah's will," more often than not, is simply a more acceptable (to some) way of saying "my will, my friends' will, my leaders' will."

terrorists are anything other than pure evil poured into a human form motivated by nothing other than a wanton hatred of life

This is the silliest thing I've read yet. Anyone with such a simplistic, absurd view of the world and human beings clearly has no understanding of human nature at all--nor any desire to understand it. Far simpler to wax melodramatically over any extreme behavior outside of one's frame of reference.
posted by rushmc at 4:34 PM on October 2, 2001


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