Sunday, June 03, 2007

Of right mind

I had an interesting adventure over at Daimnation, which might provide some insight into the mind of a conservative-- not to generalize of course; after all, conservatives never generalize about us. [And who is "us" exaggly? --Ed.] I hasten to add that the site itself is a fairly conservative one, but the writing over there is generally sober and intelligent, if wrong about most things, and its owner is not responsible for the commenters he and his co-authors attract.

For those who do not wish to follow the tedious exchanges comment by comment, here is a synopsis, brought to you by your obt. serv't., the Hezbollah Shill

The thread began, innocently enough, with yet another of those incessant and tedious attacks on the Great Latin American Satan, one Hugo Chávez, presently busying about trying to make his country, Venezuela, a better place to live. I ventured to make a comment in the devil's defence, and a cranky extremist from West Virginia, who, God help us, practises family law no less, responded in part as follows:

Taking a break from shilling for Hezbollah and calling Israelis baby killers, John?

This is about par for the man. Thread after thread at the site has been derailed by his obsessive on-going vendetta, in which, inter alia, he seems to imagine that using my real name is outing me somehow. He is referring here to this post, one of several I put up during the Israel-Lebanon war last summer. Somehow publicizing the wanton killing of Lebanese children didn't sit well with him. Such things are not to be mentioned, or, if they are, they must immediately be explained away or excused. And of course the binary thinking that infects the minds of such people is in glorious evidence here--if I criticize Israel, I must be a fan of the Muslim fundamentalist Hassan Nasrallah. Not to mention a Nazi.

I challenged him to show a single instance of my using the phrase "baby killers," let alone attributing that distinction to "Israelis." He referred immediately to my comments, noted above, about the IDF massacre outside Marwaheen. This is where the logic of conservatives, or some conservatives at least, duly began to manifest itself in all its wacky splendour. I of course objected that mentioning a well-documented IDF atrocity is not equivalent to calling Israelis baby killers. That's a bit like mentioning Clifford Olsen and Paul Bernardo and being accused of calling Canadians baby killers. But
my interlocutor's comical sidekick appeared as if by magic on (by this time) a moribund thread, to attempt to make precisely this case, and with increasing intensity as our exchanges wore on.

If the IDF were entirely composed of Cambodian, Bolivian, and Finnish mercenaries, instead of, you know, "Israelis," then it might have been possible for you to extricate yourself on a technicality.

Ditto, if there was any meaningful difference between "children" and "babies" in the context of condemning their deaths as murders and war crimes. There isn't.

In short, because the IDF is composed of Israelis, and children are morally equivalent to babies, the original accusation is proven. No concession that "Israelis" clearly means "all Israelis" in context, whereas this refers simply to specific IDF soldiers (and by extension their political masters*). It was pointless trying to reason with this person, whom I genuinely thought was putting me
on at first because he seems fairly intelligent, but I tried:

Of course the IDF are Israeli, but they are not "the Israelis." Perhaps a logic course might be in order:

A is a bird.
A can't fly.
Therefore all birds can't fly.

What is wrong with this conclusion?

He wasn't having that Aristotelian crap, though, and signed off with this gem:

Best of luck in your unending crusade to bring those space aliens of the IDF to The Hague for trial.

Now, what is it about the blinkered, binary-bound, fanatical Right that allows it, in the person of this individual who under other circumstances
is actually quite likeable and well-spoken, to construct with a series of airy verbal gestures an entire closed delusional system right before our eyes? There's an important object lesson here, I believe, for certain of us on the Left, who are known to become mired in our own dogma from time to time to the point that our eyesight grows muddy. This spectacular creation of an alternate reality serves as both symptom and warning: Comrades, let's not be like this.

* "What we should do in southern Lebanon is employ huge firepower before a ground force goes in. Everyone in southern Lebanon is a terrorist [emphasis mine--DD] and is connected to Hizbollah. Our great advantage vis-a-vis Hizbollah is our firepower, not in face-to-face combat."--Israel Justice Minister Haim Ramon

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