How I Define Patriotism





Mr. Kirstein, professor of history at Saint Xavier University, recently published "Terrorism from the Sky: The Destruction of Nagasaki," New Ground (July-August 2003), a publication of the Democratic Socialists of America (Chicago).

The following is excerpted from a talk Mr. Kirstein gave on October 13, 2003. The talk was sponsored by the Center for Educational Practice.

I would like to honor four religious women. Sister Ardeth Platte (41 months in prison), Sister Carol Gilbert (33 months in prison), Sister Jackie Marie Hudson (30 months in prison). They were incarcerated for crossing the line at a Minuteman III nuclear-missile field and drawing crosses with their blood on an ICBM silo. Sister Moira Kenny, a Sister of Mercy, also crossed the line when she trespassed at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, and received a six-month sentence in federal prison. I crossed the line, through an e-mail, when I also protested against a military institution that trains its students to kill other human beings with high-tech, invulnerable flying machines.

I ask you to consider peacefully crossing the line. If enough people cross the line, I guarantee you, they will have to remove the line. Dr. King did it; four African-American students at a Greensboro, NC Woolworth's did it; Medgar Evars did it; the Seattle dockworkers did it; Gandhi did it; Henry David Thoreau did it; millions of antiwar students, throughout the world, did it last winter and spring, and I can assure you crossing the line is a mean's of achieving both personal liberation, and a reaffirmation of one's commitment to radical, societal change.

Is what I just said patriotic? Patriotism can be a highly emotional feeling and also a reflective one. In this country, the former frequently dominates the latter. To a significant extent, as Geoffrey Nunberg has noted, patriotism is intended to put people on the defensive. To Nunberg patriotism connotes "a word for devotion to one's country exists…[and] impl[ies] a contrast with those who lack that feeling." If patriotism requires an affirmation of government policy, then patriotism is a threat to democracy.

I would argue there is a moral imperative to reject actively patriotism, if it is defined as having to support a nation-state's wars, regardless of one's ethical and moral aversion to actions that are violative of peace and justice. I publicly reject being patriotic if it is construed in such a narrow manner. In January, I published a full-page response in the Weekly Standard to an article about me by President George H. W. Bush's former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, Jed Babbin. I stated: "I assure you no one defines for me what patriotism is and whether it is even always desirable, as those of us on the pacifist, antiwar left strive for a more peaceful, integrated global environment that eschews nationalism and undiminished state sovereignty."

Take The Pledge of Allegiance. Why on earth do we need to have laws requiring public school students, from grammar school through high school, pledge allegiance to a flag? Isn't the purpose of education to develop critical thinking and insight instead of mind-numbing patriotism? Do we really want our teachers to be agents of the state to foster blind patriotism with very impressionable young people who have not had the time to reflect on the meaning of America? Let patriotism emanate in a reflective manner from what our country does and how it behaves, and not through mindless daily iteration.

As H. L. Mencken wrote in, the American Mercury in April 1924:

[The aim of public education is not] to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence....Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim…is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States…and that is its aim everywhere.

On July 4, I was on a Symposium sponsored by David Horowitz's FrontPageMag.com on "Bush's Decision to Go to War." Opposing the war were Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York and myself. Professor Aronowitz was also the New York Green Party gubernatorial candidate in 2002. Prowar panelists were Victor Davis Hanson, from the Hoover Institution and Naval Academy, and Cliff May, president, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Jamie Glazov, managing editor of FrontPageMag.com, was the moderator who directed this comment to Professor Aronowitz and me.

Sorry gentlemen, let me jump in here for a moment…The bottom line is that, even if WMDs were found, and the al-Qaeda connection were proven, the Left wouldn't give a damn because it doesn't give a damn. The bottom line is that, in the eyes of the Left, the Bush administration, and the capitalist America that it prevails over, is evil and must be destroyed. This isn't about missing WMDs; it is about anti-Americanism. There is nothing that Bush and America can do to get the Left's support except to engage in an act of self-destruction.

So Peter and Stanley, please acknowledge this fact: that, in essence, you are not really interested in missing WMDs (as if their discovery would lead you to praise Bush's decision to go to war); you are interested - and long for - the destruction of America and capitalism. That is what this is all really about isn't it?

One of the ways to discredit the antiwar movement is to cast the debate in highly emotional terms, in which wartime dissent is characterized as an equivalent threat to those the national-security elites have defined as the "enemy." If "love of country," is measured only in terms of supporting American foreign policy, then anything short of blind patriotism is construed as disloyalty and even desiring "the destruction of America."

In my opinion as patriotism increases, the capacity to analyze critically a nation's actions decreases. If there is a presumption that acts of war, for example, are fought for state preservation and self-defense, then the likelihood of a robust debate over policy and holding accountable a state's actions, in its decision to go to war or its conduct of war, are significantly attenuated. A smothering patriotism that construes dissent as disloyalty is literally a blank check for governmental misconduct and excess-not to mention the undermining of academic freedom through the coercion and the suspension of antiwar professors who contravened mainstream public opinion, and the ethos of university administrations or governing boards.

Another concern I have with patriotic correctness during war, is the inverse relationship between the demand for patriotism and the capacity to care and think about others. During war patriotism frequently becomes oppressive, as the emotions associated with killing and the defining of enemies, are exacerbated by government propaganda and disinformation. It is ironic that war--which most assuredly precipitates the greatest demand for patriotism--is a threat to those very values that the patriot claims to be defending. The militarization of American society and its incessant military crusades pose a greater threat to our freedoms, than the putative enemies that we slaughter on the battlefield or even worse in their homes or hospitals in distant lands.

I think of the Alien and Sedition acts of 1798 as a response to growing tensions with France and the rise of war-induced nativism; I think of Lincoln and martial law; I think of Lincoln and the arrests of newspaper editors; I think of both the Espionage Act of (1917) and the oppressive clear and present danger stifling of speech during World War I as seen in the Schenck, Debs and (despite Holmes's and Brandeis's dissent), the Abrams cases of 1919; I think of American concentration camps during WW II; I think of Muhammad Ali who was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title for several years for refusing induction in a genocidal-immoral war in Southeast Asia; I think of the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention police riot; I think of Kent State protestors murdered by the Ohio National Guard in 1970. I think of the egregious Patriot Act where "sneak and peek" violations of American privacy rights are common, and non-citizens are arrested, detained and imprisoned without rights to counsel or even a legal hearing.

Also beware of patriotism and its tendency to close the American mind, to usurp sardonically Alan Bloom's, The Closing of the American Mind. Patriotism is frequently ethnocentric and contemptuous of other nations and peoples with whom we share a common destiny in a global village. It's our Manifest Destiny to create an American empire; it's defeating them; it's Henry R. Luce proclaiming the "American Century" in Life magazine in 1941; it's the canard of the United States as protector of the "Free World"; it's the narcissism of American exceptionalism.

For me, patriotism is collaboration; it's the United Nations; it's stopping American capitalism from exploiting developing nations through anti-union, anti-worker globalization; it's radical dissent and challenging America to live up to its ideals, and desist from becoming a terrorist democracy that has become the unilateralist-preemptive threat to international peace and security; it's denouncing, to revisit my e-mail that was circulated throughout the world last year, the "aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage"; it's refusing to admire "top guns [who] rain death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world"; it's criticizing "cowards who bomb countries without AAA, without possibility of retaliation"; it's exposing "imperialists who are turning the whole…world against us"; it's withholding support or endorsement of my country's policies as I choose, regardless of the price or the sacrifice.

John Rawls, one of the great political theorists of the twentieth century, wrote in A Theory of Justice, "Given the often predatory aims of state power, and the tendency of men [and women] to defer to their government's decision to wage war, a general willingness to resist the state's claims is all the more necessary."


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Austin Gaddy - 2/14/2006

Sorry about the formatting on that, I guess I should have double spaced my paragraphs.


Austin Gaddy - 2/14/2006

Thank you for your insightful views on the topic of patriotism, I have reviewed many different books, and short works with many different extremes of views, but Yours was one of my favorites, not because I agreed with all of it, but because all of it made sence and was backed up with evidence, something that is commonly overlooked when talking about politics.
I am a 16 year old Texan who has recently been drafted to fight against the apparent evils of "Patriotism". Most of my life I have gone along with patriotism, I knew nearly nothing about it, only the words to the pledge that I am told is American. I found a quote from Lin Yutang "What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child?" But I have come to the point in life where I have to decide between the "food" and the love for the well being and rights of my fellow Americans (And non-Americans).
I have made a decision that changed many aspects of the way some people viewed me, my mother has called me a "anarchist". I have listened to a whiney teacher complain that her cousin deserves respect and that she thought that I wasn't giving that respect. Also I have spent one and a half class periods in the office waiting to talk to my Assistant Principal about my "bad behavior" only to be told to go back to class. All because I refuse to back the Pledge by standing and saying the words.
This issue arose to me when I was working on my artwork with no place to put my paintbrush when the pledge came on the announcements. I was told "Stand up NOW!" I took deep personal offence to the fact that someone yelled at me over a series of words used to symbolize the love for ones country, but in a matter of seconds of deeper thinking I realized that the problem lied in the very phrase that would have rolled off my teachers tounge had she not been telling me to stand. Those words were "Liberty and justice for all" which is in my opinion by far the most meaning words in the pledge and the only ones I would expect a simple thinker to understand. Liberty and justice both have something to do with the constitution of the united states and in turn the 1st amendment which clearly states that if I do not want to pledge I do not have to. I have noticed that almost no one knows the real meaning of any of the words of the pledge or what it really means to be an American in society today. The schools take no action to educate the students, only memorize, repeat, rinse and repeat, then repeat again. This is a sick practice that needs to be discussed with teachers, or at least tell us why we should love America instead of telling us to love America.

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. - Einstein


Brent Allen - 9/15/2004

Listen, in the sake of good rhetoric and logical debate, if you disagree with the statements made, try engaing them analytically instead of restoring to ad hominem attacks. Essentially, make counter arguments to his arguments on a point by point basis otherwise your position logically fails. This is not my opinion this is just the criteria for solid acedemic, philosophical and intelligent discourse and adhereing to such criteria may move this forum in a more productive direciton.

In response to the postings about people being silenced i have this to say. No one is being silenced formally or de jure, but the mainstream media right of middle bias and the 'with us or agaist us' mentality esposed by the adminstration have the de facto effect of censorship. By hanging the buring tire of "un-patriotic" based on a spurious and fabricated definition of patriotism, those who wish can ostracize dissents by portraying them in an unsavory and radical light. This is basically a method of surreptitious character assalt and libel. It discourages thinking for ones self and against the positions of the government (historically sacred values of our society). So while no one is being 'silenced' the dissident platform is being discredited by making use of fallicious definitions and character assassination without regard the the perversion of the priciples being envoked. The same techniques where used by the Nazi party in Germany (their term was "nationalism") and other regimes who seeked to suppress public debate and critisicm (see Reichmarshall Hermann Goering). Basically, these kind of things are gradual because they involve changing values and definitions, but it is important to recognize the beginings of such trends less they expand in to far more dangerous and corrosive behaviors.


Peter N. Kirstein - 1/7/2004

I do this when computer acts up. Sorry


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/30/2003


Peter N Kirstein - 12/30/2003


Peter N Kirstein - 12/26/2003

I generally say A historian but it's not as improper as saying, "I doesn't got no book!" Convention used to emphasize an historian but I think increasingly the rule that vowels precede consonant sounds supercedes that.

Certainly in print journalism, a historian is frequently preferred usage.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/9/2003

We may not "ever see elimination of war as a reality," but I hope we have seen the elimination of the suspension of professors who are antiwar and who denounce both the killing and the educating of those to kill. If ever I had a right to lose my temper, it was over this: the killing of other human beings.

Style is important; I have learned that; substance is even more important; I will never surrender that and ironically have more focus and frankly a wider audience to communicate with than I ever had before. I call it "justice."


Mike Yak - 12/8/2003


Thank you for your reply.

Interestingly enough, I came upon this website after receiving a forwarding of your famous, or infamous as some would say, email to the AF Academy student. I searched upon your name to find out what you were really about. After coming upon your homepage at SXU, I followed your link here, among other places.

I've found the discussion here, as some of your other articles, to be quite exhilarating and challenging. Though I don't agree with your absolute pacifism, I am in total agreement that Americans, as much of the world, accept war far too readily.

I believe military might, as one instrument of national power, has a legitimate purpose and could be justified in instances of national survival. Far too often today, it is used to advance a 'national interest' that is often not a matter of national survival. Other instruments of national power, such as economic power, diplomatic power, technological power (excepting military technology), are more appropriately used for most modern international conflicts.

I don't expect we will ever see elimination of war as a reality, at least not in our lifetime, but we can hope for a dramatic reduction in its use as an answer to those who don't 'see things our way.' I don't see any problem with using diplomatic or technological power (through education) to advance our national interests in the world. In my opinion, inappropriate weilding of economic power can be often more cruel to a people than military power, in Cuba, for example. I believe tyranny's greatest enemy is prosperity and education. Maintaining a population in poverty, keeps them focused on their lower level needs(Maslow's heirarchy), such as survival and the basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. Bringing war upon a country, extends it's poverty as well. If we would provide prosperity and education, only then would people be able to self-actualize to the level of challenging their form of government. In my opinion, this is how to spread democracy--through prosperity and education. You can not starve a people into challenging their tyrant. The hungrier they get, the more they concentrate on meeting their own needs. Surely, Fidel Casto hasn't missed many meals--why would he step down because of economic pressure? So, I wouldn't dream of disparaging our military any more than I would accuse an economist of starving little children in Cuba, which we are very much doing.

