Friday, June 22, 2007

The Camel's Nose

Somebody calling himself The Barefoot Bum and describing himself as an "anarcho-humanist" makes some shockingly nonhumanist observations about Muslims. I offer them here to illustrate how even "progressives" can go on rants that demonize their targets and legitimize disdainful attitudes that encourage torture. My bet is that the author of this post doesn't consciously condone torture. But when you characterize an entire group of people as "pedophile worshipers," "genital mutilators," and "hand choppers," you not only drop any pretense of finesse or fairness. (It's reminiscent of Bush's "evil-doer" blanket description, isn't it?) You also invite brutality.
With progressives like this, who needs neo-con imperialists?

Update: A commentator on The Barefoot Bum's red herring response to me complains that I treated The Barefoot Bum unfairly. "[I]t was have so selectively quoted you without a bit more context," he wrote. "She could've at least used a whole sentence." Okay. Below, I quote (with apologies to my readers for assaulting them with this) the concluding paragraphs of The Barefoot Bum's offending post. They're representative of the whole thing.
What's important in all this is not this single ranting post written by a single ranting blogger. What's important is that we now live in a culture that gives moral permission for this kind of vileness to be said publicly and unblushingly. In order for governments to torture with relative impunity, their citizenry must be reshaped to see as acceptable what an earlier generation would've (at least publicly) dismissed as reprehensible. I'll post more on this refashioning of moral constraints next week. But for now, a few "whole sentences."

"Get this straight: Until the vast majority of hand-choppers Muslims drag themselves into the twenty-first century (or even the eighteenth century), we're going to intentionally provoke them and show them disrespect. We're doing this intentionally because the mere existence of this misogynistic, totalitarian, gay-hating culture/religion is an offense against the sensibilities of the civilized world. We'd be just as happy to let the Muslim world rot in peace (keeping the doors of Western society open to anyone who develops that crucial second brain cell and realizes that Islam is a disgusting offense to human decency) until they drown in their own medieval bullshit, but that ain't gonna happen. We can't just cut the world in half. Protest and we'll laugh with glee, because we know we're getting your goat. Act with violence and we'll retaliate. Go to war andwe'll fight back.We're not going back to the ninth century. Period. We're not going back to intolerance, misogyny, sex-hatred, and religiously-mandated stupidity. We're not going to submit. Ever. We won't submit peacefully: You'll have to fight. And if you fight us and [sic] you'll lose: we're stronger and smarter, and you have not even begun to test our will. Mistake civilization and tolerance for softness at your peril. The contemptible slaves that are Muslims have no fucking clue what a free people are capable of."

Hat tip to Siobhan!