Playing the Indian Card

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Reactions to Charlottesville

Desecration of the corpse of Mussolini
Everybody’s talking about the Charlottesville riots.

Many, even most, claim that Trump was wrong to blame both sides. I think the arguments I have heard for this claim are not tenable.

When Ted Nugent repeated the obvious point that both sides were being violent, and both deserved condemnation, he was interrupted with the question, “Would you have said that had the driver of the car that rammed the crowd been a Muslim terrorist?”

I would. Here’s the comparable scenario: Muslims gather for a rally somewhere—say Charlottesville. Somewhere they are a minority. Perhaps they chant anti-”Infidel” slogans; perhaps not. They carry bats and so forth, no doubt; that is ominous. A group of anti-Muslim protesters quickly gather in the same place, armed and determined to break up that rally. Fighting breaks out.

Some Muslim rams the opposing crowd with a car.

This is very different from a terrorist attack, and I would just as readily say there was blame on both sides, about equally – apart from one specific act of apparent murder, for which one individual is presumably responsible.

Chris Cuomo on CNN asks, “but can’t you see that these statues are deeply upsetting to a group of your fellow citizens”? Paul Krugman asks, “Would we feel okay about statues in Germany celebrating Rommel?”

Answer: there actually are statues of Rommel in Germany, I am told, and nobody has seen a problem. Why not? There are carefully tended grave sites throughout northern France commemorating German war dead from WWII. A man who risks or sacrifices his life deserves respect, regardless of which side he fought for. It is disgusting and cowardly to kick an opponent after he is down, defeated and dead. As Churchill himself said publicly when he heard of the murder of Mussolini; and he used that word, “cowardly.” There is nothing admirable in it.

But then too, even the initial premise is false. It is a false moral equivalence to compare the Confederacy to Nazi Germany. For a number of reasons:

First, Hitler invaded and sought to conquer foreign lands who had not declared war on him: Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Yugoslavia, the USSR. The Confederacy invaded no one, and sought only to achieve self-government. They were the invaded party.

Second, slavery is not comparable to genocide. Both are moral evils, but the one is vastly more evil than the other. It was entirely possible for good men to believe that slavery was actually of benefit to the enslaved Africans; that they had it better than their compatriots back in Africa, and were learning from the supposed tutelage. Nobody in good conscience could believe that genocide was in the interests of the Jews.

Third, Nazi Germany was relatively unique in its policy of racial genocide. There are other historical examples, but probably none so systematic and obvious as Nazi Germany. By contrast, the Confederacy was one of many states, in its day, that practiced slavery. Slavery was still legal throughout South and Central America, throughout Africa, throughout the Muslim world, and throughout the Far East. It was its abolition in the US North that was the exception. So it is discriminatory to single out the Confederacy for special condemnation here. They were worse than the Northerners; they were better than most others. If we are going to wipe out all traces of the history of the Confederacy for this, we are going to have to wipe out most of the world’s history. This would be a true crime against humanity.

Am I not promoting hate groups here? Weren't these guys white supremacists?

Perhaps. The problem is, we will never know. They have been so characterized by others. But the counter-protesters managed to prevent them from being allowed to speak for themselves. So all we have to go on is the word of their enemies. Given the circumstances, it is only sane and proper to give them the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, even if they were white supremacists or neo-Nazis, they have the same right as anyone to assemble and to speak, and that right was denied them.

Some American blacks are quite upset over the issue. But they are responsible for their own feelings. Nobody else owes something to them for this reason. Fair comparison: I am myself of mostly Irish ancestry. I surely have a similar reason to get upset at any references to Churchill, Peel, Wellington, the Union Jack, the Queen, or the British connection in Canada.

Do I? Good lord, no. Doesn’t it obviously seem absurd?

To do so would be, in the first place, grotesquely self-centred and self-important. In the second, it would be racist—it would be the sort of “blood guilt” that long justified pogroms against the Jews. It would be ignoring the many good deeds of the British—such as ending the worldwide slave trade, or opening up Canada and Australia to Irish settlement.

And it would above all be utterly childish. To react in such a way is to say as much as that you cannot handle adult life and adult responsibility. You need to be taken care of—by someone, anyone.

Great message to be promoting, guys. Be careful what you wish.

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