Well, looks as if I've digressed into a whole separate topic. Thanks again for listening and responding, I respect your opinions, even if, as a free thinker, mine differ somewhat.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/6/2003

I found your comments to be solid and interesting. It seems to me that it is more common for Americans to accept war unless they can be convinced that war is wrong, than for American to oppose war unless they can be convinced that is is right.

My pacifism is absolute; you should have no doubt about that. Yet for me to be effective and to carry out my life's work, I have to analyze each war, make argumentation based upon the facts as I see them, and argue intelligently why that war is inappropriate. If a pacifist merely says, "all war is wrong and hangs up the telephone," then the power of persuasion is less than carefully and judiciously defending one's opposition.


Mike Yak - 12/5/2003

I am no university professor, nor historian, nor academic. So, please don't destroy my work for its technical flaws, but read it for the idea behind it. I do consider myself to be a patriot. After reading this article, I contemplated on what that meant.

It seems to me, that being a patriot of the USA, is a love of the country governed "of the people, by the people and for the people." I consider Martin Luther King as a greatest of patriots for his believe in non-violent protest. To me, this is what we, as Americans, stand for.

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr. Kirstein that opposing a war does not make you a traitor or 'unpatriotic.' In fact, it makes you an American. On the same note, supporting war doesn't make one a mindless patriotism robot, assuming you applied some rational thought in your decision to support the war.

Nonwithstanding this Iraq War, I would submit, that there are two types (certainly there are more than two types, but for this context, consider two) of unpatriotic Americans; those that support all wars, and those that oppose all wars. As neither of these require any discriminating thought at all. It's the ability to think freely and discriminate that makes us free. Surely, no one supports wars in all cases of international conflict. No one, as far as I know, is asking for a war on Mexico to enforce extradition of criminals. I would hope that if our government wanted an all out war for relatively minor issues, such as this, that all of us 'patriots' would actively oppose that action. Though, I hope we would recognize the difference between speaking out against the actions of the administration and disparaging the great citizens serving in the Armed Forces. Likewise, though Dr. Kirstein professes to be a pacifist and against all war; in some of his replies I detect an acknowledgement that resorting to war could be justified in some cases. I would imagine that even the most ardent pacifist would support military operations to defend our borders against attack. I certainly don't mean to put words in your mouth, Doc, so I apologize if I'm off-base here.

Assuming the majority of us are somewhere in between supporting all war and opposing all war; whether you support or oppose the war in Iraq makes you no more or less a patriot. An American patriot is one that applies free thinking to the issue, arrives at a conclusion and expresses that point of view. Naturally any two free thinkers are going to draw the line for justification of war at a different level. This debate reminds me of the old driving story..."everyone going slower than you is an idiot, everyone going faster than you is a maniac." The emotion here seems to be, everyone to the right of you is a warmonger, everyone to the left is terrorist.

So, I honor and admire all of you with the passion to write, debate, argue and even 'cross the line' in support of your point of view as great American patriots. Keep up the service to your country. It's the debate that makes us great!

Oh, there is one more type of unpatriotic person--the one who just doesn't care. So, I'll toast the most left liberal and the most right conservative, both as great Americans, long before I'll accept those who just don't care.


Peter N. Kirstein - 12/4/2003

It was somewhat difficult to decipher "omg" and "meh." Why do you state that I am supposed to be a history teacher? Are you inferring that I might possibly be teaching from a different perspective than yours? What is so wrong about that?


Ryan WIncott (Aka Snall) - 12/1/2003

Omg, you people (Peter Kirstein types) are so sad. Meh. People love to believe somthing...and be "making a difference" and "standing up for whats right"...sigh...so many naive people...and at such ages...meh. I feel bad, but damn, go read a book, and he is supposed to be a history teacher? ouch. ouch indeed.


Peter N Kirstein - 11/23/2003

I believe that much of the violence directed against the US is caused by our actions. We invade Iraq and now Americans are dying there; the war has spread to Turkey and other nations as attacks against the US and its "allies" increases.

With regard to Israel, many senior military officials, and officers are pointing out that the politics of repression, of establishing settlements, of creating Berlin-wall bandustans is violative of basic decency and human rights.

I know Vietnam was a war of genocide and evil and war crimes. It was a disgrace to this country and to those who served. Not all acted disgracefully but an unjust war does not produce war heroes.

Yes I served during the Vietnam era and that is that.

Peter N Kirstein


Mike Skembo - 11/14/2003

I read your reply and am amazed at the lack of sincerity and empathy for others. Peace is supposed to be a movement of compassion, not what you and other who have hijacked this movement have made it. When you say that you know about the, "genocidal-immoral war in Southeast Asia". I wonder what you mean, where you there? Did you just read articles written by biased proffesors like yourself and allow them to shade your thinking? or did you actually serve in Vietnam?

I do not wish to sink into the true quagmire, talking about vietnam. I want to address your anti-war possition. I am a Peace activist, but I am not anti-war. Sometimes war is the only road to peace. The biggest mistake that you and others like yourself make is to equate a lack of open war with peace. There is only one true peace and no person can determine it.

Your thinking negates a critical element... People. You seem to believe that if Isreal gave the Palastinians all of there demands that the violence would end. Funny since Yasser has said on multiple ocassions that the total destruction of Isreal is the goal. I know, you'll say that he backed away from those statements, but does that mean he doesn't still hold those views? I use Yasser Arafat because I believe he is much more moderate than most of the Palastinian leaders. Some people are not rational. Some people have such extreme views that they cannot be dealt with by diplomacy.

Since the gaunlet has been thrown why don't you explain to me how we should deal with the despots that cannot be handled peacefully? Do we beg and plead? Level sanctions that make them even more irrational? or Do we deal with them in the only language that they understand? brutal force. You choose.


F.H. Thomas - 11/1/2003


..even though it is not jazz. There is no one whom I would better trust to evaluate the worth of this little essay.



F.H. Thomas - 11/1/2003


..because they are unassailable.

This is one of them, subtle, nuanced, learned, concise, complete.


Jerry West - 10/30/2003

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PK:

....the New McCarthyism and the enemies of critical thinking in the academy clearly wish to purge such "unpatriotic" professors from the ranks of academe.

JW:

The should talk to Chalmers Johnson, one of their once Cold War stalwarts. :)

PK:

Also, your concerns that excessive criticism of the military might lead to a diminished capacity for legitimate defence is belied by the reverence the Democratic-Republic party has for it as seen in a $400 billion defence budget, and the support the troops mantra that has virtually stifled significant discussion on the morality of America's wars and those who wage them.

JW:

We share the same concerns, my point is about how we frame the criticism. We can co-opt the support the troops message, theirs is pretty corrupt. And the budget should be attacked on an item per item basis and turned against them. I can think of things to add as well as remove in addition to making broader defense arguments for reallocating some of that budget into public education and healthcare, to name a couple of areas.

It is my belief that most processes are not inherently evil, and sometimes more progress can be made by hi-jacking them rather than outright opposition to them.



Peter N. Kirstein - 10/29/2003

PK:

I assert the right to question the ethics and morality of military service as a legitimate argument and subject for inquiry.

JW:

Say what? Maybe I have been up too long, but I can't tie the ends of that statement together. Care to elaborate a bit?

I did not mean to imply that you were attempting to proscribe such discourse, but the New McCarthyism and the enemies of critical thinking in the academy clearly wish to purge such "unpatriotic" professors from the ranks of academe.

Also, your concerns that excessive criticism of the military might lead to a diminished capacity for legitimate defence is belied by the reverence the Democratic-Republic party has for it as seen in a $400 billion defence budget, and the support the troops mantra that has virtually stifled significant discussion on the morality of America's wars and those who wage them.


NYGuy - 10/29/2003

Bravo, Bravo, Maestro.


F.H. Thomas - 10/29/2003


(Any who cannot endure Opera, hit “return to article” now.)

Those who can may enjoy this little mind break, which has naught to do with the topic:

The term “Bel Canto”, which simply means “beautiful singing”, is used to characterize 19th and early 20th century Italian opera. Guisseppi Verdi and Giacomo Puccini were the two principal practitioners of Bel Canto. Cognoscenti generally believe that Puccini was the greater of the two, since he did it with such graceful effortlessness, or “Sprezzatura”, which most Italians believe constitutes their unique contribution of genius to the world, from Rome’s aqueducts to da Vinci’s “Annunciation”, to this wonderful music.

Bel Canto is characterized by “…playing the heart as if it were a harp”, very emotional, very personal, using the fullest ability of music to move the heart and mind, with great and flowing musical appeals, which stay mostly within normal vocal ranges, and thus are the more accessible emotionally to the audience.

Bel Canto represented the Romantic movement in opera, which gave us Matisse, van Gogh and Renior in Art, Beethoven, Shubert, and Debussy in orchestral music, and Scott, Hugo, Tolstoi and Dickens in literature. This magnificent explosion of all that is good and fine in human culture was itself sadly murdered by the great catastrophe of WW I. War coarsens, and peace ennobles: we have not seen the like of the Romantic period since, but nonetheless do retain almost everything produced during that period.

At the unofficial center of Italian Opera, Teatro alla Scala (Staircase Theatre) in Milan, (though Naples and Venice may argue heatedly with that,) where even P2 and Mafia bosses must wait ten years for a ticket, it is not unusual for the entire audience to exit the theatre with tears unashamedly still on their faces; indeed that is what they have come for. It has the emotional intensity of a revival meeting, most often with intensely sad emotions such as Madame Butterfly’s “Un Bel Di”, and her eventual suicide. “Not a dry eye in the house” takes on a whole new meaning in Milan, with Bel Canto.

Any opera is composed of two parts, the “Libretto” (little book), containing the dialog, and the “Musica”, or orchestration. Composers write the orchestration, librettists write the libretto. Ever since the prolific Scarlatti (132 operas), (once rightly called Europe’s handsomest man,) who worked two hundred years before Puccini, and who wrote many of his own librettos, the Composer and the Librettist have often been at odds.

For Mozart, the conflict was resolved easily. With a 200+ IQ and the energy of a racehorse, he rewrote bad librettos himself, in whatever language, inserting a wicked wit to hilarious effect in the “Nozze de Figaro” and “Zauberflotte”.

Puccini was different. With his benign smile and tolerant ways, he wrote music around a bad libretto, which so ennobled it that one could overlook even the stupidest, most inane words and plots, and be swept away in great glowing folds of sound.

One of Puccini’s last operas was “Gianni Schicchi”, set in 14th century Florence, a farce about an inheritance scam (a common topic in Italian households, given the emphasis on the extended family). In one scene, the 14-year old daughter of Gianni is advising her father of her intent to marry a young man, and asking for his approval. This scene has tons of dramatic and emotional possibilities.

The name of her aria is “O Mio Babbino Caro”, or “Oh My Darling Daddy”, the start of which is monumentally intense, surely enough to bring tears to the eyes of the entire male component of a Scala audience, and a warm smile to the faces of all the women, remembering the same event in their own lives. Then things go downhill fast, with the libretto, and the young lady sounds like a valley girl transported in time. It is awful, so dumb and bad that American audiences sometimes turn their eyes away from the translation, in embarrassment, and concentrate on the “musica” instead. I will not offend you by repeating it here: it is easy enough to Google your way to it, if you wish.

Puccini to the rescue: the "musica" is so effortlessly magnificent that this very minor opera, written by an old man, is often performed before much grander ones, for this aria alone. Prima Donnas will die to sing it, because it makes them sound so darned good (as well as 14 years old again). The “greatest aria” albums, of which there are many, often have this as 1 or 2. Surely this aria will be around forever, as long as there is human civilization.

And by that means, evincing “Sprezzatura”, the Bel Canto Composer Giacomo Puccini saved the libretto by Giovacchino Forzano, though he gracefully never took credit for doing so. La Scala audiences, mostly Italian speakers, who cannot escape the dissonance between the words and the music, just smile with tears pouring down their faces and say, “eh, Puccini!”


Jerry West - 10/29/2003

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To continue this discussion:

PK:

When one recognizes a regularity of inhumane warfare in which innumerable noncombatants are killed, I think the differentiation between official policy and “rogue” soldier becomes less credible.

JW:

You have a point when policy targets civilains, but in the context of My Lai, there was a difference between what was expected and what happened. Using My Lai weakens the acceptance of the argument.

PK:

I have not recommended unilateral disarmament so on that point I do not have a track record of “Pollyannna.”

JW:

Rest assured that the reference to Pollyanna was not directed at you but to a place where this type of debate often leads as there are some who would maintain that the best defense is to be defenseless, at least in terms of being able to resist force. You might call it a pre-emptive strike. :)

PK:

I think it is more “Pollyanna” to believe that the key to security and progress is through the pursuit of military supremacy and dominance of a world that has utterly turned against this nation. I think the issue of respect—in its current state—is immoral and evil in that we rarely question the barbarism of war and the actions of those who participate in it.

