On September 30th, there was a peace protest in Washington D.C.
October 3, 2001 11:28 AM   Subscribe

On September 30th, there was a peace protest in Washington D.C. I'm surprised no one else linked to this -- about 50 students from my college attended and joined the crowd of a few thousand. I would have gone, but I'm dubious about the efficacy of public protest despite the fact that I'm an affirmed pacifist. What do you folks think? Will a totally non-military action be an appropriate response? (And is there any possiblity of the US acting in such a way?) Is the loss of a single additional human life in this new war justifiable?
posted by tweebiscuit (109 comments total)

 
"Is the loss of a single additional human life...justifiable?"

Contrary to popular delusion, human life is spectacularly cheap, almost to the point of being worthless. Almost every major decision you make in your lifetime could have been used to save someone else. Bought a computer, ever? That money could have saved several people from dying by starvation.

...but we all still have computers. So let's quit talking about the value of human life -- it appears to be less valuable than a good game of Quake3, a decent CD collection, a used car, etc. etc. etc.

If human life is do dang precious, start doing something about it, rather than sitting around in first-world splendor, surrounded by toys, clucking our tongues over the suffering of others. Wasting a mere $1 US per day would, over the course of a year, equal the average yearly income of someone in Vietnam -- but people still buy their coffee at Starbucks and "worry" about suffering.

Hypocrites.
posted by aramaic at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2001


I was wondering what war or violent act they were protesting. The government has done exactly what its critics always want it to do. They have been patient and rational. There was no swift unthinking US strike. The protest just seemed to me to be a bunch of kids feeling that they needed to protest something.
posted by jbelshaw at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2001


tweebiscuit:

This is a huge topic and is ripe for the kinds of comments that shed much heat but little light on the subject. I will comment here, but I will try to refrain from being abrasive.

My main gripe with most pacifists is that they lament the horrors of violence without suggesting a workable alternative. Given the horrendous loss of life and property in the attacks of 9.11, and the almost-certain knowledge that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were responsible, what exactly can be done?

Pure diplomacy has limits; these people hate us for reasons that are as much philosophical and religious as political. Changing our ways in a political sense wouldn't do much to solve the immediate problem.

Waging a "cultural war" rather than a military one (e.g., sending food, humanitarian aid, and lots of money), has perils that are potentially greater. If the terrorists hate us for our cultural imperialism, wouldn't they see such a response as a "cultural invasion", and be driven to even more furious attacks? The US is currently a major source of food-aid to Afghanistan, and that fact doesn't seem to have moderated opinion much there.

Also, there is a certain bloody-minded efficiency to killing Osama and his lieutenants. To be sure, there are always fanatics to take his place; but other fanatics will have neither his money nor his charisma.

I really don't know what motivates most pacifists -- the few I have known are atheists, so I can't chalk it up to a surfeit of Christian charity. It just seems like a completely irrational response to such a gross personal attack.
posted by mrmanley at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2001


dirty hippies...

i appreciate the fact that the u.s. has (to our knowledge) taken the time to assess the situation before a retaliatory strike. i applaud bush and his aides for this move. HEY adampsyche and dogmatic, listen, i'm over her applauding at my desk!
posted by mich9139 at 11:59 AM on October 3, 2001


Hee hee, I accidentally said "do dang" . . .
(aramaic bursts into a scat/bop tune)
posted by aramaic at 12:00 PM on October 3, 2001


First, well said, aramaic.

Second, yes, the loss of any and all lives of those that would plan such a thing as the 9/11 incident is well justified, and a good investment for the safety of people who want to sit back and moan about pacifist principles... and the rest of us as well.

No, a non-military response is NOT appropriate. However, a military response that kills specifically leadership (IE: assassination) is far preferable to one that kills miserable conscripts who had no culpability, and would rather not fight. Bin laden needs to die, and the Taliban leadership needs to be ousted... I would hope the US can do the first, and the Afghan people themselves, the second.

So war on the Afghan people? Why? They're not responsible, any more than people that live in a street overrun by a street gang are responsible for the crimes of that gang.

War on those that hide in Afghanistan and export terror? Definitely. Support of those that are seeking to overthrow a reign of thugs? Again, definitely. We should, and will, seek the path that kills the fewest that are innocent, but that also destroys the guilty.
posted by dissent at 12:05 PM on October 3, 2001


Pacifists, as well as "neutral" countries are either the most selfish people/nations around, or the most dellusional ones. Delusional, because inevitably, the pacifist/neutralist becomes a tool of one of the other parties in a conflict.

As for those protesters, it's just so fun to protest and blame the strong for the problems of the weak. GROW UP AND CONFRONT EVIL.

In any case, it is likely that military intervention will not create a net increase in death and suffering. At worst, the death and suffering will be displaced (others will die and suffer than otherwise would have). More likely, a military intervention (as was the case in Iraq) will reduce suffering and death in the long run. At least it will in this case.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:05 PM on October 3, 2001


Jbelshaw -- the protest was more about showing support for non-military action than protesting any specific government policy. I don't think anyone can deny that the media and government rhetoric about this issue is extremely militant -- or at the very least, hostile. CNN's banner was "America's New War" by the 13th; the New York Times devoted two pages to the new weapons technology that will be used, but only a few paragraphs to the peace protest; the majority of citizens in America would support a draft; and the military is being readied for conflict. The Vietnam war started for smaller reasons than this.

The general atmosphere on my campus is one of intense apprehension -- we're all worried that America is going to get into a ground war, that our friends will be drafted, that this will be the next Vietnam.

Aramaic, I'm a Buddhist and a pacifist. We all cause death indirectly through our actions, yes, but putting a stop to this is a huge task, even for one person, and is something that we must work for over decades of cultural change. But for me, the violent killing or harming of a person is never justified, even in response to attacks like these. This isn't a standard that I can hold others to, but I can hope and pray that they can cultivate compassion -- and maybe, by talking about it, I can convice a few people who are sitting on the fence. I think that the Washington protestors were trying to achieve something similar -- it was, after all, organized by Quakers.

I would write a lot more about this, but in truth I already have (warning, self link) in my blog entry "Why I'm a pacifist." If you're interested, please read it.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:06 PM on October 3, 2001


Yea, we had some protest here at The University of Georgia about a week ago. Funny (for lack of better words), though...from what I've heard, there was more conflict involved from people protesting the protest than there was an actual rally for no militay action.
posted by jmd82 at 12:12 PM on October 3, 2001


[life] appears to be less valuable than a good game of Quake3, a decent CD collection, a used car, etc. etc. etc.

damned skippy.
posted by tolkhan at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2001


I'm anti-war, don't know if I'm a pacifist, really; to be a real pacifist and put your life on the line actually takes a lot of guts (Peace Brigade Intl). I advocate not jumping into yet another war extending the same pattern of disastrous interventions, but I am in favor of detecting dangers (terrorist networks et al) and dealing with them appropriately, in a very controlled manner and as transparently as possible without sacrificing the success of such operations. Just not another civilian tragedy, please. In any case, a civilian tragedy is already happening without dropping a single bomb: the refugee crisis.
posted by mmarcos at 12:15 PM on October 3, 2001


mrmanley -- I wasn't going to write any more about this, but since there seems to be such a misunderstanding and condemnation of pacifists here:

Pacifism is for me a personal decision. I would rather die than kill another in self defense. This is partly because of my religion (again, Buddhism), but I held this belief before I discovered it. Yes, pacifism is an unrealistic and unpractical belief -- most pacifists will admit this. However, I believe that peace will never be won through violence -- it's an impossibility. If you attack me and I kill you to save my own life, then a life has been lost. If you attack me and I do not resist, a life has been lost. The immediate losses are the same, but I believe that only by non-violent resistence can we ever attain lasting peace.

Again, this is not an ethical system that I expect anyone else to be able to follow -- but that's not the point. If I use the logic that "Since he is violent, I must be violent to stop him," I am only increasing the amount of violence and hatred in the world, which is something that goes against my every belief.

I hope you folks can understand my motivation now: it's about compassion, love, and peace. That's it.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:16 PM on October 3, 2001


tweebiscuit, I respect your decision.
posted by mmarcos at 12:22 PM on October 3, 2001


The article linked to at the top of this post focuses on the smaller protest that happened on Sunday. The main stuff was on Saturday when probably around 10,000+ gathered. More info at dc.indymedia.org.

There were a dozen or so counter-protesterstrying to taunt the protesters. Here's one guy I saw who likes to play with old memes:


posted by gluechunk at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2001


Will a totally non-military action be an appropriate response? (And is there any possiblity of the US acting in such a way?) Is the loss of a single additional human life in this new war justifiable?

No. No. Yes.
posted by aaron at 12:27 PM on October 3, 2001



Hello sir, you raped and beat my wife. I'd rather not do anything bad to you. That would make you suffer (which is wrong). I love you. Would you like to have another go at my wife?
posted by fuq at 12:32 PM on October 3, 2001


i just remembered something.

