Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

over the top?
April 7, 2004 1:56 PM   Subscribe

"But maybe it was the right policy after all."
on the 10th aniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, Jay Bryant suggests that perhaps Clinton's policy of non-intervention was the "right policy after all". This comes a few days after another fellow right wing columnist suggests from her suburban home in south carolina that we should "nuke the Sunni Triangle" (and any innoncent who happens to live there) - apparently her entire family agrees. Do they utterly lack sensitivity and should be ignored? or are these valid opinions worth publishing?
posted by specialk420 (34 comments total)

No, actually, she doesn't say that nuking the Sunni Triangle is the wise thing. She said it was her first kneejerk reaction after seeing four Americans brutually murdered and their remains defiled. Frankly, it was mine too.

Perhaps you need to take a reading comprehension course, or maybe you should just put the bong down.

God damn, I'm tired of these worthless agenda-pushing FPPs.

remember kids, only popular and politically correct speech should be protected!
posted by keswick at 2:10 PM on April 7, 2004

I think you're setting up a false dichotomy here -- whether or not anything "utterly lack[s] sensitivity and should be ignored" does not, in and of itself, determine whether such views are "worth" publishing. Lots of objectionable things (whether objectionable to you, to me, or to anyone) find their way to print every day. Them's the breaks of the first amendment.

On preview: no, keswick, that just ain't true. I'm a radical leftie and I just defended free speech for right-wingers. Can we retire that insulting, intellectually-lazy old canard once and for all, please?
posted by scody at 2:14 PM on April 7, 2004

You know, I'm probably about as far from Parker on the political spectrum as I can get but this is a really low blow. A little deeper in the article:

It is hard at such times to keep one's head, to remain calm, to rise above the impulse to exact immediate revenge. Or to cut and run, as we did under similar circumstances in Somalia not so long ago. But keep our heads we must. Calmly we must transcend the primitive lust that compels ignorant others to mug idiotically for cameras.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:16 PM on April 7, 2004

Yeah, specialk420, all speech should be protected. Please stop calling for the government to censor and arrest these people.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:17 PM on April 7, 2004

regarding rwanda, i cannot begin to describe how wrong, ignorant and immoral that article is. he's on a moral par with holocaust deniers.
posted by quarsan at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2004

keswick - did you have one of those "Liberate Iraq" signs in your front yard too? if so... now your are having thoughts about nuking them?
posted by specialk420 at 2:27 PM on April 7, 2004

Frankly, it was mine too.

What an embarrassing thing to admit.
posted by thirteen at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2004

Word KirkEtc. I'm not a knee-jerk anti-political/news-post guy, but did you (specialK420) read the Parker article and misrepresent it or just google around for what you thought was incedniary right-wing rhetoric to post without reading? Either way, it's fanning the fires for the sake of fanning the fires, not for any informational content or interesting conversation.

posted by freebird at 2:29 PM on April 7, 2004

Incidentally - Specialk420 - when did you stop beating your wife? Around the same time these people called for actually nuking Iraq and that nobody should have intervened in Rwanda?
posted by swerdloff at 2:39 PM on April 7, 2004

Is this an agenda pushing post? Maybe or maybe not, but I find the casual - almost whimsical - suggestion, by a columnist writing for a fairly public venue, that it would be satisfying (if a bit uncivilized) to reduce an entire region of Iraq to a wasteland of vitrified glass........

"This isn't just America's war, but America's response to a war that was brought to us.....Iraq was, as weapons investigator David Kay reported, in a position to create weapons of mass destruction and historically inclined to do so."

To call Kathleen Parker's piece "agenda driven" would be to do it justice. Saddam Hussein brought war to the US? Please. The WMD proliferation threat was elsewhere. Iraq had the potential means and the possible intent? Give me a break.


It's sobering that Americans seem to have progressed so little since the days of Vietnam, when napalm was considered a viable counterinsurgency method and when the US dropped - as I recall - hundreds of times the tonnage of all the bombs used in WW2.