JW:

I don't know if Pollyanna is the write word, but I agree with your basic premise.

PK:

I will comment that we need as a civilization to see military service at most as a necessary evil, and not as a noble undertaking that defends us from all our putative enemies and foes.

JW:

I can agree with what I think is your intent, but I would not demonize military service as your statement seems to do. Look on it more like police and fire services, or preventive medicine, and demand that it be used reactively as a tool for defense, not pro-actively for expansion and pursuit of special interests.

PK:

I assert the right to question the ethics and morality of military service as a legitimate argument and subject for inquiry.

JW:

Say what? Maybe I have been up too long, but I can't tie the ends of that statement together. Care to elaborate a bit?

PK:

The military steals from the poor; the military breaks and destroys things; the military is the agent of our “Evil American Empire.” While of course all critique of societal institutions should be reasoned and constructive, being “careful” I assure you is something I feel particularly sensitive about.

JW:

No disagreement on what current military policy is doing, but unless you do believe in unilateral disarmament then preserving the military is important. For that reason we need to be careful in our critiques, not because of repercussions to ourselves, but inorder not to wind up with over-kill and either damage the institution more than we want to, or more likely move into a position where are critiques can be easily ignored.

Reform, not rejection, is the tone that I would take. (pretty radical reform too)

I suspect with the current policy that is stretching the military beyond its limits that something will give soon, either a withdrawal from obligations and operations, or a draft to boost manpower. Either way will cause problems, particularly if many of those who now support war wake up and find that they are expected to die in it.




Peter N Kirstein - 10/29/2003

Mr West,

I am adopting your mode of communication here.

JW:

First we have to distinguish between the tactics utilized by the military from those utilized by certain persons in the military that may not conform with the military ones.

Response:

When one recognizes a regularity of inhumane warfare in which innumerable noncombatants are killed, I think the differentiation between official policy and “rogue” soldier becomes less credible.

JW:

Unless one subscribes to the Pollyanna School of international relations there is a very valid reason to have a military, to have it respected, and to have its members respected. Particularly in light of what we ask them to do for how little we offer in return.

Response:

I disagree, or at least mostly disagree. I have not recommended unilateral disarmament so on that point I do not have a track record of “Pollyannna.” I think it is more “Pollyanna” to believe that the key to security and progress is through the pursuit of military supremacy and dominance of a world that has utterly turned against this nation. I think the issue of respect—in its current state—is immoral and evil in that we rarely question the barbarism of war and the actions of those who participate in it. While I will not comment on individuals in the military and I recognize most are decent persons, I will comment that we need as a civilization to see military service at most as a necessary evil, and not as a noble undertaking that defends us from all our putative enemies and foes. I assert the right to question the ethics and morality of military service as a legitimate argument and subject for inquiry.

JW

In any event, we have to be careful in our critique of the military in light of current events and politics, that we do not wind up damaging something that we may have good reason to depend upon at a future point.

Response:

I disagree. The military steals from the poor; the military breaks and destroys things; the military is the agent of our “Evil American Empire.” While of course all critique of societal institutions should be reasoned and constructive, being “careful” I assure you is something I feel particularly sensitive about. For college professors, being careful can have a chilling effect on academic freedom. I know you did not mean it this way and you are a reasoned, skilled thinker, but I can assure you, being careful is not a concern of mine but being FREE is.

Good "talking" to you as usual.

Peter N. Kirstein


Jerry West - 10/29/2003

-
I moved my reply to the bottom of the thread where it will be easier to follow:

http://hnn.us/comments/21674.html


Jerry West - 10/29/2003

-
Peter K. wrote:

.... the tactics that are utilized by the military.

JW:

First we have to distinguish between the tactics utilized by the military from those utilized by certain persons in the military that may not conform with the military ones.

It is one thing to argue that My Lai and such happened because the system did not take enough steps to prevent them from happening, another to say that they are military tactics. I would argue that they are war crimes, and put to the test probably so would the military, regardless of what legal actions they make take in regads to them.

There are many solid issues to tackle military policy and management on. Overstating the case probably will do more harm than good.

PK:

....we need to significantly address the current glorification of military serive, and the indiscriminate identification of military service with patriotism.

JW:

That we do, and the word indiscriminate is the key.

Unless one subscribes to the Pollyanna School of international relations there is a very valid reason to have a military, to have it respected, and to have its members respected. Particularly in light of what we ask them to do for how little we offer in return.

But, I would agree that the military should not be used as a political tool in domestic politics, nor should patriotism be defined or expressed outside of those things specifically mentioned in the Constitution. Defending the Constitution is patriotism. Pursuing someone's interpretation of it, or of some other vision of the US is not.

In any event, we have to be careful in our critique of the military in light of current events and politics, that we do not wind up damaging something that we may have good reason to depend upon at a future point.

PK:

One of the consequences of affirming military service without assessing the evil implications of killing, is that it becomes increasingly difficult to denounce the conduct of those who murder other human beings.

JW:

You are right, but that calls for a policy change in how the military is used, and even how its members are trained, not for questioning it as an institution or those who serve it.

PK:

I know this country glorifies war and its warriors; I know it is wrong to do so in such an undifferentiated, indiscriminate manner.

JW:

Undifferentiated and indiscriminate, again, are key.

PK:

....we must adopt a more civilized, intelligent foreign policy.

JW:

Yea, verily, amen.

If you want to go into this deeper let me know and I can probably find your email address or you can ask the HNN webmaster to send it to me. He knows mine.


Peter N Kirstein - 10/28/2003

Mr West,

I accept most of your comments as sound and prudent. For me, it is essential that we combine a condemnation of American imperialism as inspired by the military-civilian leadership, and the tactics that are utilized by the military. While of course, not every soldier, sailor, airwoman, or marine is guilty of war crimes or inhumane conduc--beyond the inherent inhumanity and barbarity of war--we need to significantly address the current glorification of military serive, and the indiscriminate identification of military service with patriotism.

One of the consequences of affirming military service without assessing the evil implications of killing, is that it becomes increasingly difficult to denounce the conduct of those who murder other human beings. I know, more than most, the penalty in speaking the truth about the barbarity of war. I will continue to do so because I know I am right; I know this country glorifies war and its warriors; I know it is wrong to do so in such an undifferentiated, indiscriminate manner. I know that usually America's wars are unjust and tragic. I know that we have slaughtered, maimed, millions of innocents and it must be stopped and we must adopt a more civilized, intelligent foreign policy.

Thanks for your comments here and elsewhere.

Peter


Jerry West - 10/28/2003

-
Peter,

We share a number of views, however, in my experience of 19 months in RVN, mostly in field units, I never saw anything directly comparable to My Lai. That is soldiers intentionally shooting people, particularly children, that they knew to be unarmed.

I won't dispute characterizing the war as a form of genocide, it is debatable depending on how you want to define it and whether motives play a role. I won't debate immoral at all, it was a war we had no business fighting for a number of reasons.

And the Tiger Force guys, if it were up to me they would all stand trial. I was disgusted at the light sentences for Calley and Medina. Everyone who pulled a trigger in that event should have gone to Leavenworth.

But even though it was an immoral war that should not have been fought, though there may have been more My Lais, I don't think that they were the rule, at least not in I Corps. And even though the terminology and such dehumanized the Vietnamese, there was a lot of humanitarian activities by the forces too, and friendships, and respect.

The issue of the war itself, and the high level policies aside, our conduct in RVN was a mixed bag and it is unfair to the many who made an effort to not only not be the soldiers of My Lai or Tiger Force, but who also did what they could for the Vietnamese, to lump everyone into the category of war criminal by saying the My Lai was the norm.


Peter N Kirstein - 10/27/2003

Dear Mr. Livingston and Mr. West,

Oh, I would argue that My Lai was frequently the norm of military engagement in Nam. Here you have an investigative series by a courageous newspaper, Toledo Blade, of an "elite" group of airborne recon serial killers which committed mass murder for several months in 1957. They were in the Central Highlands in South Vietnam. This makes My Lai, one of the greatest war crimes in postwar (WW II) America, pale by comparison. You see when a nation dehumanizes the "enemy" as Gooks, Charlie, slants, slopes, and refers to their homes as "hootches," this type of barbarism, mass murder and genocide results.

When I referred to the Vietnam war in my address as a "genocidal-immoral war in Southeast Asia," I knew what I was talking about.

Shame on the United States; shame on its military; shame on our history for this. No excuses; no explanations; no justifications. It is my mission and destiny to oppose this and all war. We must not kill!

I hope anyone who reads this posting, will consider reading these articles and think about patriotism, what war has done to this country, and about the evil and diabolical monstrosity of war.

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20031022/SRTIGERFORCE/110190169

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein
Veteran, United States Army Reserves


NYGuy - 10/27/2003

NYGuy

Oscar,hope this helps.

Harriman was the senior partner in Brown Brothers Harriman, (BBH) a highly respected bank and trading house on Wall street that still exists today. He owned 96% of the partnership stock and Bush who was also a partner has a 2% stake. So any if the claimof profiteering is correct, which it isn't, Harriman the democrat got 96% of the profits.

There are those who take the facts of the period and distort them for their own political use and in the process try to show their enemies are knowingly “dealing with the enemy” and “selling out their country.” Black, in my opinion falls into that category, but more on that later.

Note first the time line they cite, 1926-1945. Germany had built up a major banking network around the world and of course did work with bankers in America, such as BBH, in the 1920’s as well as with bankers in just about every other country in the world. These relationships continued for many years after Hitler came into power. In 1926 Hitler was not even considered a threat so the claims that the normal business routine of the period was supporting him and his evil outlook on the world is just silly nonsense by those who don’t understand the business world.

Meanwhile banks provide credit to for importers and exporters so it is natural that commodities or other items would be financed. Most of these products are used for peaceful products but can also have military products. Look at the use of ammonia in Oklahoma City.

I am being cramped for space but I asked F. H. Thomas to outline this period on the Auschwitz article:

http://hnn.us/comments/19567.html

1921-25 Hitler hired as government spy on various splinter groups, including the German Worker's Party. Becomes a convinced anti-Semite, and joins the party, merging it with National Socialists.

1925-30. Although Hitler is an exceptional public speaker, the party gains few votes, until the great depression. Organization is strengthened.

1932. NSDAP party earns 33% of vote, a plurality. A dying Hindenburg asks Hitler to form a government.

1932-1936. Hitler's government impressively and comprehensively expands the economy, to an 11% growth rate, best in the world, rearms secretly, occupies the Rhineland, builds Autobahns, wins 1936 election overwhelmingly. Hitler basks in glory at 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

1938. Kristallnacht.

1940. Poland taken. Jews forcibly re-located in Ghettos. Disease is the grim reaper.

1941. Barbarossa, the drive against Russia to the east.

For most of this period trading with Germany and Hitler was done by just about every country in the world. (I have to shorten this so I will move quickly). Germany had a strong economy and as was pointed out many in the world admired it.

Skip to 1941. The US finally entered the war and stopped all dealings with Germany and others under the Trading With the Enemy Act. This was not a selective but applied to hundreds of companies. This has been revised to say that those affected under this act such as BBH were “legally charged with dealing with the enemy,” which was not true.

Both Harriman and Bush were true Americans and their business activities were similar to those of other nations that dealt with Germany and Hitler during this period.

RE: IBM

According to my readings Black in his acknowledgement tells of the long hours he and other put into making this book possible and thereby suggesting it is true. He mention the use of a mechanical calculating device that used punch cards suggesting that IBM helped the German’s to separate out the Jews from the population. Anyone who used this device or used Census data realizes how false this is. In 1933 and 1939 the German’s did a Census of the country similar to what other countries did. As in all database projects the key is to put together the materials one wants which was determined by the Germans. Then in taking a Census individuals must go out and collect the data. The punch card cannot doe either of these task. What the punch card does is tally the data after it is collected and can do faster than an individual. Black claims these were computers, electronic devices that did not appear until the mid 50’s. The other areas of Black’s concerns were the normal business efforts to hold on to one’s property.

Several cases were brought against IBM and they were droped.

http://hnn.us/comments/19491.html

Sorry I have keep this short but that is overview of this issue. You will note in the Article now on HNN the author acknowledges no one believed this story and he present none of the evidence he claims. These false claims are now being posted on the websites of people who are the enemies of the US.

In summary: Both Harriman and Bush were true Americans and their business activities were similar to those of other nations that dealt with Germany and Hitler during this period.


Jerry West - 10/27/2003

Dave, you wrote:

*Here I'm at one with Alec, the troops with whom I served in 'Nam would not have done, did not do, a My Lai. *

You posted this a reply to my post, not Alec's. I hope that you do not mean to infer that I disagree with that or hold that My Lai was the rule rather than the exception. I think that my statements in this thread say otherwise.



David - 10/27/2003

I agree with your comments regarding the despicable nature of IBM's work with the Nazis.

But I would be interested in knowing how Prescott Bush's investments were significantly different that the thousands of other investors and companies doing business with Nazi Germany.

Short of that, there isn't a story here.


Dave Livingston - 10/27/2003

Here I'm at one with Alec, the troops with whom I served in 'Nam would not have done, did not do, a My Lai.