On Slayers, Prince what'shisname... Fellafel or such was a big pacifist, yet he was still able to kick ass, so, we should unite all pacifists and teach them the 'pacifist CRUSH!' and 'be nice to all creatures KICK!' and 'goodwill towards men ATTACK!'.
posted by tiaka at 12:36 PM on October 3, 2001


The Bhagavad Gita is good to consult on this very point as Arjuna-about to enter battle inquires: "What pleasure shall we find in killing the sons of Dhritaraashtra? Upon killing these felons we shall incur sin only" and drops his bow.
The Supreme Lord's response is enlightening.
posted by quercus at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2001


The protests were ill conceived and ill timed. You protest a war when there is a war. You don't protest something that has yet been announced.So far as I know, there mayh be no war at all but rather some special forces going into Afghanistan to topple the Govt and put another in its place. Do you protest that?
But when we move that many planes and ships to ghe Gulf area, then we may be deciding that we have to get rid of Saddam and the only way to do that is to invade. Now that may or may not be an action worth cheering or protesting. But you don't protest that which has not taken place and which has not even as yet been discussed as a strong possibility.
Why have we not pulled the trigger as yet? most likely because we need to get support from Saudi Arabia and Egypt in what we do so we don't ignite the entire arab/muslim world against us and begin a big conflagration.
posted by Postroad at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2001


I believe that peace will never be won through violence -- it's an impossibility.

When I was in 4th grade this guy kept stealing my lunch money. It was not fun.

After about 2 weeks of going hungry and no interference from others (parents, teachers) doing any good, I popped him in his nose.

He bled a little and never took my lunch money again.

The rest of grade school was...peaceful.
posted by justgary at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2001


I marched in dc against the gulf war, but there is no way you'll see me anywhere near the protests this time around.

this weekend f*kers there waving the palestinian flag ... thats totally inappropriate in my book in this case, definately not "pro-peace"

i dunno... i realize i'm not making any logical arguments. 9.11 has me so conflicted. this is the first time in my life i'm with the flag wavers. i understand now people who blurt out "love it or leave it" ... still don't quite blurt it myself, but understand the reflex.

nevermind. and no this cannot be resolved without more bloodshed. i just pray innocent bloodshed is minimum.
posted by danOstuporStar at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2001


The protests were ill conceived and ill timed.

The protests were supposed to be about the IMF-World Bank meeting. When that meeting was cancelled because of 9.11, the organizers simply changed the name from an anti-globalization protest to an anti-war protest. Which tells you all you need to know about those people, and causes them to lose what little legitimacy they had in the first place. Protests for protests' sake, nothing more.
posted by aaron at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2001



tweebiscuit:

I don't doubt your motives; that you're a Buddhist clarifies things a bit. Being "anti-death" is rather pointless, though, wouldn't you say? After all, death is the one universal absolute. Everyone dies. No one is immune. We can hasten the process along by violence or accident, or prolong it through medicine, but ultimately the Grim Reaper has his way.

I happen to think that conflict and division are inevitable by-products of human nature. Being primates, we are given to dominance-heirarchies, tribalism, and acquisitiveness. But we are also capable of abstract thought and symbol manipulation -- we are the only animals who fight over ideas. And I happen to think that some ideas are worth fighting for; the alternative is just too awful to imagine.

If we choose not to fight, we are in essence ceding the battlefield to those who will.
posted by mrmanley at 12:43 PM on October 3, 2001


There are weekly pro-peace rallies in Montreal. These are not protests against military action that has occurred (what military action?), but rather, rallies in favour of the notion of peace, rather than an escalating cycle of reciprocal violence.

Two wrongs don't make a right.
posted by Marquis at 12:45 PM on October 3, 2001


================= Pacifist Training =================
What to do if you happen upon a peace rally by stupid naive hemp-shirt wearing
college idiots, to teach them why force is sometimes needed:

1) Approach dumb, rich, ignorant student talking about "peace" and saying there
should be, "no retaliation."

2) Engage in brief conversation, ask if military force is appropriate.

3) When he says "No," ask, "Why not?"

4) Wait until he says something to the effect of, "Because that would just cause
more innocent deaths, which would be awful and we should not cause more
violence."

5) When he's in mid sentence, punch him in the face as hard as you can.

6) When he gets back up to up to punch you, point out that it would be a mistake
and contrary to his values to strike you, because that would, "be awful and he
should not cause more violence."

7) Wait until he agrees that he has pledged not to commit additional violence.

8) Punch him in the face again, harder this time.

Repeat steps 5 through 8 until they understand that sometimes it is necessary to
punch back.
posted by alumshubby at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2001


gluechunk: 10,000+ protesters versus a dozen or so counter-protesters?

i find that ratio incredibly hard to believe. Organizers spout propaganda every bit as slanted as the media.
posted by danOstuporStar at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2001


Postroad -- I think that "protest" was probably the wrong word, although everyone involved has used it. It was more of a show of solidarity between people who don't want to see the US take any military action, and an attempt to give this opinion visibility to a public who is being told that more violence is the only answer. It's all about communication. And no, no military actions have yet been taken -- but from the news I've read it seems inevitable.

And fuq, apart from your last sentence you've got the idea down perfectly -- at least from a Buddhist perspective. Read some Thich Naht Hanh if you want a clear explanation of why Buddhists try to act in the way you've described.

If you guys want, I could go into a quick description of the Buddhist philosophy of compassion, but I'll save it for now.

And mmarcos -- I can't thank you enough.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:55 PM on October 3, 2001


So it goes...
posted by revbrian at 12:56 PM on October 3, 2001


i dunno... i realize i'm not making any logical arguments. 9.11 has me so conflicted. this is the first time in my life i'm with the flag wavers. i understand now people who blurt out "love it or leave it" ... still don't quite blurt it myself, but understand the reflex.

I'm not certain what is hard to understand here. The "love it or leave it" group either does not understand the meaning of participatory democracy, or is incapable of understanding participatory democracy.

The protests were supposed to be about the IMF-World Bank meeting. When that meeting was cancelled because of 9.11, the organizers simply changed the name from an anti-globalization protest to an anti-war protest. Which tells you all you need to know about those people, and causes them to lose what little legitimacy they had in the first place. Protests for protests' sake, nothing more.

Isn't this assuming that closed-door secret meetings with the power to repeal national laws have more legitimacy than a form of political action the founding fathers of the U.S. claimed was necessary when governments are no longer accountable to the people?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2001


danOstuporStar, what number specifically do you find hard to believe? For the Saturday protests, police say 4K, organizers say 25K. It was most likely somewhere in between (there were certainly way more than 4K). As for the counter-protesters, I witnessed under a dozen at Freedom Plaza. There were also a group of counter-protesters outside the National Archives building (I think), greeting people marching towards the capitol building. That's where the above photo was taken. This group was way under 100 or even 50.
posted by gluechunk at 1:02 PM on October 3, 2001


http://www.afsc.org/nomore.htm see this for American friends, attitiude and what needs to be done.
posted by Postroad at 1:03 PM on October 3, 2001


alumshubby: Thank you - for the first time since (insert long-ago event here), I laughed out loud while reading something on my computer. Step #5 is what did it - brought tears (of laughter) to my eyes. Cheers/Dave
posted by davidmsc at 1:06 PM on October 3, 2001


alumshabby -- I honestly don't know how to respond. At the risk of sounding sanctimonious, I'll include you in my prayers for compassion tonight. (And no, I would do my best to not hit you back. If I failed, I would hope I would apologize, and do my best to not let my anger control me in the future.)

mrmanly -- True, everyone dies, but what Buddhists try to avoid is the casuing of any pain or suffering in another being.

I just found this: What Thich Naht Hanh would say to Osama Bin Laden. (Hanh was the leader of the Buddhist peace effort in Vietnam during the war, and for many Buddhists, myself included, is a spiritual model of the same esteem as H.H. Dalai Lama.)
posted by tweebiscuit at 1:07 PM on October 3, 2001


"I don't think anyone can deny that the media and government rhetoric about this issue is extremely militant"

I deny that the media rhetoric has been extremely militant. Of course you can find examples, but I find all mainstream outlets are discussing the options, presenting the history, etc. Your own beliefs are coloring your perception of the coverage.

"we're all worried that America is going to get into a ground war"

But Bush is telling us a ground war wouldn't work. Why are you worried about this when the person you think is going to launch a ground war is telling you that a ground war would be a bad idea?

"our friends will be drafted, that this will be the next Vietnam."

What draft? Bush is advocating a war carried out by special forces, diplomacy, financial pressure and intelligence agencies. You are afraid Bush will start a draft of bankers? You think the CIA wants draftees? Are you afraid you'll end up in a SEAL team? What draft are you talking about?

"I believe that peace will never be won through violence -- it's an impossibility."

