You might have read yesterday that a Johns Hopkins University history prof made something of a splash when he asked of the national tragedy represented by 9/11 – “Was it really all that bad?”
I mean, after all, isn’t this whole “War on Terror” thing a bit of an over-reaction? We could take a whole lot more casualties and not materially change a thing for those of us left behind. After all, in the big scheme of things, what’s the death of 3000 innocents and an economic impact of some $30 billion dollars. Didn’t the Soviet Union survive much worse in World War II, what with 20 million dead?
Why yes, they did. And what exactly was your point again Professor Bell? Because if I understand you correctly, you’re an idiot.
Essentially the man is saying is that he thinks that we haven’t died enough to justify our current level of outrage. But the goal of any conflict, kinetic or otherwise, should never be to determine exactly how much blood you can shed without succumbing to your wounds, nor to graduate our response to the ineptitude of our adversaries. Suppose we get it wrong?
But the op-ed itself was so absurdly stupid, and had been so very well rebutted elsewhere that your correspondent left it to better men. We can spend our lives breaking ourselves on the shoals of academic silliness, and have nothing at all to show for it. Energies must be rationed.
Nevertheless, for every action there is a reaction, and for every dialectical thesis there is the antithesis. Professor Bell said something stupid, scores of bloggers called him on it, and now other bloggers are calling them on that.
Which is where Jeff Goldstein comes in, with synthesis:
Such a material view of the war being waged is not, to me, very surprising; and although one of the motivations behind the war on terror was to prevent fringe groups from aligning with sympathetic countries to get their hands on more advanced and potentially dangerous weaponry, the chances are good, as Maha notes, that the country itself would not be destroyed.
Where she goes horribly awry even in such a strictly superficial analysis is in believing that just because the country likely won‚Äôt be destroyed in the wake of several additional terror attacks, we should, then, in effect countenance such attacks‚Äîor at least, treat them as law enforcement concerns. Nevermind that, were such attacks to become commonplace, the reaction of the American populace would likely be swift, severe, and local (remember, is wasn‚Äôt Joseph McCarthy who authorized the Japanese camps)‚Äîand would create just the kinds of ‚Äúfascist‚Äù conditions that many on the left are (idiotically) convinced we‚Äôre already living under.
Beyond that, though, the real danger we face from Islamism is evidenced in the type of rationalizations that animate such ‚Äúrealist‚Äù arguments as the one employed by Maha‚Äîwhich, while they purport to be speaking ‚Äúunspeakable truths‚Äù to the end-times fantasies of evangelical warmongers, are in fact primarily concerned with hiding from the real unspeakable truth, namely, that it is the progressive worldview itself that has created, and continues to nurture, the conditions necessary for the destruction of a truly liberal country from within.
Hyperpartisans like Maha have spent so much time sneaking around trying to frighten each other with their Geo. W. Bush frightmasks, that they’ve blinded themselves to the real erosion in human liberty that occurs when you find a way to rationalize away the death of your own citizens – and after all, what more fundamental right exists than the right to life?
That right is an individual right, which is why the collectivists pooh-pooh it. They do this while piously spouting the dogma of identity politics and catechizing their victimization theology which combination more than anything else attempts to carve the electorate into ever-smaller groups of mutually antagonistic favor seekers snuffling at the trough of governmental dependency.