Flash forward to 2004 - for the humiliation of the corpses of those four Americans who were, essentially, soldiers of fortune or mercenaries*, Mrs. Parker feels like it would be satisfying to kill a few million Iraqis in retaliation, in revenge for the symbolic humiliation of America represented in the desecration of those four corpses.

I don't really know what even to say about this except that - based on Parker's logic, disgruntled Iraqis would be justified, provided they had the means, in reducing America to a smoking wasteland. Lets see : what's Parker's suggestion calculus of revenge exacted for each death and corpse desecration? One or two million lives for each American life so taken? More?

Oh, but hey - it was only a joke. OK then.

I have heard at least one radio talk show caller advocate - with no retraction - such scorched earth tactics. So I fear the sentiment is somewhat widespread. I hope, for America's sake, that it is not, though.

It has not occurred to Mrs. Parker, I imagine, that savagery can wear, for a time, a gentle guise - even the guise of an American housewife with children.

Calling for the indiscriminate mass killing of others, especially civilians, women, men, and children - and even "joking" about it - is something that, to me, smacks of savagery, of brutality.

*and some of whom carry fancy new "one shot kill" bullets which US army soldiers are forbidden from using, probably because the new ammunition violates the Geneva Accords.
posted by troutfishing at 2:45 PM on April 7, 2004

to answer your question freebird - i saw that disgusting drivel the day she wrote it...

as i read it parker's last sentence:

"Still, a well-placed MOAB smack in the Sunni Triangle ... but then, we are not animals. A reel of Rambo will have to do."

seems to erase any attempts at sensitivity after her initial revolting admissions, or perhaps I need to take a "reading comprehension course".
posted by specialk420 at 2:47 PM on April 7, 2004

But I think most Americans are, in fact, appalled by such sentiments as Mrs. Parker's - and I comment specialk420 for calling out the comment.

This sort of ugliness needs to be exposed for what it is.

It's certainly not Christian either, but - rather - more in the camp of that other guy (what's his name? The one in the red suit, but not Santa Claus?).
posted by troutfishing at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2004

Oh yes - SATAN. Mrs. Parker is in the sway of the Dark Prince, logic would dictate.
posted by troutfishing at 2:51 PM on April 7, 2004

I have heard at least one radio talk show caller advocate - with no retraction - such scorched earth tactics.

O'REILLY: I don't care about the - colonel, I don't care about the people of Fallujah. You're not going to win their hearts and minds. They're going to kill you to the very end. They've proven that. So let's knock this place down.
COWAN: Let's get out of the way and let Iraqis knock it down, so we don't lose any more American lives.
O'REILLY: I don't believe - I absolutely don't believe they can do it. General, how do you see it?
VALLELY: Well, we've got to do it together. We've go to do it quickly. We've got to sanitize that whole city. And keep in mind, Bill, you set an example when you go in there to do that. And when do you that, you get respect. And that's why you go to be tough.
O'REILLY: All right, general, is there any.
O'REILLY: .you know it, the colonel knows it. The colonel and I are disagreeing on the tactics, but we know what the final solution should be. Why hasn't the U.S. command done this? And why do they continue to absorb the level of terror that is coming out of -- this isn't a big town. We're not talking about Cincinnati here. Right? It's not a big town?
posted by mr.marx at 2:55 PM on April 7, 2004

Well, to answer the question. I think I would probably call myself a hard lefty who agrees strongly with free speech. I think that keswick really does not understand what the speech debates are about. I fully support the idea that Fred Phelps should come to my hometown to protest a stage production The Laramie Project, the right of Parker to publish her knee-jerk reaction, the right of Mell Gibson to produce and distribute his Passion.

However, I'm not obligated to respond to speech that I find objectionable with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge. I'm not obligated to fund such speech. And in fact, I have a right to picket, protest, and boycott said speech.

It is my perception that most of the people who claim supression under "political correctness" are in fact complaining when they no longer get the polite wink-wink, nudge-nudge when they express various forms of bigotry. They are shocked that someone else might disagree, much less use their own freedom of speech to debate the issue in the marketplace of ideas.

troutfishing: This sort of ugliness needs to be exposed for what it is.

