Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The War Against ISIS: Gazing into the Abyss as it Gazes Back at Us

Beware that when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster. For when you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
Friedrich Nietzche

Yes, we've been here before. Periodically some large portion of humankind exists in a marginalized life as they're ruled by a corrupt and, or cruel regime, or regimes. Then they begin listening to people on the fringe  who seem nearly messianic in nature, who appear to be talking directly to them, addressing their grievances perfectly. After a while they collectively become convinced that the world, which they feel has wronged them so terribly, should not only be punished, but conquered. Then, with frightening swiftness, they go all ape shit crazy and descend upon their neighbors and everybody else on this blue ball with a terrible ferocity.

There is no vaccine to cure this disease--no therapy, or rehab. It has to be surgically removed by a process so appalling that many will utterly ignore Nietzche's warning and end up exactly what they are fighting against.

They'll deny it of course. Patriots will thump their chests and say they are defending freedom and decency and to a degree they'll be right. However, around the edges there will be a darkness in which we'll ignore the very principles we say we are fighting for. We've done it before--plenty of times--and the ugly truth is in most of those instances race is a huge part of it.

As of right now the governors of  27 states are saying they won't allow Syrian refugees within their borders. The Speaker of the House of Representatives wants to put a hold on accepting any and all refugees because they can't be adequately, "vetted." In Paul Ryan's words, "It is better to be safe than sorry."

A leading candidate for the republican presidential nomination, Donald Trump not only says he'd consider forcibly closing mosques in the United States, but he'd send every Syrian refugee trying to get into the country back to the place he, she and their children are so desperate to escape from.

In the meantime other republican candidates are howling because Barack Obama won't use the terms, "radical Islamists and radical Islam," rather than terrorists and jihadists when he talks about the nightmare  which happened last Friday in Paris. It shouldn't come as a surprise that within 24 hours of the barbarity a Fox News panel concluded Obama directly contributed to the entire bloody affair.

Nuances, such as translation and perception, escape these bozos. Besides killing innocent people, ISIS is quite accomplished at the foul art of propaganda. It won't take the brightest of bulbs in their media cadre to turn a war on "radical Islam," into  a war on all of Islam, which is exactly what they want every Muslim in the world to believe.

There can be no negotiating with these beasts. That is understood by just about everyone on the planet with a functioning brain. At the same time we've had troops fighting in middle east since 2001. Most reasonable people understand there won't ever be a clean finish to the violence. There will never be a formal surrender on the deck of this century's version of the U.S.S. Missouri which ends the fighting completely.

Let's face it, we're never going to be completely rid of these evil fucks. To them religion isn't a reason, it's an excuse to make the world pay for their miserable circumstances.

Knowing plenty of tea party types I have no doubt that nuking the bastards has probably crossed large numbers of impaired minds.  It is, after all, the easiest solution in the short term. And it will enable an untold number of male Anglo-Americans to experience erections for the first time in years. However it won't eliminate jihadi wannabes in places like Indonesia, or Minnesota, but it will give them yet another excuse.

In the end, the real questions we must ask ourselves in this moment are first, will we, as a nation, destroy the ideal of America while we're waging an endless war against a bunch of de facto fascists who want to destroy us? Second, are we willing to turn away refugees because of their race and religion? Then, finally, in the worst case scenario--which given the attitude of some current politicians doesn't seem that far fetched--will we sink to the depths of establishing internment camps, quarantining American Muslims? If the answer is yes to any of them, ISIS will have won.

Tragically, there are plenty of people like Trump and Ryan, who are ready to dive head long into that fetid pool.

I was driving a cab 20 plus years ago while trying to sell a couple of novels. A day after Timmy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City federal building and killed 160 some odd people, including a bunch of babies, I picked up an aged African-American woman. During the ride we talked about the bombing. As she sat there, completely serene in the back seat of the hack, she told me, "You know, all they're trying to do is make you just like them."

That's a true story. I've never heard a priest, or minister say anything more profound and I've certainly never heard any politician approach her level of understanding, or humanity. I dropped her off at a run down apartment complex near the intersection of Portland Ave. and NW 23rd St. and never saw her again.

I've haven't forgotten her lesson though. Listen, there are evil people in this world, but during this fight, we just can't afford to become like them.

As a man in France, who lost his wife in the horror at a Parisian concert hall said to ISIS on Facebook today, "You will not have my hatred."

Well said, Sir and well believed.


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