Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Koran burning

Cougars to Korans to American Exceptionalism, Straw Vulcan Logic Illustrated

with 5 comments

Is that a lovely? That’s California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards posing with a cougar he recently killed in Idaho. He claims it was in self defence. OK, that was a joke. He killed (and reportedly ate) the cougar in a  perfectly legal hunt in Idaho. This has caused a storm of protest and calls for his resignation in California, where such hunts are illegal. Mr Richards says the hunt was legal, it was on his own time, and is no different than, say, any other California state official travelling to Nevada to go gambling, which is also illegal in California. So what’s the problem?

The problem is that Mr Richards is an insensitive  idiot. Now don’t get me wrong, I support hunting and fishing when well regulated, the alternative is much uglier. And while I’m not a big fan of trophy hunting, within reason I don’t have a problem with it. I would prefer that trophy hunters be limited to hand weapons like spears and knives. I mean come on guys, if you have to kill a big animal to prove you have stones, do it like a man. Any  a**hat can shoot a cat in a tree. Bring down a cougar or  a bear with a spear, and I’ll buy you a drink dude. Or have one in your memory at least.

I digress. Suffice it to say that any state official careless enough to allow a public picture of himself grinning like a loon while he pursues an activity that the majority of his employers disagree with, an activity he is sworn to prevent in his state, is an idiot. Yes, as a state official he is working for the voters of California. That he doesn’t understand, or is pretending not to understand, that letting a picture like this hit the airwaves would cause some major backlash, is mind blowing to me.

The point here, is that Mr Richard’s attitude is an excellent example of Vulcan logic. Because what he did was legal, he’s basically claiming that anyone who gets upset isn’t being logical, therefore he can ignore them. People do react emotionally to stuff, and anyone who has lived on Earth for more than a few weeks should understand that. Anyone who completely disregarded the emotions of people in their personal life pretty quickly wouldn’t have any friends, or at least they would have just strange stunted friendships. Now for the record I am not saying that every time someone gets upset at a public official’s actions it means they were wrong. I am saying that to claim that your actions are defensible because “people shouldn’t rationally get upset by this” is in and of itself a profoundly irrational argument. People are creatures of emotion, and to pretend otherwise isn’t rational.

And we come to a similar situation in Afghanistan. Despite the fact that there is ample evidence that defacing the Koran violates a core value of many or most of the Afghan people, many Americans in and out of politics and the media act surprised every time something like this happens and cluck cluck about how “irrational” their response is. With simply zero empathy for how they would respond in a  similar situation. If a Muslim Army had occupied the USA for a decade, waging war against the Tea Party the whole time, and the charred remains of the Star Spangled Banner flag was found in a  trash pit outside a Saudi military base, many Americans would go ballistic. The point is that the burning of the Korans, and allowing Afghans to find out, was a sign of either mind numbing incompetence on the part of some Americans … or mind numbing indifference.

The meta point I am dancing around here is that the attitude of many Americans about this Koran issue is simply a reflection of the fact that they think we are the good guys with the superior values, and our values trump theirs. This is the colonial mind set or cultural imperialism or American exceptionalism … or just plain old fashioned being arrogant and condescending. Claiming one is “helping” people by invading their country and installing a government of our liking is bizarre enough, claiming that trampling on their values at the same time is “no big deal” is beyond bizarre, it’s insane.

And frankly, my current theory is that imperialism is a disease. And the USA has a raging case of it.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and at this point is definitely an historically important image. My opinion on the topic? I say to Mr Richards: “Good shot! However, this picture shows you are too stupid, arrogant, and insensitive to hold public office, do us all a favour and resign.”)

PS: Have a great weekend everyone!


Through Thick and Thin: Sure Happy It’s Thursday

leave a comment »

I was planning  posting a post about the Iraq War today, but alas it’s not finished. And it’s a post I want to be fairly polished before publishing, a war only ends once so I have to get it right. So … quick random burblings about whatever comes to mind in the hour before I have to head out into the rain to fix people’s plumbing. It’s going to be easy, becasue the world is going to hell in a hand basket, lots of bad news to choose from.

Things are going from bad to worse in Afghanistan. Hard to decide what is more disturbing, the media and government completely misrepresenting the situation, or the republicans almost gleefully using it to score political points against Obama. If chortling over American deaths can really be called scoring points, the republican party didn’t lose their moral compass, they are using it backwards. We may be forced to leave soon, it’s becoming clear that they all hate us, we didn’t have South Vietnamese troops turning their guns on Americans in Vietnam (not that I recall at least,) but it’s almost a daily occurrence in Afghanistan now.

Moving right along, the Republicans as part of their “abandon all morals ye who enter here campaign,” have more or less declared war on women, introducing new and increasingly misogynistic laws on almost a daily basis now. It’s about putting women back where they belong, in the homes breeding and raising children. Newt even just came out and said that women who use birth control are sluts. Same ol same ol, a guy who sleeps around is a stud, a gal who sleeps around is a slut. There’s even a holocaust denier and former American Nazi Party member trying to get on the Republican ticket in one state, though at least so far the Republicans aren’t going that far. Small comfort.

North Korea has agreed to stop enriching Uranium, allow international inspections of its nuclear facilities, and stop missile testing in exchange for food aid. It’s a good sign. I suspect the USA will put so many other preconditions on the deal that nothing will come of it, but who knows. I keep thinking that maybe somewhere in the primitive lizard brain that is now Washington is the dim perception that we can’t afford to police the whole world and that we need to actually dial back some of our overseas confrontations. What can I say, I’m the eternal optimist.