History and personal experience tells us otherwise. WWII was one of the most violent things ever, and it bought lasting peace. Just one example. How many do you want?
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:11 PM on October 3, 2001


y6y6y6 -- I don't see much peace when I read the newspaper, regardless of World War II. Nor in Vietnam. Of course, I'm not a fabulous student of history, but I do know that humans have been killing each other in the name of peace for thousands of years. It doesn't seem to have worked so far. The inevitable result of violence is hatred, which causes more violence. People who use the expression "You have to fight fire with fire" don't seem to notice the inherent contradiction in that statement.

And perhaps there won't be a draft -- I don't know nearly enough about the amount of force needed to overthrow the Taliban to judge whether there will be one -- but the fact that American citizens would consider one justified frightens me enough.
posted by tweebiscuit at 1:19 PM on October 3, 2001


thats cool gluechunk...if you witnessed it yourself. just asking for that critical eye. the numbers are not really all that relevant...my bad for bringin it up.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:22 PM on October 3, 2001


8) Punch him in the face again, harder this time.

Repeat steps 5 through 8 until they understand that sometimes it is necessary to
punch back.


But what if they don't? Will you kill them and move on to the next pacifist? Will you eventually stop? What will other people watching think of your methods and your cause?

My understanding is that the intent of non-violent resistance is to show the will to withstand the losses others are willing to inflict on them. Personally, I can't see that working in a 4-year election cycle, but it's not without merit.

ps. point of order.
posted by cardboard at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2001


History and personal experience tells us otherwise. WWII was one of the most violent things ever, and it bought lasting peace. Just one example. How many do you want?

Hrm, how much of that is due to the success of the Marshall plan in making Germany and Japan our best friends?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2001


The following perfectly sums up what pacifists need to learn:

1) approach dumb ignorant person talking about "peace" and saying there should be "no retaliation"
2) have brief conversation, ask if military force is appropriate
3) when he says "no," ask, "Why not?"
4) when he says, "because that would just cause more innocent deaths, which would be awful, and we should not cause more violence"
5) punch him in the face .  .  .  hard
6) when he gets up to punch you back, point out that it would be a mistake, and contrary to his values, to punch you, because he would be just increasing the violence.
7) when he agrees that he has pledged not to commit violence, punch him in the face again .  .  .  harder this time.
8) repeat steps 2 through 8 until he understands that sometimes it is necessary to punch back.
posted by eas98 at 1:29 PM on October 3, 2001


tweebuscuit:

I'll quit picking on you after this post; you have responded with much good grace and compassion, and your Buddhist bretheren should be proud of you.

I just want to speak about the Buddhist desire to avoid causing pain and suffering in other creatures. It seems that this like all other precepts in Buddhism relies on interpretation. Unless you are a Vegan vegetarian, how do you eat without killing? How can you stand washing yourself, knowing that you are wilfully killing germs and bacteria in their trillions? How can you stand to take cold or flu medicine, knowing that you are killing viruses?

I suppose my resistance to this idea is that the Buddhist tries to achieve stasis in a world (and a universe) where stasis is impossible. And it seems to me that to follow an impossible goal is to ultimately disappoint yourself and frustrate those who rely on you.

Just an observation.
posted by mrmanley at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2001


Alumshubby - How can you propose violence in response to a person expressing their opinion peacefully??
Most of the "anti-american" talk i have heard recently refers to those who support no retaliation. How American is it to advise people to punch others in the nose for standing up for what they believe?

I guess i just don't understand hopw cries for peacve can elicit such anger from others. I believe the violence which killed so many friends and family members on Sept. 11th has the same origin as your urge to retaliate. Violence causes violence.
posted by computerface at 1:33 PM on October 3, 2001


I don't see much peace when I read the newspaper, regardless of World War II. Nor in Vietnam.

A war that was fought 60 years ago can't be blamed for lack of peace today.

Regardless, if we don't enter WW II, where would we be today? Would the world have been more peaceful with Hitler still in power?

People who use the expression "You have to fight fire with fire" don't seem to notice the inherent contradiction in that statement.

Many do.
posted by justgary at 1:34 PM on October 3, 2001


tweebiscuit,

Right now my brother's youngest daughter is aboard a Navy destroyer, potentially in harm's way so you -- especially you -- can sleep safely each night and wake up to pray for peace each day. I hope you'll pray for her, and her shipmates too, because they need your support a hell of a lot more than I do.

I don't enjoy the prospect of war because I've seen what combat looks like; I've seen a sucking chest wound up close and personally. Now I've got a six-year-old boy who wants to be a Marine when he grows up. At times my soul quails at this prospect. But unlike you, I comprehend why Marines are necessary in a world where some people want to kill you just because of the country you live in.

Peace, justice, and freedom are not free. In fact, they never have been. They are quite expensive in terms of blood and treasure. And in the real world, they're not purchased by forbearance. That unpleasant reality bothers me more than you may realize, but what bothers me more is some people's urge to deal with a deadly threat by having a big group-hug. Right now the al-Qaeda hope more people feel like you so that their job of killing Americans will be made a whole lot easier.

Today I'm wearing a T-shirt that features the Statue of Liberty depcted as as a determined-looking young mother holding an American-flag-swaddled baby to her breast with one hand -- and brandishing a revolver in the other. On the back, it says "The most dangerous place in the world is between a mother and her children." It was drawn by a 17-year-old art student who understands far better than you do that sometimes it's necessary to do something unpleasant to put a stop to something unbearable.

And that's what my little morality play about punching out peaceniks is all about. Thanks for your time and attention.
posted by alumshubby at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2001


at least eas98 took up less space than Alumshubby
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:42 PM on October 3, 2001


Those who marched on the capital in the name of pacifism may not want violence, but all other alternatives have been tried. I am a pacifist. I am a Christian. Earlier in this thread someone mentioned that is a rarity. It is not. I never believe violent behavior is a good solution for anything. It only causes more violence. They get us. We get them. Their brothers get our brothers. However, sometimes it is the only choice left. When all other options have been exhausted, it's still not a good solution, but when it's the only solution, it must be enforced.

The battle that we are now being dragged into is over four thousand years old. However, Bin Laden does not represent anything remotely noble. He claims to be fighting for Allah, but he is not. "Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice." Corny movie, I know. It fits here. I am angry and not just because we have lost over six thousand Americans on 9.11.01. Bin Laden is wrong in claiming to defend his god. He lies when he says that, and takes the Lord's name - MY Lord's name - in vain.

Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Gaia, or "The Force." I don't care what you personally call the One True God, or whether you even believe in the guy or not - they're all the same guy. Muhammed said himself he was continuing J.C.'s work. Muhammed was another prophet, like Isaiah or Moses. The One True God, by whatever name one chooses to call Him/Her/It, does not need defending. Bin Laden has wrapped himself in the banner of Allah, but it will be his death shroud. The One True God does not like being called upon with disrespect.

Bill Maher had sponsors pulling out from his show Politically Incorrect when he said this, but WE THE PEOPLE (who have allowed cowards of politics to be voted in as our civil servants) have tied the hands of the military for decades. We've hidden behind political rhetoric and issued economic sanctions while the inalienable rights of people on the other side of the globe have been denied. Children have starved under the Taliban. Women have been treated worse than cattle. And we sit back in our First World illusion, hiding behind our CD players and cable TV. We mail them bags of wheat or rice and yet we have not insured, with military might if necessary, that the food gets to the mouths of those who need it.

We've been cowards. How dare we.

The Declaration of Independence. The Constitution. These documents helped forge America. However, the inalienable rights they describe are for ALL. All men and women on this planet are created equal. Not just Americans. Everyone. And so long as a single person lives in fear, we have failed. We don't need a One World Order, but we do need one world absent of fear.

Terror is ultimately the only tool of terrorists. We cannot strike back in fear or vengeance, but we must strike to insure fear and respect in everyone's inalienable rights. Terrorism must not be tolerated. The presence of justice is as paramount to peace as the absence of conflict. Any pacifist who doesn't understand that, needs to reaquaint themselves with the concept of pacifism. Without justice, there can be no peace.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:45 PM on October 3, 2001


Peace can never be achieved through violence.
Peace can never be achieved through pacifism.
Lasting peace will come when all life has been wiped clean from the earth.
posted by fuq at 1:47 PM on October 3, 2001


tweebiscuit - I respect your beliefs. I've informally studied Buddhism most of my life. Lots of good ideas. The world would be a much better place if we were all Buddhists. Or maybe not. Who knows?

But your didn't ask about Buddhism, you asked about current events. Events that we as a nation have to deal with. Really deal with - not just talk.

You don't see peace when you read the paper because we don't live in a world that will ever have it. I'm glad people have hope for such a thing, but it just isn't going to happen. The tricky bit is that we're humans. And humans are very violent. However, we did successfully wage war on the Nazis and end their mission of genocide. It worked!

Those that attacked the hijackers on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania saved many lives. A great and sad cost, but it worked!

My point is that we can find examples of where violence worked and where it failed. No, war will never bring world peace, but no one is saying it will. We don't want to kill terrorists because it will bring us closer to eternal peace, want to make life safer for innocent civilians.

