July 8th, 2005


Hitchens Speaks Up

Brilliantly, and with a certain inevitability, as he points out.

One of the longest anticipated attacks to people who had been paying attention: the column was largely written on automatic.

This latest challenge is far more insidious, however, because the ambitions of the killers are non-negotiable, and because their methods so exactly match their aims. It will be easy in the short term for Blair to rally national and international support, as always happens in moments such as this, but over time these gestural moments lose their force and become subject to diminishing returns. If, as one must suspect, these bombs are only the first, then Britain will start to undergo the same tensions—between a retreat to insularity and clannishness of the sort recently seen in France and Holland, and the self-segregation of the Muslim minority in both those countries—that will start to infect other European countries as well. It is ludicrous to try and reduce this to Iraq. Europe is steadily becoming a part of the civil war that is roiling the Islamic world, and it will require all our cultural ingenuity to ensure that the criminals who shattered London's peace at rush hour this morning are not the ones who dictate the pace and rhythm of events from now on.
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In the Wake of the Attacks ...

Check out Planet Moron for a reliable take on the news.

A sample Q&A from today:

Q. Are we safe here at home?
A. No.
Q. Really?
A. Really.
Q. Oh my God! Oh my God! What do we do?
A. Not panic.
Q. Right, check.

Q. How can we help make ourselves more safe then?
A. Look out for suspicious people.
Q. What do you mean by “suspicious?”
A. You know, suspicious.
Q. No, I don’t know.
A. People who look… raba-ay.
Q. What the hell is that?
A. Pig Latin.
Q. Oh.

And, now that you have your sense of humor back, go out and enjoy your day.
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Blood Feuds and Other Primitive Notions

Lee Harris has another provocative idea in his series of articles on the primitive Islamofascist understanding of the world, and how it developed out of the primitive conditions in the Middle East. Is it a "war" we are in with these cavemen? Or is there a better description of their "understanding" of events?

In the blood feud, the orientation is not to the future, as in war, but to the past. In the feud you are avenging yourself on your enemy for something that he did in the past. Al Qaeda justified the attack on New York and Washington as revenge against the USA for having defiled the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia by its military presence during the First Gulf War. In the attack on London, the English were being punished for their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the blood feud, unlike war, you have no interest in bringing your enemy to his knees. You are not looking for your enemy to surrender to you; you are simply interested in killing some of his people in revenge for past injuries, real or imaginary -- nor does it matter in the least whether the people you kill today were the ones guilty of the past injuries that you claim to be avenging. In a blood feud, every member of the enemy tribe is a perfectly valid target for revenge. What is important is that some of their guys must be killed -- not necessarily anyone of any standing in their community. Just kill someone on the other side, and you have done what the logic of the blood feud commands you to do.

In the blood feud there is no concept of decisive victory because there is no desire to end the blood feud. Rather the blood feud functions as a permanent "ethical" institution -- it is the way of life for those who participate in it; it is how they keep score and how they maintain their own rights and privileges. You don't feud to win, you feud to keep your enemy from winning -- and that is why the anthropologist of the Bedouin feud, Emrys Peters, has written the disturbing words: The feud is eternal.
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Hitchens sums it up

Christopher Hitchens has a good summary reaction to the London bombing:

They demand the impossible - the cessation of all life in favour of prostration before a totalitarian vision. Plainly, we cannot surrender. There is no one with whom to negotiate, let alone capitulate.

We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease.
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