Soft, unchallenged physically Monday Morning Quarterbacks seem to think combat is a simple, straight-forward & cut & dried proposition. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't. For instance, when X.O. of an Air Cavalry troop in Northern I Corps, that corner of South Viet-Nam boxed in by Laos, North Viet-Nam & the South China Sea I was as much as ordered by a Colonel of the South Vietnamese Army to kill such of those stray farmers living in isolated little farms out near Laos. The Colonel's, certainly accurate, suposition was that those farmers, living in South Viet-Nam were way out there where if they did not, as they most probably did, provide recruits to the zV.C. certainly in lieu of paying taxes to the South Viet gov't paid them, in kind, to the Communists.

But country boys such as yours truly don't go about killing people on the assumption that they probably are the enemy. If one those farmers had taken a potshot at me, then he was subject to retaliation, but none, no-one identifiable as nothing but a farmer ever did take a potshot at me. Nor at anyone under my command.

Consequently, there was no way I was going to shoot up some farmer, especially not in front of his wife & kids. To which I ascribe part of the reason our Lord decided to let me live, when seriously hit less than six weeks shy of the nominal end of my second tour.

There were rumors of Aero-Scouts, those of us who flew dinky choppers usually at & below treetop level, who did that sort of thing, shoot up stray farmers in the back country, but I never saw it happen.

Like it or not, evil deeds are an inherent aspect of a shooting war. Even those boys who killed at My Lai ordinarily would't have done what they did except under extraordinary circumxtances. What I'm getting at is that Calley's platoon had recently been ambushed by the bad guys & lost some people, My Lai was a known V.C. village & going in there our boys were wired tight as drums, expecting & fearing trouble. Then, when someone perhaps overly nervous lost control & cut loose that triggered a fearful nearly automatic reaction from most of the rest of the platoon to shoot anything that appeared to pose a threat, anything that moved.

That My Lai was for us such an exception to the rule is made evident by all the fuss that continues to be made over it. American boys normally don't do that sort of thing, but it mosyt irritating that it was common of the Communists to waste whole villages of Montagards, to murder our wounded whenever they over-ran one of our aid stations, but the damned press hardly ever made note ,complained, about those incidents--one of several reasons I grew to, still do, despise journalists as a class.

In fact, the Western press hardly took note of the massacre at Hue of civil servants, professors, cops & priests, plus a few of theur own--journalists. That latter jared the press a mite. But otherwise iyt didn't give a damn.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/27/2003

I have not read the article in question, only summaries; so I do not know its tone. But there are reasons besides partisan politics that this is an interesting story.

1. Most Americans are not aware of the degree of trade between Nazi Germany and the U.S. in the 1930s. I think that is worth knowing.

2. There is trade and there is trade. Black's recent book on IBM and the holocaust makes pretty clear that IBM's CEO understood that he was aiding the Nazis in sorting through the population both for self-proclaimed Jews and for Germans of Jewish ancestry even if their family had left Judaism behind.

After 1935, he had to have known that such a sorting would strip people of their rights.

Is the degree of involvement by Prescott Bush (and Harriman, and others in the firm) at the level of IBM's? The answer to that would be quite interesting.

3. In this era of suits against companies that profitted from Axis tyranny, there could be some very practical consequences.


NYGuy - 10/27/2003

Touche.

Cheers.

Anon


Ralph E. Luker - 10/27/2003

I don't ever recall having an anonymous student in my classroom.


NYGuy - 10/27/2003

Stix and stones, etc.

Sorry I missed having a teacher like you Mr. Johnny one note.



Ralph E. Luker - 10/27/2003

You are the one who is afraid to publish in his own name, wimp.


NYGuy - 10/26/2003

I was watching CNN today and George Clooney was on the program about the media. His family had been in the publishing business and his father was a journalist and he had strong feelings on the media.

One of the points he made was on a false article published about him that the paper refused to stand behind what it wrote and blamed the author. He strongly condemned this type of journalist. So you see we in the journalist profession don't agree with your advice. If you publish it you stand behind it or you wimp out. Can't have it both ways.

I would guess if the author had written about the almost 100% profits Harriman was making in dealing with the enemy you would be the first to try to censor the report.

Well, you pay your money and you take your choice.

Next time try to understand what is being written before you decide you want to get involved and play hero. After all HNN is also published in the real world.

I understand your wimping out.

Cheers


Ralph E. Luker - 10/26/2003

I'll stick to my resolve to not speak to the closet again. Take your complaint to the author of the article. I gave you his e-mail address.


NYGuy - 10/26/2003

NYGuy

As defined in Prof. Kirstein’s patriotic article I am one of those true American patriots who withhold support or endorsement of policies that put Americans solders and my country in further peril, regardless of the price or sacrifice.

This article on HNN clearly falls within that category, particularly when HNN was told this was a subject that had been rejected on all occasions by the responsible media and made mimicry of HNN’s own claims in its fund raising efforts.

Bush Article Published by HNN

"Still Not Interested

Major U.S. media outlets, including ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald, have repeatedly declined to investigate the story when information regarding discovery of the documents was presented to them beginning Friday, August 29. Newsweek U.S. correspondent Michael Isikoff, famous for his reporting of big scoops during the Clinton-Lewinsky sexual affair of the 1990s, declined twice to accept an exclusive story based on the documents from the archives."

Meawhile in it appeal for donations HNN says:

“History News Network offers a unique line-up of authors, week after week. We offer articles by top-flight historians. Nowhere else on the web can you find historians putting the news in perspective on a daily basis. “

“Major media outlets like the New York Times, Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times rely on HNN as do tens of thousands of historians and teachers. “

NYGuy

I have stood up before when HNN articles and quotations have put our troops in greater danger, most particularly when I debunked those phony historians who accused the US government and the soldiers of assisting in the looting of the Baghdad Museum. I was proved right and profession historians eventually agreed with me that the US was not at fault and the US and the soldiers did what they said they would to protect the museum.

I am again protesting this article because it is another example of giving comfort to the enemy with false reports that are historically inaccurate.

It is interesting to note that HNN in its appeal for donations claims it is a feeder publication for articles by top-flight historians just becomes laughable and hypocritical. They don’t even live up to their own mission with the publication of this bogus report which fails to provide the documentation promised and which has been strongly reject as garbage by reputable media outlets they say they serve as well as by repuptable historians.

I have the works of Carpenter and admit HNN has a low threshold for reporting and perhaps this is the standard you are using in defending the publication of a false historical report.

It is obvious you know nothing of the Harriman BBH situation where Bush worked, otherwise you would know that if the story were true, Harriman would get 96% of the profits and Bush perhaps 2%. You would also be aware that there are claims that Roosevelt, Harriman’s friend, was also accused of starting the war with Japan to help the profiteering effort’s of his friend Harriman. If this is true than you see that it was Harriman who was reaping almost 100% of profits of these efforts to work with the enemy.

I tried to explain to you that our enemies are already using this false historical account to further the fund raising and suicide bombing efforts that hurt our country and our soldiers. Therefore I can find no responsible reason why you are supportint the publishing of this article. I also view it as an insult to HNN’s audience which are historian who know bettrer. Who you you targeting with this garbage. Do you know?

But you, for whatever reason, want to defend the articles not with facts or counterarguments but with you clever little wordsmithing. It just doesn't carry in the real world.

As for my genealogy it dates back to pre-biblical times when my ancestors where quoted under, “Anon.” Even today there are family members with names such as AL-Anon, Gam-Anon, S-Anon and Co-Anon to name a few. We are a respected part of history and I find it unusual that you get all twisted out of shape over this long tradition.





J.Caramello - 10/26/2003

Stephen Thomas post
I found Mr Thomas' comments excellent, intelligent and illuminating and we need more like them. It is great to see something intelligently written rather than a barrage of extreme left and right wing invective that tells us nothing about the issue being discussed.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/25/2003

All of the extrapolations here are those of an anonymous poster who claimed of a secondary source's appearance on HNN and did so by posting it a number of other places on HNN. Odd strategy.


Smathers - 10/25/2003

That is the game. Silence antiwar protestors, critics of Israel, critics of the holocaust in Gaza and the West Bank, and depict outrage against Israel as one of racialism and intolerance. It's Pipesian repression.


Jesse Lamovsky - 10/25/2003

I'm certainly not in any position to speak well or ill of Mr. Kirstein's idea of patriotism. I found this passage in his piece interesting, however:

"Patriotism is frequently ethnocentric and contemptuous of other nations and peoples with whom we share a common destiny in a global village. It's our Manifest Destiny to create an American empire; it's defeating them; it's Henry R. Luce proclaiming the "American Century" in Life magazine in 1941; it's the canard of the United States as protector of the "Free World"; it's the narcissism of American exceptionalism."

Well... there's no American ethnicity, per se, so I believe we can rule out "ethnocentrism" as a contribution to "American exceptionalism. That there was, and is, an exceptionalism, there should be no doubt. But Mr. Kirstein, as well, has a view of American exceptionalism- our country as the "gentle giant", benevolently using its stupifying power to affect good in every corner of the "global village", always through the good offices of the UN and always, of course, non-violently (though the same can't be said for the money garnished to pay for these good intentions).

But let's be realistic here about the UN. How does the United States solve problems through the UN? How have they done it in the past? Korea? Somalia? Lebanon? Kuwait? Under UN auspices, American troops would still be stationed in foreign countries. In some of these countries, presumably, they would shoot, and be shot at. It's our military presence on foreign soil that gets people so cheesed off. Yes, I know that we're in Iraq without a permission slip from the UN, God forbid. But in order to have any effectiveness at all, the United Nations needs a viable military arm- a big stick. That stick would be- already is- the United States military. It will be a lot more of the same if we hand over any more of our national sovereignty- including the final word on the use of this country's defense forces (!) to the UN. I'd wager American bombers would still be dropping tonnage on foreigners, including the unfortunate "non-white", under blue-helmeted auspices.

The "bad" exceptionalism disparaged by Mr. Kirstein helped this country to become so wealthy and powerful. Protected by the massive oceans (which still exist, by the way) on each side, secure physically, this country would be an example... but not an actor. This country did not sign alliances, pacts, whatever- we stayed out of the world's business. Were there terror alerts, "heightened" or not, in, say, 1881? Because the American people were free from foreign threats, they enjoyed more freedom at home. Everyone made out- the American people, as well as, the "non-white" peoples of the world. The world didn't change. The meaning of the "national interest" changed. Now we're supposed to be the town constable in the global village.

All of Mr. Kirstein's good intentions aside, the rest of the world would not benefit from our constant problem solving through the UN, or we from it. We're better off minding our own business, and letting the rest of the world mind theirs. Meddling under any name is still meddling, and it's the meddling, not any of the historical sins numbingly ascribed to the American character by progressives, that makes many in the world hate and fear us. Which is precisely the reason we have this enormous military, right?

Addendum: those four nuns might as well have been protesting the microwave oven. The nuke exists, we have lots of them, and so do some other countries. Genie is out of the bottle- sorry. Anyway, the trick is not firing them.




Another historian (not from NY) - 10/25/2003


I had no idea that NYGuy was fascinated by hatred of Jews. I wonder how he "detects" that I am from East Europe and hate Jews. Both "detections" are news to me.


Peter N Kirstein - 10/24/2003

Thank you again for contacting me. Your inquiries, while certainly subjective, are as you indicated relevant to the issues at hand.

1) “Do you believe that the harsh criticism that you have received for your views is appropriate?”

Yes, absolutely. These are important issues that effect large numbers of people, and they should engender emotive reactions and heated colloquy. I feel very deeply about these matters, and my manner of communication reflects that. I am not surprised when equally impassioned views emanate from my interlocutors. As Newton said in his 17th Century third law: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”

2) “Do you ever question your strong held positions when you are attacked by so many people?”

There were a quite a few who agreed with me as the commentary on this page indicates. However, to answer your question, I am willing to ponder and rethink a position if persuaded by facts and argumentation. Since I urge students to do that, I should not be immune from that exhortation.

I love pressure; I perform at my highest level as the pressure escalates, and I confess I become somewhat stubborn too. I was suspended for an act of conscience, and for me to acquiesce and recant my core beliefs would be an act of dishonour and personal debasement. So I would not alter a position due to coercion, or organized campaigns against me. It would sully the memory of those, many of whom were mentioned in my talk, who had the fortitude and the courage to speak their mind and act on it, as well as provide undue license to those who crusade for the New McCarthyism and the silencing of radical, leftwing professors.

Hope you enjoy the link. He was a man of courage and conviction whether you subscribe to his views or not.

http://www.eugenevdebs.com/

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein





A Student - 10/24/2003

Thank you for your response. May I possibly trouble you Professor Kirstein with two additional questions. Yes, I am a history major at a west coast university, so I am not entirely ignorant of these matters.

1)Do you believe that the harsh criticism that you have received for your views is appropriate?
2) Do you ever question your strong held positions when you are attacked by so many people?

I recognize this may not be the place for these questions but it is related to patriotism and the response to those concerning that issue.


Jerry West - 10/24/2003

-
Alec Lloyd wrote:

Patriotism.... If, however, you have no particular affection for it, or indeed WANT to see it suffer, that will also color your thinking.

JW:

The thing is that two people both can be very patriotic in their own way and be on opposite ends of an issue. And one has to differentiate between love for the ideals of one's country and agreement with whatever group happens to be in power, or someone else's view of what should be done.