On the other had, pulling the lead out of context out of the rest of the piece is a hatchet job. (Especially since the current style for opinion pieces is to shoot with a lead that is supposed to be shocking to draw the reader in.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:55 PM on April 7, 2004

No, I voted against Bush and I am against the war. I do, however, love this country deeply, despite its flaws; and I will never apologize for that. And for the record, I will be voting for Kerry in November.

I'm sorry that the murder of innocent Americans and the desecration of their bodies doesn't make you the slightest bit angry or outraged. I'm sure you'd be ranting non-stop if it were American soliders who committed this atrocity.

But since this thread has already turned into a back slappin', politcally correct, groupthink / mutual masturbation session, I'll be taking my leave now.
posted by keswick at 2:58 PM on April 7, 2004

Oh crap. Did I miss a group masturbation session?

In other news, I heard things in Iraq are going well today. *cough cough*
posted by hank_14 at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2004

and in fairness - i thought kos may have crossed the sensitivity line last week with his controversial comments as well - which certainly cost plenty on the right's much lost sleep and gnashing of the teeth.

hatchet job

you are welcome to your opinions kirk - believe me - i am definitely a free speech advocate and did not call for censorship - simply asked a couple questions.
posted by specialk420 at 3:08 PM on April 7, 2004

to refocus this discussion i would like to look at the parallel between these situations. when we pulled out of rwanda many people criticized us. as americans, the "humanitarians" said, you have a duty to protect those less fortunate than yourselves. but when we went into iraq, alledgedly for some of the same reasons, we get slammed for interfering with another soveriegn country. damned if you do, damned if you dont in many ways. it seems obvious now that we had to oppose the german conquest of europe and the genocide that was going on in wwII, but we waited a pretty long time to get involved in that war. is it possible to draft an official foreign policy of intervention/non-intervention that we can actually stick to?

i dont see why people are so surprised by the desecration of american bodies in iraq last week. these people did not want us there in the first place, we have failed to live up to our promises, and thousands of their people have died. 4 american deaths, i don't care how greusome they were, is insignificant. war = war, death is never pretty. people die, american lives should not be worth more than those of people in other countries. i dont see this anger and outrage when palestinians are brutally murdered, while thousands are massacred in third-world countries every day. just because the pictures were in the news don't make these deaths more important.
posted by sophist at 3:18 PM on April 7, 2004

specialk420: you are welcome to your opinions kirk - believe me - i am definitely a free speech advocate and did not call for censorship - simply asked a couple questions.

My apologies, in the context of what is an obvious misrepresentation of a person's opinion, the last question seemed to be more of a rhetorical call for censorship than a call for discussion. I disagree with what Parker says on so many levels but there is quite a bit more in that piece to talk about than just "nuke the suni triangle." There is plenty of room to criticize what she is saying without engaging in dishonesty.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2004

the final solution????????

::splutters in shock at the quote he just read::
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 3:19 PM on April 7, 2004

when we went into iraq, alledgedly for some of the same reasons

rwanda had wmd?!
posted by mr.marx at 3:27 PM on April 7, 2004

There is plenty of room to criticize what she is saying without engaging in dishonesty.

bs - she never backs down from her statement of wanting to nuke the sunni triangle, in fact her last sentence reaffirms it.

the rest of the screed simply advocates staying the ill-conceived course bush and the neo-cons have us on - the one that got all the unfortunates (US and Iraqi) who have been killed to date in their current resting place.
posted by specialk420 at 3:30 PM on April 7, 2004

I think the entire post is invalid - all she was trying to put across to the reader is that, no matter how horrible the acts in Fallujah may have been, that no matter how much of a knee-jerk reaction we may LIKE to have... we're not animals like those who committed the acts in question.

I agree with keswick... READING COMPREHENSION is important here!! Posts like this one fall under the 'sky is falling' category...
posted by matty at 4:22 PM on April 7, 2004

specialk420: bs - she never backs down from her statement of wanting to nuke the sunni triangle, in fact her last sentence reaffirms it.

