Logomachon






Clearing the Fog
in the
War of Words

 

   
  logomachy--1. A dispute about words. 2. A dispute carried on in words only; a battle of words.
logomachon--1. One who argues about words. 2. A word warrior.

   
   
   
 

2006-06-14
 

Dead head, dumb head

There is a strain of thought, if that is the word I want, that in America is peculiar to liberalism. At any signal success by national security forces, they warn us solemnly that in fighting our enemies we are in danger of becoming infected by them or just becoming them. It seems to be there all the time, perhaps because liberals are pretty much opposed to the U.S.’ fighting our enemies. Perhaps the word is cliché, or maybe prejudice.

Lee Siegel takes a ride on this trolley at The New Republic as he reflects, if that is the word I want, on the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi last week (Zarqawi's New Hostages). As is typical of non-Angry Left day-trippers, the monster down the track is evoked by projecting his own emotions upon the nation.

“[W]hy do I wince when I see the image of his death-face, bruised and distended, in all the papers and on all the airwaves?” he asks. Because we have “become inured to real images of death” he explains.
It's not just the face of this sick and sadistic man that you take in when you look at his lifeless features. It's the fact of violent death in general, beyond Zarqawi. As you look at the--truly obsessive--repetition of his image, you are not just enjoying the profound satisfaction of seeing evil defeated. You are experiencing a greater intimacy with the fact of killing . . .
Siegel is not only projecting his reactions on the rest of us, he is projecting his news-consumption habits on the vast majority of us who are not culture commentators and so do not have to read four newspapers and three news magazines before breakfast and obsessively surf news Web sites and cable channels. What struck me about the news coverage was how quickly the al-Zarqawi story disappeared or moved on.

The projection of his own guilty pleasure onto the general populace is even more obvious in his closing passage, which builds its case on utterly imaginary insights into the “national psyche”.
Zarqawi was the mastermind behind the beheadings of Nicholas Berg and other innocent victims of his rage, a rare savagery that sickened, horrified, and perhaps also fascinated Americans. The act of cutting off a person's head, an American person's head, traumatized the national psyche. That is one reason why the image of the dead Zarqawi, which consists of only the beheader's head, is so cathartic to (sic) so many people. [How many people? What people? No one I know.]

But the fanatically reiterated image is also a way for this rare savagery to creep through the back door into our vindicated psyches. Zarqawi made beheading real, and now this image of Zarqawi makes it familiar, and just, and ours. Eye for an eye is a militant Muslim thing; it is their thing. . . . Now, with Zarqawi's head in all the papers, on all the airwaves--on all the poles of our culture-- this insanely archaic type of justice is becoming ours. Believe me, I like seeing that image of bloody extinction, too. I feel worried, and ashamed.
[emphasis added]
I think what Siegel really likes is pretending to flagellate himself because it shows how much more virtuous he is than the rest of us. His fervor carries him beyond coherence: What does he mean by “Zarqawi's head [is] on all the poles of our culture”? Oh, maybe he’s referring to the Philadelphia’s Symphony’s concert this weekend, where the stage was festooned with giant banners of Zarqawi’s bruised and distended mug.

I know the word for this, lots of words—horse-hockey, sentimental sludge, thumb-sucking blather—take your pick. Siegel has gone off to that special place that every liberals has, where he is purer and more sensitive and more virtuous than everyone else, and he can scold everyone else for how naughty they are.
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2006-06-11
 

Zarqawi wanted: Dead

I haven’t seen anyone comment on the fact that US special ops troops had Zarqawi’s safe house surrounded before the F-16s were called in. They could have tried to take him alive and so preserve computers and other items of intelligence value. Instead they flattened the house and occupants, and this seems to have been the plan all along; they held off doing it until the collateral damage could be minimized.

Why would they do that? Maybe they’ve figured out—after Gitmo, and Moussaoui, and “secret prison camps”, and Saddam’s trial—that Zarqawi in captivity would be almost as disruptive and more expensive than Zarqawi on the loose.

I’m sure UbL has noticed this.
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What goes around comes down on Snarlin' Arlen

Arlen Specter is chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He’s all out of sorts because VP Cheney talked to Republican members of the committee without clearing it with him.

MSNBC reported: "Specter complained that Cheney was lobbying other GOP Judiciary Committee members to oppose efforts to subpoena phone company executives."
He wrote Cheney a letter:
Specter said he was surprised that Cheney “sought to influence, really determine,” the committee’s actions without even calling first.
“This was especially perplexing since we both attended the Republican senators caucus lunch yesterday,” Specter wrote, “and I walked directly in front of you on at least two occasions en route from the buffet to my table.”
Cheney replied, saying What’s the big deal. That’s how politics gets done. (Translation: Stuff it!)

Maybe Specter should remember the reputation he takes pride in:
The 73-year-old Specter is one of the Senate's best-known but least-liked members. . . .

Specter may not be the most unreliable GOP senator . . . but he is almost certainly the most harmful, because he is smart, ruthless, and influential.” . . .

[Lawmakers] regard Specter as one of the prickliest pols in Congress — a humorless man who is cold to colleagues and cruel to staff.” . . .

"There are two kinds of senators: Republicans who don't like Specter and Democrats who don't like Specter," says a former leadership aide. In a Washingtonian magazine survey, Hill staffers rated him the Senate's meanest member. This has given rise to one of Specter's nicknames: Snarlin’ Arlen.
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