Saturday, September 11, 2004

Some September 11th Recollections:
(A Recapitulation Thread From Rerum Novarum and Other Weblogs)

Lane Core Jr's Five Sonnets In Memoriam September Eleventh (Posted on September 11, 2004)

Charles de Nunzio's On the 3rd Anniversary of What's Just Called "9/11" (Posted on September 11, 2004)

Chris Burgwald's Thoughts (Posted on September 11, 2003)

Bill Bannon's Rerum Novarum Guest Editorial (Posted on September 12, 2002)

Homily of Blessed Sacrament's Former Pastor Fr. Reginald Martin OP (Delivered on September 11, 2002)

G. Thomas Fitzpatrick's Recollections (Originally Posted on September 11, 2002)

Comments from the JunkYard BLOG (Posted on September 11, 2002)

Lane Core Jr's September 11: a Date Without a Year (c. September 11, 2002)

John Betts' Prayers for 9/11 (Posted on September 10, 2002)

John Betts' Remembering the Fallen (Posted on September 10, 2002)

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Miscellaneous Musings on the Mainstream Media

this is an audio post - click to play

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A September 11th Confutation of Extremist Liberal Canards Viz. the War on Terror:

To start with, this fisking is dedicated to the memory of those who died on that fateful day three years ago. (And also to the soldiers from all nations who have fallen in battle while engaging terrorists and their benefactors since that time.) May they all rest in peace.

In this post, my words will be in regular font and any sources will be quoted in darkblue font. My opponent's words will be in a pinko coloured font and bolded.

Subject: 1000 DIE IN BUSH'S WAR

It may be of interest to put this number into perspective before dealing with the substance of this email. (To the extent that it can be said to have substance of course.) For doing that, I would refer interested readers to the following thread from G. Thomas Fitzpatrick's Recta Ratio BLOG for a bit of pre-fisking perspective.

Moving onto the meat of this text, it should be noted that this person/group is obviously unaware that in the period from 1861-1865, the War Between the States (aka the "Civil War" or the "War of Northern Aggression") was often referred to by anti-Lincoln partisans as "Lincoln's War." Yet again Santayana's proverb dictum about history and those who refuse to learn from it is vindicated by demonstration.

Today, the 1000th brave American died in Iraq. in the war Bush declared in May 2003 as "Mission Accomplished".

To confute the above idiocy, the reader is pointed to this May 2003 story from CNN. It is clear from what is noted there that President Bush in his speech on the carrier said nothing akin to what this propagandist person/group would attempt to lead us to believe. Indeed, let us quote the President's speech now as relayed to us from CNN:

"The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done."

Furthermore, in the same speech, the president made it clear that "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed..." yet at the same time he noted that "now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country."

In other words, the war in Iraq was completed but there was more work to be done. Anyone with a normal intact functioning brain can see that the president is not saying that EVERYTHING is done in Iraq in the speech. No, what was accomplished was the war phase itself: one part of the overall task in Iraq. And for the servicemen on the USS Abraham Lincoln, their mission was accomplished upon victory being declared in the war in Iraq. It really is not difficult to put the pieces in proper sequence.

In the Scriptures it tells us that we need to be prepared.

This is a pathetic out of context non-sequitur. Of course if we were to accurately quote the Scriptures with regards to the sitz im leben viz. the current situation, the passage "thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour" is quite applicable. But based on the rest of this propagandist person/group's screed, obviously they are not too concerned about that particular part of the Bible - preferring to prooftext parts they like and ignoring those which they do not like. (And which are condemning of them.)

Bush did not prepare for his war.

For a war that was supposedly "not prepare[d] for", the US military sure crushed their adversaries in a feat of historical porportions. Is this person/group saying that if they were "prepare[d]" that they could have won the military campaign in less than seven weeks???

The truth is, General Tommy Franks and the US military prepared for Iraq and how to expeditiously prosecute the war many months in advance of March 19, 2003. The sound and strategic planning of Franks and company is the reason the war itself was so short and casualties were so few. If they had not prepared as they did, casualties would have been higher and then seditionists like this person/group would have picked that factoid to use in their propagandist screeds. In short, propagandists like this want to have it both ways like the inconsistent hypocrites that they are.