What one person might see as anothers desire for the country to suffer might really be that persons desire for the suffering to end. It really depends on how you view the country.

AL:

For years the US avoided the al-Qaeda threat, resolutely trying not to react, or cope with the problem at all. Our policy was to ignore it and hope it went away. It didn’t.

JW:

I would take it one step further and say that for years we engaged in policies that seeded and nurtured the al Qaeda threat and others. I agree, we should have done something, we should have had a different foreign policy to start with.

AL:

Are you suggesting that because the United States has an imperfect past, it can do nothing right in the present? Or because we cannot fix every problem, we should ignore the ones that are within reach?

JW:

Not at all. What I am suggesting is that based on our record one can not take statements of the administration as to motive at face value. To do so might presume a 180 degree change in policy. Given our past actions there is more than enough reason to be very skeptical about our current ones.

We can do right. The question is, are we?

AL:

Using your logic, police should never....

JW:

You didn't understand the logic very well. Hope that the previous reply cleared it up a bit.

AL:

Additionally, when you bring up historical events, you must also be aware that some of us weren’t old enough to participate in politics. Now that we are, we can in fact advocate different policies.

JW:

Different policies would be a breath of fresh air. People that I know have been trying for at least 40 years. You win some and lose more, particularly when big money is involved.

AL:

I would very much support action in Central Asia and Burma. The type of the action will differ with the terrain, resources, geography and situation.

JW:

A good rule of thumb would be don't do business with dictators and repressive regimes for openers. Picking the lesser of two evils is still picking evil. Problem is that evil is very profitable.






Alec Lloyd - 10/24/2003

Mr. West wrote (in response to me)

“Well Alec, you can disabuse yourself of that fantasy. I know for a fact that there are soldiers who can't wait to get into a war and would not pass up the opportunity to do so. Been there, done that.

This, however, does not make most of them baby killers. Speaking of which I see some more Vietnam horror stories coming out these days about a US force that was routinely shooting down civilains. Glad to say none of my units would have ever done that.”

Indeed, but I hope that you are also aware that Vietnam is not the sum of all military action. As far is Mr. Kirstein is concerned, the US is only capable of My Lai massacres. I would posit that this view is just as blinkered as any “patriotic” one.


“I think that your rebuttal is more over cooked than what you are rebutting. As patriotic fervor increases rational thinking does decrease. Examine any mob action. I don't think that it is a question of loyalty as much of one of emotionalism.”

Your last sentence is key. Emotion can take many forms, including extreme pacifism. Patriotism can take many forms, and one need not plaster one’s car with flags and want to “kill all feriners” to have a deep love of country, or recognize threats to it. If, however, you have no particular affection for it, or indeed WANT to see it suffer, that will also color your thinking.

”You make my point, reaction trumps thinking. Of course there are some who think about what to get people to react to, and how.”

Not all reactions are knee-jerk. Certain problems require solutions. For years the US avoided the al-Qaeda threat, resolutely trying not to react, or cope with the problem at all. Our policy was to ignore it and hope it went away. It didn’t.

The challenge required a response. We can debate the merits of it, but not its necessity.

“And many more over how and why this one was choosen. I wonder why we did not liberate Spain from Franco, or Chile from Pinochet, or Burma now from its dictators, or what about those Central Asian despots who may be worse than Saddam? Hey, we even have troops stationed in their countries now, why don't we just take them out and establish democracy?”

Are you suggesting that because the United States has an imperfect past, it can do nothing right in the present? Or because we cannot fix every problem, we should ignore the ones that are within reach?

Using your logic, police should never investigate crime: after all, they can’t catch every criminal, so why bother? Their failure to catch them in the past means it would be hypocritical for them to step up efforts now.

Additionally, when you bring up historical events, you must also be aware that some of us weren’t old enough to participate in politics. Now that we are, we can in fact advocate different policies. I would very much support action in Central Asia and Burma. The type of the action will differ with the terrain, resources, geography and situation. There is no “one size fits all” template in play. Some countries may require more diplomacy, others brute force. But I do support action commensurate with our current means.

“If this is the case it is mistaken. I suspect most of the supporters are neither. Ignorance, now, is another matter, and all of us fall prey to that.”

Indeed, even the self-anointed saints of the academy.


NYGuy - 10/24/2003

Dave,

As you have probably noticed the ones who want to cow you usually have little to ad to the board except their inflated ego.

That is why one would be wise to be careful.

As I have said many times this is a website of ideas. Only those who want to control the discussion and are unable to deal with ideas and show their inferiority complex can not mount a reasoned reply. But, as has been pointed out on this board you have to be a phony to get tenure.

Just think to learn from these masters it only costs $25-30,000 a year. That is why more people are going to night school to get a better education.

What a country.


NYGuy - 10/24/2003

Another Bigot,

I detect you are a jew hater from East Europe.

No wonder the US is going down the drain.


Another historian who is not a New York resident - 10/24/2003


1. Based on a small sampling of his prior comments here, "NYGuy" is a middle-aged to elderly immigrant from somewhere in East Europe who happily relocated to New York some years ago, but without the benefit of what used to be taught in public education here: Look at more than one side of a question, try to get the objective facts, don't accept everything you are told without doing at least a bit of double-checking, then make up your own mind, etc. etc.

2. NYGuy likes America and is learning a lot about it, but spends a lot of time on HNN.

3. NYGuy is getting weirder and weirder by the day.

4. Connect the dots.

5. This post has almost nothing to do with "How I define patriotism".

6. Nobody here gives a tinkers damn about that.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/24/2003

Get a grip, Dave! The question was: do you say "a historian" or "an historian"? If you have to disguise your identity to answer that one, the land of the free and the home of the brave simply isn't that anymore. NYG and "A" Historian aren't free and aren't brave -- and you're encouraging the behavior.


Dave Livingston - 10/24/2003

The historian perhaps is wise to be cowed. Why? Not long ago, mere weeks ago, an historian seeking tenure told me that it would not be granted because of the historian's politically incorrect response to the query posed by search committees, "How would you teach conservative white male students?"


Dave Livingston - 10/24/2003

As Stephen suggests, Kirstein appears to be a shing example of the type, described by Dennis Prager in "JWR" who having been in school Kindergarten through graduate school goes right back to school teaching & therefore chooses never to work in the private sector of the economy and therefore has never lived in an environment that was not primarily comprised of children, divorced from that larger portion of society primarily composed of adults and perforce has himself never has had the opportunity to grow to maturity. Ergo, his childish philosophy of life, albeit us Christians are admonished to follow the Lord and abide by the Ten Commandments.

But a Christian need not be a twit attempting to avoid the realities of life as it is. Moreover, our Lord never once lambasted soldiers or soldiering. Indeed, his first gentile convert was a soldier, a Roman centurion, a fact demonstrated in each and every Christian Mass celebrated at the moment before receiving Communion--with the words "Lord, I am not worty..." uttered by that soldier in their, our Lord's & the centurion's, first encounter.


Dave Livingston - 10/24/2003

Jerry is correct to a degree that there are soldiers once there is a shooting war who given a choice would rather be in the fighting than in a rear echelon duty assignment shuffling paper. After all, that is what soldiering is about, fighting. While perhaps this dismays Prof. Kirstein he doesn't, as someone more or less said, live in the real world. Evidently, what he needs is to get a real job in the private sector, to escape the socialist paradise of academia for a few years.

In any event, Kirstein's bleating that the Pacific Left is patriotic is so much baloney. A Pacificist is a parasite battening off a society defended by men more determined than Kirstein to preserve the society--and Kirstein demads a pat on the back for his disgruntled hatred of the nation which nurtures him. One wonders if he so hates America as it is, why doesn't he go elsewhere? He should love the social & political envirinment of a Saudia Arabia or Cuba, one would think.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/24/2003

Spoken like a truly cowed person.


Jerry West - 10/24/2003

-
"Seriatim," I haven't heard that word in ages. Such is one of the little joys that come from craving out a bit of time to muck around on this list. :)


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Historian,

Thank you for your dedication to teaching night classes. Both you and the students deserve kudos for being winners.

There is no need to reveal yourself since we are dealing with ideas. Anyone who says differently lives in a world of insecurity and itimidation and therefore is nable to deal with ideas and must rely on their position of power. Therefore, they prefer contolled arguments over reasoned ones since it makes them feel good.

But, you are the real future of this country as you help those who will make this country great. Knowing your name is a non-issue.

Keep up the good work. And I hope you get your tenure. Your character says you deserve it.

Cheers,


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

David,

You are right on target. The terrible little secret that no ones wants to discuss is that Bush worked for Harriman who owned just about all the stock in BBH. And, Harriman and was a big friend of Roosevelt. Why do you think people say Roosevelt started the war with Japan? Was it big profits for his friend Harriam and other democrats.



My opinion is this article was written to support Dean's cut and run Predisdential campaign promises. If you read the article you will see how he left out the democrats, Harriman and Roosevelt.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Ralph,

NYG: Your argument is neither with me, since you won't declare yourself,

“nor with HNN, which

“merely posted” reference to the article.”

NYGuy

Having worked for professional magazines I was shocked at your comment about HNN’s poor editorial policies. Now I admit I only worked for professional organizations and you may be right about HNN’editorial staff. But, in the real world, professionals such as my self had to have weekly meetings to discuss

1. Filling up the pages
2. The editorial content.

We also had another consideration, which is part of all good journalist’s mentality, and which you say HNN may not have, and that is pride in our work.

As I understand it you claim HNN’s policies are “merely” dealing with the first item above and that their only obligations is filling up pages.

Therefore, no intellectual content is required. Does not say much about Rich.

Thus you suggest that HNN’s editorial staff are really a bunch of hacks and are indifferent to what is posted so long as they meet there only goal of filling up pages. Hmm. Well as I said I only worked for professional organizations so I won’t judge HNN.

Let me try to understand what happens at HNN. Obviously there are not weekly meetings to discuss the content for the site.

“Thus, if an article comes in over the transom with the heading:

Bush – Nazis Link Confirmed

The workers at HNN say listen my job is only to fill pages, if you have a problem go to the author, I don’t care what the author says so long as it is printed and fills up pages.

Meanwhile, many authors tell us that HNN usually writes the headline.

Now let me understand this further:

An article with the following headline came in:

Bush – Nazi Link Confirmed.

Someone in HNN wrote the following headline:

“Newly-uncovered government documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress reveal that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, served as a business partner of and U.S. banking operative for the financial architect of the Nazi war machine from 1926 until 1942.”

We could see that who ever wrote this headline could get a lot of information from the first 1-2 paragraphs. But in order for the reviewer to make the statement that the time frame for Bush’s collaboration was from “1926-1942, they would have had to read 15 paragraphs to glean that information. But, if in each of these paragraphs there was no evidence that any new documents had been found did they not notice, nor did they care to notice.

One would think that if one got that far, they would read the entire article. After all this is not a daily publications so it is not unreasonable to expect they would expend another 10 minutes of their time to fully understand the article. But, no, as Ralph suggests, it was probably time for coffee and as Ralph suggests there is not much pride for the work being done.

But reading further we learn in the article:

“Still Not Interested (Big Cross head)

Major U.S. media outlets, including ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, Los Angeles Times and Miami Herald, have repeatedly declined to investigate the story when information regarding discovery of the documents was presented to them beginning Friday, August 29. Newsweek U.S. correspondent Michael Isikoff, famous for his reporting of big scoops during the Clinton-Lewinsky sexual affair of the 1990s, declined twice to accept an exclusive story based on the documents from the archives.”

Since I have only worked for professional editorial company’s I can’t judge Ralph’s assessment, but I think I can understand, and trust his judgement that it is not really a professional operation.








David - 10/23/2003

So Prescott Bush, and everybody else in the industrialized world traded with the Nazis before the war. Please tell me why this is news.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

"A" Historian,
I understand the position you say that you are in, but really have we at long last reached the position that you must claim anonymity even for so small a matter as correcting my choice of articles? If you are that cowed by the lack of job security, I should think you would want to ask yourself if you can actually serve your students well, even as an adjunct.


"A" Historian - 10/23/2003

I am an adjunct--you know contingent faculty--and am too scared to reveal myself due to lack of academic freedom. I am not NYGUY who is probably retired and enjoying himself. So write the way you want; I got to teach my night class and then drive 100 miles for my 800 tomorrow.

A Historian


Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

NYG: Your argument is neither with me, since you won't declare yourself, nor with HNN, which merely posted reference to the article. Your argument is with John Buchanan. "John Buchanan is a journalist and investigative reporter with 33 years of experience in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Miami. His work has appeared in more than 50 newspapers, magazines and books. He can be reached by e-mail at: jtwg@bellsouth.net." There's his e-mail address. Take your complaint to him. If I were him, I wouldn't respond to an anonymous complainer.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Ralph,

You have by default. You are unable to offer the documents represented in the article. If you don't know what they say then you can't know what side you are on. Since you can't take a position I wind up talking to my self. As I said before this is the real world and we don't want to play kid games.

Some hack on HNN thought they were clever by putting on this piece of garbage which has been refuted on this board many times. It is time to put up or shut up.

If there are no new documents this article is a fraud perpetrated on HNN and all decent historians who respect their profession.

In additon it puts the lives of our soldiers in greater danger and helps our enemies.