Syria is basically close to civil war at this point, peaceful demonstrations having given way to armed insurrection. Again as in Afghanistan, what a mess. Like all dictatorships in nations that don’t have a real national identity yet (it takes more than just drawing a line on a map to make a nation,) the rulers are very much all from the same religious and ethnic faction. So it’s as much a fight for the majority trying to get their share of the pie as it is a fight for freedom and democracy. I’m not even going to guess as to how it’s going to end, but I think it’s safe to say it isn’t going to be pretty.

And I’m pleased to end on a good note. All those bailouts and the stimulus plan have worked. Yes, the stock market is back to where it was before the crash! Isn’t that great, the people who destroyed the economy by accumulating ever higher piles of funny money at the top of the pyramid have all gotten their money back. And of course with the rich being super rich again, surely the trickle down theory will finally kick in and they will re-invest this wealth in America and we will all have good paying  jobs again soon! Yes, the American dream still lives.

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s all over Facebook so I think I’m good. I don’t know who holds the copyright but the speaker is Anne Hathaway at the 2008 Human Rights Campaign Dinner. YouTube: I posted it because it illustrates a point about the gay marriage “debate” that numerous judges have now based their rulings on, the only objections people have to gay marriage are predicated on Biblical teachings. Prejudice is not a valid reason to deny people their rights. If gay weddings bother you, don’t go to them when invited.)

Fridays are Fun

leave a comment »

Well, in retrospect I’m so unhappy with the Deerfield post that I’m going to delete it and rewrite it as a single post. I like trying to fit a story into a few pages in such a way that people not only enjoy reading, it even evokes a bit of wonder, emotion, amazement, etc. It’s like painting a picture. It pretty much has to be read all at once though. Granted there are some stories where having them in two parts is no big deal, but I think that’s the exception. I’m going to post a few crime stories as well some time. There’s a number of  obscure cases that just make a good read.

Speaking of a good read, boy, it’s amazing just how focused on the present most people’s view of the world is. Or maybe just how shallow their understanding of history is. Most Americans think, oh, World War One, World War Two, Vietnam, The Civil War, and that’s it, right? Napoleon, and, um, the Romans? Um, not quite that simple. History is drenched in blood and wars. England, France, and Spain spent centuries fighting over the new world, dozens of wars. The Dutch, Portuguese, and a host of others got involved as their time and schedules permitted. And look at the Middle East. When they weren’t fighting among themselves, there have been endless waves of European invaders since Alexander the Great up to the current day. And don’t even get me started on Africa or China. If there’s an alien community, and the topic of Earth comes up, it’s like “Oh, yeah, the war planet, what’s up with that?”

I see a federal judge has declared that the ban on gay service members in the USA is unconstitutional. Well, d’oh. This has always been one of the silliest prejudices. Do anyone care what their friends or co-workers do in their bedroom? If they do, they should run, not walk, to the nearest psychiatrist. As for the idea that serving with a gays would be “bad for morale,” um, they said that about blacks and women too. News flash: The military is a command organization. If the order given is: You will serve proudly with your black/female/gay fellow soldier … the only permissible answer is “Sir, yes sir.” Any service member who can’t obey their orders doesn’t belong in the service in the first place. Can I say “D’oh” again?

In science news, the next generation of space telescopes will be able to tell if planets around nearby stars have oceans. Waycool. I’m gonna make a prediction here though. This is a classic example of  “‘looking for the key.” I don’t think we’re gonna find oceans like we have on Earth on other planets. We’re gonna find stuff that nobody imagined. Mark my words.

In current events, I see that anti-Koran burning protests have broken out in Afghanistan. The point to understand here, one I should have made in the previous post, is that while the Quran burning plan is the proximate cause of these protests, that’s not really what these protests are about. There are deep anti-American sentiments in much of the Muslim world, and that would especially be in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, and something like this Quran burning episode serves as a flash-point for them. That’s why I made the comment about the Quran burning being the same as tossing a match on gasoline soaked ground. Sadly I suspect most of the media, and by extension most Americans, will simply regard this as more evidence that “Muslims are crazy” without understanding the context. The USA’s misguided foreign policy in the Middle East has been creating enemies non-stop since at least 1953, and continues today with our flying death squads, military bases, and most of all, our insistence that the USA gets to appoint who runs Middle Eastern countries. We’ve overthrown four governments (three of them very popular and one of them democratically elected) there in just the past ten years that turned three countries into failed states, and provoked civil war in a fourth (which was already a failed state to begin with.) And waged “death from above” wars in two others. Yeah, that’s all gonna make the USA popular in the Muslim world.

In retrospect it just occurs to me that the USA’s relationship with third world countries is very similar to how we related to native American tribes as the USA moved westward in the nineteenth century. We simply designated some Indian as a “chief,” and paid him to sign whatever documents we wanted. There was no negotiation in any sense of the word, it was simply a veneer of legality while the USA exploited whatever lands and resources they wanted. And if it was decided some prior “treaty” had been too generous, the USA simply arranged for a new treaty. And in many cases the USA didn’t even bother with a treaty, they simply told the Indians to move. It may have been a success in the nineteenth century, but it’s a strategy that is not going to pay off in the long run in the rest of the world. There are simply too many Indians.

In any event, hopefully a few demonstrations is all this Quran burning will inspire. If it turns into massive anti-USA revolts in Afghanistan or elsewhere, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Have a great weekend everyone.

(The above image is public domain under US copyright law as far as I can tell. It’s the Shah of Iran, one of the USA’s greatest “success” stories installing US oriented governments in the Muslim world. Look how well that turned out.)

Written by unitedcats

September 10, 2010 at 6:48 am