By Con George-Kotzabasis
A reply to: Do Arab & Muslim Lives Matter?
By Steve Clemons The Washington Note September 12, 2010
Only moral and intellectual weaklings would not accept that there is no “moral equivalence” between civilians killed by deliberate “malicious terrorist acts” and those killed by inadvertent “military action in self-defence.” Ambassador Bolton’s quote (“But it is a mistake to ascribe a moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts, the very purpose of which are to kill civilians, and the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths as a result of military action taken in self-defense.”) that Clemon dubs as a zinger and uses to make his case, is intellectually reprehensible and will haunt his conscience remorselessly to his grave. One can hardly infer from Bolton’s quote that he claims that innocent lives lost are not of equal value. It is Clemons that meretriciously and sans intellectual shame attributes such a position to Bolton.
Clemons proudly mentions his mentor Hans Baerwald on the issue of “stress.” But equally this stress applies to Clemons himself, who under the stress of intellectual debate shows his true character: Wantonly and perversely distorting the position of his opponent to make his easy point. Clearly, Clemons is too weak on the knees to hold up the heavy banner of Vergil’s tu ne cede malis.
The above emitted the following replies.
Kotz, those who have imposed on themselves as a moral duty the refusal to acknowledge evil, will always yield to it, since they have convinced themselves that it does not exist.
I must read Berman’s “Flight of the Intellectuals” (I’ve only read reviews so far); he seems to have an explanation of the thinking behind this.
Don S says,
“One can hardly infer from Bolton’s quote that he claims that innocent lives lost are not of equal value. It is Clemons that meretriciously and sans intellectual shame attributes such a position to Bolton.”
Kotz, you twist the simple meaning, as does Bolton. The deeper flaw is Bolton’s attempt to insinuate the common Israeli linguistic trick, adhered to by the Bolton’s (and, truth be told, the cowardly US enabler) that all military actions undertaken by Israel are in “self defense”. Only fools and jingoists salute such stupidity. Similar in its way to those fools who justify the invasion of Iraq as self-defense — after all ‘they’ attacked us first. Not innocent? those hundreds of thousands of Iraq civilians dead as a result of the US-unleashed whirlwind?
I don’t subscribe to the ubiquitous ‘911’ excuse for endless war, by the US or its Israeli mini.
But if you want to degrade yourself intellectually, not to mention morally, be my guest.
Clearly your vocation in the ‘market of argument’ is to be a peddler in non sequiturs. Why are you shifting the ground of the argument, is it because your pockets are empty of all coins of counter reasoning on the issue? The question as was initially put by Clemons’s use of the Bolton quote was not whether Israel’s and America’s wars were self-defensive or not but whether there was “moral equivalence” between the deliberate and non-deliberate killing of civilians. Clemons by cheating intellectually, by speciously transforming this argument of moral equivalence into an argument of devaluation of “Muslim and Arab lives” has made himself intellectually and morally persona non grata.
The great statesman Talleyrand, eloquently and boldly said the following in the face of Napoleon, when the latter deposed the legitimate heir Ferdinand II and placed his brother Joseph on the throne of Spain, “Sire, un enfant de famille may gamble away his last farthing—the heritage of his ancestors—the dower of his mother—the portion of his sisters—and yet be courted and admired for his wit—be sought for his talents and distinction—but let him once be detected in cheating at the game, and he is lost—society is forever shut against him.” You likewise, partaking in this Napoleonesque cheating of Clemons “at the game,” have become your own “guest” as an intellectual and moral pariah.
As far as shifting ground, I guess my logical leaps were a bit too facile for you to follow. I often forget to show all my work. Make no mistake, Bolton’s sole intent in the omitted sentence was to justify Israeli action in any and every way he could. I simply highlighted the historical rhetoric up which that assertion is based.
Bolton would always prefer we watch the monkey and pretend we don’t see the organ grinder.
Posted by larry birnbaum, Sep 16 2010, 7:19PM – Link
I see I’ve nothing, really, to add to kotzabasis’s remarks above.
There are lots of reality-based objections Clemons could make to
Bolton’s world-view. This one is so obviously specious that it
leaves no alternative but to see him as not just a partisan — there
is such a thing as an honest partisan — but a shill.
The world is seriously fucked up and lots of ill-meaning idiots gain
genuine authority. But “policy intellectuals” never gain respect and
authority this way.