Plain and simple. Perhaps the documents are in a pumpkin somewhere. Right now there are no supporting documents for the claims that History News Network is asserting.

Cheers,


Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

I haven't withdrawn. You never came out.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Ralph,

You are pressing me to come out the closet. I fear you have discovered my secret:

"I don't want to embarrass my children and grandchildren."

“They would kill me if they found out.”

I will accept your withdrawal from the battlefield. Since History News Network has made this horrible mistake it is better we sweep it under the rug. Enough damage has been done already by putting our troops in greater danger. It looks like Kriz lives and the democrats are looking for support of their "cut and run strategy."

By the way did you read the UN report yesterday. Sounds like someting out of democratic Mayor Daly's time.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

Come out of your closet and we'll talk about it.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Ralph,

Give me a minute to study your scholarly response to the statement:

Newly-uncovered government documents in The National Archives and Library of Congress reveal that Prescott Bush, the grandfather of President George W. Bush, served as a business partner of and U.S. banking operative for the financial architect of the Nazi war machine from 1926 until 1942.

Ralph,

NYG: I should have stuck my resolve some time ago never to discuss anything with you on these boards until you came out of the closet. You have made yourself notorious here for celebrating our brave and noble president and his policies no matter what else might be the case -- even if it wraps you in self-contradiction. It becomes impossible to discuss anything in a reasonable fashion with you.


NYGuy,

Sorry I must have missed the listing of the documents involved. Could you send them again?

Wow, I have been told off for my poor night school education before, particularly by my two snotty kids who I put through the best schools here and abroad, but I have never been lecture on my spelling .:)

I really do enjoy our exchanges and wish we could be buddies. But, I think there is a misunderstanding on the following:

Ralph

“And, by the way, when the "h" is as nearly silent as it is in "historian," "a" or "an" is acceptable. I swing both ways.”

Cheers


"A" Historian - 10/23/2003

Be humble. Historian is not preceded with a silent "h." Do you say "istorian." I say "HIStorian." Are you really asserting you did not make an error? "An" should never, ever precede the word since the consonant is pronounced. A hero, a hijacker, a historical, a historian, a historiographical interpretation.




Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

NYG: I should have stuck my resolve some time ago never to discuss anything with you on these boards until you came out of the closet. You have made yourself notorious here for celebrating our brave and noble president and his policies no matter what else might be the case -- even if it wraps you in self-contradiction. It becomes impossible to discuss anything in a reasonable fashion with you.
And, by the way, when the "h" is as nearly silent as it is in "historian," "a" or "an" is acceptable. I swing both ways.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Hisrtorian:

I think Mister Luker meant "a historical fact."

Mr. Luker:

The article was already posted on HNN. You splash its headline everywhere else on HNN. What's your point?

“If it is an historical fact, you wish to have it not known? If it is not, try doing some research to show that it is not.”

NYGuy

Mr. Luker’s famous, “If pigs could fly it would reduce transportation costs, etc., etc.

The problem is he does not live in the real world, and he is not in his world where clever retorts can silence an 18 year olds.

I have read his comments a few times and he says he does not know why it was published by HNN and on that point I can agree,

“If it is an historical fact, you wish to have it not known?

But he says that he is comfortable with whatever is published on HNN, sort of my country, right or wrong argument, and he therefore accepts the article as correct and asks me to disprove it.

Others and I have disproved this phony accusation several times on this board. So Mr. Luker, if you are really interested in this article, do what you would tell your students to do, “look it up.”

Otherwise we will just accept your comments as meaning you don’t know anything about this subject and have no opinion on it. That is fair. Then you should not get in over your head. For those of us who have studied this topic the conclusion is that HNN has been taken and presented poor scholarship in the name of the history profession.



"A" Historian - 10/23/2003

I think Mister Luker meant "a historical fact."


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

Ralph,

I have done the research and this topic has been discussed before and shown to be untrue. I understand that some historians accept the headline as fact, even if they can not substantiate the allegation.


The author of the report says that there is new information,( meaning information we did not have before,) that was found in the Naational Archives that shed new light on a subject that has been debunked by all serious observers.

I read the article and did not find that new information, and the reason is simple, there is nothing new to report. If anything the author relies on an unauthorized book which has been been discredited before.


As you no doubt know a muslin website has produced this false information but had to rely on false sources. Now they can make the claim that is was posted on the History News Network as scholarship and therefore is truie. As such, their propaganda, and suicide recruitment folders, can cite this source to raise funds and get recruits to kill U.S. servicemen. It will claim that Bush and his adminstration have a history of going after profits even if millions of people, Germans, poles, muslins, etc have to die. Therefore the world should resist the US and kill the infidels.

If this scholarship is true and you can cite the new government documents from the National Archives that prove the allegation than I will agree with you that this is an appropriate article for History News Network. So far I have seen no historical scholarship to sustain the argument.

Actually it seems to me it is just another example of the desparation of the Democrat party and an attempt to support Dean's cut and run foreign policy.


Ralph E. Luker - 10/23/2003

The article was already posted on HNN. You splash its headline everywhere else on HNN. What's your point? If it is an historical fact, you wish to have it not known? If it is not, try doing some research to show that it is not.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

NY Guy

The above headline and story is found on the HNN main page under breaking news which is on the right hand side of the page.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

NY Guy

The above headline and story is found on the HNN main page under breaking news which is on the right hand side of the page.


NYGuy - 10/23/2003

NYGuy

New scholarship posted on HNN supports historians claim that the Bush family collaborated with to bring Hitler to power and plunged the world into chaos in order to build the family fortune.

Muslin leaders seized on the new scholarship to help their fund raising activities and encourage their followers to kill American soldiers and drive the Bush businessmen out of Iraq. Dean people are using the research to support his foreign policy of cut and run.

The White House did not respond.


Wesley Smart - 10/23/2003

and here
http://windsofchange.net/archives/004184.html


Wesley Smart - 10/23/2003

Readers may be interested to know that the past week has seen an orchestrated campaign to attack "warblogs", that is weblogs that have generally written in favor of the war on terrorism or serve as a clearinghouse for news on the WOT. The attacks were distributed denial of service attacks, mainly in the form of ultra-high volume attempts to log into the site, thereby making it impossible for anyone else to log in (denying service to anyone else). One suspected responsible party is an Al Qaeda-affiliated group based out of Malaysia

There is more information in this story:
http://www.command-post.org/gwot/2_archives/008694.html


Peter N. Kirstein - 10/23/2003

Mr West,

Your style of posting in which you extrapolate various quotations, and assess them seriatim is both unique and engaging.

Peter N. Kirstein


Jerry West - 10/22/2003

Jesse Lamovsky wrote:

People sure do like to throw the word 'genocide' around to justify the atrocities the U.S. military commits around the world.

Michael Meo wrote:

Presently, the U.S. is the source of more terrorist crimes than any other state in the world. Outspoken opposition to that ongoing slaughter of innocents in the name of the citizens of this country is something I do myself, and count it patriotic.

Mark Newgent wrote:

The systematic murder of a group of people constitutes genocide and the US and other nations had an obligation to stop it.

JW:

All three above make good points. Genocide is brought up as a convenient excuse by the US when it needs it, and otherwise ignored or even abetted when it suits its purpose. There is an obligation to stop it, an obligation which can get lost in the swirl of pursuing "national goals." It is interesting to note that the US is currently thwarting international attempts to build mechanisms to better deal with this situation. We can take any pronouncements on genocide emmanating from the US government as self serving and drenched in hypocrisy.

Stephen Thomas wrote:

Our capitalist system produces a magnificent surplus that allows infants like Mr. Kirstein to exist in nursery school his entire life.

JW:

And that surplus is not to the benefit of all. In fact it also produces poverty and deprivation in some areas and is part of the problem that we face today.

ST:

And, unlike most other societies, we don't imprison, execute or exile people like Mr. Kirstein.

JW:

I don't know if I would use the word most. There are a number of societies that do not either, and some are more tolerant than ours. Some even rate higher on the UN index for best places to live in the world. Most civilized ones don't execute anybody. This does not make the US society necessarily a bad one, it is pretty good, all things considered, but it is neither perfect nor necessarily on the top of the pile in many areas except in the minds of xenophobes.

Chris Osborne wrote:

He also correctly states that a utopian choice of perfection is impossible and one must choose between realistic alternatives.

JW:

Which leaves wide open the debate on what constitutes realistic.

CO:

"....the Far Left "eschews nationalism and undiminished state sovereignty.?" Are foreign countries eschewing their nationalism and state sovereignty?

JW:

Perhaps they should, it could well be part of the problem.

CO:

Why don't leftist social science professors include the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek in their course materials to enable their students to better analyze their beloved socialist command economies?

JW:

Do you know that they do not? Perhaps an economics professor could speak to this assertation.

CO:

Indeed many wars are fought for state preservation and for self-defense....

JW:

True, and that was an argument also used by the Germans, among others. What we need to question in our situation is are we initiating wars for this purpose, and if so, are they the best response and what exactly do we mean by state preservation.

CO:

....one could make a compelling case that the Far Left's argument that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were merely a racist indulgence of sadistic pleasure is similarly a canard.

JW:

Maybe so, but one would have a much harder time making a case that they were necessary at that point to end the war with a country reduced to rubble and cut off from all supplies.

CO:

What about the 14 armies the Japanese still had on the home islands alone at the time of surrender? What about....

JW:

What about them?

CO:

Be aware too of Japanese atrocities such as.... Will Kirstein and the Far Left express a similar outrage towards atrocities committed by nonwhite peoples?

JW:

Which Far Left are you refering too? I don't recall very many at all who defend the atrocities of the Japanese. In fact, I knew Japanese who did not defend them.

Michael Meo wrote:

But the point of the exercise is to return this country to its senses, to rededicate it to the proposition that all men are created equal, and not to attack it without hesitation. Indeed, there may be many other ways of accomplishing that aim, other than my own. We all share a heritage of social justice, in other words; let us use it.

JW:

Amen!


Jerry West - 10/22/2003

-
Alec Lloyd wrote:

This may come as a shock to Mr. Kirstein, but soldiers do not relish going to war and getting shot at.

JW:

Well Alec, you can disabuse yourself of that fantasy. I know for a fact that there are soldiers who can't wait to get into a war and would not pass up the opportunity to do so. Been there, done that.

This, however, does not make most of them baby killers. Speaking of which I see some more Vietnam horror stories coming out these days about a US force that was routinely shooting down civilains. Glad to say none of my units would have ever done that.

AL:

The implication is crystal clear: people cannot make rational decisions regarding war and peace unless they have zero loyalty to their country. Even the slightest sentimental attachment is enough to turn an otherwise sane being into a raving, bloodthirsty madman.

JW:

I think that your rebuttal is more over cooked than what you are rebutting. As patriotic fervor increases rational thinking does decrease. Examine any mob action. I don't think that it is a question of loyalty as much of one of emotionalism.

AL:

I will give a different view: that when people are placed in danger, they react to the threat.

JW:

You make my point, reaction trumps thinking. Of course there are some who think about what to get people to react to, and how.

AL:

The debate over the liberation of Iraq is a very serious one. There are many compelling reasons, both moral and from a security perspective, for removing Saddam Hussein from power.

JW:

And many more over how and why this one was choosen. I wonder why we did not liberate Spain from Franco, or Chile from Pinochet, or Burma now from its dictators, or what about those Central Asian despots who may be worse than Saddam? Hey, we even have troops stationed in their countries now, why don't we just take them out and establish democracy?

AL:

Mr. Kirstein and those in his faction don’t want to address them. Instead, they simply brand all supporters of military action as irrational and bloodthirsty,....

JW:

If this is the case it is mistaken. I suspect most of the supporters are neither. Ignorance, now, is another matter, and all of us fall prey to that.