We are a violent species. Very violent. I applaud those that can successfully refuse to ever fight back. But the rest of us need to defend ourselves. Terrorists don't single out those that they disagree with. They kill anyone. You would get blown up with a clear conscience. But I would wish that I hadn't just stood by and watched. Or talked. Or whatever.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:47 PM on October 3, 2001


1) approach dumb ignorant person talking about "peace" and saying there should be "no retaliation"
.
.
.
5) punch him in the face . . . hard


I will be available for face-punching if anyone would like to see how efficient this method is.

My friends in DC said something like 20K people there, and agreed with gluey over lack of organized dissention to the rally. The protest was changed from an anti-IMF protest to basically be a gathering of a bunch of people saying, in effect "punish those responsible, don't start a freaking war" which me and my granola-loving friends think is a faily even-keel approach to this whole horrible issue. You all know that plurality of opinions and ability to express them is one of the better things about this country, in my birkenstock-wearing opinion, why does a protest/rally that doesn't impact your ability to get to work bother you at all?
posted by jessamyn at 1:48 PM on October 3, 2001


A minor quibble: By consuming vegetable products exclusively, vegan vegetarians are destroying life too. The only distinction is that in doing so, they're simply inserting themselves in a different position in the food chain. The question of morality is reduced to whether it's better to consume species that are taxonomically further from oneself.
posted by alumshubby at 1:48 PM on October 3, 2001


My apologies for double post.. I read the thread, went to find what I wanted to post, and then posted, without checking again to see if it was posted in the meantime. Sorry.
posted by eas98 at 1:49 PM on October 3, 2001


GROW UP AND CONFRONT EVIL.

I fear people who honestly believe there is such a thing as evil far more than I fear the people who supposedly embody the principle.

I can understand why people would do violent things. I can understand why people would kill other people. I can understand desperation, hatred, fear, misery, and mistrust. I can even understand the wilful dehumanisation of one's enemies.

But I can't understand a mind which sees a simple world, with Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, divided into clear categories that can be dealt with separately. How someone can live on the same planet I do, and interact with the same vast, complicated, inconsistent, confusing human culture I live in, and still somehow think things can be divided into Good and Evil baffles me. I don't know what to do with such a person.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:53 PM on October 3, 2001


jessamyn, care to predict how many punches would be required?

This isn't about "punishing" anyone. This is about stopping a bunch of terrorists. I think the military phraseology in vogue is CALOW, "conflict other than war," which in this case will probably consist of finding OBL and his buddies and permanently, quietly disappearing them. It's pretty dirty pool, but that's how it's done.
posted by alumshubby at 2:01 PM on October 3, 2001


thanks for the pics jessamyn. the one that spoke to me was "dont give bin laden the war he wants." it's obvious thats exactly what he wants -- we sort of ignored his embassies/uss cole bombing -- so he took his self-declared war to truly horrorific proportions. "don't start a freaking war"--too late, this is war and for once we didnt start it.

yet, much to my surprise, my (generally evil corporate puppet) government did not begin immediate bombings and civilian endangerment. so why protest now?

another thing bin laden wants (i suppose, he's crazy so who knows?) is division among americans. this is just not the time for protesting for protest's sake. you are directly endangering me and my family with your "peace" rally.
posted by danOstuporStar at 2:09 PM on October 3, 2001


And that's what my little morality play about punching out peaceniks is all about.

That's funny, it still looks like it's about beating up on peaceniks because they disagree.

The difference between pacifists and warriors is not the recognition that they might have to die for their beliefs. It's about the willingness to kill for their beliefs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:18 PM on October 3, 2001


hey i was just thinking that the iterative prisoner's dilemma is really applicable in the hawk/dove praxes and gives new meaning to dostoevsky's closing line in dream of a ridiculous man, "if only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once."

basically the more people you can convince to cooperate--become a peacenik--the better off everyone is (the higher the payout), but defectors out for personal gain feel enriched when everyone else is impoverished. hence the evolution of tit-for-tat strategies--necessity of war--in dealing with defectors... make any sense?
posted by kliuless at 2:25 PM on October 3, 2001


First of all, I'm sorry for bringing up Buddhism so much. I'm not trying to advance a political agenda or any system of ethics here. I'm not trying to convert people to pacifism, or prove to them that pacifism better than war in any sense. Quite a few people here expressed that "I don't understand pacifists," so I was explaining my own. Everyone here should make their own decisions, and I've made mine. I don't practice pacifism -- or Buddhism -- in order to create a world of perfect peace. Rather, I simply try my hardest to not cause suffering in any being, for any reason.

Now, in regards to a previous post about Buddhism itself:

I just want to speak about the Buddhist desire to avoid causing pain and suffering in other creatures. It seems that this like all other precepts in Buddhism relies on interpretation. Unless you are a Vegan vegetarian, how do you eat without killing? How can you stand washing yourself, knowing that you are wilfully killing germs and bacteria in their trillions? How can you stand to take cold or flu medicine, knowing that you are killing viruses?

I am a vegetarian, but not a vegan. I do not eat meat for the same reason I am a pacifist. As far as interpretation is concerned, Buddhism is just as open to it as any other religion, but considering that one of Buddhism's basic principles is the attempt to eradicate suffering, I doubt you'd find a Buddhist who disagrees.

No practitioner of every religion is perfect. I occasionally swat a mosquito out of selfishness -- so does the Dalai Lama, for that matter. Buddhism does not ask that I exhibit perfect compassion and peace -- if I did, I would be the Buddha. It simply asks that I try to cultivate awareness of my world and my actions, and do my best to act in a way that causes no suffering. It's a process.

I suppose my resistance to this idea is that the Buddhist tries to achieve stasis in a world (and a universe) where stasis is impossible. And it seems to me that to follow an impossible goal is to ultimately disappoint yourself and frustrate those who rely on you.

Buddhism does not hold that a perfect ethical morality is attainable in this life. Perhaps while I am saving a life I accidentally step on a bug. I agree with you: to hope for ethical purity is an impossible goal -- but this does not mean that we can't cultivate awareness and compassion as diligently as we can. I know that in the course of my life I will eventually cause someone to suffer, but this does not mean I should abandon the project, for every small amount of suffering that my awareness has prevented me from causing is worth the effort.

Ok, that's all I'm going to talk about that. If anyone wants to discuss my religion any more, e-mail me, and I'll e-mail you back.

[/digression]
posted by tweebiscuit at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2001


KirkJobSluder -- thanks, you said it a lot better than I did. It's just a matter of values and priorities.

And kluiless -- that's brilliant! I must admit that I've taken game theory, studied that exact model, and never thought of that particular analogy. That's about as accurate a simple mathematical model of peace vs. war can get. Awesome!
posted by tweebiscuit at 2:43 PM on October 3, 2001


you are directly endangering me and my family with your "peace" rally.

How so?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:55 PM on October 3, 2001


It's funny, but when I read your little parable, alumshubby, my stomach jumped into my throat and I nearly vomited all over my keyboard.

Such arrogance and cruelty. That is why I oppose a full-out war.
posted by Marquis at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2001


That's funny, it still looks like it's about beating up on peaceniks because they disagree.

You might want to read it again. It could well be about what it takes to convince certain "peaceniks" that they're just plain wrong. A certain degree of moral arrogance clouding one's reason might call for such effort, don't you think?

The difference between pacifists and warriors is not the recognition that they might have to die for their beliefs. It's about the willingness to kill for their beliefs.

That's true, but not very helpful. It strikes me that those demonstrating are acting not out of a sense that they haven't been heard, but that others don't agree, and they just can't stand the stress of that. The voice of the "peaceniks" has been heard, and even echoed by such as Colin Powell. A war may not be neccessary here. But if it is, so be it. And many who are calling for peace aren't trying to solve a problem of violence; they're trying to point out that the rest of us who don't seem to agree are wrong and should admit the error of our ways. There's no difference between that annoying and self-serving catterwal and smacking someone in the face except the effectiveness of the program. There are too many who prioritize physical pain and destruction so far above social, moral, and emotional pain that I believe thay have lost sight of the fact that the rest of us "warriors" want peace too. Should we get it by backing down to all who worship death of the enemy (ahem, that would be us)? No thank you. Ain't nobody bombing anybody else yet. So to those who wish to say "we're right", my personal response is, how 'bout you wait until you have something to scream about, and get out of the way so the rest of us can do what must be done (to our misguided way of thinking, of course).

People who use the expression "You have to fight fire with fire" don't seem to notice the inherent contradiction in that statement.

No contradiction involved whatsoever. Killing a fire by taking away what it needs to live (Fuel and oxygen in the case of fire; blood, support, food, sanctuary in the case of the criminally violent) has worked wonders for years. Precisely why is the above statement contradictory?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:59 PM on October 3, 2001


Thank you Quercus for invoking The Bhagavad Gita, precisely the right text for the moment. We are contemplating a terrible deed; but that should not dissuade us if that terrible deed is also a necessary deed. Without hatred but without hesitation let's do whatever needs to be done to defend our life and our way of life, which is good and worthy of defending.

