Islamic Terror and Suburban Entitlement
It has recently surfaced that Djokhar Tsarnaev told his mother a couple of years back that he was "willing to die for Islam." It now appears that he was playing for keeps and that he meant it. Further, it appears the little punk will get his wish. But, for two redundant weeks, people like Bill O'Reilly have been out there calling Tsarnaev a "coward."
O'Reilly and others are flat wrong. Their rush to dismiss every last aspect of the terrorists' character is counterproductive and unhelpful. Unless "coward" is some byword escaping the common meaning, its application to Islamofascists is misguided. To Aristotelian ethicists' ears, calling Islamofascists "cowards" is as absurd as calling them all "gluttons" -- employed as if either of these vices captures some "unity of vice" operating within the souls of our enemies. The vices, like the virtues, each bear specific definitions and thus, specific usages.
Tsarnaev is vile, a fell defiler, our enemy. He deserves death. Yet again, cowardice is a specifically defined vice, just as gluttony is: the willingness to die for one's beliefs -- however maniacal -- does not attend cowardice in any conceivable manner which presents itself to the intellect. In this, the eleventh hour, it is high time that Americans learned this.
For too long, as a people, we Americans have rested on our laurels. We are, to borrow an apropos term from Tolkien's King Theoden of Rohan, "lesser sons of greater sires," unworthy to dine at the hall of our forebears in paradise, unable as we evidently are to keep the Republic they built. For too long have we deluded ourselves that our enemies are a) unworthy of respect in all ways, and b) worthy of mercy. They are precisely neither. For too long have we bathed in the borrowed glory of the (Founding) Fathers, creating none for ourselves. For too long have we condemned all forms of fighting, rebelling, dusting up, rebuffing, settling scores... as "barbaric."
Not only among the mysophallic, pacifistic Left do these criticisms abound, but also from Right wingers, I'm ashamed to say. And this latter fact is profoundly bothersome.
"So you don't believe in fighting, eh? Pacifist?" I'll invariably ask them.
"No way. Course I believe in war. America, bro. Hell yeah. Here to save the day! Just not into fighting myself. I got a job, ya know? I might lose the Range Rover, which is on lease."
Thank God that no matter how sissified our society becomes, we'll at least always talk like we're tough.
To those irked or startled by the tone of my opening paragraphs, hear me out: in order to combat these Islamofascist pieces of filth, we must not shrink from admitting their strengths, the foremost of these is their initiative, to borrow a military term. We must not shrink from locating our own growing weak spots. It is a fatal combination.
And by the way, I'm sorry, populists, but when I examine this from the opposite angle, I'm roundly underwhelmed by the presumptive "prowess" exercised by five hundred cops against one minor in a shut-down major city. Thanks for doing your jobs, but the "manly virtue" bar hasn't sunk quite that low for me yet. Anyway, the public employees of Boston hardly need my meager and perfunctory thanks, such as it is -- they all stood on screen last week and provided plenty of prolix thanks to themselves, extolling their own virtue. And folks in the mainstream media, Left and Right, are still out there lauding every last government agency involved in the marathon bombing, notwithstanding the FBI's fumble on big brother Tamerlan a couple year back.
Aristotle, "the teacher of those who know" let's not forget, defines courage as standing-not fleeing -- in the face of one-on-one combat. Cowardice is fleeing from that a fair fight. (Standing one against a hundred is what he calls "rashness" -- an unwise, invirtuous abundance of courage; by implication, being one of the hundred is neither rash nor brave nor cowardly.)
Eastern philosophy has long been in vogue amid the semi-literate, pseudo-intellectual, politically correct circles which pass for the intelligentsia in the fast-devolving West. But Sun Tzu's hard-scrabble martial philosophy, remains refreshingly out of style: "he who knows both himself and his enemy will win every battle." As a Catholic man, I recognize my enemy. Simultaneously, I recognize that unless many of my coreligionists harden their skins and become willing to stand -- even die -- for their own beliefs, then the West will fall under its own weight (together with the pressure applied by our Islamofascist rivals) within my lifetime.
I'm still waiting to hear, in strictly academic terms, when enough is, in fact, enough for these folks. (Kill an eight year-old and then hide under my boat: I'll bet you can guess how I'd react.) To borrow an old catchphrase from Dennis Miller, our Founding Fathers were cantankerous aristocrats who went to war when Parliament "put a small tax on their breakfast beverage," along with a tax on the sweetener in it, to be sure. But no matter.
Think about this in mathematical terms: Miller's point is stark. If the governmental grievances equaling impetus for rebellion were set so low, as they evidently were in 1775, then that would be the equivalent of teeing up an American rebellion "every twenty years or so." Precisely. It might surprise the average crypto-pacifist out there on the Right Wing that such a thing was Jefferson's precise "hope," expressed while he was still president in 1804. Conflict is good for the soul. In fact, he thought that a representative form of government required it -- the American people must never shrink from an aggressive foe, at home or abroad.
All this can be articulated in yet another illustration. All of us on the Right sigh collectively that we are increasingly coerced by the entitlement state to subsidize -- in essence -- iPhones and school clothes for "welfare folks" in our nation's inner cities. I dig. Recently it was reported that "one in five" Americans receives financial aid in the form of food stamps, subsidized by unwilling, beleaguered taxpayers. One remembers that Jefferson also thought "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical." (He put his money where his mouth was!) That is: I agree. Urban entitlement philosophy is wrong and I lament it with all fellow travelers on the Right.
But most conservatives become rather squeamish when I begin to speak of a second form of entitlement at work in civil society: suburban entitlement. I define that for them as the overwhelming sense of entitlement to a never-ending, comfortable American Republic built on luxury-technology, which requires virtually nothing of its citizens except that they go to work and do their shopping on the weekends. Phenomenologically speaking, it is nothing more than normalcy bias crossed with complacency. Attending town hall meetings, studying our Constitution, going to Washington for Tea Party rallies if necessary, writing congressmen, doing our own part in crime fighting, and being willing to make sizable citizens' sacrifices which arise suddenly have been ruled out of hand by the average suburbanite. This must change.
In short, Americans seem only to pay heed to our strengths, of which there remain some. But there are a great number of weaknesses as well. These latter have grown in number as we've spoiled and luxuriated in plenty. We are, as Shakespeare said, "all eyes and no sight." Our greatest president, Thomas Jefferson -- an aristocrat turned revolutionary turned statesman, let's recall -- set out American standards of manliness which ought to guide us. We must love our American lives without fearing death, should it come knocking in the form of terror or tyranny. This means wishing swift death on our Islamofascist enemies, while respecting the precise aspects of these foes which make them lean and dangerous. We will never restore the glory of America while shrinking from a fight and mislabeling it "mercy." Kevin Durant was recently fined by the NBA for using a hand gesture http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/Kevin-Durant-Oklahoma-City-Thunder-fined-by-NBA-for-menacing-gesture-041213 which suggests my expedient. NBA fans know what I mean.
Let's get tough, America. We've got stores of untapped, counter-terror strength lying dormant in our suburbs.