Furthermore, Bush was hardly the only one who realized that Saddam Hussein needed to be dealt with militarily. Indeed THIS LINK and also THIS LINK deal adequately with this common antiwar looney lib Goebbels-like prevarication of persons/groups such as this. And of course this leads to a question that must be asked about persons/groups like this which are basically schills for the Democrats. The question that must be asked has two parts (i) if the Democrats noted in the above threads were lying prior to the war, why should we believe them now??? Conversely, (ii) if they were telling the truth then, why should we believe them now when they patently contradict their earlier statements???

he ignored the United Nations and our Allies throughout the world,

Our resident Joseph Goebbels is engaged in yet another hairless-cheeked prevarication. President Bush sought to work with the UN and even secured from them a resolution that supported eventual military action against Saddam Hussein that was voted on 15-0 by the Security Council. (This was Resolution 1441.) Only when it was clear that the UN had no intentions of *ever* enforcing their own resolution -much as they had failed to enforce the terms of the ceasefire from Desert Storm for twelve years previously- did President Bush decide to go outside the UN and form a coalition of nations for dispatching with Saddam Hussein's regime. Anyone who is too stupid to recognize this easily verifiable fact has no business expecting others to take them seriously.

[W]ho were adamantly opposed to the United States invading Iraq.

More disingenuous drivel from this person/group's keyboard. As the link above demonstrates, there have been at least 125 foreign casualties as of August 14, 2004. Here they are by nation:

United Kingdom: 65 - Poland: 10 - Denmark: 1 - Spain: 11 - Italy: 19 - Ukraine: 8 - Bulgaria: 6 - Thailand: 2 - Estonia: 1 - El Salvador: 1 - Slovakia: 3 - Latvia: 1 - Hungary: 1.

Granted, these countries have a marginal military presence in Iraq compared to the United States but we also did the heavy lifting in Desert Storm - where 90% or more of the fighting troops were American. This is always the case in any modern coalition situation where the US is involved: we do the heavy lifting and foot the bill too.

As a result, the United States has become the most hated country in the world.

Maybe we are the most hated country to the French, the Germans, and other collaborators with Saddam Hussein but frankly I do not give a damn. As for this broadbrush assertion (that we are the most hated country in the world, I will expect to see it substantiated or retracted. In brief: either put up or shut the hell up!!!

It is a sad situation when Americans, who are traveling in other countries, are urged by the airline personnel to indicate they are from Canada.

Who are "the airline personnel" being referred to here??? I ask because when I travelled abroad last year, not a single airline person urged or even suggested to me in any way to do this. And I was on four different airflights. Therefore, if this was some kind of "universal" occurrence, I find it odd that NOT ONCE did I encounter it. So again, it must be insisted upon this person/group to either substantiate what they say or retract this assertion. Again: put up or shut the hell up!!!

To be opposed to the war is NOT in anyway being unsupportive of our troops.

As I have noted in other places,{1} the manner whereby most who publicly oppose the war is borderline (if not actually) seditious. People like this person/group oughta feel happy that people like me are not president because I would request of the Congress a re-ennacting the US Sedition Act of 1798 and the US Espionage Act of 1918. If the Congress did not do this within three months, I would issue Executive Orders reenacting them and then have people like this person/group jailed for sedition.

There was no "clear and present danger" when Bush invaded Iraq.

I deal with this putrid prevarication HERE when discussing the moral and constitutional principles behind the war with my good friend SecretAgentMan. There are twenty-three pieces of evidence spanning from remote to probable to downright convincing in that thread which expose the prevarications of this person/group for what they are.

If the people in Iraq were asked, "are you better off today than you were", I think we all know the answer.

I am not one who is fond of polls -generally seeing them as a form of lying that Mark Twain overlooked.{2} Nonetheless, every rule has its exceptions and to fight these kinds of propagandists on their own turf, I will have recourse to polling data from a source that is established for being reliable over the years: John Zogby.