Chris Osborne - 10/22/2003

I think the best note posted thus far in this extended discussion is the one by Bill Heuisler in his "Issues Obscured" answer to Kirstein. Heuisler's remarks are on point when he states that activists should not view their political involvement in a vacuum--that indeed choosing to oppose one nation-state may very well enable another. He also correctly states that a utopian choice of perfection is impossible and one must choose between realistic alternatives.
One of the features of the Far Left (and Jamie Glazov's statement that the overarching purpose of the Far Left is to destroy America and capitalism by any means necessary is not very far off the mark) that infuriates ordinary Americans is its relentless rage against its own country but its lack of any moral outrage whatsoever regarding crimes against humanity committed by foreign states; and its readiness to confer sainthood on all dark-skinned peoples and nations.
Kirstein states that the U.S Air Force kills people with "high-tech, invulnerable flying machines." And foreign air forces do not? Should the U.S. disarm unilaterally and will other nations (including predatory dictatorships) follow suit because they're impressed by out utopian morality? As I follow his remarks down the page, he also states that the Far Left "eschews nationalism and undiminished state sovereignty.?" Are foreign countries eschewing their nationalism and state sovereignty?
If schools should ideally teach students critical thinking, I wonder what Kirstein's response would be to students who read both Right and Left political arguments and choose the Right? Why don't leftist social science professors include the writings of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek in their course materials to enable their students to better analyze their beloved socialist command economies?
Indeed many wars are fought for state preservation and for self-defense--how does this stand out as uniquely evil? Does Kirstein imply the U.S. should refrain from such fighting and will foreign countries follow the example? In a similar vein, do we necessarily share a "common destiny in a global village" minus a possible reality of an all-powerful, one world government?
Kirstein also fails to analyze government suspensions of civil liberties on a case-by-case basis. Shelby Foote's huge trilogy on the Civil War indicates that Lincoln imposed martial law in the immediate wake of Ft. Sumter as states in the Upper South were also seceding. Had he not so intervened, pro-Confederate agents might have been able to thwart resistance to the breakup of the United States. Had we followed Kirstein's way, the Confederacy would probably have secured its independence immediately as an avowedly slaveholding republic--not an outcome I would think the Far Left would favor. He also criticizes the Vietnam War within a utopian context. One could argue that it was a uselessly destructive and bad war by the U.S., but did the communist dictatorship of North Vietnam represent a vastly superior alternative?
If the U.S. as protector of the free world is a canard, one could make a compelling case that the Far Left's argument that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were merely a racist indulgence of sadistic pleasure is similarly a canard. What about the 14 armies the Japanese still had on the home islands alone at the time of surrender? What about Hirohito having to cast the deciding vote in a divided council to surrender? How about the attempt of Japanese army officers to stage a coup and intercept the emperor's surrender speech; and the mass of citizens who committed hara kiri in front of the imperial palace rather than consent to surrender? We bomb "nonwhite peoples throughout the world" only? I thought the Germans were both blonde and white. Hitler indulged far more terror bombings of European cities than the U.S. bombing of Dresden. Be aware too of Japanese atrocities such as the Bataan Death March, Unit 731 medical experiments, and the terror bombing (the first ever in military history) of the Chapei District of Shanghai in 1932. We are "cowards who bomb countries without antiaircraft protections?" I thought television images showed that Iraq had antiaircraft guns in both the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and the most recent conflict. Will Kirstein and the Far Left express a similar outrage towards atrocities committed by nonwhite peoples? Don't hold your breath.


Stephen Thomas - 10/22/2003

Yes, it's Mr. Kirstein.

Our capitalist system produces a magnificent surplus that allows infants like Mr. Kirstein to exist in nursery school his entire life. He can dream about unicorns and fairy tales in luxury, courtesy of U.S. industrial, military and corporate wealth and power.

And, unlike most other societies, we don't imprison, execute or exile people like Mr. Kirstein. And, believe me, Mr. Kirstein is working as hard as he can to test the limits of our patience.

What better example exists of the unquestionable superiority of the American system, the genius of the Founding Fathers and the compassion of the American people? We even suffer people like Mr. Kirstein. Mr. Kirstein is an object lesson to the young people of America. Look what we will tolerate.

Pretty amazing, isn't it?


Parabellum - 10/22/2003

Editor: THIS COMMENT HAS BEEN REMOVED. IT DOES NOT MEET HNN'S STANDARDS OF CIVIL DEBATE AS OUTLINED HERE:

http://hnn.us/articles/982.html#civil


Mark Newgent - 10/22/2003

Mr. Lamovksy,

The ethnic cleansing and genocide began before US intervention. What the hell do you think we got involved for. Yes we armed the KLA, but we had to because Serb armor was hidden from our airpower. Once the KLA was armed and could engage the Serbs, the Serb armor and other units became vulnerable to our air power.

The systematic murder of a group of people constitutes genocide and the US and other nations had an obligation to stop it. That is what we did. The shame lies with you and your belief that it is ok to stand by while genocide occurs because the perpetrator hates the US.

As a centrist liberal I lose my patience with the radical left in their inane belief that US power no matter how it is used is inherently evil.


Alec Lloyd - 10/22/2003

I mean, being rude and obnoxious is all fine and good, particularly to he guardians of public safety. I mean, if they disagree with you, show some RAGE! Show some ANGER! And hope they don't take your incendiary words and do something about it...

Lots of chicken-hawk jokes still floating around. Ironic that the ones using the most combative language are doing so far from the shooting, at tenured positions...and advocating peace.


V. Karl Prangle - 10/22/2003

Spit! He did not spit; he protested WAR. Well Mr Ann Landers, it was at least not napalm or cluster bombs. You self-righteous folks who read other people's e-mail are missing the point. We need anger; we need outrage; we need professors who vent their rage in denouncing this militaristic, violent, hateful, always an enemy to slew country.

Look at the destruction, the pain, the suffering, the agony our $400 billion a year DoD budget has caused. Also, to wind up this litany, having read the article of Mr. Kirstein, I found THIS document to be eloquent, bold and fearless.

Bravo!!!


John Kipper - 10/22/2003

And I certainly hope that when you design modern buildings that you include in your plan the ability of the buildings to withstand an attack by fanatical bombers.

For this is the choice confronting America and the West today: either we surrender to the forces of evil or we defend ourselves and the magnificent civilization that our forefathers created.

Yes, this post is very judgemental, it was meant to be. I do not apologize.


David - 10/22/2003

Self-righteous loony leftists such as yourself as the first to label your political oponents on the right with epithets such as "nazi", "fascist", "hater", etc. So spare us the self-righteous leftist double talk. We see right throught it.


David - 10/22/2003

Leftists wield the word "peace" the way they claim conservatives wield patriotism.

oh so self-righteous, and transparent.


Thomas Gunn - 10/21/2003


I've never had it explained quite so clearly and honestly before.

"One of the ways to discredit the antiwar movement is to cast the debate in highly emotional terms,"

"from becoming a terrorist democracy", "the unilateralist-preemptive threat to international peace and security", "the "aggressive baby killing tactics of collateral damage";", "top guns [who] rain death and destruction upon nonwhite peoples throughout the world", "cowards who bomb countries without AAA, without possibility of retaliation", "imperialists who are turning the whole…world against us".

How could anyone argue with that?

I'll be pointing everyone I can to the truth you've expressed here.




thomas


Jesse Lamovsky - 10/21/2003

People sure do like to throw the word 'genocide' around to justify the atrocities the U.S. military commits around the world.

There was no genocide in Kosovo. There was a civil war in the province (which is Yugoslav territory by the way) between Milosevic's army and the KLA (which the State Department designated as a terrorist group as late as 1998, and which has ties to Al-Queda). It was after we intervened on the side of the KLA by bombing television stations, passenger trains, refugee convoys, and cities (but very few military targets), that any ethnic cleansing in Kosovo began in earnest. I can't believe Mr. Newgent compared this to the Holocaust. Do people have any shame any more?



Alec Lloyd - 10/21/2003

Mr. Kirstein is a hypocrite: he castigates others for defining patriotism for him, then proceeds to define it for everyone else.

How foolish of us to think for ourselves! Why, we could go the Sacred Mount and receive Prophet Kirstein’s revealed wisdom.

Take this following quote for example:

“I would argue there is a moral imperative to reject actively patriotism, if it is defined as having to support a nation-state's wars, regardless of one's ethical and moral aversion to actions that are violative of peace and justice.”

This is a straw man. There is no credible movement that advocates “My country, no matter what evils is perpetrates.” It simply isn’t out there.

What Mr. Kirstein does is reduce all of the many justifications for the use of force and sweep them aside arbitrarily. He does NOT wish to engage in debate, he wants to pontificate.

One would be hard-pressed to find any adherent of this “Let’s kill them all for fun” philosophy. Certainly US military members don’t adhere to it. They are rational, thinking beings, not emotionally-driven bloodthirsty baby-killers.

This may come as a shock to Mr. Kirstein, but soldiers do not relish going to war and getting shot at. It is no doubt because he doesn’t view the “baby killers” as actual human beings that he can allege they are impervious to compassion, mercy and rational thought.

Such a simplistic analysis may boost Mr. Kirstein’s esteem (remember, he’s setting himself up in opposition to not just evil people, but evil AND stupid people) but adds nothing to the debate.

Then there is this:

“In my opinion as patriotism increases, the capacity to analyze critically a nation's actions decreases. If there is a presumption that acts of war, for example, are fought for state preservation and self-defense, then the likelihood of a robust debate over policy and holding accountable a state's actions, in its decision to go to war or its conduct of war, are significantly attenuated.”

The implication is crystal clear: people cannot make rational decisions regarding war and peace unless they have zero loyalty to their country. Even the slightest sentimental attachment is enough to turn an otherwise sane being into a raving, bloodthirsty madman.

I will give a different view: that when people are placed in danger, they react to the threat. Mr. Kirstein is the classic example of an elitist whose views are shunned by the majority. Rather than his views being at fault, the majority itself is stupid. Americans who believe acts of war merit a military response aren’t rational; we’re mind-numbed brainwashed idiots.

This position allows Mr. Kirstein the luxury of not having to debate his position on its merits, but rather its popularity. Indeed, the fact that his view remains confined to a small, extreme minority, is, using his logic, ultimate proof of its correctness.

The debate over the liberation of Iraq is a very serious one. There are many compelling reasons, both moral and from a security perspective, for removing Saddam Hussein from power.

Mr. Kirstein and those in his faction don’t want to address them. Instead, they simply brand all supporters of military action as irrational and bloodthirsty, then parade their virtue for the rest of us to admire.

In short, they are doing exactly what they accuse their enemies of.

This is an excellent article for it exposes this worldview for all to see.


Peter N Kirstein - 10/21/2003

Sorry for the lack of specificity but I was referring to the Seattle General Strike of 1919. One of the more radical events in U. S. History, a January dockworkers’ strike spread to the entire labour force of Seattle for five days the following month. Of interest, perhaps, was establishment labour’s opposition, such as the AFL, that red baited it as “Bolshevism.” It was a peaceful general strike to improve the working conditions of women and men in postwar Seattle.

Thank you for reading my piece, and I believe the anti-globalisation protest you referred to was in 1999.

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein


mark safranski - 10/21/2003

In addition to the usual one-sided New Left critique of America, Professor Kirstein is also hailing back, perhaps intentionally, to the pre-WWI, European Social-Democratic position that was explicitly anti-patriotic and anti-war and internationalist in the old Marxist sense. This stand of course collapsed when most of the SD deputies in Europe voted for war credits in 1914 along with the nationalist, liberal and conservative parties ( the Bolsheviks excepted ).

The obvious reason for this S.D. pacifistic position being repudiated is that it banged up against the reality of the Kaiser's jackbooted troops marching over borders or of endless numbers of Russian muzhik soldiers streaming into Eastern Prussia. Real-life enemies were coming to kill people whether the pacifists wanted to admit it or not.

Something that the hard Left should consider the next time an airliner crashes into a national landmark. Our enemies are real and not inventions to justify Halliburton profits or GOP reelection campaigns.

http://www.zenpundit.blogspot.com


Stephen Thomas - 10/21/2003

Read this:

http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=10394

This is where dissent is being crushed... right in U.S. colleges. Speech codes, disguised as attempts at diversity, prohibit the free and open discussion of the dominant liberal racial and sexual orthodoxies.

Resist your knee-jerk willingness to demonize your enemies and think about it. And, no, I don't believe everything I read in the frontpage site.

Liberal ideology has adopted a poisonous tactic. Some subjects... particularly racial and sexual orthodoxy are beyond discussion. Those who disagree are, of course, "racist, sexist and homophobic." Silencing such voices is a moral duty. So, it isn't really suppression of speech. The tactics used by this college are, in the eyes of the current liberal ideology, just a way of bringing the disobedient and sinful to heel.

We don't need to worry about the suppression of criticism by the Bush administration. It isn't happening. Suppression of criticism of the dominant liberal orthodoxies concerning race and sex is common in American colleges. Check of the FIRE website. You'll find more of the same.


NYGuy - 10/21/2003

Paul

“Accordingly, this week we rerun the topic, but have insisted that the author present only gobbledygook no one can understand.”

NYGuy

You are right on target. While some would say you are not addressing the issues I have to disagree. I think you properly characterized this article. It is the author who presents no coherent arguments. Actually I believe his entire premise about being a patriotic American is false.

Prof. Kirstein

"I assure you no one defines for me what patriotism is and whether it is even always desirable, as those of us on the pacifist, antiwar left strive for a more peaceful, integrated global environment that eschews nationalism and undiminished state sovereignty."

“For me, patriotism is collaboration; it's the United Nations; ….etc.”

NYGuy

What we see here is something the US has seen in the past, those who call themselves Americans but support another form of government over ours. They are usually the ones who cry the loudest that they are really the true patriotic Americans, while at the same time championing another form of government.

As you say this is a lot of gobbledygook that is now rejected by the entire world. Let the good Professsor go to the UN, and tell them about Patriotism and how they should save the world. The only problem is the UN doesn’t want to get hurt and sustain any injuries. Thus the task falls to the US as in North Korea and the Mid East to bring peace to the world. Meanwhile it is not the UN”s vision of peace that is carrying the day it is GW’s. For some they are still supporting Saddam right to make a fool of the UN, and if there vision had prevailed we would still be debating the issue of Iraq, which would only encourage terrorists to further challenge the paper tiger. But seven months later we see we have a better and safer world because GW properly put the entire issue of terrorism on the table.

The real problem is that liberals are running out of phony arguments and must now assume the status of being the victim of superpatriotism. But we all know that the victim mentally never solved anything.



Mark Newgent - 10/21/2003

So the US should have sat back and done nothing and just let the killing,raping and ethnic cleansing go on and on and on. Maybe if the Serbs had actually resisted themselves, the genocide committed in their name, US cluster bombs would not have been necessary. Has the Holocaust taught us nothing at all!