Tweebiscuit, Krishna's words apply to you: "You grieve for those who are not worthy of grief." (BG 2.11)

For those who didn't pursue Quercus' link, here are some relevant passages:

Krishna: "Considering also your duty as a warrior you should not waver. Because there is nothing more auspicious for a warrior than a righteous war. Only the fortunate warriors, O Arjuna, get such an opportunity for an unsought war that is like an open door to heaven. If you will not fight this righteous war, then you will fail in your duty, lose your reputation, and incur sin. People will talk about your disgrace forever. To the honored, dishonor is worse than death. The great warriors will think that you have retreated from the battle out of fear. Those who have greatly esteemed you will lose respect for you. Your enemies will speak many unmentionable words and scorn your ability. What could be more painful than this? You will go to heaven if killed, or you will enjoy the earth if victorious. Therefore, get up with a determination to fight, O Arjuna. Treating pleasure and pain, gain and loss, victory and defeat alike, engage yourself in your duty. By doing your duty this way you will not incur sin." (2.31-38)

Krishna: "I am death, the mighty destroyer of the world, out to destroy. Even without your participation all the warriors standing arrayed in the opposing armies shall cease to exist. Therefore, you get up and attain glory. Conquer your enemies and enjoy a prosperous kingdom. All these (warriors) have already been destroyed by Me. You are only an instrument, O Arjuna. Kill Drona, Bheeshma, Jayadratha, Karna, and other great warriors who are already killed by Me. Do not fear. You will certainly conquer the enemies in the battle, therefore, fight!" (11.32-34)

Sanjaya: "Wherever is Krishna, the lord of yoga; and wherever is Arjuna, the archer; there will be everlasting prosperity, victory, happiness, and morality. This is my conviction." (18.78)

... Yoga and the Archer; Wisdom joined with Power -- that says it all. May we (the US) demonstrate both.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 3:00 PM on October 3, 2001


I fear people who honestly believe there is such a thing as evil far more than I fear the people who supposedly embody the principle.

You can understand someone flying a plane into a building and killing 6000 people? That seems to fit the textbook definition of evil. This is, if nothing else, and "evil" thing. And it needs to be excised, eliminated, smashed, destroyed.
posted by owillis at 3:00 PM on October 3, 2001


owillis - There's a textbook definition for "boogerman" as well. That doesn't mean that it's not just a handy construct that people use to refer to things they don't understand.
posted by chino at 3:14 PM on October 3, 2001


That doesn't mean that it's not just a handy construct that people use to refer to things they don't understand.

Or things they fear, (and should). Care to adjudicate to us which is prevalent here?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:17 PM on October 3, 2001


Tweebiscuit: "The inevitable result of violence is hatred, which causes more violence."

Um, we nuked Japan. Twice. We nuked them, Tweebiscuit! And we burned their capital to a cinder in the largest manmade firestorm ever.

And Japan loves America. And it's renounced militarism. Thus the contention "the inevitable result of violence is hatred, which causes more violence" is doubly disproved.

Tweebiscuit: "Of course, I'm not a fabulous student of history ..."

No, you're not.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2001


DevilsAdvocate: let me retract the "directly." unnecessary division plays into the terrorists hands and thus endangers me & my family... don't have time for details of 'unnecessary' at the moment
posted by danOstuporStar at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2001


HCoward -- I've read the Gita, and I disagree with it on that point. And I'm not really concerned about my historical argument, by the way -- it's a philosophical belief, and therefore an unpractical one, as well as one that can't be disproved by the citation of single events over the last fifty years. But hey, if you disprove it anyway, that's fine -- the social ramifications of pacifism are far less relevant to my belief.

People who use the expression "You have to fight fire with fire" don't seem to notice the inherent contradiction in that statement.

No contradiction involved whatsoever. Killing a fire by taking away what it needs to live (Fuel and oxygen in the case of fire; blood, support, food, sanctuary in the case of the criminally violent) has worked wonders for years. Precisely why is the above statement contradictory?


Wulfgar: I was half trying to make a philosophical joke, half trying to use that joke to prove my point. You can't fight fire with fire -- you can fight it with water, dirt, lack of oxygen. Not more fire. I was just saying as an aside that it's a terribly bad metaphor to use to justify violence used against violence -- in fact, it supports the opposite position. But whatever, it wasn't meant all that seriously. Sorry you seemed to miss my point.
posted by tweebiscuit at 3:30 PM on October 3, 2001


Sorry you seemed to miss my point.

I come from a land where fire is regularly used against fire. I didn't miss your point at all. I just disagree.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:40 PM on October 3, 2001


Just as an aside: one of the most effective ways to fight fire is with fire. Specifically, controlled burns and back-fires. This is largely immaterial to the discussion, but hey, I'm a pedant.

...and tweebiscuit: you needn't apologize for bringing up Buddhism. It's relevant.
posted by aramaic at 3:43 PM on October 3, 2001


Okay, fear and should, Wulfgar. My point, I suppose, is that if you can blame things on this "evil," you don't have to deal with actual causes. It's like blaming witches or elves.

Furthermore, if you believe in the textbook definition of evil (particularly if you buy its Satanic embodiment), then you also believe that it cannot be "excised, eliminated, smashed, destroyed" until some final reckoning.
posted by chino at 3:44 PM on October 3, 2001


You might want to read it again. It could well be about what it takes to convince certain "peaceniks" that they're just plain wrong. A certain degree of moral arrogance clouding one's reason might call for such effort, don't you think?

So, let me get this straight. Committing assault and battery in order to prove that assault and battery is a good idea?

And many who are calling for peace aren't trying to solve a problem of violence; they're trying to point out that the rest of us who don't seem to agree are wrong and should admit the error of our ways.

Certainly there are quite a few people who are hopping onto the coat-tails of the peace movement for a variety of less-than-honorable motivations.

There's no difference between that annoying and self-serving catterwal and smacking someone in the face except the effectiveness of the program.

Well that and the fact that non-violent dissent is considered to be one of the backbones of participatory democracy while assault and battery is simply assault and battery regardless of it's use as an immorality play.

Should we get it by backing down to all who worship death of the enemy (ahem, that would be us)? No thank you.

A classic example of a false delimma. Either you support killing the enemy, or you support backing down to the enemy. As a pacifist I believe there are other options hence my statement that the difference between pacifism and war is not the willingness to die for beliefs, but the willingness to kill for beliefs. Non-violence does not equal non-resistance. As someone comitted to non-violence, I'm quite aware that of the fact that I could be imprisoned, killed and tortured for my resistance.

Um, we nuked Japan. Twice. We nuked them, Tweebiscuit! And we burned their capital to a cinder in the largest manmade firestorm ever.

True, however we probably would still be fighting Japan if we didn't rebuild their cities afterwards.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:48 PM on October 3, 2001


Tweebiscuit, you and I -- along with a great many others who apparently have views similar to my own -- agree to disagree on how to respond to the terrorist attacks on our country.

That's all good and right. We have the great good fortune to live in a democracy. But what are pacifists like you going to do about the wound inflicted to our country, or about the great likelihood (I think "virtual certainty" is more truthful) of subsequent attacks upon us?

You live in this country that we share; you will reap the benefits of any multi-pronged campaign (yes, including military action) that we launch to protect ourselves and our interests from future devastation. I ask, what are you willing to do for your country?

You won't partipate in any sort of military action, and you don't want to be subject to a draft. That's OK, too. But what will you do instead? Because, you know, you can act. And I don't mean just speak out; I mean take non-violent radical action that can, if put to the test, really make a difference.

In "Why I'm a pacifist," you make an analogy between a terrorist acting violently upon one's country to a schoolyard bully beating up a fellow student -- and you say that if you were there, as an onlooker to that situation, you would go in and try to establish a peace between those two warring parties, the bully and the brutalized student.

I say, live what you believe. Go over to Afghanistan and put your self in harm's way. By all means, take with you as many of like mind and spirit as you can find and do what you can, I implore you. Please try to end this escalating conflict between the U.S. and al-Queda now, before one more life is lost.

I trust you understand that I say this not out of any enmity whatsoever, but out of the deepest respect for your religious beliefs, because I take you at your word.

And I wish you Godspeed, my friend.

But if you're not going to do that, then give the rest of us the room to go blow that sick fuck and his fully culpable cohorts off the face of the Earth instead.
posted by verdezza at 3:50 PM on October 3, 2001


"A certain degree of moral arrogance clouding one's reason might call for such effort, don't you think?"

No. What are you talking about? You disagree with someone, and the only way you can think of to change their mind is to punch them.

So....... Punching people is justified? That's looney. Are you drunk?
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:18 PM on October 3, 2001


Marquis, and anyone else who thought I went overboard with my little lesson on consciousness raising:

Forgive my apparent cruelty and arrogance, and I hope your stomach has settled somewhat.

Guess what?....

I'm even more opposed to all-out war than you are. I know what all-out war looks like. And sounds like. And especially smells like. It's not glorious, or honorable, or fun. It's very ugly and nasty and I pray fervently that nobody I know has to experience it.