For John Zogby is a highly respected pollster because his polls have a trackrecord for accuracy which are probably unmatched by any other polling firm. Zogby did an actual poll of Iraqis about twelve months ago. The Wall Street Journal ran a feature piece on it which can be read HERE. The results are largely positive which only makes sense since the Iraqis are not in a position of having to be worried about being tortured or killed for expressing unconventional (read: non-Hussein bootlicking) views as they were in the days of Saddam Hussein's regime. But of course these facts (which are well established beyond debate) are not mentioned by people like this person/group because they are inconvenient to their propaganda against the war on terror.

both Iraq and Americans are daily being killed in Bush's war.

Americans were killed daily during "Lincoln's war" too. Unfortunately, death is part of what happens with wars fought on principle. This fact is recognized even by honest and principled liberals who have a personal disdain for President Bush.{3} But far be it for me to presume that people like this person/group have any real principles here except to oppose people who do take principled stands as President Bush as done v iz. the war on terror.

The statistics are often just cold facts. "another Marine has died in Iraq".

Yes, they often are.

lets put faces to those that have died in this war in which Bush has involved us.

Ok. But let us play fair and include pictures of people jumping from the Trade Towers on September 11th and the horrors of that day as well. Let us also include pictures of the recent massacre of children in Russia by the same Al Queda worthless slime that were behind 9/11, the 3/11 train bombings in Spain, and had unmistakable connections with Saddam Hussein's regime.{4} I am all in favour of showing the total picture, not merely the isolated examples that people like this person/group want to show. But propagandists such as this person/group would flee from the full picture like a vampire fleeing from a crucifix because the whole picture is anathema to their agenda of sedition and undisguised hatred of President Bush.

Now granted, I have many times been critical of President Bush in not a few areas.{5} However, I have sought at the same time to give as rounded a view of him as possible in the process. I am not at all convinced that polemicists such as this person/group have done this in like manner from the other side. Ergo, any thing they say is immediately viewed by me as suspect. This is something which (in light of the woeful trackrecord of accuracy that partisans of this stripe generally possess) is eminently justifiable on my part.

http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2003/iraq/forces/casualties/

Looking at all the faces of the young men and women that have died, do you believe that Bush deserves another four years?

Two can play this game:

Pictures of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Towers

Time Photo Essays of September 11

Thomas Hobbs' Live Chronology of September 11th

Now then, examine the pictures at the links above. I tried to get actual photos of people jumping from the towers but strangely enough, I could not find them on the web.{6} So though these pictures are muter than they could be in light of that fact, examine them nonetheless.

Of course if this person/group happens to think that the US government's actions to eradicate Al Queda for their role in these attacks -first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq- were not proportional to deal with the terror unleashed on the US on that day, then they do not have much of a connection with reality. And for that reason, probably nothing I say here will register with them because their weltanschauung is one grounded on a foundation of solipsism. But I digress.

If so, just deny the facts, and delete this message.

Oh no, on the anniversary of the September 11th attack, this person/group is not getting off that easily. Nice try comrades but these putrid prevarications are not going to merely be deleted without comment. For the only ones "deny[ing] the facts" here are people such as you. But as I have already outlined in detail what persons/groups such as this have overlooked --and also pointed to the underlying reasons why they probably are incapable of recognizing the truth-- no more really needs to be said on these points.

If you agree, then forward it on to all those in your email address directory.

Those in my email directory receive enough garbage in their email boxes from spammers. These persons/groups are beyond delusional if they think I would want to contribute to the trash pile by forwarding to anyone the kind of deranged drivel that I have just spent some of my valuable time soundly confuting.

Notes:

{1} See THIS LINK for details.

{2} In delineating "lies, damn lies, and statistics" as the three kinds of lies.

{3} An example of which can be read HERE.