I raise your bs, she writes "Still, a well-placed MOAB smack in the Sunni Triangle ... but then, we are not animals. A reel of Rambo will have to do."

I mean, this is basically what my fellow peace activists were saying after 9/11 and what fellow critics of capital punishment say every day. Sometimes it is extremely difficult to resist the impulse for "tit for tat". Don't claim that no one in the peace movement was not talking about how difficult it was to maintain any kind of moral footing in the wake of that horror. Don't pretend that no one was talking about how tempting it was to just throw away our commitments and call for blood.

You are just taking one piece of her conclusion, and ripping it out of context and distorting the meaning. The meaning rests in the contrast between the temptation to do the wrong thing by resorting to extreme violence, and the need to do what she considers to be the right thing. Her conclusion is that the "right thing" may be difficult, but it is what we have to do. Emphasizing one half of this contrast without acknowledging the other is dishonesty.

Of course, this is the only thing that I like about the essay. Her advocacy of long-term occupation, the call for the burden of an American empire, and demonizing Iraqi's as animals is damning enough. We don't need to attack a proposal for retalitory bombing of civilian populations that she explicitly rejects.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:33 PM on April 7, 2004

whatever your take is on parker's article - the whole "let's nuke 'em" thing - and then pat yourself on the back because you are "above" those "animals", and then make the same old connections between the war in iraq and 9-11 ... are in the least offensive.

a more intelligent opinion piece might have asked:

why are the iraqi's so g*ddamn mad at us that they would do this to those guys?, where are the failings in our policies in iraq a year later?, did they do this act because they "hate our freedoms" or wtf? etc...
posted by specialk420 at 5:00 PM on April 7, 2004

rwanda had wmd?!
posted by clavdivs at 5:03 PM on April 7, 2004

Still, a well-placed MOAB smack in the Sunni Triangle ...

I can't believe she said that! That would scorch what, maybe 500 square feet? 2500? It isn't a nuke, its just a fairly weak but largely phallic convential bomb. Sure, you'll wipe out a few apartment buildings, but you'll leave the surrounding area standing! This is not acceptable! We demand nuclear arms! Quickly, before our rage subsides!
posted by Darke at 6:25 PM on April 7, 2004

this was "letter of the day" in one of the local papers on Sunday.

how much more bloodthirst could there be?
posted by memnock at 7:40 PM on April 7, 2004

Look, it's really quite simple: the US may (and should) intervene in preventing human rights violations, but only in countries which don't have oil.

Now, why Bush led us into Iraq with that nonsense about WMDs instead of pushing the human rights angle is incomprehensible.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:56 PM on April 7, 2004

Darke - Precisely.

Meanwhile...."when we pulled out of rwanda many people criticized us. as americans, the "humanitarians" said, you have a duty to protect those less fortunate than yourselves. but when we went into iraq, allegedly for some of the same reasons, we get slammed for interfering with another sovereign country. damned if you do, damned if you don't in many ways."

- sophist, the US did not invade Iraq for humanitarian reasons. The legal causes bell was Iraq's possible possession of MD's, and non-compliance with UN weapons inspections.

specialk420 - The same thoughts flitted through my mind, but it comes down to one thing : Parker's sentiments are irresponsibly voiced - especially on the part of a columnist.
posted by troutfishing at 8:21 PM on April 7, 2004

That was causus belli (spellcheck!-not)
posted by troutfishing at 8:25 PM on April 7, 2004

I don't think attaching the adjective 'valid' to the noun 'opinion' yields a phrase that makes any real sense, but perhaps that's just me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:06 PM on April 7, 2004

In terms of knee-jerk reactions, Kathleen Parker is no Ann Coulter, that's for sure. I doubt very much that AC would look back on that column with any misgivings, three years later, whereas Parker at least had the horse sense to realize that her first impulse was, perhaps, not the smartest course of action to follow.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:08 AM on April 8, 2004

« Older Coelacanth quiz. Test your knowlege about this un...  |  'Little Prince' author's plane... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments