1. So my apologies for just not getting the Hitchens post yesterday done properly. It was sloppy, the link magically disappeared, I somehow managed to post it twice, and I just didn’t properly “contexualize” it. Stuff came up, and I rushed to a conclusion.
2. So the reason I wrote it was to prepare for a talk I had to give today at Berry College on 9/11. I was looking for an approach that would be nothing like those of the other professors speaking. The “let’s begin with being angry at evildoers” approach was, in fact, not echoed by the others.
3. They were all good talks, but they just didn’t “resonate” with me. One was basically let’s brush our 9/11 anger away with understanding the complex hstorical causes that would produce such acts, and let’s acknowledge that all the religions of the world, despite their doctrinal differences, are all about peace. And so the way to peace is interfaith dialogue that embraces diversity but culminates in a common prayer for peace. I still have to begin with angry hostility toward those guys (and their multinational organization) who were out to murder us and wipe out, insofar as they could, the various achievements of the modern West on behalf of human liberty and dignity (not to mention who were all about wiping Israel off the map on a principle perhaps as anti-Semitic as Hitler’s). They weren’t about embracing diversity or difference or human rights or accepting any law that wasn’t religious or any peace that wasn’t on their tyrannical terms.
4. Another talk was about the danger to which we’ve succumbed of “demonizing” Islam as a whole. We’ve fallen into a complacent “us vs. them” mentality based upon an uninformed social construction of a simpleminded distinction between good and evil. This is basically the same thing that happened during the Cold War, with the social construction of us vs. the evildoing Communists. Now it goes without saying that any conflict will generate simpleminded chauvinism that can stigmatize some innocents along with the genuinely guilty. Still, the war against Al Qaeda has been based on the realistic perception of a genuine threat; one result of our realism is our pretty decisive victory in that war. And the Communists, anyone who has read Solzhenitsyn or the Verona papers knows, were really, really evil—that is, really cruel, murderous, totalitarian enemies of who we are as free beings. I, of course, am all against “demonizing” Islam as whole, but so was even President Bush. So I remain convinced that we begin not with condemning “demonizing” but with the “demons,” so to speak, the murderous tyrants who are really out to get us.
5. In my talk, I explained that it’s right to begin with ANGER, but that should be followed by ANGER MANAGEMENT. The first part of that therapy was or should have been a kind of SELF-CONFIDENCE based in the superiority of our way of life—including its deep capacity for personal virtues beginning with courage and its capacity for self-criticism and self-correction. Next should come the GRATITUDE we shold feel for those who did so well in protecting us from a second attack. Here we begin with the passengers of Flight 93 who refused to be victims and we end with the incredible ingenuity, competence, and deovtion of those we loosely call SPECIAL FORCES. Finally, there’s MODERATION; We learned a lot over the last decade about what we can and should do and what we can’t and shouldn’t do in defense of our liberty and security.