{4} See this link:

On the War, Moral and Constitutional Principles, "Supporting the Troops", Etc. (Dialogue With SecretAgentMan)

{5} It seems appropriate to list here in order (from oldest to newest) some of the threads from this weblog (and one thread predating it) whereby the reader can see a progression downward in my esteem by President Bush -whom I with a fair amount of enthusiasiasm voted for in 2000.

On Stem Cell Research

This commentary was written in August of 2001. The decision of President Bush on the stem cell issue was to me the first significant indicator that Bush was not a great leader. (Potentially good but not great: a distinction which was made in the aforementioned commentary.)

Final Installment of "Bastiat's Corner."

Basically, in the above link, Bush is unambiguously inferred as the "lessor evil" because his programs will plunder us all less than the alternatives offered by the Democrats: hardly a complement by any stretch of the imagination.

"Lie to Me" Dept.

Though targeted at Democrat hypocrisy about truth telling, the acknowledgment that Bush "could be doing better in many areas" is made in the post.

Miscellaneous Mutterings

Essentially this post includes a vindication of my hypothesis that Bush is no Reagan pace the contrary position as taken by a friend of this weblog. The basic criticisms of the Republican party chairman not understanding what limited government actually is are also applied here by logical extension to President Bush.

Predictions for 2004

Two predictions in the above thread deal with President Bush. The first has to do with his first Supreme Court nominee being a Hispanic, the second was that President Bush will continue to play a two card monte game of "war of terror" and "recovering economy" and disillusion former Republicans (and long-time Independents) like your humble servant. (And his latest pandering is frankly almost enough to make me vote Democrat in the 2004 election.)

The Problems With Bush's "Mass Amnesty" Proposal

This monumentally stupid policy -the "latest pandering" that was noted in the predictions thread- was gauged to attempt to curry political favour with Hispanics. It was almost the final straw for me viz. supporting President Bush for reelection.

On President Bush, the Upcoming Primaries, the Upcoming Election, and Standing on Principles

The above comments apply even more so to this post by which I was at the end of my rope in supporting (in any way) President Bush.

On the 2004 Election

Basically, I did not make a solid decision to support the reelection of President Bush until late February of 2004. Any support prior to that time was tenuous at best for a number of reasons -many of which were blogged on prior to that point. I note these threads to put the axe to the notion some may have that I am some "uncritical Bush lackey." Not by any stretch of the imagination can this theory be viably advanced; however, some undoubtedly will try to nonetheless -the above threads notwithstanding.

{6} Though of course anyone who can come up with these pictures, please email me the links and I will post them here and give you proper credit for finding them.

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Friday, September 10, 2004

More on the Nature and Grace Controversy:
(And a Bit on General Norms of Theological Interpretation)

In this post, my words will be in regular font and my sources in darkblue font.

Hello Shawn.

Hello XXXXXXX:

Long time no hear from.

Hope everything is well with you.

I have very little to complain about personally. I hope things are going at least as well for you if not better.

Life has been very hectic for the past few months but I just recently re-read an article on the whole issue of de Lubac and nature vs. grace.

Aah yes, the nature vs. grace controversy. I presume you were rereading the Garver article that I recommended previously.

I know that we've discussed this issue before, but the following quote from Pius XII's encyclical HUMANI GENERIS still troubles me and it certainly seems to condemn the opinion of de Lubac:

"Others destroy (corrumpunt) the gratuitous character of the supernatural order, by suggesting that it would be impossible for God to create rational beings without equipping (ordering) them for the beatific vision and calling them to it".

Could you please comment, at length if you have time, about this sentence from humani generis? I greatly appreciate it.

Certainly. It must first be noted first of all that if Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange OP was not the ghostwriter of Humani Generis then at the very least he had a strong influence on the text in its original form. I have also read that Fr. de Lubac apparently was notified that Pius XII had personally edited the parts of the original draft that were directly critical of the work that he was doing. My reason for noting this is that if this is true, then Pius XII personally invervened to modified the text prior to promulgation to prevent Humani Generis from being the kind of indictment of de Lubac that many have erroneously preceived it to have been.

If the sentence is read carefully, you will see that the erroneous opinion being addressed is one that would hold that it is not possible for God to create rational beings without ordering them towards or calling them to the beatific vision. This is certainly not the position that de Lubac held.{1} Nor to my knowledge did Rahner (who also wrote on this subject) hold to the view proscribed in Humani Generis. This brings up a very important element of the equation when one attempts to properly interpret any text: concern for proper context.

It is not uncommon for those who have a manifested contempt for certain theologians (i.e. de Lubac, Rahner) to read into certain texts (i.e. Humani Generis) concepts which are not there. It is important to remember that any proscription is properly viewed narrowly as opposed to broadly in its application. What this means is that the proscription only applies in the precise sense in which it is set forth -not in any and all preceived similar propositions out there.

Self-styled "traditionalists" so often do not realize this; hence they raise the shibboleths of numerous past magisterial sources{2} without properly paying attention to what is actually being proscribed or otherwise taught from within those texts.{3} Having dealt and dispatched with virtually all of their significant canards over the years,{4} I am in a position to say with certainty that lack of attention to precisely what is being said in the sources is the primary culprit of their errors.

It is a general norm of proper theological interpretation that any condemnations of a theological or philosophical proposition are properly understood as being condemned in the sense they are being condemned in. And of course it must be noted that this sense is not necessarily the same sense that a reader of the text attaches to the words of the text when casually reading it. Proper discernment here takes a good amount of care and far too frequently this is lacking by partisans of all stripes.

In summary, the following points are worth reflecting upon as they get to the very core of the problem with so much of the presuppositions that guide those who misappropriate magisterial texts as fuel for their respective agendas:

If the Bible (which is inspired) can be misinterpreted by men or (to paraphrase St. Vincent of Lerens) "is as capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters", the reader needs to ask themselves why any Catholic would be naïve enough to assume that non inspired magisterial documents would be any different. Why would the Bible have "some things that are hard to understand which the ignorant and the unstable wrest to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3:16) while magisterial documents would be free and easily accessible to be understood by anyone at face value apart from the times, circumstances, and assumptions under which they were written in??? Such an assessment is obviously absurd but yet that is what the self-style 'traditionalists' do in trying to polarize the Council teachings against previous teachings all the while ignoring the context from which the teachings were promulgat ed or the assumptions of the time periods in which they were made. [I. Shawn McElhinney: A Prescription Against 'Traditionalism' Part X (c. 2000, rev. 2003)]

I made that point a couple of times in my treatise (including in the excerpt above) and have reiterated it several times since. And I continue to be surprised (though maybe I should not be anymore) that the above very common-sense observation is so overlooked by many people.{5} But I digress.

Notes:

{1} If I am not mistaken, de Lubac held that while possible, such a stance was nonetheless insufficient. (I will send this link to a couple theologians more familiar with de Lubac's work than I am for confirmation on this.) It seems to me that what really got de Lubac in dutch with the authorities were the attempts to defend his friend Teilhard de Chardin from charges of heterodoxy. (With regards to Teilhard, de Lubac held that he was orthodox but very imprecise in his statements.) I think out of charity we can see this as someone trying in the best of the spiritual traditions to put a favourable interpretation on the statements of another.

It is also probable that because they were friends, de Lubac was willing to cut de Chardin much more slack than would have been prudent. This is probably par for the course viz. how friends treat friends; ergo I would not be too hard on de Lubac for doing this. (If memory serves, he eventually realized that de Chardin's writings were too imprecise to be credibly defended but I may be mistaken on this point too.)

{2} Or even post Pius XII sources interpreted through the same faulty hermeneutic whereby the pre-Pius XII sources are interpreted.

{3} And self-styled "progressivists" make the same kinds of mistakes with those same sources as well lest this appear to be a one-sided indictment.

{4} And it bears noting that the arguments set forth by these people are commonly constructed upon a faulty reading of the very sources they reference.