The bombing of the Chinese embassy was a horrible accident and you can't characterize it as a "slaughter"


Herodotus - 10/21/2003

The idea that anyone is being silenced is a falsehood. Who is being silenced? Certainly not Kirstein...he's written a column here.


Stephen Thomas - 10/21/2003

"Let's get to the purpose of the HNN posting of this article. Patriotism and the meaning of war and the silencing of those who denounce US brutality."

Nobody is being silenced for criticizing the war or the Bush administration. And speaking of silencing... I'll pose a puzzle.

When I was involved in the antiwar movement in 1967, I published a series of articles against the war in small newspapers in central Illinois. The redneck farmers and factory workers in those small towns never attempted to muzzle or threaten me. Those Republican newspapers gladly printed my stuff. Although I was involved in the antiwar movement for 6 years, I cannot think of a single antiwar figure who lost his job as a result of his political activity.

Fast forward to the mid-90s. Liberals favor and promote a system called political correctness. Speaking out against racial and sexual quotas costs people their jobs and their social standing. The sexual abuse hysteria (led by liberals) goes ballistic with the result that numerous crazed prosecutions send innocent nursery school proprietors to jail. Read Dorothy Rabinowitz for the insane details. The sexual harassment hysteria (invented by liberal Democrats) lynches men (and increasingly women) for the crime of asking for a date. Depriving people of their livelihood for such offenses seems to make a lot of sense to Democrats until a Democratic president is the offender. Speech codes at universities across the country call for the expulsion of students who question (or refuse to kowtow to) liberal racial and sexual ideology.

The shoe has been on the other foot for a long time. Having been on both sides of the political divide (and now standing astride the center), I can say with certainty that it is the Peter Kirstein's of this world, given power and authority, who will silence their critics in the most brutal way possible. Beware Mr. Kirstein. The Lord has instructed him to make this world perfect. Nothing is more dangerous.


A Student - 10/21/2003

I do not wish to get involved in this debate among scholars. Yet I am wondering if someone could just explain the reference in the second paragraph to "the Seattle dockworkers did it."

I know Seattle was the scene a major demonstration against the World Trade Organization in 1998 but that was not about dockworkers was it? Also, that was pretty violent as I recall.

Anyway, if someone could assist me, I would be grateful.


P. Flum - 10/21/2003

One person's SPAM is another person's non-spam. Maybe Herodotus would permit a difference of opinion. Hey look, Human Rights Watch today denounced the US military's excessive use of force in killing Iraqi civilians. HRW today has stated that US forces do not even report Iraqi civilian deaths and are too trigger happy. Let's get to the purpose of the HNN posting of this article. Patriotism and the meaning of war and the silencing of those who denounce US brutality.

HNN ran a piece denouncing some time ago HAW. I suppose you also agree that HAW was wrong and that this Iraqi-VIETNAM quagmire is the great PATRIOTIC war against TERRORISM. Again, I will say that we need academicians who speak up for peace and denounce war. I applaud HNN for giving Kirstein the opportunity to so eloquently state his case. That is it for me, got to get back to work as an architect!!!!!!!!!!!!


Herodotus - 10/21/2003

" Also, the professor received a letter addressed to dozens of others, and treated the spam the way we all do, with contempt. "

Mr. Kirstein received a normal academic flier, delivered electronically, the same way that the vast majority of faculty across the academic system of the country receive academic fliers notifying them of upcoming conferences, symposia, fellowship competitions and the like. To describe them as 'spam' is to dismiss without knowledge of the workings of the academy. You don't know what you're talking about.


Michael Meo - 10/21/2003

I agree in the stronglest terms with Peter Kirstein, that it is patriotic to oppose, at some risk to yourself and your own, these United States on those occasions when the government is, tragically, in the wrong.

Indeed, I have gone to federal penitentiary for two years at one time to resist being drafted to fight an aggressive war.

However, I both agree with Bill Heuisler and commend his polite way of expressing it, that the very rush to judgement that Peter Kirstein abhors in the flag-waving emotionalised contempt to which he has been subjected, is inherent in the process of telescoping two different issues.

The United States is a country, not a religion. While you may personally urge all of your listeners to practice pacifism, you cannot categorize it as loyalty to this country, even to its best ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Sometimes it is going to be necessary to fight to protect the country. In those times--in my opinion, there has not been such a time in my lifetime, and I am over half a century--it becomes patriotic to employ deadly force (that is, kill).

Perhaps FDR manipulated Adolf Hitler into declaring war; I cannot tell. But I sure think it sensible to prefer the imperfect lawful state we labor under to pacifistic surrender to Das Dritte Reich, and to conduct a war to avoid that eventuality.

Presently, the U.S. is the source of more terrorist crimes than any other state in the world. Outspoken opposition to that ongoing slaughter of innocents in the name of the citizens of this country is something I do myself, and count it patriotic.

But the point of the exercise is to return this country to its senses, to rededicate it to the proposition that all men are created equal, and not to attack it without hesitation. Indeed, there may be many other ways of accomplishing that aim, other than my own. We all share a heritage of social justice, in other words; let us use it.


Paul N. Lewis - 10/21/2003


Welcome to Hotair Name-calling & Nodding-off (HNN) !

Last week's vague but mildly topical piece on patriotism generated 118 posts in the comment area. Good for impressing our sponsors but rough on the server.

Accordingly, this week we rerun the topic topic, but have insisted that the author present only gobbledygook no one can understand. Rather than generating sustained debates like last week, this time things will sputter nicely into meaninglessness after only a few back and forth insults, and our grievously overworked computer won't get overloaded again.

Using reruns is great. It lets us cut our editorial selection time in half, and this time Kirstein even rolled his own to get stoned with before typing his up his ravings, so we didn't have to dip into our stash. Georgie W and his chickenhawks may have only half their marbles left, but at least that half remembers "KISS".






Peter N Kirstein - 10/21/2003

Mr. Thomas,

I live in Chicago; I was born and raised in St. Louis.

Peace,

Peter N. Kirstein


P. Flum - 10/21/2003

Yeah, you freedom fighters that joyously supported the Serbian campaign. How about the cluster bombs, yes cluster bombs used over Nis. How about the slaughtering of young Chinese diplomats in their OWN embassy in downtown Belgrade. How about as a result of the bombing, if heightened atrocities of the Serbs against the Kosovars. I don't question the crimes of Milosevic. I don't question the crimes of Clinton, Albright and Cohen that used WMD that killed Serbian children. Cluster bombs over a city makes the war unjust and the means ignoble.


P. Flum - 10/21/2003

I defend him. 7500 to 10,0000 dead in Iraq. A nation that lies about war with deliberation falsification about WMD, Nukes, imminent threat. We need more Kirsteins to TELL THE DARN TRUTH and to display outrage against American unilateralism and preemption; also to question the morals of a nation drunk with power and war.

We need professors to question the virtue of the military and the way it trains its "students." Also, the professor received a letter addressed to dozens of others, and treated the spam the way we all do, with contempt. Sure, I would have written it in a different manner, but had it been about abortionist baby killers, no one would have cared. Hypocrisy.

While I am not as liberal as Kirstein, I read his speech and felt it was extremely provocative and courageous in a nation that detests and loaths pacifists and professors who choose to cross the line.

That's my view and I stand by it.


Herodotus - 10/20/2003

The same could be said for Mr. Kirstein, as well, for his short referral of Air Force Academy cadets as baby-killers, rather than any interest in his part in participating in the conference that he addressed and attempting, through that rational venue, to convince its participants to take his extreme liberal views seriously. Rather than attempt to have a dialogue, he chose to attack. And you defend him?


Mark Newgent - 10/20/2003

Oscar, in case you missed it

“We need to see that radical Islamism and despots like Saddam Hussein are a threat to the world and that American power should be used to stamp them out.”
We need to stop idiotic moral relativism and anti-Americanism that allows the Left to sympathize with dictators and tyrants because they dovetail with leftist dogma. See Kirstein's sympathy for Serbian genocide in his email for an example. There is another way as Michael Tomasky pointed out in his essay "Between Cheney and Chomsky.”

I thought I did!
I just choose to call a spade a spade. Sorry if that offends you. I guess pointing out the fact that Kirstein was against the United States using its military power to stop genocide in the Balkans as leftist sympathy for tyrants was a bad tactic in refuting his point. Maybe you missed that I don’t know. Or for that matter, pointing out a liberal argument for the war on terrorism.


Bill Heuisler - 10/20/2003

Dr. Kirstein,
Commingling patriotism and pacifism, distorts and debases both.
The Quaker pacifist was willing to serve his country as long as he was not required to take life. Many Quakers died for their country while ministering to wounded. Not to resist Radical Muslim assault would be national suicide. Do you argue method? What method do you choose? Is this an egocentric philosophical exercise? Remember, mercy-killing is love recognizing worse alternatives to an awful act. Where are your alternatives?

You reveal yourself near the end when you announce that your version of patriotism is "stopping American capitalism". This desire can be coupled with the words in the last paragraph,
"...general willingness to resist the state's claims."

These two conditions create the unavoidable conclusion that your particular "patriotism" considers Capitalism the enemy and your oddly proactive "patriotism" reserves the US as the only State whose claims you abhor. Has it occurred to you that - in the real world - by resisting one state's claims you foster and enable another state's claims?

For instance, does Iraq have greater claim to rectitude? Would you support an attack on Saudi Arabia if that corrupt kingdom embraced Atta's claims? Is there a Just War you would fight? Is there an economic creed you would defend?

In my opinion it is the United States and Capitalism you loathe. The evidence of the two statements above leads me to think your "patriotism" is similar to the Memendez brothers' fulsome love for their parents. The issue isn't patriotism or pacifism; the issue you try to obscure is pure politics. Nothing stirs in vacuum and action without purpose is chaos; to oppose one State, or another, you must consider alternatives and perhaps perish in the result of your presumption...and we all perish. In the final moment, choosing perfection is impossible, but choose you must.
Unfortunately, you've apparently chosen. What have you chosen?
Bill Heuisler


Stephen Thomas - 10/20/2003

Don't think I agree, Mr. Chamberlain.

Mr. Kerstein doesn't even belong to this world. He's a member of the angelic choir. His writing seems to have the great overall purpose of reminding us that he is one of the saints. He seems to like to remind people of this with great regularity. Other than that, what does he have to say? Good is good... and goody good good good is even better. That's about what I can get out of it.

Mr. Kerstein doesn't even make an attempt to live or write in the real world. He's on the infant side of the child/adult equation.

What do you see in Mr. Kerstein's essay that speaks to any person who actually lives in the real world? What do you see in it that addresses reality? All I can perceive here is an infant.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/20/2003

An addendum to my comment on Mark Newgent's comment.

I think it is wrong for anyone who challenges a writer to settle for invective without substance.

If you think Krstein's article is dishonest, point out the dishonesty. If you think it is incoherent, point out the incoherence. By not doing so, by settling for a few choice adjectives, you made his argument stronger.


Oscar Chamberlain - 10/20/2003

By simply referring to Kirstein as a member of the "loony left" and by dodging any of his arguments, you may have made his point about some members of the right and patriotism even better than he did.


Jesse Lamovsky - 10/20/2003

Dr. Kirstein certainly is entitled to his views, and I am in basic agreement with him on the Iraq War, although I can't help but roll my eyes over his tired blaming of "capitalism" and implied racism for the iniquities of American foreign policy (the U.S. doesn't practice capitalism; it practices mercantalism, a different system, and we've also dropped high explosives on white European Christians as well as "non-white peoples").

What gets me is the disengeniousness of Dr. Kirstein's claim that he was merely "protest(ing) against a military institution that trains its students to kill other human beings with high-tech, invulnerable flying machines." Maybe in his mind, he was doing just that. But I read the e-mail, and it comes off as nothing more than a boorish, self-righteous slander of a young man he didn't even know, a man who contacted Dr. Kirstein in a sincere and polite manner- and basically got spit on in return. Not admirable.


Stephen Thomas - 10/20/2003

What else can you say? The simplistic nonsense that he writes belongs in a BS session in a college dorm room.

His slanderous remarks about the U.S. and our servicemen make one cringe. That's obviously his intent.

Nothing new here. This is a hodge-podge of leftist BS recycled out of one million repetitive screeds written since about 1965.

I think that the only interesting aspect of Mr. Kirstein's writing and career is psychological: Why in the world is he doing this? It isn't original. Nobody cares. He's probably making some people in St. Louis mad enough to kick him to the other side of the river. You can see that he kind of enjoys this. Other than that, what's the purpose of this nonsense?


Mark Newgent - 10/20/2003

True liberal patriotism would be rescuing liberalism from the loony Chomskyite left, which Kirstein represents. We need to see that radical Islamism and despots like Saddam Hussein are a threat to the world and that American power should be used to stamp them out. We need to refute the loony Left's position that America is the great evil in the world and the cause of terrorism. We need to stop idiotic moral relativism and anti-Americanism that allows the Left to sympathize with dictators and tyrants because they dovetail with leftist dogma. See Kirstein's sympathy for Serbian genocide in his email for an example. There is another way as Michael Tomasky pointed out in his essay "Between Cheney and Chomsky."

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