But this has to be stopped so more buildings don't topple, more airliners don't crash, and more innocent people don't die. Do you think pacifism is going to stop evil? It's not.

I'm sorry if I offended and shocked you -- or anyone else who chose to believe that I was literally advocating punching protesters -- but I had a point to make and I damned well intended to make it. And I chose to use a joke circulating on the Internet that's as subtle as a falling safe. I'm sorry you completely misunderstood the point of it.

No, I don't punch out protesters. I don't even like to debate them on the merits of forbearance versus combat when faced with evil. I just hope to hell that they're not among the next batch of victims. And I keep uppermost in my mind that other Americans around the world are doing incredibly unselfish things to try to ensure their, and my, and most importantly your security in an unfriendly world.
posted by alumshubby at 4:39 PM on October 3, 2001


alumshubby - I think punching pacifists is stupid. But I also thought the post was funny as heck. We can have it both ways right?
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:43 PM on October 3, 2001


Committing assault and battery in order to prove that assault and battery is a good idea?

When you're faced with someone who can't understand why self-defense is essential when you're faced with a relentless bully, what else could possibly work?

It's not actually necessary, however, to carry out the demonstration physically. Merely thinking about it for a moment is sufficient to enlighten everyone who values his own life and the lives of his family and neighbors.

Strict pacifism, like most other -isms, is feasible only in imaginary worlds where everyone holds to exactly the same philosophy. In the real world, "pacifist" is a synonym for "easy pickings."
posted by kindall at 4:43 PM on October 3, 2001


"what else could possibly work?"

How about just disagreeing with them?

"Strict pacifism [...] is feasible only in imaginary worlds"

Wrong. It exists all over the world. Even here in the US.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:53 PM on October 3, 2001


Hypothetical-you're ghandi-like in your non-violent pacifism-a fifth plane was hijacked and you're the only passenger-your cell phone call to the family has alerted you to the day's events-as you're the only passenger, the terrorists see no harm in telling you they are going to crash the plane into the Empire State Building. You find a gun under your seat (hypothetical)-you're three minutes away from the building with a 45 second window where you can cause the plane to crash into New York harbor-but you'll have to shoot the pilot in the head. What do you do?
posted by quercus at 5:11 PM on October 3, 2001


PS the above hypothetical scenario is no different from the situation faced by those who forced the plane down in Pa. There may well be people alive today thanks to those passengers' willingness to fight.
What is eternal in man cannot be killed;
What is eternal in man cannot kill.
posted by quercus at 5:20 PM on October 3, 2001


y6y6y6,

Heck, yes, you can have it both ways!

To some of us who take a dim view of sheltered freeloading peaceniks -- who view them as being as bad in their way as fundamentalists, say -- it was meant to rock their world. But to those of us firmly rooted in realpolitik, it was funny too. I laughed out loud when I first read it, as did the ex-Navy guy who shared it with me.
posted by alumshubby at 5:24 PM on October 3, 2001


"Is the loss of a single additional human life in this new war justifiable?"

Sure, if it's Osama bin Laden's.

'Nuf sed.
posted by alumshubby at 5:29 PM on October 3, 2001


why does a protest/rally that doesn't impact your ability to get to work bother you at all?

Judging from the near-nonexistence of counterprotesters, I'd say nobody was bothered at all. You're simply not relevant to the debate. And I don't say that to be mean, I say that because, at this point, you're already getting precisely what you want: the whole "punish those responsible, don't start a freaking war" thing. There is no war, and all current signs are that there's not going to be one beyond what is necessary to get Bin Laden & Co. As such, to be protesting about it tends to make everyone watching from the sidelines either think "why are they bothering?" or "What's their hidden agenda?"
posted by aaron at 5:31 PM on October 3, 2001



jessamyn said:

You all know that plurality of opinions and ability to express them is one of the better things about this country, in my birkenstock-wearing opinion, why does a protest/rally that doesn't impact your ability to get to work bother you at all?

Well, I agree. But let me state right out that any pro-war fanatic who wants to punch me in the face for not going along with the war program is in for a little surprise. Warmongers don't scare me 'cuz I know all they need is a good swift kick in the kneecaps if they're getting too beligerent. That'll do 'em in for a spell. And they'll think twice next time, too.

Call me dense, but I've never really understood certain factions of the pro-military, pro-war crowd, who run around bleating about how we are supposed to support the military because they are the ones fighting for our right to dissent. So then, why does it matter so much when people dissent, if that is supposedly one of the ideals they are going to war to uphold??

Could it be that perhaps these protests and calls for restraint -- regardless of shrillness or disorganization -- may actually have some impact? I believe that is the biggest threat. Why should some soldier who doesn't know me from Adam's housecat give a damn if little-ol'-ungrateful-dissenter me supports their efforts or not?

Because for now the bottom line remains: no bombs have dropped yet, nor have they for three whole weeks since the crisis. Frankly, I think it is a good thing that Bush et al have been forced to find other ways of dealing with this crisis. God knows what we're doing covertly over there, but that would actually be my point - how easy to call for war when it's going to happen on someone else's soil.

So thankfully for both military personnel and the rest of us, there have been no bombs despite war-mongering rhetoric and an alarmingly consistent flipty-flop inaction on the part of the Bush Administration. And their withholding of so-called "classified" information is appalling. Tony Blair, NATO claim the proof is uncontrovertable (jury's still out for Canada, Australia, and good ol' Pakistan I guess). But funny how everyone else knows but the taxpayers whose incomes will support this war.

Why should I trust any of these people?

I'm sorry, I just can't support a war where there are so many unknowns. And doubtful if any soldier out there is going to care about my views, anyway. Why should some "counterprotestor"?
posted by Carmen Jonze at 5:37 PM on October 3, 2001


Let me tell you all something.

I'm a pacifist.

And if any of you touch me, I will kick your asses.

Gasp! How can he say that, you may wonder? Well, he can say that because pacifism has shit all to do with how I live my day to day life surrounded in this shark tank world we live in. Pacifism is defined by my Webster's as A belief that disputes between nations can and should be solved peacefully.

Not that I must stand around and let you punch me in the face. So just fucking try it, and I'll snap your arm in five fucking places and grind your face into the dirt. Then, while you are sobbing and moaning, I'll tell you about my childhood and how I know full well that there are times when self-defense is necessary, but how I still believe that the mass destruction caused by military action is an evil act. That saying so is never wrong or short-sighted, and how I have lived through penury and savagery many of you would not have survived, so you can stop looking down on those of us who do not trust this criminal junta of a government we have and are not willing to engage in a war in Afghanistan, okay? We're people, and some of us have come to our conclusions after a shitload of soul searching.

Do I believe that Osama bin Laden is a murderer and deserves to be brought to justice, tried for his crimes? You bet your ass. Do I applaud the White House for resisting any precipitous action to date? Yes I do. But I will continue to be a pacifist, as in one who believes that disputes between nations can and should be solved peacefully. Osama bin Laden is not a nation, he is a murderer. Al Queda is not a nation, it is a group of fanatics.

Disagree with me all you want, that I'd die for. Touch me in anger, you may well be the one to die, or at least to come away from it in agony. Does it make me a hypocrite? Not unless you happen to be a country.
posted by Ezrael at 5:38 PM on October 3, 2001


what else could possibly work?

How about just disagreeing with them?

Pacifists already know people disagree with them. It is not a matter of mere disagreement, but a matter of pacifism being a self-defeating and self-destructive philosophy that, if allowed to spread, can be dangerous to society as a whole. Pacifists either do not understand this, or they understand it but do not care. The hit-them-over-and-over scenario vividly demonstrates why, in the real world, pacifism actually leads to the inevitable escalation of violence, until there are no more marks.

Strict pacifism [...] is feasible only in imaginary worlds

Wrong. It exists all over the world. Even here in the US.

My bad. I should have said that strict pacifism is reasonable only in imaginary worlds.
posted by kindall at 5:42 PM on October 3, 2001


bahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!

yeah, ok pacifists ... do me a favor. get all of your deluded little friends together and hop a plane to afghanistan. go find some taliban leaders, or hell, seek out osama himself. sit down with him. explain your noble cause. tell him what a bad boy he is and how he should love everyone because we're all human and all deserve to live and be happy. bring along some john lennon records, make it a festive occasion! get all of this propaghanda created by spineless little weasels hiding out in this country where they don't get shot spot on for making such statements.

if you make it out alive, i'll buy each and every one of you a cup of coffee procured by non-oppressed bean growers from chile. otherwise, well, it went a long way, didn't it?
posted by aenemated at 6:00 PM on October 3, 2001


When you're faced with someone who can't understand why self-defense is essential when you're faced with a relentless bully, what else could possibly work?

So, in what other contexts do you feel it is permissable to get token agreement with your point of view by beating the shit out of someone? Would you advocate it for voting for a different political candidate? Some honesty here would be welcome if you admitted that you were less interested in making a political statement and more interested in rationalizing your desire to become a relentless bully.