{5} I hope you have not started uncritically imbibing the work of self-styled "traditionalist" apostolates. (Or even giving their work any reasonable investment of your time.) The reason I say this is because the example you give is a common one in those environs and (hopefully) showing how wide of the mark they are on it can serve as a example of the kinds of error that are habitually made by such apostolates. (Based as they are on the same faulty hermeneutics as I have noted above in this post.) Nor should the above statements be considered to appertain to papally approved Tridentine apostolates -the major ones of which are linked to the side margin of this weblog.

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A very good article on ressourcement theology and the methodology of aggiornamento properly understood can be read HERE.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2004

On the Pro-Life Issue and the Myopic Vision of Many Pro-Life Advocates:
(A Rerum Novarum Recapitulation Thread)

[Prefatory Notification: Though it is the manifested intention of this weblog to post moral and philosophical arguments with regards to the major voting issues as enunciated in the Catholic Answers and USCCB voting guides, before that is done, it seems appropriate to balance the scales a bit by addressing yet again problems in the approach to pro-life issues that are seen as philosophically shortsighted and internally counterproductive by your weblog host. That is the purpose of this thread to summarize by virtue of recalling previous declarations on the matter from the archives. The analysis previously promised last month is virtually done and will be posted before the end of the week time-willing. - ISM]

Originally, your humble servant planned to continue his comments from the audio blog on the boneheadedly myopic nature of many prolife outlooks. (There are even indications of this on the audio itself.) However, it has been decided instead to scan the archives to list posts where this subject has been dealt with before. After all, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel anew when an old one (or two) will work just as well. Without further ado, let us get to it:

Miscellaneous Notes

Though not the first time your humble servant has publicly noted his problems with much of the pro-life movement, the first utterings of this subject at Rerum Novarum are at the thread above.

"Election Aids For Proper Voting" Dept.

On Election Day 2002, We outlined some principles in brief including noting for the benefit of potential voters what had been covered up to that point in the weblog series viz. Claude Frederic Bastiat's magnum opus The Law.{1} Some of your host's long-held philosophical problems with the approach of many pro-lifers to political issues are noted in that thread in a bit more detail than the first thread of this string.

Why Bush is Not "Reagan II" Part III

The above thread is the last installment of a series where your weblog host took to task Lane Core Jr. for promoting the notion that there were significant commonalities between W and Reagan. That thread deals adequately with the superficiality of this notion{2}. Furthermore, this writer's position has only been confirmed by events subsequent to that thread being posted. The problem with prolife shortsightedness is dealt with a bit more in detail in that thread.

And of course Our long-standing derision for the Supreme Court and its activism had to eventually come out on this weblog. See this thread from June of 2003 where the distinctions between the court's various "constructionists", "whores", and "termites" are first spelled out in vivid and blunt (not to mention painfully true) tonalities.

With that note, this Rerum Novarum recapitulation thread on the subject of pro-life political incompetence is concluded. However, We should note also that this is not intended to bash the pro-lifers. Instead, it is to note areas where in their zeal to defend life they have undermined their future success in this endeavour for far too long. Essentially this is a "learn from the mistakes of the past so that you do not repeat them in the future" plea so kindly do not read anything into it except for that.

Notes:

{1} This is a series that ran pretty much weekly or bi-monthly from late September 2002 until early March 2003. Because so much of the philosophical weltanschauung of your weblog host is patterned on those principles -and because they provide conservatives of good will with a logical approach to dealing with contemporary issues in a systematical fashion, We note it again here and strongly exhort readers to check the side margin under the heading On the US Constitution and the Fundamental Rights of Man for the thread in full.

{2} Our respect for Lane Core Jr has been noted time and again at this weblog. Nonetheless, the truth must be stated as We see it; ergo the comments posted above about the facile nature of comparing W to Reagan in any significant capacity.

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Points to Ponder:

It is easy to be a madman: it is easy to be a heretic. It is always easy to let the age have its head; the difficult thing is to keep one's own. [G K Chesterton Orthodoxy Chapter VI (c. 1908)]

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On the Supreme Court and Nominations of Judges

this is an audio post - click to play

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Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Problems With Terrorists and Terrorism According to a Muslim:

Here is an excerpt of an article that ran today in the London Telegraph.

