Tuesday, May 02, 2006

This is the postmodern era

Wherein the years have changed me, somehow

Hennessey laughed ruefully. "Your problem with this Iraq thing is that you've gotten tangled up, unwittingly, with people who long ago decided it wasn't sophisticated to be sincere, that sincerity was for fools, that sincere people were put on earth to be manipulated and exploited by people like them--for the greater good, of course. This is currently the most common character flaw in the Washington establishment--attempts to be Machiavellian by people who lack the talent, the panache, to pull it off. So here you are, good old Clyde Banks, desperately trying to deal with this very real problem here on the ground, and it's as if you're in a nightmare where these fucking bush-league Machiavellis listen to what you're saying but don't really understand.

"You and I know that something is going on and we would like to do something abut it. But between the two of us are about ten thousand of these people who are too busy looking down their noses at us to actually grasp the problem and take action. You must know that taking action is looked down upon, Clyde. This is the postmodern era. When events come to a cusp, we're supposed to screw our courage to the sticking place and launch a reanalysis of the eleventh draft of the working document. Actually going out and doing stuff in the physical world is simply beyond the comprehension of these people."

From The Cobweb, by Neal Stephenson and J. Frederick George

Thought I'd highlight some sincere writing that should be appreciated.

Icepick says:
Am I the only one who's tired of reading various blogs that think that removing Saddam was BAD but think that the largest moral imperative of the time is that we ought to go kill a bunch of Sudanese drug-addicts forthwith? Yes? I am? Well, never mind then....

Readeriam on Evicting Moral Courage:
Not long ago, I made the mistake of bringing up the concept of moral courage in a comments section elsewhere. Almost immediately, that idea was dismissed, even pooh-poohed, and I assume it was because the word “moral” is immediately associated with religion and petty "moralism." But moral courage isn’t about that (although, at its best, religion can, and I think should, promote it). Moral courage is an ethical construct, a way of approaching the world and our core responsibilities in it that transcend any particular religion or time or place. It defines us as thinking human beings who can face not just our physical fears (which are predicated on failure) but our ethical ones (which are predicated on success).

Callimachus has had so many quotable posts, it's difficult to pick one (so go read them all). This one especially, resonated with me--War or No War:
The main difference among Americans today is that some of us believe the United States is at war, a dangerous war against a desperate enemy. And other people don't believe that's true at all. To the non-believers, the people who are waging war look insanely violent, paranoid, and unstable, and to the people at war it takes great mental effort to look at those who don't believe it and not see appeasers and useful idiots, if not outright traitors.

Cathy Young on how we treat Holocaust and Gulag deniers:
There is, however, another issue here. Our insistence that the truth about the Holocaust be respected is admirable; not so the double standard that applies to the ideologically driven denial and minimization of other crimes against humanity -- such as Stalin's Gulag.


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