But again, we have the false delimma within your hypothetical bullying. The choices are either retaliate blow for blow (and as a result, escilating the violence) or do nothing. The fact that I'm a pacifist does not mean that I have to just stand there and be your punching bag.

But war is not "you hit me, I hit you back." War is, "you hit me, I kill your dog. You hit me, I knife the tires on your car. You hit me, I assault your boyfriend/girlfriend." That is war.

Hypothetical-you're ghandi-like in your non-violent pacifism-a fifth plane was hijacked and you're the only passenger-your cell phone call to the family has alerted you to the day's events-as you're the only passenger, the terrorists see no harm in telling you they are going to crash the plane into the Empire State Building. You find a gun under your seat (hypothetical)-you're three minutes away from the building with a 45 second window where you can cause the plane to crash into New York harbor-but you'll have to shoot the pilot in the head. What do you do?

Hypothetically this is a situation that some Buddhists call "killing the fish to feed the dog." Violence may be necessary in some cases, however necessity does not translate into moral, good or just.

But the current debate is not about whether it was necessary for the people on the hijacked airlines to attempt to kill 5 hijackers to save the lives of people on the ground. The current debate is about the not hypothetical possibility of a covert land war or bombing raids in Asia, with the recognition that such a war will involve Americans killing as an act of retaliation and aggression.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:52 PM on October 3, 2001


Punching people is justified? That's looney. Are you drunk?

Baiter. Sometimes, no, not yet.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:22 PM on October 3, 2001


I'm not exactly what you'd call a pacifist; I believe in the death penalty for people who have done things that are worse than murder, which in this case may be true, and may be necessary. But I am against the war based (in part) on the evidence I have heard, which by no means presents a clear case that the safety of our country as a whole is threatened in the same way that an invading army would threaten it (which seems to be a very common mind set). To my way of thinking, the only time war does not represent vengeance or greed is when it is done in direct defense of a nation.

Since a lot of the argument from the war-leaning side so far has been "can't you peaceniks get it through your head that we've got to go to war?" I am forced to wonder if maybe I'm missing something crucial. What incontrovertible evidence shows that there is no other conceivable solution besides war? Granted that war ought to be the final solution rather than the first, what is it that ruled out every other possible option of redress for you?

This is an earnest question. No sarcasm intended or expected, and please no insults either. I just want to get some solid, logical arguments in order to make my own beliefs on the subject more sophisticated.
posted by Hildago at 7:27 PM on October 3, 2001


Well, he can say that because pacifism has shit all to do with how I live my day to day life surrounded in this shark tank world we live in. Pacifism is defined by my Webster's as A belief that disputes between nations can and should be solved peacefully.

Good doctrine, but often innefectual.

That saying so is never wrong or short-sighted, and how I have lived through penury and savagery many of you would not have survived, so you can stop looking down on those of us who do not trust this criminal junta of a government we have and are not willing to engage in a war in Afghanistan, okay? We're people, and some of us have come to our conclusions after a shitload of soul searching.

And many of us who disagree with you have been through the shit as well. That's my entire point; that there are those who decrie violence as a moral imperative when in fact there are times of neccessity. This link wasn't about those who look down on pacifists, it was more likely about those pacifists who look down on the rest of us who don't wish to turn the other cheek. Those who wish to take offense at the proposal of alumshusbby need to get a bit of a grip here. NO ONE proposed that anyone else go out and beat up an anti-war protester. What was illustrated is precisely what Ezrael advocates ... Hit me and I will hit back. That's self-defense folks. That's what we face on a national scale now. Why is it so very difficult for the "peaceniks" to see that? No one is bombing women and children. No one is invading an "Omaha beach" of Afganistan. What the hell are the "protesters" protesting other than their own pathetic anonymity in the this great big world?

This is an earnest question.

And its one thats being actively persued. It isn't the "warriors" who are jumping the moral gun here. Its those who are so convinced that their personal sense of morality is in jeapordy that they can't just watch. They must scream and whine about what hasn't happened yet. WE may not have to go to war, so why are the "peaceniks" protesting its occurance?
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:46 PM on October 3, 2001


Granted that war ought to be the final solution rather than the first, what is it that ruled out every other possible option of redress for you?

Simple, for me. They killed 6,000 innocent people. They have to die. Period. No jail time, no coddling, just a bullet (or bullets) to the vitals.

I think the peaceniks (who I usually tend to agree with) are getting hooked on the word "war". I'll remind you that Bush(shudder!)/Powell/Rumsfeld are running the show and not Ann Coulter. They have all said that this is a "war on terrorism", they could have easily said "this is a sustained military action worldwide against terrorists that threaten the lives and livelyhood of people around the world" but their mouths would get tired.

Amazingly most of America (according to the polls) seems to understand this definition of "war" more than the anti-globalization/pro-peace people.

"We ain't got no quarrel with them Afghani". It's Osama and his cohorts who we want to see dead.
posted by owillis at 7:48 PM on October 3, 2001


And its one thats being actively persued. It isn't the "warriors" who are jumping the moral gun here. Its those who are so convinced that their personal sense of morality is in jeapordy that they can't just watch. They must scream and whine about what hasn't happened yet. WE may not have to go to war, so why are the "peaceniks" protesting its occurance?

What you're advocating here is waiting until the horses are already out the pasture and a mile down the road before we bother to shut the gate. At that point, people on both sides of the conflict will be dead. The point of anti-war activism is to attempt to make certain that this terrible event does not take place.

But I feel there is some good reasons to be suspicious. Previously, members of this administration fought a similar "war against communism" by selling weapons to one terrorist state to fund right-wing death squads in Central America. I'm still trying to decide if Bush's "drain the swamps" metaphor was an accidental reference to Mao Tse Tung's policy of burning down villiages through covert actions.

Is there any possibility at all for a common ground here? I may be grudgingly willing to accept assassination as being considerably less evil than an air or ground war. However the repetative cheerleading, combined with the advocacy (and yes, outright advocacy) of violence against those who are against violence is quite disturbing.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:42 PM on October 3, 2001


I hope you're right, owillis, that the American public (and its leaders) are acting with moderation. Certainly, we haven't seen anything particularly extreme so far, at least not anything one wouldn't expect. And I'm glad.

I don't live in the US. I don't know what the climate is. Here in Mtl, you see the occasional "We're gonna fuck you guys up!"-style American Flag t-shirts, we read the same editorial polemic as I'm sure exists in the States, we read columnists waxing rhetorical on why Chretien's doing the right thing, or not, or how everyone should follow Blair's lead. Whatever.

I read CNN online, see the polls mentioned here and in the papers, squirm with every new editorial that elicits the same tone as your analogy, alamshubby. Reading it all, it simply feels like the Western world has gone mad for revenge, and it doesn't feel like self-defense, or justice, but simply bloodlust. Whereas I once thought those twin explosions represented the worst in humanity, September 11 seems now to be simply the beginning of escalating crimes, escalating violence, escalating hatred and - I'll use your word - Evil.

What exactly do I want to prevent, then? Let's refer back to a slightly modified version of that "pacifists' doctrine" parable.

1) I get hit in the head from behind.

2) I turn around and see a few men, a mother, and her kid.

3) I ask: "Who did it?"

4) Nobody talks.

5) I punch them all in the face as hard as I can.

6) When they get back up, I ask them again to tell me who did it.

7) Nobody talks.

8) I punch them in the face again, harder this time.

9) Someone finally goes: "It was him!"

10) The "him" in question hides behind the others.

11) I pull out my gun, Kaiser-Soze-style, and kill them all.

Hooray!
posted by Marquis at 8:46 PM on October 3, 2001


But the current debate is not about whether it was necessary for the people on the hijacked airlines to attempt to kill 5 hijackers to save the lives of people on the ground. The current debate is about the not hypothetical possibility of a covert land war or bombing raids in Asia, with the recognition that such a war will involve Americans killing as an act of retaliation and aggression.

Thanks for engaging the hypothet Mr. Sluder. I agree whatever war comes will not be moral.
I disagree with your next conclusion. WE ARE ALL ON THE PLANE RIGHT NOW. I do believe aggressive action is necessary to save future lives. The focus now needs to be switched to how, not if.
The Buddha is compassionate, but he is not obsessed with compassion.
posted by quercus at 8:50 PM on October 3, 2001


I disagree with your next conclusion. WE ARE ALL ON THE PLANE RIGHT NOW. I do believe aggressive action is necessary to save future lives. The focus now needs to be switched to how, not if.
The Buddha is compassionate, but he is not obsessed with compassion.


Certainly, and even some Buddhists would argue that such actions may be necessary, but one would have to accept the consequence of those actions.