It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

The hostage-takers of children in Beslan, North Ossetia, were Muslims. The other hostage-takers and subsequent murderers of the Nepalese chefs and workers in Iraq were also Muslims. Those involved in rape and murder in Darfur, Sudan, are Muslims, with other Muslims chosen to be their victims.

Those responsible for the attacks on residential towers in Riyadh and Khobar were Muslims. The two women who crashed two airliners last week were also Muslims.

Bin Laden is a Muslim. The majority of those who manned the suicide bombings against buses, vehicles, schools, houses and buildings, all over the world, were Muslim.

What a pathetic record. What an abominable "achievement". Does all this tell us anything about ourselves, our societies and our culture?

These images, when put together, or taken separately, are shameful and degrading. But let us start with putting an end to a history of denial. Let us acknowledge their reality, instead of denying them and seeking to justify them with sound and fury signifying nothing. [Excerpt from Abdel Rahman al-Rashed's article 'Innocent religion is now a message of hate' (c. 9/05/04)]

Thanks are in order to Charles at Little Green Footballs for posting this link. By all means, read the rest of the article. Though I take issue with the title of the article (in light of the recent past as well as the actions of Muhammed and his followers down through the centuries); nonetheless, it is refreshing to see a public admission of this sort (and the others in the article not posted above) from a Muslim in the media. Apparently, this article ran yesterday in an Arabic newspaper called Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. Let us hope that readers of good will imbibe this article and recognize the problems the author outlines -and of course receive the motivation to publicly oppose these kinds of inexcusable actions by the more extremist Muslims in their (and our) midst.

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Briefly on the Founding Fathers and Propagandistic Uses of Their Words:

The post you are about to read was at one time a footnote to this post.

I want to interact briefly at this time with a problem that is inherent in some of those who position themselves as "antiwar" and/or who promote those who style themselves as "antiwar" with regards to the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.{1} It is unfortunate that there are those who in striving to defend a position of military inaction abroad do so with out of context excerpts from the Founding Fathers of America. This kind of approach is hardly a novelty by any means; indeed the practice of seeking precedents in earlier time periods for what someone has already decided to do or believe is the hallmark of what those who consider themselves "reformers" do to try and claim an authority for their views. It is beyond the scope of this post to outline some of the problems with this kind of uncritical (and often fallacious) attempts to appeal to authority -indeed notwithstanding this problem there is also the issue of how well this really represents the views of the Founders of the United States.

Let us at the moment consider an example of this kind of manipulation that I have seen on the web. There are certain antiwar partisans who have seized on two sentences from John Quincy Adams where he says that America "goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy" and Adams' reference to America and if all foreign affairs were engaged in by her that America "might become the dictatress of the world. She would no longer be the ruler of her own spirit." Of course a careful reader of the speech those lines are prooftexted from would see that Adams said a lot more in that speech -and in between those very sentences in fact- than the isolated referencing of them would lend a casual reader to presume. Observe if you will what happens when we contextualize those statements both within the surrounding ones of the speech and also by having recourse to US history and what it reveals:

[America] goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

The involvement of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq is to destroy Al Queda first and foremost. There is a secondary end of establishing democracy in Iraq as a way of showing Arabs that they can have governments in forms other than totalitarian theocratic despotic regimes or benevolent dictatorships where the wealth is in the hands of a scarce few and everyone else is poor or barely scraping by. (Strange how many who do not see this are also activists for the poor but I digress.)

In brief, anyone who does not believe that by her involvement in the Middle East contra Al Queda (and her benefactors) that America is championing her own liberty and vindicating herself against internationally organized terrorism and its benefactors first and foremost is hardly one who is in touch with reality on this issue. But there is more...

She will commend the general cause by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example.

This speech was given in 1821. By that time and in the ten year period afterward, the US military had been involved in numerous foreign ventures including the following ones:

--Invasion of Canada (1775)

Generals Washington and Arnold invaded Canada in the winter of 1775.

--Undeclared Naval War with France (1798-1800)

This war included military actions in the Dominican Republic -which was French territory thus qualifying as a "foreign invasion" by US forces.

--First Barbary War (1801-1805)

This included naval invasions of Tripoli to free members of the USS Pennsylvania who were held captive in Tripoli. Oh, Tripoli is in Africa in modern day Lybia lest anyone not know that.

--Invasion of Mexico (1806)

Mexico was Spanish territory at the time.

--Invasion of West Florida (1810)

West Florida was Spanish territory at the time.

--Amelia Island and east Florida (1812)

This was also Spanish territory at the time.

--War of 1812 (1812-1815)

This war was declared on the basis of the British interception of US ships bound for France (and British blockades of the US as well).

--West Florida (1813)

The US seized Mobile Bay which was at the time the property of the Spanish.

--1814 Spanish Florida (1814)

US forces lead by General Andrew Jackson invaded and drove the British out of Spanish-controlled Florida. This was for that reason a "foreign invasion" because we invaded land controlled by another because our war enemy of the time (Britain in the War of 1812) had soldiers residing there.

--Second Barbary War (1815)

The United States Navy attacked Algiers in Africa.

--Carribean Conflicts (1814-1825)

American forces engaged in many battles with pirate forces both on and around Cuba, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and Yucatan.

--Spanish Florida (1816-1818)

Generals Jackson and Gaines invaded the Seminole area and dispatched with British who were there and also occupied Spanish ports. Florida was ceded to the United States in 1819.

--Oregon (1818)

The US sent a gunship to the Columbia and took possession of the Oregon Territory (modern day Washington, Oregon, and Idaho).

--Africa invasions (1820-1823)

The slave traffic was invaded by US naval units in this time period.

--Cuba (1822)

US naval forces invaded Cuba to attack and destroy a pirate outpost on the west side of the island. US forces also invaded the island under similar pretenses in 1823 and 1824 -the latter being a fairly sizable invasion of two hundred troops. (Commodore David Porter was later court martialed for the 1824 action.)

-- Cuba (1825)

American and British forces landed at Sagua La Grande to capture pirates.

-- Greece (1827)

US forces hunted pirates on three of the Greek islands.

--Falkland Islands (1831-1832)

In response to the capture of three American vessels, Captain Duncan of the USS Lexington invaded the Falkland Islands (in modern day Argentina).

Now then, I could continue to list examples of foreign military excursions -indeed the US has averaged about one every year of her existence. There are thirty-one examples above if we include at least one invasion for every year of the longer-chained indefinite events noted above. (Eighteen if we do not.) Either way, it proves that an attempt to co-opt John Quincy Adams -who was President during the 1825 invasion of Cuba and the 1827 invasion of Greece- as some promoter of a pacifist-like "we never should involve ourselves abroad" outlook to be quilty of historical malpractice. But there is more to the 1821 speech of Mr. Adams which does not bode well for peacenik types:

She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force...

Yet many of those who think America should take marching orders from the UN do precisely what Mr. Adams cautioned against. And in opposing Al Queda in foreign nations, this is to some extent akin to what the US did in the early nineteenth century with her military interventions abroad in opposing the pirates of that time.

The difference between those pirates and the modern ones is that those pirates were not governed by a religious ideology of "conversion or death" the way the modern day Hitlers-in-headscarves are.

She might become the dictatress of the world. She would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit...

Obviously in light of the US's foreign trackrecord prior to and subsequent to 1821 -including the foreign military endeavours during the Quincy Adams Administration- one would be misinterpreting Mr. Adams in no small degree to see in the above statements any discouragement of foreign involvement beyond a recognition that the United States should not involve itself in all foreign affairs militarily. That is not the same as saying that the United States cannot (or should not) involve itself in some foreign affairs militarily.

In summary, any attempts to make Founders like John Quincy Adams into supporters of cowering in the face of global terror threats are facile at best. (Out of charity I will not say more about it than that at this time.)

Notes:

{1} And within the context of the continuing war on international terrorism in general.

{2} It is strange how many who do not see this are also activists for the poor but I digress.

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