But what bothers me is the level of moral certainty expressed by the hawks currently. I feel ambiguous about this noting that while war is almost always a bad thing for everyone involved, in some cases it might be necessary to prevent greater harm. However it seems that even raising the question of whether our attempts to track down and kill Ben Ladan are murder, whether dropping bombs on Libya was an equivalent act of terrorism are defined currently as acts of treason with no room for compromise or agreement.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:18 PM on October 3, 2001


Wolfgar, you're missing the point. I'll say it one more time: the protest wasn't about a moral judgement on others, it was simply to show support for an alternative that seems by many to be ignored by all the rhetoric that's floating around right now.
yeah, ok pacifists ... do me a favor. get all of your deluded little friends together and hop a plane to afghanistan. go find some taliban leaders, or hell, seek out osama himself. sit down with him. explain your noble cause. tell him what a bad boy he is and how he should love everyone because we're all human and all deserve to live and be happy. bring along some john lennon records, make it a festive occasion! get all of this propaghanda created by spineless little weasels hiding out in this country where they don't get shot spot on for making such statements.
I just can't begin to express how much this shocks and saddens me. I don't mind that people disagree with me -- i expect it -- but I started this thread with the hope and expectation that my opinions, beliefs and yes, my religion, would be accorded at least as much respect and consideration that I present it and respond to others with. If I were on your side of this difference of opinion, I would honestly feel embarassed that someone who shared an opinion with me wrote such inflammatory, ignorant, and closeminded nonsense.

Once again, one of the central tenants of my religion -- and many other peoples' -- is pacifism. To describe me as "deluded" amounts to telling a Christian the same about their belief in Jesus. You certainly have a right to disagree with me, and I'm interested in discussing our disagreements, but if we can't have a discussion without being insulted for possessing a belief -- one I share with millions of others of varying faiths -- that is extremely important to me spiritually and emotionally, then I think we'll have to give up the hope for peace altogether.
posted by tweebiscuit at 9:55 PM on October 3, 2001


Hear hear, Marquis, KJS. I never expected everyone in America to be a pacifist, but it is nice to hear from other people as frightened I am by the culture of violence arising in America.

Does anyone here think I'm anti-American? Let me explain something to you: I love America -- really, I do. I love the people of America. It just so happens, however, that the people I like least in America happen to be running the country. I disapprove in the government, but I always believe in the strength of the American people. The thing is -- the American people are currently scaring the shit out of me. People I know personally are reacting out of nationalism, rage, and revenge -- something I hardly would have thought possible two months ago. It frightens me more than anything to see this happening to my country. Yes, my -- I'm very possessive of America, and I don't like this. I want it to stop.

So I'm doing my best to help. This is part of that. Anyone have a problem with that?
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:04 PM on October 3, 2001


I am new here, but if I may say so, I think you are merely in love with the idea of being buddhist.
posted by wednesdaylover at 10:25 PM on October 3, 2001


The thing is -- the American people are currently scaring the shit out of me. People I know personally are reacting out of nationalism, rage, and revenge -- something I hardly would have thought possible two months ago

tweebiscuit: 6,000 people are dead, the majority of them fellow Americans, guilty of freakin' going to work like the other 280 million of us. They weren't soldiers storming the beach in Normandy, or marines on an aircraft carrier who have weapons to protect themselves and are expected to lay their lives down performing their duties.

In the 225 years of this country's existence, 9.11.01 was one of the worst.

Am I not supposed to be pissed off? Am I not supposed to be enraged? Children killed, mothers, fathers, grandparents, firefighters, policemen, human beings.

I don't think it's out of line for me to want to rip the people who did this apart limb from limb. It is a fundamental failure of the universe and justice that Osama & Co. laugh it up in the mountains of Afghanistan while the bones of thousands are ground up dust in the middle of New York City.

So when a protestor comes around and says we should try to understand that kind of crap, can't you see why I feel he is whacked out? I support his right to protest, but I'll be damned if I could side with someone who appears so blind to cold hard facts.
posted by owillis at 10:29 PM on October 3, 2001


If this was about "cold hard facts", would you not have waited until "cold hard facts" had been provided, linking "Osama & Co." to the attacks? (This is not to say that such evidence does not exist, but rather that the government has not deigned to share it with the public as yet. Regardless, unless you are rather better informed than I, we are both severely lacking in these "facts". I wait for them, eagerly, to end this frustrating ambiguity.)

Also, it is not the gut instinct of "want[ing] to rip the people who did this apart" that is the issue here. (We'll save that for a death penalty thread.) Rather, it's the fact that people such as myself don't want to see more innocent human beings killed, in the rush to avenge the Strong and the Free. Yes, bring the wrongdoers to justice. But no, their pursuit does not justify bombing Afghanistan - or anywhere else - "back to the Stonge Age".

Pacifists are not anti-justice. In fact, they are very concerned about justice. But innocents in Afghanistan have as much of a right to be treated justly as American stock-brokers and firemen, regardless of whether their government is fundamentalist and their faith is of the crescent moon.
posted by Marquis at 10:59 PM on October 3, 2001


If this was about "cold hard facts", would you not have waited until "cold hard facts" had been provided, linking "Osama & Co." to the attacks?

224 people in Kenya and Tanzania were killed by Bin Laden's men, enough facts to get him based on that alone.

their pursuit does not justify bombing Afghanistan - or anywhere else - "back to the Stonge Age"

Who, in any position of power has talked of bombing Afghanistan back to the stone age (perhaps one or two maverick Representatives wouldn't really count)? Bush has been admirable in his condemnation of anti-Arab sentiment (again, defending Bush makes me retch).

I know you wanted to exclude talk of death penalty, but phrases like "bring the wrongdoers to justice" makes me grimace. Why waste time and common sense with some international court with lawyers, defense (!), etc. when a standard issue army rifle does the work much quicker? They become a symbol or martyr either in "jail" or dead, better to have him dead I say.
posted by owillis at 11:18 PM on October 3, 2001


George Orwell noted in 1941: "In so far as it hampers the British war effort, British pacifism is on the side of the Nazis and German pacifism, if it exists, is on the side of Britain and the USSR. Since pacifists have more freedom of action in countries where traces of democracy survive, pacifism can act more effectively against democracy than for it. Objectively the pacifist is pro-Nazi." Elsewhere he wrote of the "unadmitted motive" of pacifism as being "hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism".

My own opinion - any belief system that relies on the human heart being purely good is a beautiful ideology but a dangerous practice.
posted by hazyjane at 1:41 AM on October 4, 2001


there are more armed conflicts in the world now than before the second world war.
snide aside/ 200 million tonnes of bombs were dropped on laos (upon whom the us never declared war) during the vietnam war. this caused the deaths of 10-22% of the population./snide aside
Killing usr/bin/laden before trying him in a court of law would constitute a sub-judicial killing. Considering the us government is attempting (has succeeded?) in 'un-signing' a global agreement that it's soldiers can be tried in court for war-crimes, where does that leave the world?
The worlds policeman, unaccountable in a court of law, can kill with impunity anyone responsible for any thing considered 'wrong/evil'.

creating martyrs actually does require killing, which seems to be an excepted mode of communication in the 'civilised' west. creating martyrs is an effective way of mythologising them and their cause.

you don't have to be a pacifist to find that prospect worrying.
posted by asok at 6:15 AM on October 4, 2001


tweebiscuit, you are an amazing person for sticking to your guns throughout this whole 130+ post thread. i wish that i had seen this yesterday and joined the discussion.

i am not a pacifist, i am not strong enough to be. i believe that one needs to defend oneself if one chooses to not fight and avoid fighting as much as possible.

i also feel that bin laden felt as if he was punched and punched and punched...then he punched back (if he truly is behind all this). i guess that he is an advocate of alumshubby's punch back policy. i wish everyday that he wasn't.
posted by m2bcubed at 7:06 AM on October 4, 2001


"....i also feel that bin laden felt as if he was punched and punched and punched...then he punched back ...."


huh?
posted by wednesdaylover at 7:22 AM on October 4, 2001


the topic of the reasoning behind the actions, thoughts, etc., of bin laden, has been discussed heavily on metafilter, specifically why he did the 9-11 attack (if he is responsible). please review the other threads and posts.
posted by m2bcubed at 8:54 AM on October 4, 2001


just for the record, i hate that 6000+ people were killed to prove an anger at something, or as a reaction to something, by the terrorists. my point was that i believe that he felt the US stepped on his beliefs, on what he felt was important and that the US 'punched' people that are important to him. so he retaliated.
posted by m2bcubed at 9:06 AM on October 4, 2001


A quick clarification, since Wulfgar e-mailed me about it... the post I quoted above (regarding deluded pacifists) wasn't Wulgar's, and I wasn't responding to him -- my mistake for not including the name of the actual poster. Sorry about the confusion.
posted by tweebiscuit at 10:28 AM on October 4, 2001


Why waste time and common sense with some international court with lawyers, defense (!), etc. when a standard issue army rifle does the work much quicker?

This statement is a fundamental contradiction to the very spirit of America's founding. Even after World War II the Allies tried the Germans responsible for millions of deaths, rather than simply lining them up and shooting them in the head.
posted by tweebiscuit at 12:14 PM on October 4, 2001


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